One of the most common emails we get at insidebikes.com is ’Why don’t you test more 125cc class machines that beginners and younger riders are interested in?’
It’s a fair point and although many manufacturers will not put 125cc bikes on their press fleet, we are trying our best to ride some 125s in 2006 to give you the lowdown. So, starting off a regular series of tests on smaller capacity machines, here is the Rieju RS2 125, which is a four stroke powered, sports styled motorcycle, featuring a high quality chassis and curvaceous styling.
Alastair Walker took the Rieju RS2 for a spin around Oxfordshire
My chin is on the gas tank, the throttle is wound wide open and the digital speedo clicks off the numbers as I approach maximum velocity on the Rieju RS2 125. It’s a kind of hellish, yet magical, moment when the digital numbers finally click onto 66 miles per hour.
Yep, an indicated 66mph absolutely flat out, probably slightly downhill, is all this four stroke 125 sportsbike can manage.
Gutted. You see, this motorbike looks like a 100mph racer. It’s svelte, sleek bodywork and sharp-angled tail section remind me a bit of the NR750, with maybe a little bit of Cagiva Mito 125 mixed in there too. Twin headlights are sunk into the fairing and glare at oncoming traffic impressively, whilst the `wavy’ grooves in the disc brakes and the dinky toy sized mirrors also add a lean, stripped-down air of purpose to the bike. It is a gorgeous little bike.
There’s no denying that this thing looks like a million dollars, but the sad truth is that you’ll find yourself being hassled by women called Joyce in Nissan Micras away from a red light. The Rieju RS2 just hasn´t got any real speed, in terms of acceleration, or flat-out terminal velocity.
The Yamaha four stroke single cylinder motor lacks torque and seems to be restricted to making slightly more than a 50cc moped scooter’s power output. I am baffled why a Spanish company would choose such a complete donkey of an engine for such a sweet-handling, stop-on-a-pizza type of sportsbike.
It’s like putting Fred Elliott on the cover of next month’s Men’s Health magazine…it’s just not happening.
HOW GREEN WAS MY BUS LANE
But maybe Rieju are simply facing facts; The old two stroke 125 bikes and scooters are relentlessly being killed off by ever stricter emissions controls – and no European government is going to stop signing those `green´ pledges – which means all 125cc bikes will be four strokes soon.
That would be OK, if they had a bit of get-up-and-go before hitting a rev-limiting device which stopped them from exceeding 70mph for legal reasons. As it stands, the Rieju feels decidedly under-powered.
There is an upside however; the bike handles and brakes like a racer. The front disc brake is superb and as the bike weighs a mere 109.5 kilos dry, you can leave your braking until the very last micro-second, before jamming the Rieju up the inside/outside of the last three cars which overtook you on the ring road, laughing insanely as you stuff the little bike around a roundabout and then burble away down the next achingly long straight.
You quickly learn to preserve the momentum that you’ve painstakingly built up over 30 seconds or so, keeping bike buzzing along between 50mph and 60mph, at all costs. Thing is, the chassis, with a frame that looks inspired by the Aprilia Falco, plus 36mm, USD, Paioli forks, allows you to take liberties on an almost French scale, slipping through gaps in traffic that a Skateboarding Kate Moss would deem a bit of a tight squeeze.
You can have fun on this bike, even at low speeds and it certainly teaches novice riders all about precision riding, especially late-braking. If potential British MotoGP riders had to race in a Rieju 125 series for a season I think Pedrosa would seem a bit of a wuss on the brakes quite frankly!
No car driver is expecting you to overtake them on the Rieju of course, as the 125 appears to be slower than a shopgirl’s till roll changing ritual, and is so quiet that you could rev it up outside a pensioner’s bungalow at 5 am and they’d just think some lunatic next door had their lawn mower out.
In that respect, the Rieju is exciting to ride, because you can sneak up on `em at junctions and – if you get the timing just right – go buzzing past, winning the Tesco Express GP easily.
THE QUALITY OPTION
Many younger riders want a cheap motorcycle. Many parents want a cheap option for their 17 year old son/daughter too, but the Rieju is NOT a cheap option by any means. For £2600 on the road you get sluggish engine performance, set inside a 21st century race ready chassis. It cries out for an engine transplant to give it the poke to match its supermodel looks.
But the Rieju looks well made – this motorcycle is a quality option.
There’s a neat plastic hugger around the rear tyre, a tank protector is on the fuel tank and the front disc brake has braided hose linking fluid from master cylinder to brake caliper. The bike feels good to chuck around in corners, with the 100/70 and 130/80 tyre sizes giving you plenty of confidence in the twisty bits – I think my 1985 Honda CBX750 had near identical tyre sizes!
It does feel a vastly better made than some Chinese manufactured 125 motorcycles, but it does lack the pure racer-on-the-road class of the Aprilia RS125. On the other hand, I would bet that the Rieju RS2 will withstand the kind of flat out everyday, no maintenace whatsoever kind of life which the average 17 or 18 year old will dish out – possibly even proving more reliable than the super fast Aprilia.
The Rieju is a sexy looking motorcycle, streets ahead of many of its rivals in terms of looks. But it lacks a strong brand identity in the UK, as well as a large dealer network which say Honda, Yamaha or Suzuki can offer, and crucially, it just hasn’t got the speed to back up its sassy chassis.
With several Chinese made rival machines, featuring a sportsbike type chassis and similar engine performance, for about £1000 less, on the UK market, I think it would be a rich teenager – or a generous parent – who stumped up over two and a half grand for a Rieju RS2 125.
Need cover for your Rieju? Ask Carole Nash for a bike insurance quote today.
Vital Statistics Test machine supplied by; E P Barrus, Bicester Oxfordshire. Tel. 01869 363636.
Engine Air cooled, single cylinder, four stroke, 125cc
Bore and stroke 54 X 54mm
Engine ENGINE MODS: engraved
FRONT FORKS: one off single sided
FUEL TANK: under engine belly pan
Gears 5 speed
Carburettor Mikuni VM20SS
Chassis Steel tubular, twin spar frame
Forks Upside down 36mm Paioli
Rear suspension Monoshock
Brakes Single 280mm front disc, single 220mm rear disc
Wheels/Tyres 100/80 17 inch front, 130/70 17 inch rear
Seat height 800mm
Dry weight 109.5 kgs
Fuel capacity 10.4 litres
top speed 65mph
Warranty Not known
Carburettor Mikuni VM20SS
Price £2600 OTR May 2006