Just how do you encourage new riders onto two wheels? It’s a debate that has been raging for years within the motorcycle industry as the average age of riders continues to increase. Well Suzuki reckon they may well have found a way of addressing this issue and if the performance of their new GSX-R125 and GSX-S125 are anything to go by, they may be onto a winner.
Both of the new GSX models share the same basic platform, which is no bad thing because Suzuki have really pulled out all the stops. Well, as far as you can pull out all the stops in a class with learner-legal power-restrictions….
As well as developing a brand new 15bhp single cylinder motor, which has double overhead cams and four valves as well as water-cooling, Suzuki has armed the GSX models with an aluminium chassis, ABS, LED lights, a smart digital dash and the GSX-R even gets a keyless ignition system while the GSX-S has a clever ignition barrel protector. Considering these are both machines that retail for under £4000, that’s quite an impressive spec list. However what will certainly appeal more to teenagers is the fact that Suzuki are claiming their bikes outperform their rivals’ thanks to the best power to weight ratio in the class. Parents of those very same teenagers will be happier to hear the new motor can achieve economy figures of 122mpg, but that’s hardly likely to win you any classroom bragging rights…
When you ride the GSX-R125 and GSX-S125 it is hard to really judge if Suzuki’s performance claims are accurate as, in isolation, most 15bhp singles feel the same. That said, the new motor certainly performs well with a nice mid-range, decent gearbox and virtual lack of vibrations. However what impressed me the most was their ability when it came to handling.
Riding on track with the GSX-R125 and on the road with the GSX-S125 was a real eye opener. Suzuki have done a great job with the chassis and both bikes feel balanced in bends with suspension that is surprisingly plush and controlled for such budget bikes. I’d go as far as to say the GSX models have the best suspension of any Japanese 125, only possibly bettered by the KTM and Aprilia with their inverted forks. And who says you need radial brake calipers on a 125? The Suzuki’s two-piston sliding calipers were more than up to the job and backed up by an excellent ABS system. And if you think 125s are only for jockey-sized riders, think again.
Even riders over six-feet tall should find both of Suzuki’s 125s comfortable. Despite its racer rep styling the GSX-R125 has plenty of leg room and the bars aren’t overly low, however if comfort is your thing the GSX-S125’s flat bars are raised by 100mm in comparison to the R version, making it the better bike for town riding. So are these two bikes the solution to attracting future generations of two-wheeled fans?
The power of the GSX-R brand is certain to draw some new riders to the race rep, especially if there is a history of GSX-R ownership in the family, and Suzuki are predicting will be the better seller. However I wouldn’t write the GSX-S125 off as I feel it could be a dark horse. The general consensus is that 125s are for newer riders, however I’d argue that even those on a full licence should try them for size. For short inner city hops 125s are brilliant as they are light, easy to maneuver and cost little to own and run. I really like the fact Suzuki have added an extra layer of anti-theft protection on both their bikes and they certainly look the part and are easily mistaken for far larger capacity machines. Well, until you try and win a traffic light GP…
Suzuki GSX-R125 £3999 (£4099 in MotoGP rep)
Suzuki GSX-S125 £3699 (£3799 in MotoGP rep)
Engine: 124.4cc, liquid-cooled, 4v DOHC single
Power: 15bhp @ 10,000rpm
Torque: 8.48ft-lb @ 8000rpm
Weight: 134kg (GSX-S125 133kg)
Claimed economy: 122mpg
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