Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 8th March 2017

Yamaha’s YZF-R125 has pretty much been a permanent fixture at the top of the UK motorcycle sales charts since its introduction in 2008.


It’s easy to see the appeal, with looks lifted straight from the bigger YZF-R6 (not to mention Valentino Rossi’s YZR-M1 MotoGP machine) and the allure of the Yamaha tuning forks logo on the tank. It may be an A1 licence friendly learner bike (that you can ride from the age of 17 on L plates with a CBT) but the YZF-R125 is a bike that oozes cred.


Yamaha YZF-R125 Racetrack


Climb on board this latest version, which was introduced in 2014, and you are immediately greeted by a modern LCD dashboard that’s packed with functionality that belies the bike’s learner status. As well as the digital speed readout, the instrument panel includes a fuel gauge, clock, trip meters and a cool vertically rising rev counter.


The riding position is pure sportsbike, with low slung clip-on handlebars, rear set footpegs and a tall (but narrow) seat. Thumb the starter and the single cylinder four-stroke motor whirs, rather than roars, into life but, with electronic fuel-injection, the engine pulls smoothly from cold without the need to fiddle about with a choke.


Yamaha YZF-R125 in the sun


To be ridden on a provisional, the YZF-R125 is limited to 11kW (14.75bhp) and while it’s no fire breather, it gets off the line promptly enough and winds itself up to a cruising speed of 70mph fairly easily. The six speed gearbox is light with a positive action and, on long stretches, we saw 80mph showing on the digital dash on several occasions. It’ll happily do an indicated 70 on dual carriageways.


While the engine is restricted by law, there are no such constraints on the chassis. Being a member of its company’s legendary R-series, Yamaha has ensured that its 125 has the hardware to match the sporting looks. The frame, although made from steel rather than aluminium, utilises Yamaha’s famous Deltabox design and up front it sports 41mm upside down forks and although they (and the monoshock rear suspension unit) are not adjustable, the quality is more than adequate for a bike that weighs just 142kg fully fuelled and ready to go.



That light weight makes the YZF-R125 easy going around town, even if the crouched riding position isn’t exactly at home in an urban environment. Show it some twisty roads and the Yamaha is great fun. Although a 125 will never provide the grunt of a bigger sports bike, the chassis is composed and can carry lots of corner speed. Many sports 125s are handicapped by being fitted by low spec, budget tyres at the point of manufacture but the Yamaha wears decent Michelin Pilot Street rubber that work well in both the wet and dry.


Grumbles? It’s a race replica and that head down, bum up riding position isn’t exactly built for comfort. Yamaha’s own, unfaired, MT-125 is far more comfortable around town, but for most supple teenagers, the sporty riding position won’t a massive problem. What is likely to be more off-putting is the price tag. At £4599, the YZF-R125 isn’t cheap. It is quality though, and if you’re in the market for a sporty 125, there are few better. It’s also got anti-lock (ABS) brakes, which provides a big safety benefit but is not a common feature on bikes of this capacity.


Yamaha YZF-R125 engine


Overall, there are few better options if you are looking for a sporty bike you can ride on L plates. There’s a reason why this bike has been such a big hit over the years. It looks and feels like a bigger bike and has the kudos of the Yamaha name on the tank. It’s a quality product.


Alternatives? Yamaha’s MT-125 is basically a naked version of the YZF-R125, but with a more comfortable upright riding position. It’s also £300 cheaper.


Yamaha YZF-R125 Headlamps


Aprilia and KTM also make high end sports 125s, with the RS4 and RC 125, while Honda’s CBR125R is a cheaper alternative that trades a slightly lower specification for a more affordable price tag.





Single cylinder, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, four-valves






11kW (14.75bhp) @9,000rpm


12.4Nm @ 8000rpm


41mm upside down telescopic fork






11.5 litres



* Based on our average customer 52 year old, 9 years NCB, garaged, WA14 postcode, no claims/convictions, 4000 miles Comp cover is £225.81 £150 xs. Insure your Yamaha motorbike through Carole Nash.