125cc motorbikes are popular with young and experienced riders alike. Offering high speeds and agility, 125cc bikes can be ideal for both city life and taking off-road. For anyone looking to get a foothold into the wonderful world of motorcycles, a cheaper Chinese bike, with equally cheap parts, will look extremely tempting. Bikesure has already created a list of the best 125cc bikes, but as the Chinese motorcycle market continues to grow, we’ve decided to take a look at the best bikes on offer from the region.
When they first began appearing, Chinese motorcycles developed a bad reputation – which was not entirely undeserved. Cheap materials and components resulted in many machines that looked decent but didn’t last.
However, Chinese manufacturers have made rapid progress in improving quality. There are now plenty of brands creating reasonably priced machines that benefit from competitive insurance costs thanks to specialist insurance for Chinese motorcycles.
It can be difficult to find accurate information about these bikes, with online forums often immediately ruling them out as bad products. Dig a bit further and you may find outdated information or unreliable, second-hand knowledge. We recommend having a look at 125cc owners’ groups on Facebook for the most reliable information. When looking for a beginner bike, having the knowledge on how to maintain a bike is a useful skill to develop.
One of the largest Chinese brands, Lexmoto, offers a range of motorcycles and scooters. The brand creates both homages to classic styles and more modern variants. The brand has a growing network of dealers and a solid supply chain for spare parts – helping you with the longevity of your vehicle.
Lexmoto produces a good range of bikes available for less than £1,500. Models such as the ZSB, Assault and Isca are priced at £1,299.99, £1,399.99 and 1,499.99 respectively. Each vehicle is fitted with a reliable four-stroke engine, and all three meet the Euro-4 emissions regulation.
The ZSB is described as “a contemporary take on the traditional bike design”. Offering 15 litre fuel capacity and five gears, the vehicle has high speeds of 100kph. The Assault has 9Nm of torque and reaches similar top speeds. This vehicle is designed for riding on rough terrain but is also perfect for the potholes in the city. Robust and sturdy, the bike also offers comfort for those bumpier rides. The Isca offers a larger fuel tank at 16 litres and uses a centralised counterbalance shaft that works to reduce engine vibrations, guaranteeing you a smooth ride.
If you want to make more of an investment in your bike, the Venom could be the one for you. Costing £1,799.99, the bike is one of the brand’s most popular models, especially with new riders. Reviews for the Lexmoto Venom claim that the vehicle is cheap to run and smooth to ride. Fitted with a four-stroke engine, the bike offers high speeds of 105kph and 9.5Nm of torque.
First arriving in the UK in 2010, its products have quickly garnered a passionate fan base. The brand offers a range of 125cc motorbikes, with the cheapest coming in at £1,499.99. The Mantis is an appealing fusion of classic and modern aesthetics. If you’re looking for a Zontes Mantis review, the bike is praised for its style and engine performance but has been deemed less attractive than other options due to repair and maintenance costs. Marketed as the ‘perfect learner bike’, the Mantis claims to work well on open roads and in the city.
The Scorpion and Firefly are both valued at £1,699.99. The Scorpion is a sports-style bike, whereas the Firefly is an all-rounder – both are suitable for the everyday commute. The brand also offers the Rocketman and the Javelin, which are priced slightly higher at £1,724.99 and £1,799.99. The Rocketman adds a modern twist to a café racer while the Javelin boasts a sharp shape in bright metallic colourways.
Sinnis uses technology licensed from Yamaha and Suzuki. The bikes are slightly pricier than those offered by other Chinese brands, but they’re still great value – especially when you compare the recreations of classic bikes to the cost of getting an original and the ongoing maintenance it would require.
Sinnis has a huge range of 125cc motorbikes and scooters, from sportier models to retro styles. The Apache SMR is a Supermoto for newbies. With max power of 11.5bhp and “Fatbar” handlebars designed to reduce vibration, prices start at £2,449. On the cheaper side, at £1,999, is the Akuma, which offers 11bhp. Coming in two colourways, the Akuma is manufactured to be comfortable for both smaller and larger riders, meaning learners and those with experience can all enjoy this bike.
If you enjoy a retro style, Sinnis has both the Bomber and the Hoodlum. Priced at £2,145 and £2,199 respectively, both offer a classic frame with modern features. The Bomber has 11.5bhp while the Hoodlum offers 11.2bhp. They both have five-speed gearboxes and four stroke-engines.
Keeway is part of the QianJiang group, the second largest motorcycle manufacturer in China. It is also the owner of the oldest Italian manufacturer, Benelli. Its current roster includes the RKS125 and the RKF125, coming in at £1,699 and £2,299 respectively. The RKS offers 9.2Nm of torque, while the RKF reaches 10Nm. The RKF is also lighter, at 150kg compared to 190kg, making it super agile. Both vehicles are Euro-4 compliant.
Keeway also offers a couple of Cruiser options: the Superlight LTD and the Superlight SE. If you’ve been looking for a Keeway Superlight 125 review, wanting to know the differences between the two, then look no further. Both bikes offer 8.9NM of torque, have five-speed gearboxes and are Euro-4 compliant. The LTD and SE both have 15 litre engines, weigh the same and are designed for open-road rides. However, the SE is priced higher at £2,199, compared to £2,099 for the LTD.
Although one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in China, Lifan is one of the less known Chinese brands here in the UK.
The brand has a lot of bikes in its range, including plenty of 125cc models. Covering street bikes, cruisers, dirt bikes, cubs and scooters, Lifan’s range really does vary. The Camel and the C-MAN3 offer the highest torque with 9.2Nm, while the LF125-12G has the highest top speed of 100kmph.
The Camel is a street bike with a max speed of 93kmph, five-speed gearbox and two seats, making it perfect for couples or friends who want to ride together. The LF125-12G is another street bike with max torque of 7.8Nm, while the C-MAN3 is a cruiser that offers high speeds of 95kmph.
Honley is the UK brand name for Zongshen motorcycles, renamed after the Yorkshire village that’s home to its UK distributors, Earnshaw’s Two Wheel Centre. Specially designed for the UK market, the bikes have great fuel economy and have established a good reputation for quality despite being among the cheapest offerings on the market.
The HD2 is a modern, sporty commuter bike. It’s capable of an impressive 173 miles per gallon. The HD3, meanwhile, is a bike with hints of classic café racer in its DNA, and comes in striking black and gold trim. Both cost less than £1,500 and are almost certainly worth a go to see if they’re right for you.
Need motorbike insurance?
No matter which bike you choose, it will need insurance before you can ride it anywhere. Bikesure offers specialist insurance for Chinese scooters and motorbikes.
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