Smaller-engined bikes – 125cc motorbikes and under – are a brilliant way to acquaint young and learner riders with the wonderful world of biking.
And just because their engines are a little more modest, it doesn’t mean they don’t have plenty of poke and you can’t have fun riding them.
There are other great benefits if you are considering investing in the entry level 125cc motorbikes. They are a great way of learning the rules of the road and they’re generally cheaper to buy, run and insure.
125cc motorbikes – cheap and affordable
More people than ever are turning to 125cc motorbikes as an affordable way to get into biking, and even just as a cheap and reliable way to get around.
There’s no shortage of choice when it comes to making your selection from the bikes on offer, especially from the major Far Eastern manufacturers of Honda and Yamaha.
Here are Bikesure’s top 10 125cc motorbikes – featuring four models each from the big two, and two uber cool scooters, one Vespa and one Modena.
We have selected them taking into account performance, price, running and insurance costs.
Honda CBF 125
Manufactured from 2008 until 2014, the Honda CBF 125 was Europe’s biggest selling entry level motorcycle and it is still much sought after in the very buoyant second-hand market.
Called the “Stunner” in India, the bike is what that name suggests, stunning in appearance and it has performance to match.
Excellent on the urban cycle, it is billed as the perfect city slicker, a lightweight, highly maneuverable commuter bike with kick ass looks and enough throttle to ensure you leave the traffic in your highly chromed tailpipe when the lights eventually go green. A of the pack among 125cc motorbikes.
Yamaha has a long history of building great 125cc motorbikes, their first, the YA-1, rolling off the production line way back in 1955.
The current portfolio of 125cc bikes is extensive and one of our favourites is another commuter ride, the budget YBR-125.
Cheap to buy, not much more than £2,600 new, and cheap to insure, the YBR-125’s air-cooled engine is pretty nippy and tops at around 70mph.
A great first bike because DIY repairs are not rocket science and it returns very impressive miles per litre (as long as you’re not constantly tanking it!)
Honda MSX 125
The “Grom” as far as bikers in Japan and the USA are concerned, the MSX 125 was marketed as the successor to the monkey bikes of the 1970s. But it’s bigger and more comfortable than you would expect, as long as you’re not over 6ft.
With a 124.9cc single cylinder engine, the MSX 125 tops at about 60mph so it’s not great for long trips but it is really designed with new bikers, learners and the stop-start traffic of the city in mind.
Fuel economy is incredible, the manufacturer claims 185 miles per gallon. The modest top speed also makes for cheap insurance for the Honda MSX 125.
Honda CBR 125 R
The race-inspired CBR 125 R is designed as a starter sportsbike for someone with aspirations of testing their skills on the track and even racing professionally.
This high-tech piece of kit boasts electronic fuel injection, electric starter, liquid-cooled 4-stroke 2-valve engine and six speed gearbox which all combine to provide the rider with a real sportsbike experience.
It doesn’t come cheap – it will set you back around £4,000 – which is a lot for 125cc motorbikes. But you will consider that money well spent when the champagne corks pop and you are on the winner’s podium a few years from now!
Yamaha YBR 125 Custom
This is the YBR 125 commuter bike with attitude: the same spec but cool customisations to boost the street cred. These include high bars, more blinging chrome and a lower seat position.
In fact, as well as giving the machine a more chunky more desirable look, the lower seat makes the YBR 125 Custom even easier to ride and that makes it an even better choice for learners.
Neither speed nor maneuverability are compromised by the re-styling, though, as you may expect, the price for both new and second-hand examples will be
Yamaha MT 125 ABS
Now we’re talking… The MT-125 ABS is an agile street-fighter – the first street fighter in the 125cc motorbikes class – able to hit 85mph at full whack, with a futuristically-styled naked chassis. If looks could kill!
This machine doesn’t have to be mobile to attract admiring glances but when you do hit the road expect other bikers to take a good look. Yamaha can have a long ha-ha at the way the MT-125 ABS has redefined entry level learner bikes.
Yes, biking is supposed to be fun but it does come at a cost – the MT-125 ABS will set you back around £4,000.
Vespa-Piaggio PX 125
Everyone loves and admires the Vespa for being the king of cool and the PX 125 is no exception.
Classically built for comfort rather than speed, this model has remained pretty much unchanged since it first hit the Tarmac back in 1977.
Performance is relaxed rather than adrenaline rush, but at this gentle pace handling is a doddle. Performance certainly presents no danger of you losing your cool.
The ride is comfortable and the feel is fun so search out some rearview mirrors (a dozen or so) and pick up a Parker for a relaxing retro run.
Honda CB 125 F
Just to keep things simple the CB 125 F is the 2015 successor to the similarly named and previously described CBF 125.
The CB 125 F is designed to be an ideal machine for new bikers and commuting bikers so simplicity and easy manoeuvrability were both on the design wishlist and on both scores Honda has delivered with aplomb.
Incorporating new fuel injection tech it offers excellent fuel economy, while the rest of the engine has been newly redesigned for maximum performance.
It is basic – that translates to cheap to buy and cheap to run – no wonder it’s one of the UK’s best-selling bikes.
AJS Modena 125
Another of the 125cc motorbikes harking back to the golden age of scootering, the lightweight AJS Modena has easy ride automatic transmission meaning you can slip through the traffic while concentrating on looking good.
Whether you are on a ride out or rally, commuting or cruising along Brighton seafront, the Modena ticks all the boxes. It offers a lot of style for a little money and running costs and insurance will be on the cheap too.
Performance-wise it’s not going to break any records, topping out as it does at around 55mph, but the mile per gallon return will mean you’ll have plenty of cash to spend on developing that all-over mod look.
This is another small engined sportsbike which began production in 2008. The design takes cues from more expensive sportbikes like the YZF-R6 and YZF-R1 and it hits a top speed of 70 miles an hour.
The YZF-R125 incorporates much of the technology used in the world championship-winning Yamaha R6 series.
At more than £4,000 is not a cheap deal, but if you’re after a small capacity bike with a big heart and money is no object this will doubtless be close to the top of your wishlist.
If a brand new one is out of your price range they have sold well and they wear well so there are a lot of bargains to be had on the second-hand market.
Cheap insurance for 125cc motorbikes
Whichever of these great 125cc motorbikes you go for, or even if you choose one not on our list, you can be sure of a great insurance deal with Bikesure.
We have 20 years of experience finding the ideal policies to suit any need, and with our 125cc bike insurance, you can get the perfect policy for you.
Bikesure uses a specialist, highly competitive panel to provide insurance for 125cc motorbikes without breaking the bank. Why run an affordable bike but pay the extortionate insurance premiums other brokers might charge?
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