Yamaha YZF-R125 review

Posted: 12 Oct 2012

Unashamedly styled to represent the sporting heritage of Yamaha – and it does have some world championship titles in the trophy room. More than that, the handling characteristics and engine manners mimic the R1/R6 race-replicas. As a taster to bigger and better things, the YZF-R125 is the perfect starter.

Bear in mind the 125 is a scaled down sports bike and for that reason it doesn’t fit everybody. To be truthful, six-footers look awkward on the Yamaha even before they place their bum on seat. But then that’s the price you have to pay to get a measure of life in the supersports lane.

Despite the size limitation, the 125 is actually quite comfortable. Footpegs aren’t ridiculously high and set back and the bars are close by, although still angled a la sporting-style. The seat is a strange one by being thin, firm and sloping into the tank. But put it all together and you are Jorge Lorenzo about to cut rough on the way to McDs…

Reality hits home when hot hatches get away from you at the lights. The very modern water-cooled engine isn’t that gutless and Yamaha has worked to gear it to accommodate acceleration and top end drive through the 6-speed gearbox and final drive sprockets. But it is only 125cc and horribly neutered to remain legal.

So, while revving the conrod nuts off it, high rpm momentum isn’t that great, but the noise is, which adds impetus to the GP racer thoughts. Moving them on to the next level – maybe second placed on the rostrum – is a wicked little chassis complete with aluminium swingarm and half decent (read firm-ish) suspension.

Yes, the 125 can be thrown onto its side in an instant and back upright for the next roundabout in a nano-second after. The slug-like speed of legality unfortunately ruins any thoughts of rushing out of corners, so it’s necessary to really act out the GP fantasy.

Score up to the turn/roundabout, get on the correct line, use minimal braking last thing and use the agility and feel from the suspension to make use of corner speed. Yahooo… or words to that effect when you actually nail a perfect series of corners; to learn the art of racing lines, the 125 is probably the best learning tool out there.

The only drawback is the standard tyres aren’t all that for confidence and grip. All hail replacement rubber that is stickier and usable. In the meantime, owning a £4,000 125cc should teach you how to look after your first motorcycle. Look after it and it will look after you.

+ points – reputation for reliability, ideal spring board for sports bikes
- points – not as quick as it looks or should be, tend to get thrashed and crashed

Price: £4,470
Power: 14.75bhp, 9.0ft lbs
Kerb weight: 138kg
Seat height: 818mm
Colours: Grey, white, blue
More Information on Yamaha Bike Insurance.