Top 10 Learner 125cc motorcycles

Teen dream or basic machine: whether you want pose or practical there’s a 125 out there to suit

Posted: 10 August 2010
by Visordown

 1 of 11 

If you’re 17 or over and have done compulsory basic training you can ride a 125 on a provisional licence with L-plates.

Unlike most classes of bike you can still choose a four-stroke or a two-stroke. Two-strokes tend to be faster, lighter, less economical, more prone to needing maintenance, but simpler and easier to work on. Four-strokes are more durable and economical, but generally heavier, less powerful and slower. Four-strokes are generally harder and consequently more expensive to de-restrict.

While it’s always tempting to buy the fastest, flashest 125 you can afford, there’s a lot of sense in opting for something cheaper, more durable and crash-resistant so you can save your dosh for that bigger bike after you’ve passed your test.

Here is a countdown of the perfect Top 10 learner legal 125s.


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Hi yes all these bikes are wonderful learner bikes... but you can't beat the Suzuki GP100 & GP125 of the 1980's & also the Yamaha RD125 of the same era. New bikes are all very good but you will never beat the feeling that the older bikes will give you. The history the different people that have sat were you are sitting!! Nothing in the world would make me swap my GP125 for any of the new bikes,it's amazing to ride & everyone should (at least once) have a ride to feel the difference. Keep the older ones running!! From I LOVE MY SUZI SARAH

Posted: 03/09/2011 at 23:31

I applaud the sentiment; even in the 125 class there are some characterful and very useful machines from the 70s, 80s & 90s, particularly 2-stroke hooligan tools like air cooled RDs and GTs, even better with period expansion chambers and a nip of Cazzy-R. The right bike could also increase in value during ownership rather than depreciate as most modern machines would. But, before we all get too carried away, there are a few practical issues to remember. Modern conveniences such as 12V electrics and electric start, while not impossible to find, are way less common - for those who haven't had the pleasure, 6V electrics don't always have the energy to operate more than one circuit at a time. Not a problem in summer, not so good on a winter commute when it's better if your headlight and indicators will work at the same time. And, while kick-starting a tiddler isn't going to break an ankle or project anyone over the 'bars, it's not always the easiest operation to perform, particularly for the vertically challenged.
Having said all that, Yamaha's flagship 125 offering will set you back £3,700 new. Think I'd rather go with something they made earlier, about 30 years earlier:)

Posted: 03/12/2011 at 14:12

my ns125r with atac system could possibly one of the best bikes i have owned ive had all sorts rs125 mito125 and for a short time a ybr not a good choice and others but love my bike fair enough like all old 2 strokes it needs a little love from time to time but thats all part of the fun for a bike that is 22 years old rides better than alot of my mates new less powerfull 4 stroke bikes

Posted: 10/01/2012 at 19:59

My Yamaha TW125 is Faster than most of these. Still a 125cc block, But fitted with an Open power fit lift exhaust system, adding much need power, Better spark plug, Powerfuller Battery, Thin wiring where needed, Lower consumption bulbs. Original weight, 118KGs. New Weight 89KGs. original HP power 11.8. New HP power Dyno tested 17.4 /14 lbs. Geared up 14/45 tooth. 0-50 8sec Top speed so far 86mph 10,100rpm. Now that's a fast TW. I'm doing a Trike next. lol

Posted: 07/02/2012 at 18:27

Can this be done to a Suziki Van Van 125 K6 carb version

Posted: 15/05/2012 at 21:38

Absolutely - 125s are great little bikes. I fancy one for nipping around instead of dragging out the heavier beast.

Posted: 15/05/2012 at 21:45

I am a massive fan of the cg125 for its mpg and very simple engine that keeps on going and going for the learner. ive got a cg125 br-j 1989 its good for 65mph and 110 mpg a great little bike i think. most cbt centres do use these for easy running and solid build so carnt go wrong with one .older bikes were made to last time the newer bikes are made to keep the £ down metal and chrome is good plastic and more plastic is cheep not bad just cheep

heres one for the honda any way lol


Posted: 18/05/2012 at 22:09

hi,

i am looking for a decent safe and reliable 125 for my son.
so far the honda varadero looks good. I would welcome any advice.

thankyou SIMO

Posted: 10/07/2012 at 18:43

I have the Yamaha YBR 125 2010 model in red and black. I've had it 2 years now and it has been great. I've done about 5600 miles on it from brand new with no trouble but, recently after a journey to cambridge and back from london my engine light is on and the bike has no power when i pull the throttle and idles so low it cuts out!
Gonna take it in. has anyone experienced similar or have any advice?

I've been working on a site for all 125'ers and those wanting to get to know about how to get their cbt, first 125 etc. Check it out @http://www.london125.com/

Posted: 08/08/2012 at 00:46

I got a second hand Varadero 125 last October. I didn't have any experience riding bikes. I definitely suggest this bike as a first bike. It is almost a year now since I have it, and had no real issues. Except from changing the tires and front break disk, which were worn from previous owner, the bike is superb. Starts always with the first, very reliable, responsive, and can also be used for small excursions except from the daily commuting. I have also passed my module 1&2 with it, and still don't feel the need to change it to something bigger. Consumption wise I spend around 17£ for full tank, which gives more than 200 miles each time.

Posted: 03/09/2012 at 15:59

I bought a cbr125r in repsol colours. It's a grand cheaper than the yam. And a great bike to learn on. Plus honda are doing a deal on finance. Cheers.

Posted: 29/10/2012 at 17:28

I love 2T's!! my dad has a 225 lambretta and I have a Derbi Senda 50, I was jsut wondering if anyone had any opinions on any 125 2T supermoto/dualsport bikes as I am into mountian biking and wish to transfer my love of the dirt over to my motorcycling?


Posted: 25/11/2012 at 18:49

It may need a new reed valve, good luck.

Posted: 01/12/2012 at 13:38

I have a Y reg CG125. I bought it as a commuter as I only live 4 miles from my work place so it made more sense to use that than my other bike a Honda Hornet 600, especially in the winter. The indicators do tend to be dull at idle as does the headlamp but I am guessing this is 6v electronics issue. Once going though they work fine. It's a nice little bike and is full of character. Mine is a kickstart version which can be annoying in the winter when a cold starts sees me kicking it about 6-8 times until the engine will keep going. That said, I had someone interested in the CG but I couldn't bring myself to sell it. It has lots of charm and character and is so reliable it makes a great back up bike, although it won't set your hair on fire.

Posted: 19/01/2013 at 12:58

Couldn't agree more about the cg. I have a diversion 400 which is great but to be honest I'll never sell my CG as I love the simplistic reliability and gutsy character.
LONG LIVE PUSHROD SINGLES!!!!

Posted: 17/02/2013 at 20:29

I've been riding a CBR125 for my cross-town commute. Several miles of light-to-light traffic. A 125 is plenty good enough for this sort of riding.

Posted: 04/03/2013 at 03:20

I notice in your article on CG125s that you say it as launched in 1984, well I had one in 1983 that I bought from a friend in 1983 and he had bought it new at the end of 1979.
The CG was launched in Japan in 1976 and ceased production in 2008, so that was 22years of cheap, reliable motorcycling bliss.

Posted: 01/04/2013 at 14:13

I also notice in your article on the Yamaha DT125R that you say the DT has been around for 20 years it was actually launched in 1974 as the DT125A(in Japan). So by my reaconing thats 29 years!

Posted: 01/04/2013 at 14:27

Not sure if you got it figured out, but my bike did the same thing. I couldn't figure it out. I cleaned the carbs, fuel lines and drained the tank but didn't help. I thought I had ruled out fuel system issues so I finally took it in. Turns out I did have water in my tank. I had to run about 3 tanks worth of fuel through it before I got it all out. Runs like a dream now.

Posted: 01/05/2013 at 18:00

Gu22, I thought the same, my brother had a CB125 in 1978. A little research reveals that the first CB125 came out in 1972 with a 122cc engine; it was updated in 1976 with the 124cc "J" model, that must have been my brother and I tore around on. Production stopped in 1985.
I live in Thailand and I still see a few old CB125J around, some of them have a 110cc engine but look the same. Those bikes must have been stone-reliable if they're still on the road 30+ years later!
If I had to choose I'd take the Varadero if I had the money; a full-sized bike, the only one you could take a passenger on in comfort. 15hp is enough if you just want to commute. I ride a CBR150R here and it's a blast but it's a narrowly focused bike, not practical for everyday use. That's what I got my Nouvo 135 for.

Posted: 07/05/2013 at 05:05

For an beginner i would choose a light bike. I have an yamaha dt 125 r, and have been driving the varadero allot. The varadero is super quality, but shit weight. The Yamaha is super quality and super weight. I just love it!

Posted: 18/07/2013 at 23:32

light is right try get hold of the suzuki gn or the yamaha sr indestructible


Posted: 27/07/2013 at 21:18

This is nostalgia talkling, 80's 125 were shite and prone to explode if you modified them. Buy a standard one, ride it.. save money and buy a proper big bike as soon as possible.

Posted: 28/08/2013 at 02:35

Whats a 1985 CG125 worth in good nick with around 20k on it?

Posted: 29/08/2013 at 15:33

I owned a yamaha TZR 125 R, love it to pieces, it is my 3rd 125cc bike. I bought cheep Chinese before hand which were really unrealible for anybody with lesser engineering know how like myself. After a year of owning my crazy full of life TZR putting time and effort making it beautiful even tho she was doing over 300 miles a week, she was stolen :( by the scroats of society. They could not get her going after gutting her ignition so they decided to throw her in a river. I found her next day floating at the top. Crying on the Inside I jumped in and saved her. She is my new project to learn more about bikes now :( R.I.P for now. I am sticking I my yams and thinking about getting at 2010 yzf thoughts???

Posted: 17/09/2013 at 23:23

I have an Italjet Dragster and have driven 500 miles over a couple of days around Scotland. Also taken it to Holland & Belguim for a long weekend. Although its sporty it's perfect for touring as well as getting in and out of traffic in the city. Great allrounder. I have a scorpian pipe & mallossi variator and beats everything, and I mean big bikes and sports cars away from the lights. Leaves them for dead & because its an automatic it slipstreams thru traffic with ease. Had mine for over 8 years now & still looks future-istic.

Posted: 18/09/2013 at 09:55

anyone help me, got my son a generic worx 125, lovely bike. just dont fall off it or it will be off the road forever. cant even get a brake lever. i have been waiting for 6 months now. stay well clear as you cant get parts for them. if you know where i can get a lever from please tell me guys,

Posted: 23/12/2013 at 02:42

I think i would rather own an original 80's two stroker than some of the gutless 125 four strokers on the market today.in my youth i used to ride a DT125lc and then a KMX 125 derestricted,these were both fast and reliable little bikes,after a couple of decades away from bikes i recently bought a Rieju 125 'supermoto' style four stroke bike for a bit of summer fun,it was a big mistake,really gutless (about 11hp)i got shot of it.fortunately i have a full licence so i did some research and bought a KTM Duke 200 (25 HP),wow,what a difference,this thing flies ! it's like the old days again.i don't think four strokes are neccesarily the problem but you do need to choose one with decent horsepower as CC for CC they don't have the same power as two-strokes.if i was restricted to a 125 i would most probably buy a Duke 125 or another that was on the 15 Hp limit.

Posted: 29/12/2013 at 17:56

I have been riding scooters for 10 years and just got a varadero. About the best bike ever for numerous reasons. If you are intending to move up then a varadero is unbeatable. it weighs in at 152 but my mates 1200 ducati weighs in at 190 a varadero gives you the weight and feel and stability of a big wheeled bike without loads of power to bite you. People say they want faster? it does 70 easy and that's the speed limit. brakes could be better but that teaches you respect about speed. lack of fuel gauge sucks but trip meter will show you how much you can get just remember to reset it when filling up.
everyone and I mean everyone thinks its a 600 and it sounds ok but put a can on it and it sounds wow. upgrades to do would be.... centre stand. headlights. bagster tank cover. light up handguards from fleabay and obviously a new can. went past a biker meet the other day and got nods from fellow bikers who then looked none too happy when they saw the L plate on my forks. bikes that are really quick off the lights are bikes that suddenly require quick stopping as a truck comes through late. I commute daily and the varadero is a joy. im 6ft and seating position is fantastic clears car mirrors easy for filtering. whilst youngsters wont like that there mates scooters are slightly faster they will love the fact the bike looks a beast. tatty £850 clean £1500 I went tatty to use the difference for extras. will be nice to tour on

Posted: 03/05/2014 at 07:56

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