FOR MOST 125cc buyers the bike itself is a means to an end – a mere stepping stone towards something bigger, faster and more desirable. But there’s a subset of 125cc sports bikes that are beautiful and desirable in their own right, regardless of capacity or performance.
We’re being subjective here but this top 10 largely reflects the fact that the later 80s and early 90s were a high water point for 125cc sports bikes. Two strokes still reigned supreme and there were enough wealthy teenagers out there to support a competitive marketplace, with manufacturers vying to make the most radical, lightest and fastest bikes in a segment where every last mph really did count.
If you’re looking for a practical choice, turn elsewhere. Most of these have the usual two-stroke issues of regular engine rebuilds, often compounded by limited parts supplies. But they represent the closest relatives of the 125cc GP bikes that the world’s best riders cut their teeth on.
As usual, if you think we’ve missed something, let us know in the comments.
Here we go...
10. Honda NSR125
While widely available and with typical Honda quality, meaning they’ll last rather better than some of the bikes on this list, the NSR120 – whether in 88-94 J20 form or 95-2002 JC22 ‘Foxeye’ guise – is just a little bland to be ranked higher. Most are restricted, and while there’s endless debate over their potential when the blockages are removed, even then they’re more likely to be around the 25bhp mark than the 30bhp-plus promised by some of their less-reliable competitors.