It's war in the battle for the hearts, minds and money of 17-year-old learner riders as Derbi launch an all-out assault with two new models. Daryll is called up to investigate.
Following on from the success of the GPR50 launched late last year, Derbi have expanded their model line-up with two new 125cc models, the GPR125 Racing and GPR125 Nude.
The bikes' launch took place on Derbi's home turf in Spain, some 45 miles from Barcelona. That meant the test route would mostly consist of tight, twisty mountain roads, with very little traffic - the perfect environment to test two mini race bikes.
The difference between the two models is simple. The GPR125 Racing has clip-on race bars and a full fairing, while the Nude has higher bars, radiator cowls, bar-mounted mirrors and a fly screen. Other than that they are identical.
From the word go it's obvious the GPRs have been carefully sculptured and styled into two of the best-looking lightweights on the road. Every conceivable trick part has been added, from the twin-piston radial caliper to the under-seat exhaust system, so on the styling front the GPRs score highly.
Neither model gets a kick-start though, which in some ways is disappointing. Having grown up in the 350LC era, I feel there's something special about kick-starting a two-stroke, but in this case the convenience of an electric boot will have to do. Once running however, and even with the Euro 2 emission restrictions in place, that familiar two-stroke smell is still there.
Opting for the Racing model for my first test ride, I found myself chasing a couple of other testers along the mountain roads. Now I have to confess I wasn't all that excited about thrashing a 125cc motorcycle round some Spanish country roads, but within half a mile I was hooked. You had to really concentrate to keep in touch; the trick was to keep the rev counter needle pinned between 9000 and 10,000rpm. Not surprisingly, the 125 Racing handles superbly. It is tight and precise, which shouldn't come as a surprise considering the double braced aluminium frame and alloy swingarm taken straight from Derbi's GP bike. Combine that with a decent brake and suspension set-up and you have yourself a race bike for the road. Admittedly though, we were testing the full power 22bhp version. The learner-legal model would be restricted to 15bhp, but we were informed the restriction could be removed by simply fitting a £1 fuse - providing you've passed the necessary tests, of course!
So far so good. However, the extreme riding position was getting a little uncomfortable for an old man like me, but I guess it would be fine for a young sprog.
Time for a spin on the Nude version. Over the past couple of years or so I've grown to be a massive fan of bikes such as Aprilia's Tuono and Benelli's TNT, and with this in mind I had been looking forward to testing the 125 Nude. I wasn't disappointed. It offers all the Racing model has to offer but with a far more pleasant riding position, and a bit more fun thrown in for good measure. Even with the lack of performance, half-decent wheelies were no problem, and with the higher, wider bars fitted the Nude was even easier to hustle around the tight, twisty roads than the Racing.
If I were 17 again I would head straight for my nearest Derbi dealer, not to buy the GPR125 Racing but to pick up a Nude. Don't get me wrong, the Racing is a beautiful machine, but it looks a hell of a lot faster than it is. The Nude, on the other hand, isn't pretending to be a 170mph sports bike. At £3549 it's not the cheapest 125cc on the road, but it is one of the best looking, and when you're 17 looks are everything. Whether the girls hanging out by the chippy appreciate the development that has gone into the GPR125 is neither here nor there. The important thing is the Nude looks the part. Once you've mastered the art of pulling a few stunts, pulling one or two girls should be no sweat.
Competitively priced with bang up to the minute styling and specs, although we'd take the Nude over the Racing.
TYPE - LEARNER PRODUCTION DATE - 2005 PRICE NEW - £3699 / £3549 NAKED ENGINE CAPACITY - 124cc POWER - N/A TORQUE - N/A WEIGHT - 125kg / 121kg NAKED SEAT HEIGHT - 810mm FUEL CAPACITY - 13L TOP SPEED - 80mph 0-60 - n/a TANK RANGE - N/A
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