SCAN THROUGH the list of best-selling two-wheelers in the UK at the moment and one thing is instantly clear: sub-125cc, learner-legal scooters and bikes are the biggest sellers of all.
But when we filter out all the bigger bikes and look only at these strong-selling L-platers, we discover that despite their popularity, just two manufacturers are really fighting for significant sales. In fact, all the machines in our list of the best-selling learner-legal bikes for the first quarter of 2018 come from either Honda or Yamaha (and there'll be another one later in the year when the Honda Monkey hits the dealers and sales charts.)
Is it down to the firms’ reputations? Their strong dealer networks? The quality of the bikes themselves? Whatever it is, you’d have thought the likes of Piaggio, Suzuki and all the Asian small-bike and scooter brands would be tripping over themselves to get a slice of the action that Yamaha and Honda are currently hogging.
If that’s what they want to do, these are the top 10 best-sellers that they’ll have to beat:
10: Yamaha YS125: 114 UK registrations, Jan-Mar 2018
The £2,899 Yamaha YS125 isn’t a bike that’s ever been mentioned alongside words like ‘cutting-edge’ or ‘ground-breaking’. Or words like ‘exciting’ for that matter. In fact, even if you’ve had your licence for 20 or 30 years, it’s probably not a million miles from the 125 you learnt to ride on. Check out that rod-operated drum brake, the air-cooled single and the twin shock rear suspension. It is fuel-injected, though, and the simplicity of its design is probably as good a reason as any for its popularity.
9: Honda CB125R: 145 UK registrations, Jan-Mar 2018
At £3989, the new Honda CB125R is a pretty pricy 125, but it’s got the benefit of being a machine that’s only just been launched and with the latest styling and technology. Water cooled, with the same engine as the CBR125R, and with neo-retro looks shared by the 2018 CB300R and CB1000R, it’s easy enough to understand why buyers are tempted, even if its power, at 9.8kW, is a fraction below the 11kW that you’re legally allowed on an L-plated 125.
8: Honda NSS125 Forza: 149 UK registrations, Jan-Mar 2018
Scooters aren’t all cheap, you know. The Honda Forza 125 certainly isn’t with a list price of £4689. But that hasn’t stopped it from grabbing 8thplace on this list. Erring towards luxury and style rather than a bargain price, the Forza might have a clever idle-stop system to save fuel at the traffic lights, but you’re going to have to be hitting a lot of reds before it earns back that hefty tag.
7: Honda SH125: 158 UK registrations, Jan-Mar 2018
The SH125 might be another machine in Honda’s 125cc scooter stable, but it’s nearly £2000 cheaper than the Forza at £2699. That might be why it sells better, albeit only by a fraction. Yes, we’re back into an age of rear drum brakes with the SH125, but its appeal lies in low costs – aided by an impressive fuel consumption of 141.2mpg.
6: Yamaha MT125: 168 UK registrations, Jan-Mar 2018
Honda’s new CB125R is aimed squarely at the MT125, so it might be a disappointment for the Big H to see its rival still ahead in the charts. That might be because the cheaper, newer Honda (the Yamaha is a pricy £4299) wasn’t available right at the start of the year, though – by the end of the year it might have turned the tables.
NEXT - THE TOP FIVE SALES CHART