Learner

10 of the best 125cc scooters

What's the most reliable scooter? What's the best scooter for commuters? What's the best scooter for adults? We've got the answers

WHEN buying a 125cc scooter – and it’s something a lot of us do at some stage – the best advice is usually to look for the one that ‘fits’ best.

That doesn’t just mean it’s comfortable, but that it fits your needs. Price is key, of course – a couple of hundred quid could get you started, stretching well into the thousands for something brand new – but so is purpose. Big wheels or small? Do you need luggage space? Are you going to potter in town or venture onto dual carriageways? The bike that fits is out there, but your own personal top ten might be very different to ours.

Not know your individual needs, we’ve picked ten of the ‘best’ by choosing scooters that offer something that most struggle with: individuality. In a mire of almost indistinguishable, worthy-but-dull 125cc scooters, these bikes – past and present – stand out.

Vespa PX125 New £3071

THIS one is here because it’s the definitive scooter. Where an original Vespa might mark you out as a wannabe mod, the PX is just pure, classless (in a good way) transport. You can buy a new one for £3071, or trawl the classifieds to pick up a 70s, 80s or 90s version for next to nothing.  

Honda SH125i New £3000

BIG wheels and (optionally) ABS brakes mark the SH125i out from the run-of-the-mill 125cc scooter herd. No, you won’t look cool on it, but for less than £3k brand new it’s a bargain – particularly when you think how much you’ll save given its 133mpg economy.

Gilera DNA 125 Used £400 - £1000

WHY the DNA? Because it’s a scooter that lets you live out some sports bike fantasies. Out of production since 2005, you can pick up a decent one for £500 and a rough example for less. There’s a 180cc version and a proper 50cc two-stroker, too…

Peugeot JetForce Compressor 125 Used £1200 - £1700

THERE’S just one thing to say about the JetForce. It’s got a supercharger. That means 250cc levels of torque, even though the peak power is reined-in to learner-legal levels. Derestricted, power jumps to 21bhp. Only sold in tiny numbers during the mid-2000s, so you might struggle to find one.

Italjet Dragster 125 Used £1000 - £1500

UNLIKE most other bikes mentioned here, the 125cc Dragster earned its name thanks to a two-stroke 125cc motor that gave it surprising performance. There was even a 180cc version that was quicker still if you had a full licence. Add a Ducati-esque trellis frame, hub-centre steering and futuristic styling and you can see why the 1998-2003 machine is a scooter legend.

Kymco K-Pipe 125 New £1699

IS it a scooter? Is it a motorcycle? With a clutchless four-speed semi-auto gearbox – which is a glamorous way of saying it’s like a Honda C90 transmission – the K-Pipe is neither fish nor fowl, but there’s no denying it looks cool. If you were a teenager stuck to no more than 125cc, wouldn’t you be tempted? From the looks of it, we wonder if the “K” stands for “Krack”

BMW C1 125 Used £1000 - £1500

OK, let’s get this straight. The C1 wasn’t much good as a scooter when it was new. It was expensive, slow and not terribly wieldy. But for our criteria it makes this list because there’s no scooter we’d rather have an accident on. Or should that be in? As a fully crash-tested machine, complete with seat belt, it remains unique. Prices now hover around the £1000 mark for average 125cc versions, but occasionally good ones sell for more, suggesting there’s a small but loyal following for these bikes; they probably won’t get cheaper. Ride one with the right sense of irony, you might be able to pull it off…

Vespa 946 New £7812 (!)

YES, that’s right, £7812. For a 125cc, air-cooled scooter. It’s not even terribly powerful at 11.7bhp. Yes, they promise 155mpg, which is nice, but really the price is all about the new 946’s limited-edition status and its looks. This is the scooter that celebrities will be riding…

Honda MSX125 New £2600

LIKE the K-Pipe, perhaps this is too much bike and not enough scooter for this list. But it’s cool, so it’s in. A modern take on the Monkey bike concept, the MSX125 (believe it or not, it’s called the ‘Grom’ in some markets) is one of those bikes that makes you wish you were a teenager again. You’d look stupid riding one if you’re in your 30s, but even so, we’re tempted…

Piaggio MP3 125 Used £1000-£3000

NOW discontinued in the UK in 125cc form, the MP3 makes our list because, well, it’s got three wheels. While it would be going too far to call it uncrashable, the arrangement does mean it’s less likely to get you in trouble than a conventional scooter. And riding one is an interestingly unusual experience, too. Original sales, from 2006-2011 were hampered by the bike’s high new price and the unconventional design. Now leaning trikes are getting more accepted and the used prices are starting to look tempting, so why not?

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