Top 10s

Top 10 used 125s

We all need them at some stage and that make 125s the hottest used bikes on the market

FORGET superbikes, adventure bikes or hyper nakeds; it’s 125cc machines that rule the British bike market.

Whether you’re still on an L-plate or just looking for a knockabout city commuter, 125s the obvious option. No surprise, then, that they make up the lion’s share of the bike market. There are some 290,000 bikes in the 51cc-125cc class on the road in the UK, making up 22.9% of all bikes and by far the largest category. Last year alone, some 52,900 were sold here, equivalent to more than one in three registrations.

But you don’t want a new one, do you? Why not let someone else swallow the depreciation? Grab the right used 125 and it will always be worth pretty much the same as you paid, and the market’s voracious appetite for them means it should be easy to sell.

But which should you choose? Read on to discover our picks.

Forget superbikes, adventure bikes or hyper nakeds; it’s 125cc machines that rule the British bike market.

Whether you’re still on an L-plate or just looking for a knockabout city commuter, 125s the obvious option. No surprise, then, that they make up the lion’s share of the bike market. There are some 290,000 bikes in the 51cc-125cc class on the road in the UK, making up 22.9% of all bikes and by far the largest category. Last year alone, some 52,900 were sold here, equivalent to more than one in three registrations.

But you don’t want a new one, do you? Why not let someone else swallow the depreciation? Grab the right used 125 and it will always be worth pretty much the same as you paid, and the market’s voracious appetite for them means it should be easy to sell.

But which should you choose? Read on to discover our picks.

However good your imagination, a 125cc cruiser is never going to fulfil those Route 66 daydreams and in terms of performance or handling it’s hard to make a case for them in the face of far more accomplished alternatives.

But for some people only a cruiser will do, either thanks to their low seats or simply the chrome-clad style. If you’re one of them then the baby Marauder is the best option. Despite being discontinued back in 2011, there’ve been a constant couple of thousand on the road ever since, hinting at strong reliability. There are always dozens to choose from and since they didn’t change much from 1998 to 2011, prices reflect condition more than age. Look after yours and you’ll get most of your money back when you trade up.

Price range: £800-£2000

Engine: 124cc, 12bhp, air-cooled single

For many people a 125 is just a means to an end; you’ve got to ride one at some stage on your way to a full licence. But if you want to do it with some style then KTM’s 125 Duke is worth a look.

Chiming in on the fashion for powerful, superbike-based naked bikes, the Duke can claim family ties with the insane 1299 SuperDuke R. At a legal-limit 15bhp, it’s got less than a 10th of the power, of course, but it’s still bags of fun with a premium appeal. A high-ish seat (810mm) means it’s not for shorties and prices are still pretty firm so don’t expect to bag a three-figure bargain unless you’re rummaging among the insurance write-offs.

The new 2017 version is better still, but as yet rare on the used market.

For race-rep fans, the Duke’s faired RC125 cousin – which shares most of its components – is perhaps the most desirable current 125cc sports bike, but prices are high.

Price range: £1500-£3500

Engine: 124cc, 15bhp, water-cooled single

The 70s-inspired, fun-bike styling predates the recent fad for scramblers by a decade but it’s a perfect match for the Kodachrome-filtered, beardy-hipster bandwagon that other firms are – ahem – scrambling to jump on.

Underneath it all there’s a decent bike, too. The fact that there’s been a constant 2000-2500 or so of them licenced and in use on British roads for the last decade shows that they last pretty well. Annual sales of new ones are around 250, so about the same number – some 10% of the ones on the road – are falling out of use per annum. That’s not bad for bikes in this class.

Not a good choice if you want to go fast, either in a straight line or round corners, they’re appealing nonetheless if you’re just bumbling about and looking cool.

Price range: £1000-£3000

Engine: 124cc, 12bhp, air-cooled single

For some the attraction of a 125 is the fact they’re small and light. But if you want one that feels much more like a full-fat motorcycle the XL125V Varadero is an obvious used choice.

There are still thousands of them out there (nearly 3000 still on the road in the UK at the last count), which bodes well for reliability. And with a V-twin engine they’re a little more grown up than the usual single-cylinder fare in this class.

While the adventure bike looks are from an earlier generation, they still put you on a class of bike that’s more popular than any other. Prices are still firm, too – up to £5000 for some of so you’ll get most of your money back when you sell.

Price range: £500-£5000

Engine: 124cc, 15bhp, liquid-cooled V-twin

At the other end of the spectrum from the oh-so-sensible Varadero 125 comes Honda’s MSX125, which has sparked a revival of the mini-bike scene that used to be dominated by Honda Monkeys and Gorillas.

The MSX’s popularity stems largely from the fact it doesn’t only appeal to learners. Even seasoned riders have been grabbing them as a fun second bike. They’re small, so take up little garage space, and cheap enough to verge on impulse purchase territory – you’ll find new, facelifted ones for £3k and used ones for a fraction of that. Buy it on the never-never and it could cost little more than your mobile phone contract each month.

Having said that, they’re still newish and popular, so don’t expect to grab one for a few hundred quid. Prices are still solid at the moment, but if the bubble bursts and they drop out of fashion there’s room for significant depreciation.

Price range: £2000-£3000

Engine: 125cc, 11.4bhp, air-cooled single

If this list was based purely on popularity, the YBR125 would be in the first place by a mile. It’s quite simply the single most common 125-class bike on the road today, with around 14,000 of the things currently licenced and in use in the UK.

That’s largely thanks to riding schools, many of which have fleets of the things, all being abused to death by a series of learners.

Many of those bikes will never live to see a second keeper on their registration documents, and if you’re shopping for one it’s worth making a particularly close inspection for damage.

On the road, the YBR isn’t one for poseurs. It’s short on style, speed and equipment, but few machines are as effective as simple workhorses.

Price range: £800-£2000

Engine: 124cc, 10bhp, air-cooled single

If you’re shopping for the Yamaha YBR125, you might as well look at CBF125s as well. Honda’s rival in the ever-hot battle to grab the wallets of training schools is similarly basic and reliable and just as cheap to buy. As bare-bones transport it makes a vast amount of sense.

Compared to the Yam, the CBF is a fraction more powerful and a little more stylish, but in this bit of the market the greatest value lies in reliability and low price, which it’s got in spades.

Scour the net and you’ll find used CBFs for three-figure prices, making them effectively throw-away bikes. But unlike similarly-inexpensive Chinese machines, you probably won’t have to throw the Honda away.

For a more retro experience, there are still plenty of examples of the CBF’s predecessor, the CG125 on the market. Thousands of us learned to ride on them, and the fact some are still around 10, 20 or even 30 years later is testament to a legendary design.

Price range: £600-£2000

Engine: 124cc, 11bhp, air-cooled single

3: Yamaha WR125

We couldn’t have this list without including something with a bit of real off-road ability and the WR125 checks that box nicely. It’s also by far the most popular and common road-legal off-roader, whether in knobbly-tyred WR125R or supermoto-spec WR125X spec (as shown).

While it would be lovely to include a proper, two-stroke 125 here – maybe a DT125 – it’s hard to make a case for them on practicality grounds. If you don’t mind the regular rebuilds, go for it, though. Instead the WR will scratch the off-road itch nicely.

Faster than most of the bikes here, with a full 15bhp from a water-cooled engine, the WR is light and lithe, albeit with a tall 920mm seat (930mm for the R version).

Price range: £1500-£3500

Engine: 125cc, 15bhp, water-cooled single

Honda’s CBR125R might not be the most exotic or exciting of the 125cc sports bikes but as a used buy it makes a whole heap of sense.

It would have been easy to write the praises of an Aprilia RS125, or perhaps a Cagiva Mito, but back in the real world where spares availability, reliability and usability all actually count for something, they were thrown out. Instead the Honda represents a safe pair of hands.

And to be fair, the CBR125R pulls off the mini-Fireblade styling pretty well, regardless which generation you pick. It’s also got a good blend of performance and economy.

With nearly 8000 on the road in the UK, there’s no shortage to choose from and all indications are that they’re as long-lasting as you’d expect from a Honda.  Prices are also firm, so buy used and the depreciation hit shouldn’t be too bad when the time comes to sell.

Price range: £1000-£3000

Engine: 124cc, 13bhp, water-cooled single

When Yamaha launched the R125 back in late 2007 it was the first 125cc sports bike in years to grab headlines and target the market that, a decade or so earlier, had been dominated by sporty two-strokes.

A 15bhp single meant its performance couldn’t match those near-30bhp strokers from years gone by, but it made up for in in style – it arguably looked better than the R1 or R6 of the era.

Now, nearly a decade on, and it’s not changed much but remains as popular as ever. It’s even spawned the naked MT125 (which is also worth a look on the second hand market if you prefer that style).

It’s also reliable – witnessed by the fact there are more than 8000 of them in regular use on UK roads – and holds its value amazingly well, thanks in part to the fact it’s barely changed since launch. Early ones still command £2000 at 9 years old, and four year old ones are under £3000. So that’s potentially half-a-decade’s use for less than a grand in depreciation.

Price range: £2000-£4000

Engine: 124cc, 15bhp, water-cooled single

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