Road Test

Yamaha Yamaha MT-125 (2020) review

We spent a day testing the new 2020 Yamaha MT-125 in and around London, here’s what we found out

Details
Manufacturer:
Yamaha
Category:
Learner Legal 125s
Overall
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

FOR 2020, the Yamaha MT-125 has undergone its biggest overhaul since it was introduced in 2014. The engine is cleaner, features VVA technology and the styling has been heavily revised to make the learner legal challenger from Yamaha sharper and better looking than ever before.

The most noticeable change to the MT-125 is the new styling, bringing thew £4,524 machine inline with its bigger siblings in the MT range. The new look is coupled with a raft of new and fresh looking colourways, all of which add up to one of the most attractive learner-legal naked on the market.

Yamaha MT-125 video review

The headlight is now an all-LED unit, with dual headlights that give the bike an aggressive, sporty look. The rest of the styling, from the side panels to the seat unit, is all well thought out and nicely finished.

Engine

Mechanically the new bike bears little resemblance to the outgoing model, with an all new Variable Valve Actuation (VVA) system smoothing out the delivery, bosting mid-range and top-end power. Maxin out at a learner legal 15bhp, the MT-125 gets down the road well, having enough poke to beat most of the traffic away from the lights and it’ll easily cruising at 65 to 70mph. With 8.4lb-ft of torque on offer, the Yamaha isn’t the torquiest machine out there, although the gears are perfectly spaced and make the most of everything the bike has on offer.

Another update for 2020 is an assisted slipper clutch, a fantastic addition for a new rider honing their craft. The change is nice and direct although the lever has a fairly long throw and makes the rider shift up using their instep rather than the tip of their toe. With the new clutch comes a super-light lever, that really only needs one finger to snick through the gears.

Chassis and handling

As the bike shares much of its chassis design with the YZF-R125 sports bike, the handling dynamics of the machine are very sporty. It drops into turns in the blink of an eye and features some nicely setup non-adjustable USD forks that while not the plushest on the road, do provide a stable base to work from and excellent feedback to the rider.

The braking system to is top notch, with a beefy four-pot caliper up front biting down on a large 292mm disc. Two-channel ABS keeps everything pointing the right way and the feel, bite and power of the front brake are all excellent. The back is a little vague, although provides enough bite to help out when moving the bike around slowly.

The day spent in the saddle of the machine intentionally took the bike from Woking right into the heart of London. The thought was we could test the bike on some juicy backroads, plenty of dual carriageway and also in the bustle of the nation’s capital.

Cleary the bike was more at home on the B-roads and city than it was on the dual carriageway, although it is more than happy to sit at high speed for great lengths of time. It does though excel on a twisty road, focussing the rider on their gear changes, braking points and corner exits, all of which help make the MT-125 a very enthralling machine to hustle through the countryside.

Once within the Big Smoke, the MT-125 becomes a traffic scything weapon, with its exceptionally balanced chassis, lightweight, and narrow profile making any gap in the traffic a potential option.

If there was one fly in the little MT’s ointment for me it was the seat is quite hard. It could be my aging buttocks or the fact that we spent a full day riding the machine that did it, but I felt myself having to shift around to find some comfort in the final hours of riding. That said, the seat is big enough that you can shift yourself about to grab some relief.

Equipment

One of my favourite features about the MT-125 is the funky looking reverse LED dash. It’s a properly cool looking bit of kit, with all the information laid out clearly and the large rev-counter crowing the display nicely. It’s also fun to watch how much the fuel gauge doesn’t move. I clocked up about 75 miles on the day we tested the bike, which was brand new I might add, and on returning it to Yamaha in the evening it was still reading it had a tank full of fuel!

Yamaha MT-125 highlights

  • Revised looks – more grown-up and stylish than the rest of the 125cc pack
  • Sporty dynamics – both new and experienced riders will love the way this thing turns!
  • Fuel economy – running a bike like this will be pocket money amounts on a weekly basis

Yamaha MT-125 (2020) verdict

There are few 125cc bikes I’ve ridden that have got quite as much attention as the Yamaha did on the test in London. Bikers and non-bikers alike were walking over and asking questions, with many thinking the learner legal machine was a much bigger bike. And it’s that big bike feeling that really was the cherry on top for me, you never feel vulnerable while riding it, and with the power and handling dynamics the bike has it really never fails to entertain.

There are a couple of issues for me, the long gear change and firm seat really being the only two, although an aftermarket seat and a slinky looking CNC machined gear lever would probably sort it – and what 17-year-old doesn’t spend every spare penny blinging up their new bike?

At under £5k the bike is also good value, despite being one of the more expensive machines on the market. What you are getting though is a premium feeling bike, with a host of neat touches you cannot get elsewhere in the sector. And thanks to COVID-19 ruining most of 2020 there might actually be much better deals to be had by booking and appointment at your nearest Yamaha dealership. Before you head down to the dealer, get on the app store and download the Yamaha MyGarage app and configure your perfect machine for from the comfort of your own home!

For more information on the new 2020 Yamaha MT-125, head to yamaha-motor.eu

To download the Yamaha MyGarage app click here yamaha-motor.eu/mygarage/

Yamaha MT-125 (2020) specs

Price

 £4449

Engine

 124cc air-cooled single SOHC 4-stroke

Power

 14.75bhp (11kW) @ 10,000rpm

Torque

 8.5lb-ft & (11.5Nm) @ 8000rpm

Frame

 Steel Deltabox

Wheelbase

 1325mm

Brakes

 Front - single 292mm disc, four-piston radial caliper. Rear - 220mm disc, single-piston caliper

Transmission

 5 gears, chain final drive

Suspension

 Front - 41mm inverted forks, non-adjustable. Rear, non-adjustable mono-shock

Wheels/tyres

 Front - 110/80 x17. Rear - 140/70 x17 (Michelin Pilot Road)

Seat height

 Street 810mm

Fuel capacity

 10 litres

Weight

 140kg (wet)

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