Versus: Yamaha YZF-R125 vs Honda CBR125R

Stuck deciding between the UK's two best-selling sports bikes? We can help

WHAT would you guess were the UK's two top-selling supersports bikes? Kawasaki's ZX-6R and Honda's CBR600RR perhaps?

According to industry figures, which include litre superbikes, 125s and all other capacities, it's the Honda CBR125R and Yamaha YZF-R125.

And despite being £850 more expensive, the Yamaha is giving the Honda a convincing pummeling, with 1,419 YZF-R125s registered between January and October this year compared 782 CBR125Rs.

But they're exactly the same capacity, almost exactly the same weight and make about the same power - so can the Yamaha justify the extra expense? Or have 637 people got it wrong this year? Don't decide before reading this.  

Reasons to buy Yamaha YZF-R125

Reasons to buy CBR125R

  • You won’t find a better-looking 125. But that’s obvious. You’ve got eyes.
  • It’s £850 cheaper than the Yamaha. That’s nearly a whole of your thousand pounds. 
  • It doesn’t just look like a proper sports bike. It stops and handles like one too.
  • It’s more learner-friendly, with a lower seat-height than the Yamaha and a useful steering lock.
  • It’s right on the power limit for learners and A1 licence holders, at 15hp.
  • It’s great fun to throw around, with sharp handling, good brakes and suspension.
  • If you’ve a mind to, you can tune them for more power (after gaining the appropriate licence, naturally). There’s a Malossi 182cc big-bore kit.
  • It makes the most of its 13.1hp, with super-linear power delivery.

  • Every 17-year-old wants a better bike than their mates' and this is basically the daddy. If price were no object, which would you have?
  • It’s sharper looking since a 2007 restyling. Earlier models looked a bit weedy.

Price: £4,349 OTR
Power: 15hp
Wet weight:
Seat height:

Price: £3,499 OTR
Wet weight:
Seat height:

Our choice: YZF-R125

Save your money and buy a bigger bike after getting a full licence blah blah blah. We don’t go for that old argument. With all new riders aged 17-19 now restricted to a 125, we think many will simply want the best one they can get, and why shouldn’t they?

The R125 is pricey. It’s also one of the sharpest looking and handling 125s you can get. Possibly not as novice-friendly as the CBR, with a higher seat and lower bars, but you’ve got two mandated years with it – how much of a novice will you be by the end of that?

The CBR’s a lot of fun and might have won if it made the full 15hp permissible under licence terms. Surely the law is restrictive enough without Honda holding back more?