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Yamaha DT125X (2004-current)

£3,199

124cc, 15bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 6

The Yamaha DT125X is the latest version of Yamaha’s long-running DT series, the X is the supermoto, road version and it’s an absolute scream. Lightweight, ridiculously agile and easy to ride, it makes learning (or commuting) huge fun. It’s not for off-roading (get an RE version for that) but for Tarmac-based 125cc antics, the Yamaha DT125X is hard to beat.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Rieju RR50/125 (1998-current)

£1,699

49cc, 8bhp, 45mph, Insurance group 1

The Rieju RR50 has been around for a long time and it still has a basic, trials style appeal to many a 16 year old. Showa suspension, tall seat, big bike feel and a fair bit of speed ( once de-restricted ) from the Minarelli 50cc motor, which has 6 gears. There was also an RR125 in the late 90s, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 5
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MZ SX125 (2002-2005)

N/A

124cc, 14.6bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 5

It's like Skoda cars; once you get your head around the concept of riding an MZ, you'll probably realise how good they can be. The MZ SX125 has a gutsy little 15bhp motor, a lanky lad sized chassis and decent off-road ability if you fancy it. Bit expensive compared to Far Eastern 125s, but well made.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Suzuki GN125 (1994-2001)

N/A

124cc, 12bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 4

With incredibly low running costs, modest but useful urban performance and funky retro looks, the Suzuki GN125 is an ideal about-town motorcycle or learner bike. Incredibly easy to ride, with a reliable engine and minimal maintenance, the Suzuki GN125 is forgiving and a great confidence-builder. Lousy brakes and finish let it down a bit but, for a real world workhorse, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Honda VT125C Shadow (1999-2007)

£3,299

125cc, 15bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 4

If you’re ultimately yearning for a mammoth cruiser but have yet to perfect the art of riding one, the Honda VT125C Shadow is the bike for you. The littlest Shadow looks the part, is beautifully finished, very reliable and is relatively gentle and forgiving for the novice rider. The Honda VT125C Shadow is a bit lardy, and rather expensive, but an excellent ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Sachs XTC125 (1999-current)

£2,999

125cc, 15bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 7

A fun, tough little bike that, in looks alone, can certainly hold its own next to the Aprilias and Cagivas of the 125cc world. Performance is pretty good: that Suzuki engine’s smooth and grunty and the handling’s great but it’s painfully uncomfortable and really quite basic. A good laugh for a first bike, though.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda XLR125R (1997-2002)

N/A

124cc, 11bhp, 87mph, Insurance group 6

The Honda XLR125 was launched to appeal to the sub-15bhp learner market, it was a shame Honda didn’t make full use of the regulations and give the little XLR a few more bhp. As it is, it’s got its flaws but still provides lots of fun for newbies as well as proving a useful town hack for more experienced riders.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 2.5
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Honda XR125L (2003-2010)

£2,349

124cc, 11bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 4

The Honda XR125L is not a 'true' XR (just check out the electric start and the large tank range) maybe, but this is a great little commuter and green-laner. It lacks power up top but there’s more than enough for town riding and a spot of weekend fun off-road. It looks absolutely gorgeous, too.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki EL125 Eliminator (1998-current)

£1,999

124cc, 12bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 5

The Kawasaki EL125 Eliminator’s a top little bike to hone your skills on with a responsive, smooth motor and easy handling. The Kawasaki EL125 Eliminator is never going to win any races but that’s not what it’s about: it’ll haul you from A to B with little fuss, enabling you to enjoy the ride.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda XL125 Varadero (2001-2009)

£4,470

125cc, 15bhp, 72mph, Insurance group 6

Although only a 125, there’s plenty of big bike feel with the Honda XL125 Varadero. The proportions are right, the motor feels spunky and as it’s a Honda you know it’s not going to fall apart beneath you. As a first bike or commuter the Honda XL125 Varadero represents a clever investment with its low insurance group and parsimonious fuel ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4

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