For a motorcycle that costs a shade less than £3000, has a steel frame and unadjustable basic suspension, the Yamaha YZF-R125’s bloody good. The forks and shock have controlled damping which allows you to chuck the bike around back roads, but they’re not jarring on rough city streets.
The Yamaha YZF-R125’s all-new engine has a longer stroke than other 125 motorcycles to give more torque, but it’s still no arm-ripper. Instead, the YZF-R125 gives flexibility two-stroke rivals like the Aprilia RS125 can only dream of. The Yamaha will crawl along at walking pace with the clutch fully engaged, and opening the throttle will give smooth drive right to the redline. It’s good for an indicated 80mph, which will satisfy most riders stepping up from a moped.
The Yamaha YZF-R125 is built in Europe, and although it doesn’t have a top-level finish, it looks sturdy enough. Previous Yamaha/Minarelli engines have been strong, and there’s nothing to suggest this new water-cooled lump will be anything different.
The Yamaha YZF-R125’s is a great introduction to sports bikes without the drawbacks of two-stroke rivals – but so is the Honda CBR125R for £300 less – if you pay RRP, which many don’t. The Yamaha is better suited to larger riders, is more composed when you thrash it and looks better, but otherwise they offer the same thing. It’s your decision whether it’s worth the extra. Find a Yamaha R125 for sale
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The Yamaha YZF-R125’s digital dash, Brembo brakes, under-slung GP-style exhaust and a proper sized R6-inspired body is the stuff of wet dreams when you’re 17. The full-size body makes it reasonably comfortable too – the footpegs aren’t too high, the handlebars are mounted on the fork tops so your wrists don’t take a pounding and the seat isn’t massively hard either. The seat is reasonably high though – shorties may be more comfortable on the Honda.