Bargain hunt: Sub-£3000 naked 125s tested

Ten years ago, at the age of 16, there were only two bikes I wanted once I turned 17. The Aprilia RS125 - which was the bike to have back then - or Yamaha's DT125X supermoto. What did these two bikes have in common? They were both over £3000. Quite significantly in the case of the Aprilia.

Now the 125cc market has changed drastically. Uber-cool performance machines have been left behind for cheaper and simpler bikes such as the Honda CB125F, Hyosung GT125P and Lexmoto ZSX-F125 tested here.

Honda CB125F, £2699
The Honda has been around in some form or another for a few years now, making it the old faithful of the bunch. Every time I ride one I'm surprised by just how easy it makes riding a motorcycle. It's only got a drum brake at the rear, and for a six footer like me is a little small, but it's just so right.

The single cylinder air-cooled engine is perfect for inner-city riding and doesn't completely run out of puff on the open roa either.

Hyosung GT125P, £2899
The Hyosung is completely unlike any 125cc bike I've ridden in that it's a V-twin. Yes, you read that right. From a distance you'd be forgiven for thinking it was an older Suzuki SV650 or something similar, but up close you realise it's a bit naff. 

It's as if Hyosung realised they needed to produce a 125cc bike and had a load of frames from a larger bike laying about, so they put a 125cc V-twin engine in the frames to make an almost comically large 125. Prior to getting on the Hyosung I'd just stepped off an SV650, and the Hyosung felt much larger. The pegs are high and the bars seem far away.

But how about that engine? How does a 125cc V-twin feel? In the case of the Hyosung - crap. V-twins are generally known for their low down power. Hyosung ignored this and went for the complete opposite - putting all the power at the redline. I'm not exaggerating. Open the throttle anywhere below 10,000rpm and acceleration is glacial at best.

If the other two are a little too small for you, then consider the Hyosung, but be prepared to thrash it everywhere.

Lexmoto ZSX-F125, £1699
The cheapest bike here by £1000 certainly doesn't look or feel it. It's the best looking of the bunch and, surprisingly, the best sounding.

It appears to be a copy of the Honda so, unsurprisingly, it performs in a very similar fashion. The engine is grunty, although feels slightly less powerful than the Honda, and the little screen does a good job of keeping the weather away.

If money is the deciding factor, then I'd go for the Lexmoto every time. £1000 is a lot of money, especially when the competition is so close.

For Senior Road Tester Adam Child's thoughts on the bikes, pick up a copy of the November 30 issue of MCN.