How quick things change. Just a few years ago if you wanted a performance 125 it had to be a two-stroke. Now the ‘ring-dingers’ have virtually disappeared, made obsolete by emissions regulations and replaced by four-strokes.
Encouragingly, though, this hasn’t led to the demise of the sports 125 – in fact far from it. The 125 learner market continues to be healthy, with sports bikes among the most popular. Yamaha’s YZF-R125 was the third best-selling bike in the UK up to July with Honda’s updated-for-2011 CBR125R 13th, selling close to 500 units already this year.
But just as it seemed the mighty Japanese were having things all their own way in this category, Europe is fighting back. Aprilia, long-time two-stroke champion in this class with the ultra-delectable RS125, has come up with its first four-stroke learner – the RS4 125 – but is it good enough to beat the established class leaders? And it’s not alone, either. The new Rieju RS3 uses a Yamaha-alike Minerelli four-stroke engine and is bristling with gizmos and style.
We pitted the Yamaha YZF-R125, Honda CBR125R, Aprilia RS4 125 and Rieju RS3 125 LC against each other on road, track and test strip to see which comes out on top.
Read the full test in this week’s issue of MCN (28 September), on sale now.