KAWASAKI J125 (2016 - 2021) Review
- Ideal commuter scooter
- Reliable and solidly built
- Should hold its value well
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£80|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
If you want cheap simple commuting in comfort with style and reliability, then look no further than the Kawasaki J125.
Looking like a Kawasaki ZX-10R from the front with its sleek Ninja-family styling, the J125 is really a Taiwanese-made Kymco Downtown 125 underneath (just like the larger Kawasaki J300, which is based on the Downtown 300).
- Related: Best 125cc motorbikes
- Related: How to pass your CBT
- Related: Kawasaki J125 discontinued for Euro5
All Kawasaki did to make the 125 version was swap the 300 engine for a 125 – almost everything else remains the same. This means it’s a far more physically substantial machine than its competition and tips the scales at a hefty 182kg.
Don’t be put off by its lack of capacity, though. In any major city commute you really don’t need anything more than what the Kawasaki J125 provides.
It's physical size and impressive spec could also prove attractive to experienced riders looking for a cheap low-capacity commuter for the daily slog. It also claimed MCN's 2016 Best Scooter Award and was discontinued at the advent of Euro5.
The Kawasaki J125 price was £4249 when it went off sale in 2021.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The Kawasaki J125 might weigh in at a portly 182kg (that's only 25kg less than a 2021 ZX-10R superbike), but it isn’t noticeable on the move. It carries its weight low and underslung - almost giving it a pendulum feel as you dart between traffic. This also helps with slow speed control.
At its 2016 launch, the Maxxis rubber did its best to find grip on the sometimes very slippery Spanish roads and the standard issue ABS is a big selling point for new or inexperienced riders. Despite its J300 dimentions the wide seat is actually low and as you’d expect the automatic J125 is a doddle to ride - especially around town.
Not only is it easy, but the J125 is also very comfortable, with a lower back rest adding to the wide seat to create a sensation like sitting in an armchair. It also came with far more underseat space than the Honda PCX125 of the time and has a little cubbyhole and a shopping hook up front. Bonus.
Although the J125 is comfortable, taller riders may struggle for space. On one group test, a 6ft 2in tester struggled, as the foot boards won’t allow you to splay your feet forward, which means knees are always at a 90-degree angle.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The single-cylinder four-stroke Kymco motor is much more responsive than you’d expect. It will comfortably haul its big body up to an indicated 62mph without any fuss and roll onto a little more.
It'll also cruise happily at those speeds, albeit with the engine working overtime at around 9000rpm. It's doing around 6000rpm at 30mph around town and will happily out-accelerate any of our four-wheeled friends from the lights.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
The Kawasaki J125 uses a Kymco Chinese base. The single-cylinder engine still says Kymco on the side - it’s based on the Kymco Downtown 125. However Kawasaki have tried their upmost to give the J125 an air of quality using parts from Kawasaki’s J300. Essenitally the J125 is just the J300 with a smalller engine.
We've only got the one Kawasaki J125 owners' review on the site. It gets 4 out of 5 stars, but it's not quite clear why...
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
In 2016, the Kawasaki J125 was £3799 for the standard model, or £3899 for the limited edition model (paint only). In comparison, Suzuki’s Burgman was £3499 and the Kymco Downtown on which it’s based on was £3299.
But it’s cheaper than Honda’s Forza and the modifications Kawasaki have made gives the J125 a quality feel and it should hold its value better than the Chinese Kymco. Other rivals to consider include the Honda PCX125 and Honda CB125F - should you fancy something with a manual gearbox.
Watch MCN's video review of the rival Honda PCX125 below:
There is enough under-seat storage for a full face helmet and A4 briefcase. Additionally there is a small glove box up front with a 12v socket - perfect for charging your mobile phone. There’s a useful bag hook above the fuel cap between your legs, too.
ABS comes as standard as does the petal racy discs. There’s even an anti-temper anti-theft ignition barrel, and the twin rear shocks have preload adjstment for carrying a pillion. It’s a shame the front glove box isnt lockable.
From 2019, the Kawasaki J125 is available in Khaki with Metallic Moondust Grey, as well as the black and green paint scheme it had before. It was then discontinued ahead of the 2021 riding season.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 4v, single-cylinder|
|Frame type||Tubular steel diamond|
|Fuel capacity||13 litres|
|Front suspension||37mm conventional forks, non-adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Twin shocks, adjustable for pre-load|
|Front brake||Single two-piston caliper with 260mm disc|
|Rear brake||Single two piston caliper, with 240mm disc|
|Front tyre size||120/80 x 14|
|Rear tyre size||130/70 x 13|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||100 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£22|
|Annual service cost||£80|
|Used price||£3,200 - £4,000|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Three years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||14 bhp|
|Max torque||8.48 ft-lb|
|Top speed||70 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||275 miles|
Model history & versions
The Kawasaki J300 is a 300cc version of the Kawasaki J-series scooter with much of the same running gear and a higher capacity engine.
Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI J125 (2016 - 2021)
1 owner has reviewed their KAWASAKI J125 (2016 - 2021) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£80|
Annual servicing cost: £80
decent very large scooter
can be difficult to srart up, one know had is money pack
fitted givi screen, heated gripps,rack and topbox ,heated seat pad
Buying experience: dealer, also have kymco downtown 300i, and xciting 400i