KAWASAKI J125 (2016 - 2021) Review

Highlights

  • Ideal commuter scooter
  • Reliable and solidly built
  • Should hold its value well

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £80
Power: 14 bhp
Seat height: Low (30.5 in / 775 mm)
Weight: Medium (401 lbs / 182 kg)

Prices

New N/A
Used £3,700

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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). 

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.

Slow riding on the Kawasaki J125

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

Cornering on the Kawasaki J125

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.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

Kawasaki J125 slow speed riding

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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... 

Kawasaki J125 build quality is impressive

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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:

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

There's plenty of underseat storage on the Kawasaki J125

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.

Specs

Engine size 125cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4v, single-cylinder
Frame type Tubular steel diamond
Fuel capacity 13 litres
Seat height 775mm
Bike weight 182kg
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 £21
Annual service cost £80
New price -
Used price £3,700
Insurance group -
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

Other 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.

Review your KAWASAKI J125 (2016 - 2021)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £80
4 out of 5
11 February 2017 by tony cookson

Version: j125

Year: 2016

Annual servicing cost: £80

decent very large scooter

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5

can be difficult to srart up, one know had is money pack

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5

fitted givi screen, heated gripps,rack and topbox ,heated seat pad

Buying experience: dealer, also have kymco downtown 300i, and xciting 400i

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