KAWASAKI NINJA 125 (2019 - on) Review
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
It’s looking like a great year for lovers of the 125cc class and after an absence of 25 years, Kawasaki are amongst those offering A1 licence holders some serious street kudos. The new Kawasaki Ninja 125 is released alongside the Kawasaki Z125 which shares the same engine and chassis, but presents the package in a very different way.
- Related: this bike appears in our Best 125cc Motorbikes article
- Related: 2021 Kawasaki Ninja 125 colours revealed
The Ninja 125 is eye-catching, attractive, sporty and instantly identifiable as being part of the Ninja family. Performance is on-par with the competition and the sporty handling is a breath of fresh air. It's easy-to-manage, predictable, controlled and the in right environment fun.
Kawasaki have re-entered the sporty 125 market by kicking the doors down. The established competition should be worried. It’s just a shame the rather dull dated clocks blemish what is an excellent A1 bike.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The Ninja’s attractive trellis chassis and basic suspension, with only pre-load adjustment on the rear is again very similar to old Ninja 250SL.
It might be basic but it works. Kawasaki don’t appear to have cut costs on the suspension, both ends are on the sporty side, but have progressive damping and aren’t simply uncontrollable springs at either end like some ‘budget’ 125 machines.
The sporty set up still works around town, taking speed humps and large pot holes with relative ease and comfort. Stability is excellent, even when pushed beyond its design parameters.
Thankfully, Kawasaki haven’t economised on tyres either, decent Dunlop’s give enough grip and feel, more than enough for this type of bike on the road. Even the ABS assisted brakes aren’t bad – more than adequate.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Powered by a water-cooled, four-stroke 14.7bhp single-cylinder engine, which is loosely based on the old Kawasaki Ninja 250SL engine, peak power comes in at 10,000rpm, just 500rpm short of the redline and maximum torque of 8.7ftlb at 7,700rpm.
To get the most out of the engine you have to disregard any mechanical sympathy and thrash the poor little thing to near death. Flat out the digital display indicated 74mph; with a lighter rider and prevailing tail wind there possibly adding a few more mph, but not much more.
However, it was more than happy to buzz along at an indicated 60mph, with enough in reserve to slowly overtake trucks on the motorway, just.
Overtaking ‘normal’ road traffic has to be planned with military precision, there’s not much left after 55mph. But below that the new Ninja is more than capable of embarrassing dawdling traffic as long as you keep the revs buzzing, which does result in some vibrations.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Reliability shouldn’t be a problem as the motor is loosely based on the old Ninja 250SL, as are many of the suspension and chassis parts.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Compared to rival Japanese manufacturers, the all-new Ninja 125 is priced above Suzuki’s GSX-R125 and Honda’s CBR125R, and is more on par with Yamaha’s YZF-R125, however it doesn’t have the technology of Yamaha’s new 125.
For new riders
The new Ninja 125 (and the Z125) is cradled in a typically Kawasaki trellis frame that apes the 125s bigger stablemates, and helps it to look anything but cheap beam-frame budget.
That sense of big-bike class is carried through the proportions of the bike with a visual balance that could fool you into expecting more capacity lurking within.
Kawasaki have done this with the aim of attracting new riders, who will then stay loyal to the brand as they progress through licencing categories.
The paintjob and finish further reinforces the classiness, taking the Ninja 125 a long way from flat monotone tedium. Rock up at the pub or café on one, and you can pretty sure there’ll be no sniggering to be heard.
ABS comes as standard, as do the digital clocks and petal brake discs (Single 290mm petal disc. Caliper: Dual piston up front and single 220 mm petal disc. Caliper: Dual piston on the rear).
However, the clocks are very basic, dull and missing a gear indictor. For the price, the low-capacity machine lacks a little bling compared to the competition.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, four-stroke single|
|Frame type||Tubular diamond, steel|
|Fuel capacity||11 litres|
|Front suspension||37 mm telescopic fork|
|Rear suspension||Uni-Trak, gas-charged shock with adjustable preload|
|Front brake||Single 290 mm petal disc. Caliper: Dual piston|
|Rear brake||Single 220 mm petal disc. Caliper: Dual piston|
|Front tyre size||100/80-17M/C 52S|
|Rear tyre size||130/70-17M/C 62S|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£20|
|Annual service cost||-|
|Used price||£3,400 - £4,200|
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||15 bhp|
|Max torque||8.6 ft-lb|
|Top speed||74 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
The Kawasaki Z125.
More Kawasaki Ninja reviews on MCN
- Kawasaki Ninja 250R review (2008-2011)
- Kawasaki Ninja 250SL review (2015-on)
- Kawasaki Ninja 300 review (2012-2018)
- Kawasaki Ninja 400 review (2018-on)
- Kawasaki Ninja 650 review (2017-on)
- Kawasaki Ninja H2 review (2015-on)
- Kawasaki Ninja H2 review (2019-on)
- Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX review (2018-on)
- Kawasaki Ninja H2R review (2015-on)
Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI NINJA 125 (2019 - on)
No owners have yet reviewed the KAWASAKI NINJA 125 (2019 - on).