LEXMOTO MICHIGAN 125 (2015 - on) Review
- Cheap and cheerful cruiser
- A1-compliant with reasonable running costs
- One of the larger 125cc bikes
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£60|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Lexmoto Michigan 125 might look like a Harley-Davidson, but it’s made in China, albeit by British-based brand Lexmoto. It’s a budget, cruiser-styled 125cc learner-legal motorcycle introduced in 2016. It was further updated in 2018, gaining fuel injection.
- Related: Best 125cc motorbikes
It’s physically big for a 125 with a long wheelbase (1435mm), fat 130-section rear tyre and high bars, all of which help to maintain the proportions of the bike, adding up to a fairly plausible take on a large cruiser in an A1 licence-friendly package.
- Related: Learn to ride a motorbike with MCN
Although its mechanicals and performance are fairly straightforward, in having an old but updated Honda-designed air-cooled engine producing just 10bhp, all held in a tubular steel, twin loop, twin shock frame, it’s all more than adequate for this style of bike – cruisers should always have air-cooled engines after all.
So although it’ll struggle to exceed 60mph, its kit list is fairly spartan and, being Chinese-built, there are the inevitable question marks over its reliability, durability and resale value, especially when you come to sell the bike on. The Michigan is a pretty authentic, credible and pleasing interpretation of the 125cc cruiser and is also undeniably fantastic value.
There have been some reports of occasional reliability problems, but on the whole owners are impressed not just with the value, but also with the style, proportions and equipment you get for that price.
There's a popular community for this bike at the Lexmoto Owners' Group on Facebook.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
With its laid-back cruiser style, decently padded ‘banana’ dual saddle and pullback ape-hanger handlebars, Lexmoto say the Michigan cruiser is the most comfortable bike in its range – and they’re not wrong.
The low 680mm seat gives a decent riding position that wouldn’t discredit a full-size cruiser and it’s easy to ride thanks to the light clutch, easy gear change and simple switchgear.
One six-foot-plus owner reported that the Lexmoto Michigan fitted him perfectly, saying: "It’s a great riding position and very comfy, very stable in the bends and leans well. Just watch out for the floor boards as they’re quite low and I have caught them twice – but they are spring-loaded and fold up for safety."
Although not especially sophisticated, the conventional, non-adjustable telescopic front forks combines with the traditional, cruiser-style twin shock rear end (with the shock being adjustable for preload) give a decent-enough, smooth ride.
As a 125 without ABS (as most today are) the Lexmoto Michigan is required to have linked brakes with a system that distributes the braking between both wheels, reducing braking distance and the tendency to skid without the complexity and expense of an ABS system.
As a result, what’s usually the rear brake pedal actually operates both the rear and one piston of the twin-piston front brake caliper, with the other front piston brought into play by the brake lever.
This also suits the cruiser style well – many cruisers, because of their rearwards weight distribution, require a strong rear brake – and owners comment about the "Excellent rear drum brake that has great feel, is progressive in use, very smooth and responsive when needed".
EngineNext up: Reliability
Like many Lexmotos, and indeed other Chinese-built bikes, the Michigan uses a copy of an old Japanese engine design. In this case it's the old Honda CB125J which went out of production in 1985 - also found in the Lexmoto Venom.
It’s a very simple, straightforward unit in being an air-cooled, carb-fed, single overhead cam, two-valve four-stroke single cylinder with a balance shaft to smooth out vibes. This was later updated slightly to employ fuel injection to pass the latest Euro noise and emissions regulations.
It’s fairly crude by more modern standards and is in a soft state of tune, producing only 10.5bhp at 8500rpm whereas more modern, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-valve Japanese designs, such as that powering Yamaha’s latest YZF-R125, can easily put out 15bhp.
However, the Lexmoto engine’s performance and air-cooled look suits the Michigan’s cruiser style and most riders aren’t looking for high performance anyway.
The result is a bike that’s very easy to ride around town and on B-roads, as well as keeping up with traffic up to around 50mph. Owners report that the Lexmoto Michigan will easily cruise at a steady 55mph and, once run-in, a top speed of 65mph is possible but requires revving the engine uncomfortably high.
One owner recommended changing the front sprocket from a 14 tooth to a 15 or 16 tooth for a more relaxed top speed.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
This is one area that is often criticised as the Achilles’s Heel of Chinese built bikes due to their budget nature and out-dated technology being suspect. But quality, technology and reliability of these bikes is generally improving, and it’s worth noting that the mechanicals, though Chinese built, are usually proven, durable designs. Lexmotos are generally better regarded than most – it is the most successful and popular Chinese-built brand in the UK, after all.
What’s more, the quality of the Michigan seems pretty good. The paint, chrome and welds are of a higher quality than the early crop of Chinese machines in the early 2000s.
Our Lexmoto Michigan 125 owners' reviews have some build quality issues mentioned. We'd suggest looking very closely at this bike and some rivals before taking the plunge.
One owner in particular reported that he thought his bike had been put together very well: "There is no bad fitting parts or cheap panels, all the chrome parts are of a high quality plastic which is good as they will not rust or corrode."
Instead his only complaint was: "That all the nuts and bolts are of a cheap quality and should be changed to stainless steel type." But then, that’s true of some Japanese machines as well.
That said, however, not all owners are as impressed. One commented that he was dismayed about the repeated build up of condensation in the speedo. Another had so many issues with his fuel cap, spare parts availability and repeated problems that he eventually gave up and changed it for a Yamaha.
Overall, the view seems to be that you get what you pay for. One commenting: "The actual material used, if looked at in detail, are not a high standard but you get your money’s worth for the whole bike. I think it’s genuinely the most affordable bike around for its price."
Once you've been through our owners reviews, you may find that you have some questions for current owners of the bike. In that case, we'd suggest you head to the Lexmoto Owners Facebook group, where there's a thriving community of people with valuable experience.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
The Lexmoto Michigan 125 is made and targeted at the budget-conscious rider. It’s excellent value for money to buy, both new and used and, as it’s only a 125, will also cost very little to run and insure. The fuel tank holds an impressive 13.5 litres, so given a typical consumption of 100mpg, a 300-mile range looks within reach – which is all the excuse you need to hit the open road.
Nor does the Lexmoto Michigan’s tempting affordability end there. The bike’s simple, air-cooled mechanicals and basic, twin shock chassis also means its rugged and relatively easy (and cheap) to maintain and service – although we do recommend that you pay particular attention to its cosmetics as they’re crucial on a cruiser style bike. Any pitted chrome or rust is a big turn off for potential buyers.
In fact the Michigan is so simple that many owners undertake all the maintenance and servicing themselves. But one word of warning, especially if buying new: the warranty requires you to service the bike at an official dealer based on mileage or time which ever is the soonest, with intervals that are very close. Although the individual service cost may only be £70, some owners have reported as having to have one every four months, which quickly adds up in terms of cost. Of course, if you’re buying a used bike that’s outside of warranty, this doesn’t apply.
One further word of warning, however. Although virtually everything about the Lexmoto is cheap, residual values aren’t great, especially compared to Japanese machines, and is something that should be factored in. Buy a new Michigan for around £1700 by all means, but we wouldn’t be at all surprised if, after a year or two and a couple of thousand miles under its wheels, that you’ll struggle to sell it for much more than £1000. That’s certainly the case with the few used examples we’ve seen.
Being a budget machine, you wouldn’t expect there to be much in the way of extras and equipment on the Lexmoto Michigan 125. It’s very simple and straightforward and it certainly isn’t a bike that comes with any bells and whistles attached – but then, for the price you wouldn’t expect it to be.
That said, the Lexmoto Michigan 125 does have a reasonable spec, and its rugged, old school style suits the cruiser genre well.
The Michigan 125 comes with an easy to view digital display, which gives you all the information you need whilst riding and includes a gear indicator, which is especially useful for learner riders getting used to a motorcycle gearchange. What’s more, the speedo illuminates blue in the dark.
It also has modern LED lights, which are both brighter and more durable than old-fashioned designs. It has proper, cruiser-style footboards, a comfy seat for two, has a mean and moody ‘blacked out’ look and an optional sissy bar is available for an extra 30 quid.
Nor does it end there. Later versions have fuel injection, a full four different colour options are available and, when buying new, have the option of an unpainted tank which you can then custom paint yourself.
All in all, and certainly considering the bargain new price the Michigan is available for, it’s not bad – not bad at all.
While in addition to all that, Lexmoto themselves have a sister company – www.cmpoparts.com – which specialises in spare parts and accessories for all Lexmotos, including things like budget-priced luggage.
|Engine type||Single Cylinder, 4 Stroke Air Cooled|
|Fuel capacity||13.5 litres|
|Front suspension||Telescopic Forks|
|Rear suspension||Twin Shock Absorber|
|Front brake||Hydraulic Disc|
|Front tyre size||90/90-18|
|Rear tyre size||130/90-15|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£21|
|Annual service cost||£60|
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||10 bhp|
|Top speed||65 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
- 2016 – Lexmoto Michigan 125 introduced
- 2019 – New fuel injected ‘EFI’ version launched
Owners' reviews for the LEXMOTO MICHIGAN 125 (2015 - on)
4 owners have reviewed their LEXMOTO MICHIGAN 125 (2015 - on) 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:||£60|
Annual servicing cost: £80
No frills, entry level bike.
At first I found the ride very stiff, but then found the preload on the rear shocks which made a much more comfortable ride. The seat was very firm, and within an hour I was needing a break. I got an air cushion from Amazon and that resolved the issue. Position is comfortable for long rides, and comfortable on the fast roads, although a screen would help with the wind.
It's a very basic engine. It worked well and had a nice little grunt from the exhaust when opening her up. By no means the quickest, but worked well at city speeds. Felt a bit strained at full pelt on the dual carriage way.
Had issues with the Reg/Rec out of the gate, but dealer told me to get a trickle charger. Wouldn't accept they had missed a fault so ended up selling it.
Had its first service at 301 miles. All fine (other than the issue mentioned above) and cost very little in petrol (about £10 for a full tank). The main issue is going to be regular servicing. The service schedule is very busy for the first couple thousand miles, that it'll be constantly going in and out of servicing if used regularly.
A speedo with digital fuel and trip meter, would have been nice to have a tacho to see the revs, but not essential, the headlights are quite dim at night, so would be better changed up to brighter ones, gear position was useful. Doesn't come with a toolkit under the seat (and there no room for one anyway), which is a little odd, and the switches are cheap but work.
Buying experience: My dealer was useless. When my bike died and wouldn't jump start, I was told there was nothing wrong with the bike, even though the battery clearly wasn't being charged by the Reg/Rec. Had to go through parent company Llexeter to get some kind of resolution from the dealer, and even then it felt like was begrudgingly given. The dealer made me lose faith one the brand, but the company's response was top notch.
Comfortable enough when it works.
Fuel cap issues and spare parts availability had it of the road for months before breaking again in less then a month. Got rid of it for a Yamaha and never looked back.
Well at first it was stalling at every stop but with a little setting to the carburettor is giving so much fun and even under a tunnel it is a turn head situation from anyone around. The bike is smooth and very comfortable. Looking forward to pass the running in so to check her top speed. It is a small engine but good enough for a smooth and a fun ride. Will recommend it as a beginner bike or a city user.
Very smooth and brakes responsive when needed.
it is quite impressive for a 125 cc
The actual material if looked in detail is not a high standard but it is the money's worth paid for the whole bike. I think it is the most genuine affordable bike compared to the price. It is useless to buy another brand for three times as much.
The speedo. Very cool it lights blue in the dark. What I do not like is small condensation build up after few minutes.
Annual servicing cost: £50
looks like a harley davidson with design features from such bikes The bike looks the part, all the parts match in size and style, to many 125 custom/cruisers do not look quite right thin forks, handle bars, etc this includes the big 4 japanese makes. like the MCN review points out only the single cylinder engine shows thats its a 125 cc I am over 6 feet tall and the bike fits me perfectly The top speed of 65mph once the bike is run in is possible but is revving very high, I would recommend changing the front sprocket from a 14 tooth to a 15 or 16 tooth for a more relaxed top end speed and comfort I have just put on a 17 tooth sprocket but its now to relaxed but did reach 72 mph on a slight down hill road, so food for thought
great riding position and very comfy, very stable in the bends and leans well, just watch out for the floor boards as there are quite low and I have caught them twice but they are spring loaded and fold up for safety. Excellent rear drum brake that has great feel and is progressive in use the bike is very easy to ride around towns and on the B roads as well as keeping up with traffic up to around 50 mph the bike will easily stay at around 55 mph in 5th up long hills
Honda engine copy/clone with balance shaft same or similar as Honda CBF125 but without the fuel injection very smooth power delivery
The bike has been put together very well there is no bad fitting parts or cheap panels all the chrome parts are of a high quality plastic which is good as they will not rust or corrode and if I had to complain I would say that all the nuts and bolts are of a cheap quality and should be changed to stainless steel type
I service the bike myself its so easy to do and only basic skills required I would point out that the service book requires you to services this bike at the dealer based on mileage or time which ever is the soonest which means that I would have had 5 services within 9 weeks of ownership, I feel that the service interval is so close as this is how the dealers make their money. hence 2 stars for servicing costs I have adjusted the tappets gap twice and changed oil 3 times along with the filter/strainer. chain is very cheap type and would recommend changing this to a high quality o ring type
gear indicator, floor boards, comfy seat, sissy bar available for under £30.00
Buying experience: brought from dealer paid full price £1499 on the road