LEXMOTO TEMPEST GT 125 (2020 - on) Review
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Based on the existing scrambler-inspired Tempest 125, the Lexmoto Tempest GT 125 is the latest L-plate-friendly retro from the Chinese bike importers.
Although lacking the outright performance and technology of more premium Japanese and European 125s, at around half the price of some, it offers a viable introduction to retro motorcycling for the cash-strapped teen to be proud of.
Boasting contemporary styling, only complemented by its minimalist air-cooled engine, and producing a cracking thud from its dinky exhaust system, it’s a bike best suited to carving through the urban sprawl or chugging sedately along deserted back roads.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Suspending the GT 125 is a set of non-adjustable 37mm conventional forks and twin shocks. Although small in stature, they soak up the vast majority of bumps amicably, crashing hard over only the largest of potholes.
This is combined with a well-padded, yet thin, café-style bench seat, which also houses a small pillion perch beneath a plastic cowling (not that you’d want to use it).
The GT’s proportions also make it ideal for novices and smaller riders, with a low seat height of just 780mm, kerb weight of 126kg, feather-light clutch and ergonomic foot pegs making it easy to paddle around at low speeds both on and off the bike.
Unfortunately, that ease of use is hampered by the linked brakes; a method used on some 125s instead of ABS to get through European legislation. Applying the front brake will slow the bike in a slightly vague, yet conventional manner, however applying the rear will cause the softly-sprung front end to surge aggressively, making it much harder to drag during slow speed manoeuvres.
This is made worse by the cheap Timsun tyres, which lack feel in the cold and wet conditions, occasionally allowing the front wheel to break traction across painted lines in the road.
They can also make cornering something of a guessing game, lacking the feeling of a premium tyre and leaving the rider feeling disconnected from the road beneath them. Adding a new set of quality rubber would improve the riding experience significantly.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Produced in Taizhou, China at the Longjia factory (which builds bikes under licence for several other firms selling bikes in the UK), the engine comes from Zongshen and, before you turn and run, this same firm also produce engines for the likes of the stonking Fantic Caballero 500 range and, back in 2017, signed a deal with Norton to produce copies of their 650 parallel-twin.
Still in a Euro4 guise (Lexmoto aims to make the jump to Euro5 towards the end of 2020), the 125cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine produces a gentle 9.7bhp at 8500rpm and is happiest up to and below 60mph, with the stubby exhaust providing a deep, clattery chug befitting its 60s Brit bike styling.
Exiting below the rider’s right foot, climbing through the gears is a joy to behold, indulging in a warbly soundtrack all the way to the 10,000rpm limiter. Coming back down the box is just as fun, developing a delightful pop on the overrun, and encouraging aggressive downshifts wherever possible.
Despite the excellent noise, at the bottom end of the rev range, the fuelling feels slightly woolly, with a bit of play in the throttle itself making it difficult to accurately pull away gently.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Aimed squarely at new riders and trendy urban commuters, while some will wince at its Chinese origins, every machine comes complete with a two-year parts and labour warranty, with over 110 dealers across the UK able to carry out any maintenance work required.
Despite the strong support network, at just 430-miles-old, our test bike was already showing signs of wear, raising questions about longevity. Up front, rust had started to appear on the forks and after an hour in the saddle, an iffy sensor produced a warning light on the dash. Applications of the front brake lever also produce a high-pitched squeak, too.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
With a launch price of £1899.99, the Euro4-compliant GT 125 is £100 more than the standard Tempest and offers budding retro enthusiasts an affordable slice of two-wheeled freedom.
This price is even more impressive when you consider a bog-standard Yamaha YS125 is £2999 which, while offering slightly better spec and a strong dealer network, lacks the style and charm of the Lexmoto.
What’s more, it’s also considerably cheaper than other Chinese-based retros, including the £2950 Mutt Mongrel 125 and the brand-new Herald Brat 125, launched at Motorcycle Live 2019 at a price of £2999.
Despite its wallet-friendly price tag, switchgear feels surprisingly sturdy. It’s by no means lavish, however its chunky finish gives the impression it will stand the test of time. It’s also logically placed, with the narrow flat bars meaning everything is within easy reach.
Sandwiched in the middle of this and tucked behind a small fly screen is a neat single clock unit, complete with an analogue rev counter and digital speedo. Well-lit in all light conditions, it’s slightly let down by its angle of placement – with the flat profile and thick outer rim partially obscuring the trip meter and gear indicator on the move.
Away from the dash, an hour’s night-time riding revealed the single rounded headlight to be quite poor, illuminating the road immediately in front of you, but lacking the range of a modern LED unit found on some of its European and Japanese counterparts.
What’s more, at constant high revs, the handle-bar-mounted mirrors vibrate continuously, hampering a rider’s vision of the road around them. This is made worse by their rounded retro design, which look the part, but offer little practicality.
|Engine type||Air-cooled single-cylinder|
|Frame type||Tubular steel|
|Fuel capacity||13 litres|
|Front suspension||37mm conventional fork, non-adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Twin shocks, non-adjustable|
|Front brake||280mm single front disc, three-piston caliper. Linked brakes.|
|Rear brake||240mm rear disc, one-piston caliper. Linked brakes.|
|Front tyre size||100/80 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||120/70 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||83.5 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£20|
|Annual service cost||-|
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||10 bhp|
|Max torque||6.3 ft-lb|
|Top speed||62 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||239 miles|
Model history & versions
November 2019 – Lexmoto Tempest GT 125 launched
Slightly cheaper standard Lexmoto Tempest available with more scrambler-focussed styling, including, chunkier tyres, flatter bench seat and Triumph Scrambler-esque high-level exhaust system.
Owners' reviews for the LEXMOTO TEMPEST GT (2020 - on)
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