YAMAHA MT-125 (2020 - on) Review


  • CBT-friendly naked bike
  • Extremely popular, keenly priced
  • Loads of kit and good reliability

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £130
Power: 15 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.9 in / 810 mm)
Weight: Low (309 lbs / 140 kg)


New £4,700
Used £3,600 - £4,700

Overall rating

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

The CBT-friendly 2020 Yamaha MT-125 is a naked 125cc motorcycle that's ideal for learners, and it's received its first major overhaul since its launch in 2014. The refresh brings it in line with the rest of the ever-popular MT range with radical styling, improved performance and revised geometry.

The second-best-selling MT model in the UK behind the parallel-twin MT-07, the vast majority of these changes were first seen on the fully-faired Yamaha YZF-R125, which was relaunched for 2019 with R6-inspired fairings, a new frame, fatter 140-section rear tyre and rim, a new engine complete with Variable Valve Actuation (VVA), an LCD dash and more.

Plastics aside, the new MT receives all of the above: it's a miniature supernaked you can be proud of, complete with big bike looks, excellent build-quality and an impressive spec sheet. The 2020 model replaced the 2014-2019 Yamaha MT-125.

Once you've read this review, you may want to join a community about this bike, such as the Yamaha MT-125 Club and Forum.

Yamaha MT-125 updated for 2023

Yamaha MT-125 dash

Yamaha have updated the MT-125 for 2023 and it gains a 5in colour TFT dash and mobile connectivity. The CBT-friendly naked also gets traction control, which can be deactivated via a toggle on the right switchgear. Outside of that, it retains the same R125 sportsbike derived engine, chassis, and suspension - with the flatter bars making the MT easier to live with around town.

Listen to the sound of the 2020 Yamaha MT-125 in our video review:

Ride quality & brakes

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

Shod with grippy Michelin Pilot Street tyres, cornering on the MT-125 is a joy to behold, making mincemeat of the congested urban sprawl and capable of carving through nadgery back roads without tying itself in knots.

Helped by the well-damped 41mm upside down KYB forks and a reworked preload-adjustable rear shock, the bike also gets a new steel deltabox frame and aluminium swingarm taken directly from the updated R125 sportsbike.

Dan Sutherland gets the best from the 2020 Yamaha MT-125

Now featuring a shorter, more rigid swingarm with a wider pivot, the wheelbase has been reduced and this has improved agility. There’s also a shorter rear subframe, designed specifically for this model.

Combined with the new 140-section rear tyre, the result is an engaging, sweet-handling motorcycle, capable of fast changes of direction, as well as remaining unintimidating to novice riders.

On the move, it’s also fairly comfortable, soaking up the vast majority of bumps in the road, and only let down in this respect by its hard seat and a persistent vibe through the bars from the buzzy little motor. What’s more, although fine for this 5ft6in tester, the riding position is quite cramped and could feel uncomfortable for a taller pilot over longer distances.

Riding a 2023 Yamaha MT-125 on a closed road

Hunched forward in an almost supermoto-like fashion, the reach to the wider 741mm bars (up from 680mm) has been shortened thanks to a new seat, revised shock settings and stubbier, wider tank, which sacrifices 1.5-litres of fuel capacity to give the MT more of a big bike presence. It also has more prominent air scoops.

For 2023, its sporty R125 sibling has also been updated with new bodywork, and whilst it might feel more wristy around town, its tall front screen and R7 inspired front fairing help keep the wind off the rider far more effectively - making long distances less fatiguing.


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

The MT makes 14.8bhp, which is the most power a 125 can make whilst remaining learner-legal. This limit isn't always reached, though, so the Yamaha is one of the most powerful 125s you can buy along with the KTM Duke 125, Aprilia Tuono 125 and Suzuki GSX-S125.

Gaining the liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine from the 2019 YZF, the bike now benefits from a Variable Valve Actuation (VVA) system.

Triggered at 7400rpm, a pin within the YZF-R125-derived engine switches the variable valve timing from low to high-lift, improving performance significantly at the top end of the rev range. The maximum output of 14.8bhp (0.1bhp up on the previous MT-125) is available at 9,000rpm, with the redline pegged at 11krpm.

There’s also more midrange, meaning less time spent chasing gears to keep up with the flow of traffic. This is aided by a shortened the final gear ratio, which improves acceleration even further. A light clutch lever and smooth gear box also help you to progress through the cogs quickly.

2020 Yamaha MT-125 heading through tunnels on the launch, pilotted by Dan Sutherland

Signalled by a small ‘VVA’ icon on the logically-placed LCD dash, the system also helps deliver greater top end performance, creating more of an engaging riding experience when exploring more open twisty roads. So, how fast is it? With the new engine, it'll get you to a Yamaha MT-125 top speed of around 80mph, which isn't bad for a learner-friendly 125.

Also adding to the excitement is a redesigned exhaust, which has been worked on for improved sound quality (and is very important when you’re 17). Delivering a charming purr from its standard end can, the motor is audible at any speed and really encourages you to work the bike hard to achieve the most from its output.

For smoother downshifts and a lighter lever action, there is also a slipper clutch, which uses less plates to achieve a lighter weight. As well as helping new riders as they get to grips with the six-speed manual box, the light lever also allows for optimum low-speed control when scything through city traffic.

You can read an in-depth explination of the Yamaha MT-125's VVA system here.

A diagram of the Yamaha MT-125 VVA engine system

For 2021 the MT-125 received some engine tweaks to ensure it passes Euro5 emissions regulations.

Reliability & build quality

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

We don't currently have any Yamaha MT-125 rider reviews on the site, but our owners’ reviews of the 2019-onwards R125 (which this bike is based on) suggest nothing but positivity, with four- and five-star ratings across the board.

If purchasing on the used market, as with any 125, it’s important to check for a decent service history and any evidence of crash damage. For many owners, this is likely to be their first motorcycle, so tumbles are likely – as is sub-par maintenance.

Look out for scraped levers and pegs, as well as scuffs to the minimalist plastics. Aftermarket levers and exhaust cans - although potentially desirable - could also hide a spill.

A static view of the Yamaha MT 125

Note also the general state of the bike. Has it been cared for? A tip to consider when buying any used motorcycle; rusty chains, bald tyres, leaky fork seals and other small gripes could all reveal a lifetime of neglect.

Bag a good one though (and many newer bikes will be) and you're in for miles of excellent low-capacity motorcycling, with enough 'go' to keep up and stay ahead of the surrounding traffic.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Just £100 more than the outgoing MT-125 at its December 2019 launch, with a price of £4449, the MT-125 is an expensive proposition when considered alongside some of its rivals. By January 2022 the price had risen to £4700, and for 2023 and the launch of the more tech-laden model it now retails for £5102.

With Honda’s CB125R costing considerably less at £4049 OTR (2019 price) and Suzuki’s GSX-S125 now just £3599 (with 2019 £500 promotional saving), there are cheaper bikes out there in the category.

Riding the Yamaha MT 125

That said, with the new styling, revised engine and sweet handling, these machines would struggle to match the overall package of the Yamaha, which feels like a well-finished high-quality product.

What’s more, when purchased on PCP over three years, it’s just over £70 a month – little more than some 17-year-olds would shell out for their monthly phone contract and online PlayStation account.

Away from the Suzuki GSX-S125 and Honda CB125R, other rivals to the MT 125 Yamaha to consider are the KTM Duke 125, Kawasaki Z125 and Aprilia Tuono 125.


4 out of 5 (4/5)

Despite being an entry-level motorcycle, the MT-125 boasts a spec sheet some larger-capacity machines could only dream of. With dual full-LED headlights, an easy-to-read LCD dash, complete with programmable personal greeting and fuel gauge, and new ‘big bike’ inspired looks, it’s hugely impressive.

Much like its fully-faired sibling, this is a 125 for young riders to be proud of, pairing quality components with excellent build quality.

Optional Akrapovic exhaust on 2020 Yamaha MT-125

For a little extra personalisation, Yamaha have also produced a number of accessories, including a ‘Sport Pack’ comprising a tank pad, smoked fly screen, engine protection, LED indicators and a tail tidy.

There’s also an Akrapovič full-system exhaust, which delivers a delightful burble, without being offensive. That said, for many younger riders - who yearn for the antisocial growl of an open-piped single - this noise simply isn't good enough to justify its £664 price tag (2020 pricing).

As such, you can expect many used machines to come with cheaper aftermarket alternatives from the likes of Lextek, which offer the option of removing the baffle for maximum volume at - in some cases - less than half the price, with the added bonus of a lifetime warranty.

Available in three colours; Ice Fluo (red and grey), Icon Blue and Midnight Black, it arrived in dealers around Christmas time, ahead of the 2020 riding season. In 2021 a Storm Fluo colour was added to the line-up.

2023 Yamaha MT-125 updates

Front end view of the 2023 Yamaha MT-125

For 2023, the MT-125 gets a 5in colour TFT dash, also shared with the sporty R125. Unlike the R, the MT gets just one display mode and misses out on a trackday lap timer (not that you'd ever need it). What's more, it can can be connected to your phone via the free Yamaha app - unlocking further features, such as a lean angle sensor and your altitude.

A clean and clear unit, all of the key details are visible at a glance and it injects more of an aspiration grown-up feel into the bike. That said, considering many of these machines will be use year round, the lack of an ambient temperature gauge is disappointing.

Another new addition is traction control, which restricts power to the back wheel if you manage to spin up. Something nice for Yamaha to put in their brochures, in reality it's not needed on a motorcycle with 14.8bhp. Even when I tried my hardest, it was impossible to activate in the dry, and unless you're being a total wally in the wet, I dare say it won't be needed there either.

You can switch it off if you wish, but it will always default back to being on once the bike is turned off with the key. The scroll wheel on the right bar can sometimes lag behind the screen too, making adjustments sometimes frustrating.


Engine size 125cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, single-cylinder 4v SOHC
Frame type Steel Deltabox
Fuel capacity 10 litres
Seat height 810mm
Bike weight 140kg
Front suspension Upside down 41mm telescopic fork, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Single shock, preload-adjustable
Front brake Single 292mm disc, four-piston radial caliper
Rear brake Single 220mm disc, single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 100/80 x 17
Rear tyre size 140/70 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 133 mpg
Annual road tax £25
Annual service cost £130
New price £4,700
Used price £3,600 - £4,700
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 15 bhp
Max torque 8.5 ft-lb
Top speed 80 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 292 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2014 – Yamaha MT-125 launched based on the then-current Yamaha YZF-R125. No VVA featured on this model, with the bike fitted with the four-stroke 4v Minarelli engine found in the 2008-2018 R125. Although receiving a few incremental updates, the 2020 model is the first major change.
  • 2020 - Refreshed MT-125 launched.

Other versions


Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA MT-125 (2020 - on)

1 owner has reviewed their YAMAHA MT-125 (2020 - 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.

Review your YAMAHA MT-125 (2020 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Engine: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £130
5 out of 5 Best 125 bike available
26 September 2022 by Andy C

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £130

Can't really fault it. Never missed a beat. Fun to ride, and in my opinion, a stunning little bike to look at.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

I've done a 2 hour ride and didn't really feel uncomfortable. (I'm 5'7"). It's great for bombing round B roads, does everything required. The brakes are a bit vague, but do the job. Obviously being a 125, not much fun cruising on a big A road at 70mph. It can do it comfortably, but take the back roads and its way more fun.

Engine 4 out of 5

Has quite a wide spread of torque for the engine size. Not much to say really......it's a 125. Engine sounds great with a Black Widow full system.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Feels very well built. Had no problems.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Only had the first service done. Extremely economical. Averaging 106mpg

Equipment 4 out of 5

Tyres are good, but do need to warm up just a little. LCD dash is real nice. The LED indicators upgrades are a must. A third of the size of the originals, 5 times brighter and 10 times better looking. Official Yamaha fly screen finishes the front end off much better (albeit pointless as a screen. Just for cosmetic purposes)

Buying experience: Bought privately

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