YAMAHA YS125 (2017 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Economical to buy and run
  • Great for zipping around town
  • Replaces the very successful YBR125

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Annual servicing cost: £80
Power: 10 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.3 in / 795 mm)
Weight: Low (284 lbs / 129 kg)

Prices

New £2,799
Used £2,700

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The Yamaha YS125 is basic, but that’s its role in life and for a budget price you get a Yamaha-branded motorcycle that does all that is require of it. 

The YS125 replaced YBR125 as Yamaha's dependable plodder in 2017. The YBR125 has always fulfilled an important role. Consistently a bestseller with more than 150,000 taking to Europe’s streets, it offered basic riding with a recognised brand name to budget-conscious riders.

In creating the YS125, Yamaha treated the YBR to a major overhaul, to not only make it Euro4-compliant, but also give it a sportier look.

At the end of the day the YS125 is what the YBR125 always was – a basic, no-frills, commuter that will run and run come rain or shine.

Yamaha YS125 static

Ride quality & brakes

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

In town the YS125 makes perfect sense. At just 129kg, it is light, really agile and surprisingly good when it comes to flying around roundabouts.

The chassis and suspension are largely unaltered. Pleasingly for commuters, Yamaha have increased the tank’s capacity by a litre, improved comfort levels through a more relaxed riding position with a taller 795mm seat height and added a new braking system.

Euro4 regs require 125s to either have ABS or a linked brake system and, like most other budget bikes, Yamaha have opted for the latter. Called Unified Braking System (UBS), a cable connected to the rear brake’s foot pedal pulls on the front master cylinder, activating both brakes when you put pressure on the rear, while the front lever remains independent.

Is it better than ABS? Certainly not, and to use it is a bit odd at first as you can feel the front brake lever’s pressure change when you apply the rear, but the single-piston front caliper and drum rear are unlikely to lock the wheels anyway, so in practice its performance is fine.

Yamaha YS125 on the road

Engine

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

Beneath the YS125’s sharper styling, which consists of a new light and bodywork, lurks what is effectively a tweaked YBR125. The engine is essentially the same SOHC two-valve air-cooled four-stroke, just with a new cylinder running a longer stroke and smaller bore with a redesigned head on top.

In town the engine is perfectly acceptable, but on a dual carriageway the YS125 feels so slow. You are basically limited to 60mph and unless you get a tow from a passing lorry 70mph is the stuff of dreams. The five-speed motor is a slug but Yamaha claim over 100mpg, giving a tank range of over 300 miles!

Yamaha YS125 exhaust

Reliability & build quality

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

The YBR125’s motor is basically indestructible and the YS125 should be similarly robust. The finish appears god, but again, this is a bike built to a price so you can’t expect too much. Overall it has less of a feeling of being a disposable product that you can get on cheap Chinese bikes, but it’s not brilliant.

Value vs rivals

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

Priced at £2872 the YS is only £200 more than the YBR125 was and that’s good value for a machine from a recognised Japanese brand. There are cheaper bikes out there, but it is worth paying a few quid more for the peace of mind that comes with owning a bike with a big name brand’s name on its tank. 

At £2872 the YS125 is only £200 more than the YBR125 it replaces. Like its budget rivals it is also built in China, but the fact it has Yamaha on its tank not only helps resale values, but also adds a degree of trust as you know the spares and warranty back-up make it feel less of a disposable product. 

Small and dependable 125s like the YS125 aren’t as commonplace as they once were, with many manufacturers targeting young riders with sportier, monoshock nakeds. But there are still options available for those more practically-minded and thrifty among us.

For 2021, Honda updated their CB125F, giving it a facelift and putting it on a diet in the process. The new bike has claimed tank range of 497 miles as a result of the work.

There are lots of stylish 125 options imported from China these days that look much cooler than the YS and won’t break the bank either. Consider the Bullit Hero 125 (£2495) which uses a copy of a  Suzuki GN125 engine in a chic retro scrambler package, for example.

If economical city commuting is your game, you might even consider an electric alternative like the Super Soco TC Max (£4249). The outlay is a little more but then you can enjoy a claimed 1p per mile cost of motoring, and feel warm and fuzzy about polar bears at the same time.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

You can’t expect much on a bike costing this little. It is a shame the YS125 doesn’t have ABS, but in all honesty it doesn’t really demand it and the UBS is acceptable in its performance. The fact the dash has a fuel gauge is a pleasant bonus and the shocks have adjustable spring preload, which is nice. It’s built to a price point.

Yamaha YS125 dash

Specs

Engine size 125cc
Engine type Four-stroke, air-cooled, 2v SOHC single
Frame type Tubular steel
Fuel capacity 14 litres
Seat height 795mm
Bike weight 129kg
Front suspension Conventional forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Twin shocks, adjustable spring preload
Front brake 1 x 245mm disc, one-piston caliper; UBS
Rear brake 130mm drum, UBS
Front tyre size 2.75 x 18
Rear tyre size 100/80x18

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 100 mpg
Annual road tax £20
Annual service cost £80
New price £2,799
Used price £2,700
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 10 bhp
Max torque 8 ft-lb
Top speed 70 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 300 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2017: Model introduced

Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA YS125 (2017 - on)

4 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA YS125 (2017 - 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 YS125 (2017 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Engine: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £80
4 out of 5 Yamaha YS125 Review
12 June 2020 by Jonathan Bowman

Year: 2017

Annual servicing cost: £100

Overall an amazing affordable bike perfect for beginners needing something reliable for comfort over speed.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Extremely comfy seat and suspension for a 125cc however could really do with a few things including a higher touring style windshield and higher bars as after long trips the position of the bars can lead to back pain.

Engine 5 out of 5

Very good for what its made for. Perfect for commuting and for gentle rides and touring but don't expect it to act like a super sports.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Quality you'd expect from a Yamaha motorcycle.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Very good value for money. Can be bought pretty much new for under £2000 and will run almost endlessly as long as you look after it to at least a minimum standard.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Pretty standard 125cc motorcycle which is great for learners but once you get comfortable there are a few things you will want with the first being a set of hazard lights which this bike does not have. Additionally the tyres are not the best but can be easily and affordably replaced with better quality Michelin tyres.

Buying experience: Bought my bike from Arnolds motorcycles (Yamaha Dealership) in Burton-Upon-Trent. Great customer service however its far from the cheapest. This can be both a good and a bad thing as you know they are professionals but you will pay for that guarantee.

4 out of 5 YS125 - dependable commuter
24 July 2019 by AaronB

Year: 2018

I have done just shy of 4500 miles on my YS125 since buying it a year ago. It is an extremly frugal machine ( £17 road tax, and on average for me 125 MPG - without trying) All in all a nice machine - but it does struggle for power - 65 is about the most i can get out of it without a hill, but for city driving ( between 1 and 50 mph) its surprsingly nippy.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Breaks are adequate but do regularly feel like I would like a bit more bite to them.

Engine 4 out of 5

Solid - would just be nice to have a smidge more power.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5 A good learner/commuter machine
07 January 2018 by Konrad

Year: 2017

Annual servicing cost: £70

I've been riding my YS 125 on a CBT licence for 6 months now and I can't fault the bike. For a price, it's a fine commuter bike and great to learn the skills on. It's very fuel efficient, easy and enjoyable to ride in the city and I haven't had any problems with it so far. Overall, it seems a fine learner/commuter bike as long as you're riding is mostly confined to the city (as any other 125cc bike it lacks power at higher speeds).

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5 Newbie Rider
06 November 2017 by Sam Cox

Year: 2017

I really like the bike overall as I am a shorter rider and wanted something I could flat foot with ease to give me a little added confidence for my first bike. There are parts to the bike that come across quite clearly as cheaply made however when you compare the cost of this bike being a Yamaha to some Chinese bikes also on the market for only a few hundred pound cheaper I feel this is excellent value.

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

I am happy with the bike so far I am only 5'6 and my knees do tend to cramp a little when riding for longer periods of time but this may be due to me being a new rider and tensing up rather than a fault with the bike itself

Engine 3 out of 5

At low speeds I cannot really fault the bike hence why it is classed as a general commuter, however my route home takes me through a number of national speed limit roads and this is where the lack of power (obviously isn't going to be amazing with any 125) is really felt. As a new rider I would feel safer if I could get up to the required speed limit a little easier instead of having to deal with the constant stream of white vans trying to run me down to get past

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Cannot comment on this too much as its the only bike I've ever had however I have nothing bad to say about the bike so far and am impressed with its overall quality with the exception of a few cheap parts.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Just under half a tank and I only had to put £5 in to get back to full and it feels like forever before I am back at the petrol station.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Again as I am new to riding I cannot really say much but it has everything I would expect or want on a bike with a fuel gauge and gear indicator.

Buying experience: Purchased through a dealer for £2800 brand new which compared to other 125 bikes offered by Yamaha I felt was a real bargain.

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