The 125cc motorcycle is a beautiful thing. It can represent an affordable way to mobilise entire populations, give cash-strapped teens their first taste of vehicular independence or save car drivers cash and time on their urban commute.
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Few people can claim to have taken a Yamaha R1 or Kawasaki ZX-10R to the limit of its capability on a race track, whereas the limit of a 125 can be found quite easily on a twisty B-road with substantially reduced risk to life and limb.
Scooters are an incredibly practical and cheap way to get from A to B, often with ample luggage capacity and effective weather protection. Not to mention mpg figures in the triple digits and almost non-existent tax and insurance.
Here’s MCN’s selection of five different ways to own a 125:
With a knees-forward riding position, twist-and-go throttle and plenty of room to lock up your helmet or transport your shopping, a scooter is one of the most practical ways to get around on two wheels.
From sought-after and stylish scooters like the Vespa, to dependable workhorses like the Honda Vision, there are scooters to suit all budgets and purposes.
- Year introduced: 2010
- Seat height: 761mm
- This one: £1799 – 16,000 miles
The PCX125 was the first two-wheeler to feature a fuel-saving stop/start function meaning 91mpg fuel economy. It also boasts numerous cubby-holes for storage and is light (124kg) and flickable around town.
- First launched: 2009
- Seat height: 792mm
- This one: £1195 – 8231 miles
Launched in 2009 as a replacement for the ubiquitous Honda CG125, the CBF125 is an ultra-dependable, cheap and capable little gem of a bike.
Unlike a scooter, the CBF uses a geared transmission that might put off less-keen riders who are just looking for a cheap set of wheels. The CBF125 epitomises economical transport and will work out cheaper than using public transport in some cases.
- First launched: 2011
- Seat height: 810mm
- This one: £3494 – 3402 miles
The KTM 125 Duke is a much more grown-up take on the 125. A stunning, sporty, single-cylinder roadster with top-notch cycle parts and equipment, including a full colour TFT dash, WP suspension (although it’s non-adjustable), illuminated switchgear, a four-piston radial front brake caliper and an LED headlight.
Very roomy and with a slightly canted-forward riding position that is reminiscent of Triumph’s Street Triple, the KTM’s a viable rival for anything built by the Japanese. Pre-2017 machines don’t have the same bells and whistles and had a reputation for hit and miss build quality.
- First introduced: 2008
- Seat height: 818mm
- This one: £2800 - 826 miles
We normally associate sportsbikes with power and speed, something that no 125 will ever supply on the road, but you can still have sportsbike styling (and plenty of fun) without top-end power.
The other advantage is that you get a fairing to tuck behind in higher speed stretches, so if you have to do a lot of national speed limit riding this is probably the right choice.
The Yamaha YZF-R125 sits somewhere in between the hard-edged and sporty KTM RC125 and the easy-to-ride Honda CBR125R.
- First introduced: 1995
- Seat height: 805mm
- This one: £2300 – 13,050 miles
Small-capacity motorbikes haven’t always used the sewing machine-smooth four-stroke engines they do in today’s Euro-compliant biking landscape. Once upon a time, they filled the air with sweet-smelling blue smoke and buzzed down the road to an angry ring-a-ding soundtrack.
The Aprilia RS125 was the ultimate object of desire for aspiring teenage riders in the mid-90s. Two-strokes have become a fairly rare sight on the road and so you’ll stand out but shorter service intervals and a thirst for two-stroke oil make them a less economical choice.