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Choosing a cheap 125 for the summer

Published: 08 June 2018

bikes for sale

Is there anything which inspires more jealousy than watching motorbikes filter through traffic on a summer’s day from the clammy driver’s seat of a car stuck in a jam? Well feeling jealous won’t get you to work any faster, but buying a cheap 125 will.

Whether you’re new to riding, an ex-rider, or even a current rider who doesn’t want to use his pride and joy for commuting, there’s a small bike for you.

A daunting range of options are available, but we’ve broken them down into four main categories with an MCN pick for each one.


This is probably the image that springs to mind when you think of a 125. Simplicity is key in this category, everything is aimed at keeping costs down and reliability high. To that end, you will often find tried-and-tested technology like analogue dials and twin-shock suspension, but there’s a certain nostalgia in that.

If your commute includes a stretch of national speed limit you will probably want to add a screen for better comfort.

MCN’s pick: Yamaha YBR-125

A nippy and agile traffic slayer with Yamaha reliability and 90mpg fuel economy. The Yamaha’s handling is known for being very stable, so ideal for beginners and advanced filterers alike.

Browse Yamaha 125s like this one here.

Off Road Style

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a motocrosser or you think you might want to try out some green lanes at some point, a trail 125 is for you. Manufacturers take their off-road racing bikes, detune the engine to improve reliability and service intervals and add lights, indicators, dials and side stands.

As with the naked bikes, any time spent in national speed limits will be uncomfortable. Also, off-road bikes tend to have a lot of ground clearance which leads in turn to a tall seat height, so not great for beginners or those of limited inseam.   

MCN’s pick: Yamaha WR125 X

The more road-biased super moto version of Yamaha’s popular WR model is great fun to ride. More torque is available lower down the rev range thanks to its 4-stroke engine which is useful when you’re taking an unexpected gap in traffic.

Browse Yamaha 125s like this one here.


They’re not strictly motorbikes, but scooters are a viable two-wheeled option for beating the traffic. You sit with your legs in front of you and get loads of wind and weather protection from the screen, plus a bucket-load of storage.

Newcomers who aren’t so sure about gears will enjoy the twist and go transmission, and there’s no worries at all about seat height.

MCN’s pick: Suzuki Burgman 125

The Burgman is basically a maxi-scooter without the bigger engine or inflated price tag. There’s more storage than you’ll know what to do with and little touches like a 12v socket that won’t come as standard on a lot of 125s.

Browse Suzuki 125s like this one here.


We normally associate sports bikes with power and speed, something that no 125 will ever supply on the road, but you can still have sports bike 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.

A lot of bikes in this category really do look the part, so everyone will look in the office carpark… just wait for them all to leave before you start it up.

MCN’s pick: Lexmoto XTR 125

This solid, little sports 125 from the Chinese bike manufacturer, isn’t as good as the competition, but it’s absolutely fine for a beginner and it’s incredibly cheap.

If you don’t mind the badge, why not save the money?

All of the featured 125s and more are available to browse here.

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