TOP 10 LEARNER 125CC MOTORBIKES

IF you’re 17 or over and have done compulsory basic training you can ride a 125 on a provisional licence with L-plates.

While it’s always tempting to buy the fastest, flashiest 125 you can afford, there’s a lot of sense in opting for something cheaper, more durable and crash-resistant so you can save your dosh for that bigger bike after you’ve passed your test.

Here is a countdown of Visordown’s top 10 learner legal 125s.

10. Suzuki VanVan 125

Copying the sand-bikes of the ’70s, the little VanVan has real California cool. Even in Macclesfield on a wet Monday. It’s a great blend of perfectly credible retro chic in a durable low cost package. It’s also a superb choice for shorties or anyone looking to build their confidence on a non-threatening, life-affirming, touchy-feely toy bike. A low seat height and minimal overall weight make it very easy to manage. Worried about the U-turn on your test? Concerned about the slalom element? You’ll breeze it on a VanVan. And stand out (like a beach bum) while you’re doing it. This is a fun bike.

Price: £3,799

Engine: 124cc, 11.4hp, 7.2lbft

Weight: 128kg

Estimated top speed: 65mph

9. Honda MSX125

If you’re a typical middle-aged motorcyclist, you’re at risk of looking somewhat ridiculous on the closest thing in Honda’s range to a monkey bike. But if you can put your self-consciousness to one side and unleash your inner teenager, the MSX is sure to leave you with a grin on your face. For added amusement, don’t call it an MSX125 – it’s American name, ‘Grom’, seems much more fitting.

Price: £2,899

Engine: 124.9cc, 9.8hp, 8lbft

Weight: 101.7kg

Estimated top speed: 60mph

8. Hyosung GT125R

Want a 125 that looks like a larger-capacity machine? Perhaps surprisingly, this is one of the best choices, from Korean Hyosung. It has real presence and would pass for a 600 at a glance. Even the V-twin engine looks much bigger than a 125. Initial depreciation is huge so don’t buy new unless you get a whopping discount. Quality isn’t as good as the Japanese offerings, but the manufacturer is also an established concern and unlikely to disappear overnight. Avoid anything tatty or running badly – few mechanics know these machines well.

Price: £3,199

Engine 124cc, 14.2hp, 7.2lbft

Weight 120kg

Estimated top speed: 70mph

7. Honda CBF125

For £2,700 you get Honda reliability, a half-fairing, and the ability to cruise at 60-65mph all day long in supreme comfort. You’ll struggle to reach true motorway speeds and the suspension is softer than a mink coat, but it’s likeable. Honda now also does the new CB125F, made in China instead of India, but it’s even slower, and the same price. When we rode the two back-to-back, we preferred the older CBF125. On the subject of cheap and cheerful commuters, Yamaha’s venerable YBR125 is worth a mention here too, at £2,599, but we didn’t want to make this list all about budget bikes.

Price: £2,699

Engine 124.7cc, 11.3hp, 8.3lbft

Weight 128kg

Estimated top speed 65mph

6. Honda CBR125R

A good compromise. Honda’s single-cylinder CBR is a good blend of posey and practical and deservedly a good seller. There are plenty on the used market and no shortage of used spares should you lob it up the road. It’s physically small but stops, goes and handles perfectly well. It hasn’t quite got the build quality of the bigger CBRs but it’s miles ahead of the Chinese cheapies. Doesn’t quite make the maximum 15hp allowed for learners and it’s overshadowed by the likes of Yamaha’s YZF-R125, but an engaging little ride none-the-less.

Price: £3,799

Engine: 124.7cc, 13.3hp, 7.7lbft

Weight: 137kg

Estimated top speed: 70mph

5. KTM 125 Duke

That’s more like it. The law says learners are allowed up to 15hp, so why can’t you have it? You can. Built to win over the youngsters, as any good 125 should be, the 125 Duke is fun, hip and has the safety of Bosh ABS as standard. At £4,049 it’s not cheap but the bike has a bucket-load more character than most 125s.

Price: £4,049

Engine: 124.7cc, 15hp, 8.8lbft

Weight: 127kg (dry)

Estimated top speed: 75mph

4. Yamaha YZF-R125 ABS

The R125 offers genuine big-bike, supersports looks with Yamaha reliability. It’s right on the 15hp limit, which is what any self-respecting teenager will want, but it’s not just for youfs. It offers practicality, with good fuel economy and enough performance for an enjoyable Sunday ride. With a taller seat and less-generous steering lock than the likes of Honda’s CBR125R, it’s perhaps not quite as suitable for the novice who just wants to get through the test.

Price: £4,399

Engine: 124.7cc, 15hp, 9.1lbft

Weight: 142kg

Estimated top speed: 75mph

3. Aprilia RS4 125

The was the machine that readers voted best 125 in Visordown’s 2015 awards, and we’re not surprised; it’s a beautiful object to behold. Good brakes and suspension, sharping handling and a 15hp engine give it great performance for a 125 (although it’s slightly down on claimed peak torque compared to the best of its rivals). At £3,871, it’s more than £500 cheaper than the R125, too. Even the ‘Replica’ edition (pictured) with snazzier colours is £4,071, £300 less than the Yamaha.

Price: £3,871

Engine: 124.8cc, 15hp, 8lbft

Weight: 134kg (dry)

Estimated top speed: 75mph

2. Yamaha MT-125

With Yamaha’s MT-07 and MT-09 selling as fast as dealers can get them, it was only a matter of time before they made a 125cc version to go up against KTM’s 125 Duke. We like the MT-125 even more than the more-expensive R125, because it uses the same engine and chassis but manages to offer slightly sharper handling. It’s got chunky upside-down forks and feels not too much smaller than the 689cc MT-07.

Price: £4,099

Engine: 124.7cc, 15hp, 9.1lbft

Weight: 140kg

Estimated top speed: 75mph

1. KTM RC 125

The RC 125 was the judge’s choice as best 125 in Visordown’s 2015 awards. With the steel-trellis frame of the RC 390, excellent handling, a strong engine and ultra-sharp styling that hardly distinguishes it from its bigger brother, it’s the one we would have wanted as a 17-year-old getting into biking. It looks like a single seater but that tail unit is actually a clever rubber-like pillion seat, and it’s got high-quality Bosch ABS, which stands to save a few learners from the tarmac. It’s the most expensive 125 in this list but in our view also the most desirable.

Price: £4,549

Engine: 124.7cc, 15hp, 8.8bft

Weight: 135kg (dry)

Estimated top speed: 75mph

[“Source-visordown”]