You’re 17 years old, have completed your CBT and you have your A1 licence. You’re ready to finally enjoy the freedom owning a motorcycle can provide. You don’t want just any 125cc bike or scooter though, you want something that’s cool, that stands out from the crowd when you park outside the cafe with your mates.
Here’s 11 of the coolest 125cc motorbikes currently available.
Not sure what the CC in 125cc is? Read our article on what CC means
Mutt Razorback 125cc
Mutt Motorcycles are a small independent British bike builder based in Kings Norton, Birmingham. Their history is in custom bike builds but a few years ago they started producing their own models at a price point that meant younger customers could buy a custom looking bike without the huge price tag.
They use Suzuki engines built under licence by a Chinese company which helps to keep costs down. The single cylinder four stroke engine has been around for some time now which means it’s pretty much bullet proof.
It produces 12hp, has a 5 speed gearbox and has a top speed of 70mph.
Weight is 125 kg and the seat height a comfortable 780mm.
Who’s it for? Not the cheapest but one of the finest looking 125cc motorbikes available in the UK and if you want that one off custom appearance without the massive price tag then the Razorback was designed for you.
Bullit Hero 125cc
The 125cc Hero is designed to appeal to those who appreciate the custom Scrambler look.
Like Mutt motorcycles, Bullit’s choice of power is the Chinese built Suzuki GN125 engine. This motor has been around since 1994 and is not going to give you any problems.
To be A1 licence compliant the engine power is limited to 12hp but weight is just 121kg. It has a 5 speed gearbox and top speed is 60 mph. It will get you 80 miles on a gallon of fuel.
Despite the Scrambler looks, the Hero is not going to have the power for any serious off road riding. However, the tall seat, high motocross style handle bars and the upright seating all combine to instil confidence in the rider while weaving in and out of traffic around town.
With a whopping seat height of 860mm the Bullit Hero 125cc comes across as tall and is one of the best 125cc motorbikes for the taller rider.
Who’s it for? If you’re hooked on the old school Scrambler looks then the Bullit Hero is a definite contender.
CAGIVA MITO SP525
Now for those that are looking for something a bit more sporty and timelessly beautiful then the Cagiva SP525 is going to be for you.
The model is essentially an updated version of the long-standing two-stroke Mito 125 (designed by Massimo Tamburini of Ducati 916 and MV Agusta F4 750 fame) and outclasses even the popular YZF R125 from Yamaha. Of all the other 125cc motorbikes, the only one to come close as a comparison is another Italian, the Aprilia RS125.
It wears bodywork honoring John Koscinski’s 500GP efforts onboard the Cagiva V594 in 1994 and has racing heritage coursing through its veins.
Un-restricted it has a power output of 30 horsepower, so it is a great sportsbike for those on an A1 license who will then move on to take their A2.
It probably isn’t the most sensible choice for those wary of riding and want to ease into it as it is very sports orientated and has a more extreme riding position than others in the same category.
In 2008 Harley Davidson bought the Cagiva brand and it is no longer active with all the focus shifted onto MV Agusta motorcycles.
However, the Cagiva Mito SP525 was one of the last models in production and you can find them on the used market in good condition quite easily.
Who’s it for? If you dream of 125cc motorbikes with genuine classic Italian super bike lineage the Cagiva Mito is for you.
The CB125R is a really good looking street bike that looks more than it is in capacity.
It belongs to the Neo Sports Cafe family of bikes from Honda and takes design inspiration from the bigger and meaner CB1000R.
No expense has been spared on the model with a full LCD dash, LED headlights and indicators and Showa Upside Down forks.
For the latest model year maximum power output and torque is up from the previous bikes.
It is a reasonably tall machine compared to some other 125cc bikes and has a seat height of 816mm.
However, its light 130kg kerb weight ensures that all riders should be able to manage the bike when coming to a stop and slow speeds.
There is no CBR125R anymore as this has been dropped from Honda’s lineup, however, if you fancy a faired sports bike version the Repsol Honda is worth checking out as at one time that was the leader of the pack for sports style 125cc motorbikes.
The street CB125R offers agility, precise steering and an upright position that will inspire confidence in new riders giving excellent road visibility.
Also, it is a Honda, and it goes without saying especially on the smaller simpler machines, reliability is a guarantee.
Who’s it for? If you like the naked roadster look of bikes like the BMW G 310R, the CB125R should be on your shortlist of 125cc motorbikes to consider.
At some point you will have seen an MT on the road. Since the range was introduced in 2014 it completely blew up and took over the street/naked bike category. Everyone and their best mate it seemed, had an MT-07.
So it was no surprise that the smaller MT-125 was met with the same enthusiasm and excitement. I have to say I am a massive fan of these machines.
It has big bike looks, a mean naked style, stand out highlights in bright colours and for the space it sits in is really quite quick.
You get plenty of torque low down in the rev range from the YZF R125 derived motor, paired with an ultra lightweight, wet weight of just 142kg, the bikes power feels a lot more than it actually is.
There is a seat height of 810mm, so again much like the Honda it is relatively tall so might not be best suited to shorter riders.
Although once you are sitting on the bike the actual body is quite narrow so reaching the ground isn’t as difficult as some other tall motorcycles that are wider.
Again like the Honda, you are in an upright position, in a full commanding position, that will keep you confident of where you are going, give you great handling over the nimble steering and keep you comfortable for as many miles as you want to go.
It is on the more expensive 125cc motorbikes but they also have a great resale value and the desire for the baby MT doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Who’s it for? If you’ve grown up with Triumph Speed Triple posters on your wall the MT-125 should be on your shortlist.
At one time the Aprilia RS125 was the first and last word in terms of the best 125cc motorbike available, its performance meant it could see speeds well over 100mph.
Today things are not quite that extreme due to regulations surrounding learner capacities and power output.
However, the 2021 Aprilia is still visually stunning and performs brilliantly.
You get a very sporty riding position that makes you want to go out and buy a one-piece leather suit and hit the track, although the clip-on bars have been raised to take a little of the aggression out of the ergonomics and increase comfort.
If you want to go that little extra there is a RS125 GP Replica available in the racing team colours which is a great looking sport bike.
The seat height is 820mm which makes it a little on the tall side but it weighs in pretty light with a kerb weight of 142kg.
The frame looks amazing as does the rest of the bike, but it is prone to marks, so you will want to keep it clean and protected with protectant sprays to keep it nice and pretty.
Another Italian 125cc modern classic but unlike the Cagiva Mito the RS125 is still in production so can be purchased new.
Who’s it for? If you have your heart set on a Ducati lookalike but don’t like the idea of purchasing a second hand Cagiva Mito the Aprilia RS125 should be top of your list.
Honda MSX125 Grom
Right, time for a bike that is perfect for two things: Shorter riders and absolute monumental amounts of fun!
The Grom is a bike that has a seat height of just 765mm, and a weight of 102kg, perfect for those shorter riders that need a low seat height and a lightweight machine.
An entire new sub-culture has been created not dissimilar to when Honda first released their famous Monkey bike.
Riders of all abilities have a fondness for the Grom and yet it is a full on 125cc motorbike with gears and everything that you can genuinely learn to ride on and keep up with traffic.
You get a fifth gear for 2021 and bolt on interchangeable bodywork so you can truly make the Grom your own.
It has bags of character and is also fully practical for teaching you all the basics out on the road.
The Grom is probably the most novice friendly motorcycle available today but it’s also a ton of fun and I’m yet to pass a rider who isn’t smiling from ear to ear.
Who’s it for? If you either lack confidence in riding or like to be different, this is the motorcycle for you.
Yamaha YZF R125
It would be rude not to mention the Yamaha YZF R125 in a list of cool 125cc motorbikes.
Simply put, like the MT it is a beast, with big boy looks and top spec performance for a 125cc bike.
It is equipped with a Variable Valve Actuation System which optimises the valve position for strong low rpm torque with high rpm power.
The throttle response is smooth and power delivery non-threatening unlike its bigger siblings. The sport exhaust will also turn heads as you rumble around through town and on country roads.
Again you have a reasonably tall seat height of 825mm and a wet weight of 144kg. The weight is quite high up so be prepared for it to feel a little heavier than other 125cc motorcycles.
You also have an Assist and Slipper Clutch for ultimate ease of gear control and downshifting, this is usually only something found on much bigger bikes.
Lastly the Deltabox frame and aluminium swingarm use Yamaha’s racing knowledge and technical abilities to provide precise, controlled handling, intuitive steering, which leaves you to focus on the ride and not worry every time a corner comes up.
Who’s it for? Valentino Rossi wannabes.
AJS Highway Star
What about cruisers I hear you say? Well, there are not all that many 125cc cruisers on the market anymore. The best of the bunch however, is the AJS Highway Star, the only twin cylinder motorcycle to feature in this list of 125cc motorcycles.
The bike weighs 164kg but has a low seat height of 710mm. Therefore for short riders the bike is perfect and you don’t need to worry about the extra weight as being able to flatfoot the bike will ensure you feel stable and in control during those slow speed maneuvers.
Twin shotgun exhaust pipes, laid back vibe, chilled cruiser stance, blacked out will have you feeling like you could ride all day long looking the bee’s knees.
It is a bike that you can commute on and then blast through the country lanes on the weekend, it is certainly a bike that opens you up to the world of custom bikes and begs you to try some things out on it.
It most resembles a Honda Rebel or Harley Sportster in its stature and traditional cruiser look albeit a baby version.
AJS Motorcycles has a rich history although it has changed a lot since first being established back in 1909 in the Midlands. It was taken over by Associated Motorcycles alongside marques like Matchless and Norton in 1931 before being sold in 1974 when it produced two-stroke scramblers.
Now the name is used on custom lightweight motorcycles that generally throwback to simpler machines.
Who’s it for? Fans of the big Harley Davidson and Indian cruisers.
KTM Duke 125
The KTM Duke 125 almost sits in a class of its own, it is built with all the attitude and tech of the bigger Dukes, which can make it a bit intimidating.
LED lights, TFT display, 6 speed transmission for class leading performance and fuel economy, plus a very unique exhaust note with quick responding power.
You almost question whether it is in fact a 125cc motorbike.
You get 12 Nm of torque which leads the 125 class across the board.
Weighing in dry at 139kg it is a little heavier than both the CB and MT-125 which are the street bikes that most would compare the Duke to. It is not uncommon to see packs of young riders with a KTM, Yamaha and Honda all among them.
Despite on paper being the class leader the KTM is actually a little cheaper than the MT-125.
Who’s it for? Fans of the bigger Streetfighters will love the KTM stance.
Lexmoto Assault 125
Do a search for best 125cc adventure bikes and you will quickly realise there’s very few available. Most “top 10” lists are full of scramblers and supermoto offerings to make the numbers up.
The only two 125cc motorcycles I found that had genuine adventure bike styling were the Sinnis Terrain 125 and the Lexmoto Assault 125 and of the two, I preferred the latter – but only just.
It produces just shy of 11hp and has a maximum torque of 9Nm and a maximum speed of 63mph. Hardly adventure bike performance.
However, it has a rack on the back ready for your top box and a comfy seat, perfect for weekend camping trips as long as you are sticking to roads and the occasional green lane.
The Assault 125 is also Euro 5 compliant and comes with 2 years warranty.
There’s even a Lexmoto Adventure Club where you can share your road trip stories and get exclusive gear.
All in all, a great package at a very attractive price for any learner looking for this style of 125cc motorcycle.
Who’s it for? If you dream of covering continents once you get a full licence then the Lexmoto Assault 125 is a fine and cheap introduction to Adventure biking.
Bonus Budget Option – The Suzuki Intruder 125
Although the Intruder 125 is no longer available there are plenty of them on the used market, and I would like to make a plea to Suzuki to bring the thing back.
It is such a good looking traditional cruiser that looks bigger than it is and makes riders think they are on a big cruiser rolling with the big boys.
A classically styled black and chrome intruder will never be out of place as the design is simply timeless.
The V twin engine is also bulletproof, absolutely indestructible.
You will need to make sure you keep it clean and weather protected to avoid surface rust etc. and being an older bike you will have to give it some TLC occasionally but it is a bike that will carry you across the country and not let you down.
Plus buying an older bike is a sure way to get to grips with good old bike maintenance and simple mechanics which can come in handy when you break down on the side of the road.
It also has the lowest seat height of the group at just 686mm so is the perfect option for those who want the comfort of being close to the ground for control.
I know several people who have had Intruder 125s and Yamaha Viragos that have loaded them up and done European tours on them. They really are cool, practical, Japanese cruisers.
Expect to pay between £1,500 and £2,500 dependent on age, condition, mileage etc. making the Intruder a very affordable option for those on a budget.