The Yamaha YZF R125 was introduced in 2008 to rave reviews and has been a popular option for A1 licence holders across the EU and UK ever since.
Here we take a deep dive into the 2022 third generation YZF R125 to find out if it still stacks up against its competitors.
Yamaha YZF R125 Review
Over a decade ago Yamaha released a new ride to the world. It was the YZF R125, the smallest of the R series but with all the attitude, quality and performance that we had come to expect from the company’s supersports range.
Sales charts saw the Yamaha YZF R125 steadily climb to the top of 125cc motorbikes and for a long time it was the fastest 125 motorcycle on the market. Today only the MT-125 and KTM Duke now beating it in terms of top speed.
It is a fantastic introduction into the brand and with the latest generation it is more refined than ever to give every rider a brilliant riding experience.
As with most good things it all starts with the engine at the heart of the beast.
Engine and Transmission
The Yamaha YZF R125 has a high tech Euro 5 engine, with the company signature Variable Valve Actuation. The VVA system ensures that the right amount of fuelling matches the throttle response and to ensure smooth, precise performance at exactly the right time across the rev range.
The Euro 5 unit is a much better engine offering better acceleration, more mid range, a boosted top end with higher revs per minute.
It is a motor that will have you constantly chasing the red line to see just how far you can push it. Fortunately as it is only a 125cc you stand a chance of actually getting there, whereas on the bigger R models you need a track and professional rider to even come close.
The impressive performance of the engine is largely down to the large intake and exhaust valves with a compact combustion chamber. This leads to phenomenal acceleration abilities.
There is a 6 speed transmission which gives you a gear to cruise in the higher rpms and stay up there which is a nice touch, especially if you have some dual carriageway work to undertake.
Yamaha have fitted the bike with an assist and slipper clutch to make shifting pretty seamless and is in keeping with the racing style theme.
The exhaust gives a good growl and the sound will have you hungry to keep that throttle twisted.
Admittedly it isn’t quite as loud or aggressive as previous generations which is largely down to Euro 5 emissions saving the planet while strangling the fun out of engine noise at the same time.
Yamaha haven’t just revisted the engine for the latest generation but have also revised the steel deltabox frame to ensure it is as rigid and precise as can be providing optimum feedback and response.
On the front you have a 41mm telescopic upside down fork and on the rear to keep weight down an aluminium swingarm.
When it comes to braking the single discs front and rear are more than adequate to bring you to a complete stop, they are powerful and give you enough bite for all situations, the ABS is an added safety feature that is great for new riders.
It feels very much like a big bike and is quite tall and with a fairly wide width, it could easily be mistaken in a line up for being a bigger capacity motorcycle.
Styling and Features
Yamaha Motor Europe have ensured that the YZF R125 looks the business, it is a determined motorcycle with and with the latest generation it has a purposeful new face.
Aggressive new twin lights sink into the front bodywork with the LED indicators either side slimmed down and mean looking.
As standard you get an M1 style cockpit for the ultimate race experience where you can find all the data and instruments you could need.
If you want to turn things up a notch you can buy the sport pack which features a host of genuine Yamaha accessories for the YZF R125. It includes an endurance screen, sliders, tidy licence plate holder, LED flashers and a set of stickers/decals for the tank and rims.
Handling and Comfort
Yamaha argues that the YZF R125 has class leading handling and there are few that could disagree with them.
There is no denying however that the Yamaha YZF R125 remains a bike for a taller rider, new riders don’t want to be struggling to flat foot the bike when stationary at stops and the shorter rider may have this issue with the seat height.
The seat height is definitely on the taller end of the spectrum for 125’s, so if this is something you struggle with you could look at the slightly shorter but still excellent MT-125 from the Yamaha naked bikes range.
The riding position is undoubtedly sporty afterall, it comes from a long line of race bred machines but it is not too extreme so riding around town.
The latest generation has improved ergonomics with slightly raised clip ons so there is less reach down and discomfort on the wrists.
The bike is fairly spacious so you will be able to move around as you ride which is always nice when you are riding for a few hours in the saddle.
Twist the throttle and the acceleration is on tap to take you up to speed, this isn’t a 125 that will run out of puff before you get there either, it will carry you to its limits with power all the way.
Thanks to it’s tall seat and general size you have pretty good visibility of the road ahead which isn’t always the case on sportsbikes so this will increase your confidence in and around traffic.
Of course any sports bike of any capacity will never be as comfortable as a bike that has neutral ergonomics putting the rider in a natural upright position.
The YZF R125 does have rearset footpegs and although raised the bars do tend to mean you are hunched forward; this position is only comfortable for so long before you need to stretch it out.
For 2022 there were limited edition MotoGP 60th Anniversary Edition models released of all the R series bikes, dealers may still have them in stock if you look around. You get the M1 MotoGP style paintwork with that package.
However, special edition or not there will be no mistaking the Yamaha YZF R125 for anything other than purebred sportsbike and that is quite an achievement for a bike with a 125cc engine.
Yamaha YZF R125 Specifications
Engine and Transmission
Engine – Four stoke, single cylinder, SOHC, 4 valves
Capacity – 124.7cc
Bore x Stroke – 52 x 58.6mm
Compression Ratio – 11.2:1
Cooling System – Liquid cooled
Starting – Electric
Induction – Electronic fuel injection
Transmission – 6 speed
Final Drive – Chain
Clutch – Wet, multi-disc
Maximum Power – 14.7 horsepower
Maximum Torque – 12.4 Nm
Top Speed – 75mph
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame – Steel Deltabox
Front Suspension – 41mm upside down telescopic fork
Rear Suspension – Swingarm, link type suspension
Front Brakes – Single 292mm disc
Rear Brakes – Single 230mm disc
Rake – 25 degrees
Trail – 89mm
Wheelbase – 1,355mm
Length – 1,955mm
Height – 825mm
Width – 680mm
Wet Weight – 142kg
Seat Height -825mm
Fuel Capacity – 11.5 litres
How fast does a Yamaha YZF R125 go?
The Yamaha YZF R125 has a top speed of 75mph.
In the current class of 125cc motorbikes it is the MT-125 that is the fastest bike on the road capable of up to 80mph; followed by the KTM Duke which hit’s 77mph.
Is Yamaha YZF R125 good for beginners?
The Yamaha YZF R125 is a popular choice for new riders who like the sport bike style, it is a motorcycle intended to bring the next generation into the Yamaha racing fold. From the YZF R125, you may work up the ranks via the R3 or R7, until you hit the flagship R1. You may even end up buying the track only R7.
There are pros and cons associated with the YZF R125 for beginners:
It is lightweight
Precise handling, easy steering
Enough power and speed without being terrifying
Isn’t an extreme sporty riding position but enough to give you a taste
Yamaha’s praised reliability and quality
Very tall and very big in it’s design, less suited to smaller riders
More sports focused ergonomically so less comfortable than neutral upright naked bikes
It has a higher top speed than other options
Sporty riding positions are more awkward to learn on than upright bikes initially
Ultimately you will know whether the Yamaha YZF R125 is right for you by going and sitting on it, if the ergonomics work and you feel comfortable then it is a great bike to start out on.
The precise steering, nimble handling, broad power range will ensure you have plenty to grow into as you develop your riding skills and you won’t get bored too quickly.
Yamaha YZF R125 List Price
Yamaha Motor UK states that prices start from £5,000 or £5391 with the sport pack.
If you don’t want to buy a brand new model you could look at a dealer or a private seller for a used model.
Prices for the Yamaha YZF R125 start from as little as £2,500 in this instance.
The YZF R125 is a European built bike and there’s no real issues with the build quality.
However, you will want to be careful when buying any used 125cc motorcycle as it will most likely be an inexperienced rider who had it before you. 125’s are far less likely to have been maintained properly, and more likely to have been involved in an accident.
So, be sure you check out any used options thoroughly, ideally take someone who knows what they are doing and what to look out for, so you can pick one up in good condition.
Dealers will usually have some second hand options and these usually come with some sort of dealer warranty; so in this case of buying your first bike this would be a good idea.
The Yamaha R6 in Black and Gold is one of my favourite motorcycles of all time, so it is no surprise that I love the YZF R125 as I am equally attracted to small capacity bikes and really seeing what they can do.
The Yamaha YZF R125 is an attractive, capable 125 with a big bike attitude and performance.
Provided you don’t get on it thinking you are in MotoGP from the get go and really get to grips with figuring out your limits and the bikes then the YZF R125 is a great entry bike into motorcycling and remains a motorcycle I would still take to the track today to see exactly what it is capable of.
More details at the Yamaha website here