For UK residents on an A1 licence or CBT looking for their first motorcycle, options are pretty limited if they like the cruiser styling now the AJS Highway Star 125 has been dropped for 2022.
However, 125cc motorcycles are generally sold on or traded in as soon as the UK or EU rider hits 19 years of age and gets their A2 licence so they can be picked up on the used market, usually with a big saving on the new price.
This is good news for you and anyone else looking for a cruiser style 125 cc motorcycle. Here we take a look at the Highway Star 125 and provide tips on finding and buying one on the used market.
AJS Highway Star 125 Review
Due to the twin-cylinder engine’s ability to sound and feel much larger than it actually is, the AJS Highway Star has a huge edge over its competitors from the get-go. You could be tempted to believe that this engine is 250 cc or even 400 cc thanks to the chosen multi cylinder setup with its large two-into-two pipes finished in rich, glossy chrome.
Not sure what these numbers are? Check out this article on what the CC in bikes means.
However, it’s air-cooled 4 stroke parallel-twin engine doesn’t hold up the deception that its appearance started. It will quickly remind you that it is still only a 125 cc engine with 11.3 horsepower and 9.5 Nm of torque.
It seems that it isn’t much more powerful to have two cylinders than one, and that AJS could have added more power if they had wanted to but chose not to for unknown reasons. The engine’s fuel injection system keeps the bike compliant with the Euro 4 standards as well.
The five-speed transmission on the Highway Star is light but long in its ratios with the power from the gearbox transferred to the back wheel via a chain drive. Working your way through them and in fifth gear you’ll eventually find yourself bumbling along at a top speed of 65 mph, dealing with a small amount of vibration through the seat and mirrors will be needed to get there as the pistons hit up to 10,000 rpm, but a small sacrifice, after all it is just a 125.
So, a good mark for the little AJS there, being able to use the faster dual carriageways and motorways is definitely a plus unless you’re only going to be sticking to urban riding, however as a cruiser, it shouldn’t be confined to such places.
The Highway Star features equipment that a few more expensive and larger capacity machines lack, which is a real surprise for a small bike. Its upside-down forks, which have adjustable damping, as well as the pre-load adjustment for the twin rear shocks, give it a pretty sophisticated chassis by 125 standards.
The latter must have a shorter travel than you may anticipate due to the low riding style, but this does not affect the handling because the suspension at both ends can handle rough corners even if you do feel them through the seat. The wide bars make it easy to tip into curves, and the large tyres provide good traction.
The AJS Highway Star offers more than a typical 125 once again. It boasts twin full-size 300 mm front discs and a 240 mm rear disc in place of the typical smaller single discs front and rear in a combined braking system configuration.
Combination braking systems have been around for a while and are actually required by law for bikes up to 125 cc in Europe with the intention to increase rider safety. With the Highway Star, a single piston on the front brake is applied when the rear brake is depressed.
Although it is a reliable method of stopping, the Highway Star’s connected system feels a bit too sensitive; even a light touch of the lever can send the forks diving, necessitating delicate pressure application.
The Highway Star’s riding position feels as comfortable as it looks. At 710 mm the low seat height is great for smaller riders and seat itself is very cushy. The wide bars sweep back to meet your arms, so you don’t feel yourself being stretched out or pulled forward even as a smaller rider, alongside a legs-out riding position than again is not too far forward make you feel part of the machine and secure.
The foot pegs are a smooth rubber for absorbing engine and road vibrations for a more comfortable ride, which is a nice thought however, in wet weather conditions they might to be a bit slippery, so just a note of caution there.
The Highway Star’s power output makes it unlikely that you would want ride with a passenger solely to save weight, as the bike weighs 164 kg before you even sit on it. Also, passengers aren’t well accommodated either with just a small seat and grab rail.
As for luggage, a rack can be added on from AJS direct for an extra £99.
Available in a royal blue, candy red and gloss black, the only part of the bike that actually receives these colours is the fuel tank. All other part such as fenders, side panels and light coverings are gloss black.
The matt black engine with silver fins is smart looking and rest of the bike has enough chrome to please the stubbornness of most cruiser lovers with the 2 into 2 exhausts, rear shocks, the 16 solid spoke wheels, mirrors, and grab rail all suitably looking shiny.
With the dash, you get is a digital instrument pack with speedo, clock, gear position, fuel gauge and trip meter. The speedo itself can be switched between mph and kph and there’s a rev counter around the edge. Surrounding the whole thing are the various warning lights and a couple of buttons in a neat and compact circular design. No frills and easy to see everything on.
AJS Highway Star 125 Specifications
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 4 valve, DOHC, parallel-twin
Capacity: 125 cc
Max Power: 11.3 bhp / 8.2 kW @ 9,000 rpm
Max Torque: 9.5 Nm / 7 lb ft @ 9,000 rpm
Gearbox: 5-speed manual
Top speed: 65 mph / 105 kph
Fuel capacity: 19 L / 5.02 US Gal
Seat height: 710 mm / 27.9 inches
Wet weight: 184 kg / 405 lb
Where was the AJS Highway Star 125 made?
The original AJS Motorcycles, together with Matchless Motorcycles were owned by AMC (Associated Motorcycles Company) and are a staple of classic British motorcycle heritage. However it’s a very different company in modern times with all the bikes being designed and built in China.
Now for those remembering the previous era when the UK was flooded with really bad cheap imports that had little in the way of spares or servicing centres, I implore you to not dismiss the little AJS quite yet.
With better quality, more readily available parts, and actual dealers with servicing options, the world of Chinese motorcycles has advanced significantly since the bad old days.
As a result, manufacturers like AJS have been happy to deal exclusively in imported Chinese bikes as options for the money-conscious, with the support to match. Naturally, the AJS brand also carries with it a rich history and legacy.
Finding an AJS highway Star 125 for sale
When it was first introduced, the AJS Highway Star cost £2,999, making it one of the most expensive 125 cc cruisers. Only the Korean-made Hyosung GV with a V-Twin engine was more expensive at £3,299; the rest of its competitors only provided single-cylinder vehicles, thus the RRP was far less than that.
Given the high-end features it has such the dual front discs, a digital instrument display, twin-cylinder motor, and low set height, the AJS could still be worth its expensive price.
Finding unused Highway Star models is quite difficult as the production run was extremely short. However, I’ve discovered this absolute gem. It only has 18 miles on the clock and is advertised at £2499. That’s £500 off what is essentially a brand-new bike.
Some dealers may still have stock or have used Highway Stars for sale. Find your nearest dealer using the AJS Motorcycles Dealer search: https://www.ajsmotorcycles.co.uk/find-dealer
For used bikes you can check out:
If you are looking to purchase your first motorcycle and lack the knowledge and experience, always take an experienced friend to look at anything you might consider buying. If you don’t have anyone to take along I’d recommend sticking with a reputable dealer, you might pay more upfront but you’re less likely to have an unknown and expensive heartache later on as with a dealer you can hold someone accountable if the worst does happen.
On paper the AJS Highway Star looks like a good buy for a first timer rider or returning rider. It rides well, has great retro looks, is relatively inexpensive, has a low seat height, and boasts some impressive equipment that a normal 125 wouldn’t normally come with.
However, the downside is that the parallel-twin engine is relatively new to the market and has not had enough time to prove its durability. The short production run from AJS is also a concern as it’s an another unknown as to how long they will support the Highway Star with spare parts.
If you love the look of bikes like the Suzuki Boulevard S40 and can look past the unknown factors, then the AJS Highway Star looks to be an exceptional bargain and great first bike.