Suzuki GSX-S125 and GSX-R125 Tested
By Trevor Hedge – Images by Suzuki and TBG
Many people might question why Suzuki would even bother bringing the GSX-S125 and GSX-R125 to Australia when traditionally such small capacity machines have not found favour in our market. Some dealers even questioned Suzuki Australia management at the decision.
In reality though it is actually a pretty savvy decision by Suzuki, one glance at the Australian Motorcycle Sales Figures explains why. With 903 sales in 2016 and 701 in 2017 Honda’s CB125E is one of the best selling road motorcycles in Australia. In fact so far in 2018 the CB125E is the biggest selling roadbike in Australia. A $2500 ride away price tag has seen many international students gravitate towards Honda’s budget machine for their transport needs. With their handsome new GSX-S125 and racey looking GSX-R125 Suzuki are clearly out to curry favour in this segment of the market.
With a new generation DOHC fuel-injected engine, LCD instruments, LED lighting, lightweight late generation Bosch ABS and thoroughly modern sharp styling Suzuki are hoping that customers will stump up a bit more for their 125cc machine.
The semi-naked GSX-S125 has arrived in Australian Suzuki dealer showrooms at $3890 ride away, while the fully-faired GSX-R125 is only $100 more expensive, $3990 ride away. That is very sharply priced, as these machines in Great Britain sell for those numbers in UK pounds.
While most motorcycles in this price range are made in China or Thailand, these Suzuki siblings are made a fair bit closer to Australia, Jakarta in fact.
I must admit that I did not expect all that much from the 15-horsepower 125cc single-cylinder machine, but am glad to report that it actually did provide enough torque to make commuting in city traffic not too much of a chore. With enough to squirt ahead of most traffic from the lights, no doubt helped in part by a very light 134kg kerb weight, despite having a high-spec contemporary Bosch ABS system backing up the 290mm dual-piston front caliper and 187mm rear.
Both bikes will do 49 km/h in first gear, while at the same speed in top gear the little four-stroke is turning 4000rpm. It will still accelerate, albeit slowly from that 4000rpm in top gear, as long as there is no incline to ascend. The six-speed gearbox is slick and shuffling down a few cogs is no hassle.
The over-square engine is essentially a quarter of a GSX-R600, and I don’t mean just in capacity. A 62mm cylinder bore provides enough space for a quartet of valves, a 24mm pair for the intake and 21mm for the exhaust. That bore is plated with Suzuki’s trademark SCEM (Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material) comprised of a nickel-phosphorus-silicon-carbide coating.
With such a relatively short stroke of 41.2mm you would expect the engine to offer very little down low, but the wonders of modern combustion chamber design and engine management systems ensure that it is quite flexible, for a 125cc four-stroke single that is. A 32mm throttle body and four-hole injector provides the go-juice from the 11-litre fuel tank.
It’s a lively engine that revs smoothly and responds quite well, for what it is. It also manages to give the rider the satisfaction that comes from riding something that gives the impression of being well engineered. It really feels like a modern engine should, with impeccable manners right throughout the 12,000rpm rev range.
A few laps of a go-kart track later in the afternoon provided a real chance to sample the grip of the tubeless Dunlop D102 130/70-17 rear and 90/80-17 front hoops. They allowed for some racer boy antics amongst the assembled throng of riders present at the launch. Team Ecstar Suzuki’s Josh Waters was also on hand to show us wobblers how it is really done. I am somewhat amazed to report that by day’s end none of the bikes had been sent horizontal! That must be some sort of testament to the easy handling of the bike and its forgiving nature. The ABS system caused no issues and the brakes never faded.
And man does it look the part! There is no real reason I can discern for choosing the GSX-R125 over the slightly more upright and GSX-S125 other than looks. At first glance, when seeing a GSX-R125 in traffi from a distance, it is very easy to mistake for a GSX-R600 or GSX-R750. The lineage is clear, particularly from side-on, when the GSX-R125 is in the very MotoGP looking blue/white colour scheme.
A single press of the starter button sees the bike manage the starting procedure from there, there is no need to hold the starter until the machine bursts into life. And in the case of the GSX-R125, there is also no need for a key! A proximity key provides keyless ignition on the faired machine with a barrel type selector situated just behind the steering head to activate the bike or turn it off. This barrel switch was the only part of the bike that felt a little bit cheap and underdone, as otherwise the bikes do certainly portray a quality well above their less than 4k ride-away price point.
The multi-function LED instrumentation is clear with a fuel gauge and economy read out, gear position indicator, programmable shift light and and servicing alerts along with the normal array of functions. The vertically stacked headlight is also LED, as is the tail-light.
The 125s require a first service at 1000km and the 1.5-litres of oil is to be changed every 4000km. Valve clearances should be checked and the spark plug changed every 8000km.
The bike is certainly comfortable enough and while its diminutive size is somewhat of a surprise at first, I quickly adjusted. A low 785mm seat height will please many, particularly as Suzuki gauge that at least 30 per cent of their likely customers for this machine will be female.
Suzuki have done a great job to bring this bike to Australia at the extremely competitive price of less than 4k ride away. In some states the registration of a 125cc machine can also be up to $170 cheaper than larger capacity machines. If it can sip the modest three-litres per 100km that Suzuki claim, then it definitely promises some very cheap motorcycling. And not without a fair dose of style, particularly in the case of the GSX-R125.
2018 Suzuki GSX-S125 main features
- All new Street Sport 125cc motorcycle from Suzuki
- Modern fuel-injected 125cc liquid-cooled DOHC engine
- Lowest weight in class, 133kg kerb weight. Measurement contains all fluids
- Lowest seat height in class at 785mm
- LED headlight
- ABS brakes
- One touch starting system
Suzuki GSX-R125 Technical Specifications
- Engine – Single-Cylinder, Four-Stroke, Liquid-Cooled
- Gearbox – Six-speed, constant mesh
- Front Suspension – Forks
- Rear Suspension – Link Type, Shock
- Brakes – 290mm Disc (F), 187mm Disc (R) with ABS
- Fuel Capacity – 11 Litres
- Warranty – Two years, unlimited kilometres
- Seat Height – 785mm
- Lx W x H – 2000 x 700 x 1070mm (2000 x 745 x 1035mm for GSX-S)
- Wheelbase – 1300mm
- Wet Weight – 134kg (133kg for GSX-S)
Images by Suzuki / TBG