Yamaha YZF-R125 Review
By Trevor Hedge
Yamaha have given the full race replica treatment to learner bikes with the YZF-R125.
The YZF-R125 looks as though it is doing 200km/h standing still but with all of 15 horsepower from its 125cc four-stroke single for motivation the only way it would do 200km/h is if it was strapped to a missile. 130km/h downhill with a tailwind is more like it. On flat level ground it is really not all that comfortable cruising at any more than 110km/h which is not all that different to most small capacity learner bikes.
Electronic fuel injection ensures fuss free operation and helps the YZF-R125 to achieve remarkable economy. Even under extreme duress the little Yamaha manages to slurp only 3.5 litres per 100km. With a generous 13.8 litre fuel tank that gives the YZF-R125 a range of nearly 400km.
A smooth six-speed gearbox helps keep the YZF-R125 on the boil with maximum progress achieved between 7000rpm and 9000rpm. Around town there is no need to rev the Yamaha that hard though as the little single is torquey enough to short shift while commuting and needs only 3000rpm on the tacho for smooth and brisk getaways from traffic lights.
Handling is quite brilliant. At only 138kg with a full tank of fuel the YZF-R125 proves extremely agile and a handy little tool in the bends. A lengthy for this class 1355mm wheelbase adds a nice dose of stability and endows the YZF-R125 with reasonable ergonomics.
33mm forks soak up the bumps at the front of the machine and provide a healthy 130mm of travel. Under maximum braking the non-adjustable forks are pushed a little out of their comfort zone but overall they perform quite well. A large or aggressive rider would certainly benefit from the fitment of stiffer fork springs.
Part of the reason that the forks are taxed under brakes stems from the power of the 292mm front disc and twin-piston Brembo caliper. The stoppers offer good feel at the lever and much better braking power than most learner machines. Unfortunately ABS is not available.
While the YZF-R125 has a surprising amount of room for the rider the 818mm seat height might pose a few problems for shorter folk.
Instrumentation is quite classy and far removed from the Fisher-Price look of many competitors. Quality of finish is also of a high standard.
The little Yamaha at full retail price is cheap $6990 plus on road costs but Yamaha have now dropped the price to a much more attractive $5995 ride away for 2009 plated stock.
With the YZF-R125 Yamaha has taken aim at Honda’s highly successful CBR125R. The Yamaha is a far better package than the Honda. But the Honda retails for only $3990 plus on roads, which plays no small part in its runaway success. On full retail price the Yamaha is $3000 more than the Honda thus you would expect the Yamaha to be a better machine, and it is, without a doubt. But in this tight market every dollar counts and that price tag makes the YZF-R125 a hard sell.
Manufactured primarily for the European market where many countries enforce 125cc capacity restrictions on young riders, much younger riders than Australia permits I should add, the YZF-R125 sells like hotcakes thanks to its great looks, ergonomics and handling.
In Australia however our older learners have access to 250cc machines, and in states with the Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme machines up to 650cc as long as they meet certain power-to-weight criteria. Taking those factors into mind the YZF-R125 is facing somewhat of an uphill battle in the marketplace. If the YZF-R125 grew up to be a 250 it would become Australia’s top selling motorcycle overnight. A fact that Yamaha Australia will no doubt be shouting loud and hard at their masters back in Japan.
— Pictorial – Image Gallery featuring the Yamaha YZF-R125