Riding either of the 125s is fun and confidence inspiring. The 124cc air-cooled, SOHC four-stroke; 2 valves engine is smooth, but not docile, totally capable of putting a smile on any rider’s face and keep it there for a very long time. Pushbutton electrically starting immediately hot or cold, the small powerplant is tuned to deliver healthy low-and midrange rushes in all of the five gears without any unwanted punches. The exhaust note is consistent, but not threatening at all. Beginning and intermediate riders will definitely be impressed by the instant throttle response coming from that 20mm Mikuni carburetor while for the experienced crowd, it will simply be an expected aspect, one worthy of appreciation.
Apart from the engine, the two bikes also feature the same gearbox and cable-actuated clutch. The five speed unit is precise and easy to work with while the clutch is smooth and pulls so easily that I often found myself using only too fingers. Also, it showed no signs of weakness when being quickly released while getting out of tight corners.
In what concerns the chassis, things start to change a little bit. The frame is the same, but on the “LE” model you get a pair of 19-inch front and 16-inch rear wheels. These, unlike the 17-inch front and 14-inch rear wheels of the “E” model, are more capable of dealing with the off-road terrain. The jumps are easier absorbed compared to the “E” model, also thanks to the 6.6 inches of travel at the rear and the bike also feels a little bit more stable.
With a 31.7 inches high seat, the larger model is a real step up bike compared to the base model which features a 30.5 inches seat. The difference isn’t that big, but considering the wheels too, you really feel like being on a totally different bike when jumping from one to another. Furthermore, you also get a 220 mm single disc up front instead of a 110 mm drum, so the overall big bike feel is completed from the first time a rider will pull the brake lever with great expectations.
Either way, the bikes feel easy and handling is the most natural thing. The front end complies immediately with the direction that the rider indicates and the rear end always follows. Sharp corners are no challenge for the two TT-Rs, but more for beginning riders. The tires grip on to the surface they roll on very well, but they don’t necessarily need to stay on the ground, don’t they?...especially when TT-R’s front end lift up with the greatest easy if you know how and when to help them with a simple pull.
A fairly short jumping session left me with no reproaches for the suspensions on both the “E” and the “LE” model and ground clearance is more than decent as well. You really get an accurate feel of what dirt riding means on these things and in the end that’s their main goal.
In relation to their competitors, the two Yamaha bikes, TT-R125E ($2,699) and TT-R125LE ($2,999) are positioned right in the middle as the Suzuki models are relatively cheaper and Kawasaki more expensive, but also slightly bigger in displacement. The choice is yours!
By checking out the 125cc TT-R bikes from Yamaha it would seem they are being made under the motto “a bike for everyone” as they can be indeed fun for all of you out there, especially if you are a parent and need to supervise your kid. There’s no better trainer than the one that goes next to you and experiences with you every challenge and that is what Yamaha plans on providing with the two differently-sized motorcycles. Is it successful? You tell me!