Enjoy The Thrill Of Riding Balls-To-The-Wall

Yamaha takes early indoctrination to a whole new level with its YZF-R125 meant to scoop up riders who live in areas that use the tiered-license system. That’s right, it’s an R-series model specifically built for A-1 license holders in Europe and the U.K. The trackside DNA is evident in the overall look that borrows heavily from its larger-displacement siblings in keeping with it intended use as an entry-level trainer. Supersport looks and handling meet license restrictions to make this a proper first-timer’s bike, so today, I’d like to take a look at the details and see what it will likely face in the contest to rope in riders and instill brand loyalty at the earliest possible.

Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha YZF-R125.

  • 2019 Yamaha YZF-R125
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    125 cc
  • Top Speed:
    78 mph
  • Price:

2019 Yamaha YZF-R125 Design

2019 Yamaha YZF-R125
- image 801473
R-series DNA is evident throughout, starting with the beefy front end and MotoGP-bike style cockpit.

R-series DNA is evident throughout. It starts with the beefy front end that is lent a good deal of visual weight by the inverted front forks. The central intake vent at the tip of the nose takes advantage of the pressurized air at the entry before diverting it away with a very R-typical front fairing. A bubble shield punches a hole in the wind for the rider, but you’ll have to tuck in all the way to find it.

Under the glass you’ll find a trio of LCD screens with a brace of indicator-light clusters to deal with all instrumentation needs. Monitor your fuel state and consumption rate along with a digital speed readout and bar-graph tach that is designed to be easy to find and read, even under what I term noob-stress, or the tendency to get tunnel vision or become fixated under duress.

A three-gallon fuel tank defines a very sporty flyline ahead of a precipitous drop to the 32.48-inch seat that meets a narrow tank and frame with a heavy bevel of its own. This is done to give the rider a break and provide a straight shot from hip to ground when you deploy your Fred Flintstones while also leaving room for some body English.

An upswept subframe mounts fold-up passenger footpegs made of weight-saving aluminum with a pad to cushion your pillion’s parts, but the clean-looking rear end comes with a price, and it’s at the expense of the passenger as there are no J.C. handles for them to hang on to. Oh well, I reckon it’s worth the tradeoff, especially since you’ll probably be solo most of the time anyway.

A short mudguard hooks up underneath the subframe and uses the tag as part of the overall rear wheel-fling control, and while I don’t actively hate it, I still think it would look better with a side-mount plate and low-profile hugger. Clip-on hand controls and jockey-mount footpegs encourage the Superman riding posture. That’s great as long as you keep moving at speed, but if you deal with a lot of stop-and-go traffic, you may benefit from a model with a little more pullback so you can have the option of tucking in or sitting in a more comfortable upright position.

2019 Yamaha YZF-R125 Chassis

2019 Yamaha YZF-R125
- image 801464
It is relatively compact, but comes off with a big-bike feel that belies its humble displacement.

New 17-inch, cast-aluminum Y-spoke rims mount a 100/80 hoop ahead of a 130/70 to round out the rolling chassis that starts with a steel Deltabox, stressed-engine chassis and aluminum swingarm. A 25-degree steering head and 3.5-inch (89 mm) trail makes for sharp handling indeed that will dive into the turns with a will, and will lean further than any beginner would be comfortable (or wise) to try.

New radial calipers tend to the braking action with a single 297 mm disc up front opposite a 230 mm disc out back, plus you get to choose between an ABS model and plain vanilla. While it’s true that the logical line of succession takes you through ABS-ready machines, I think for brand-new riders it’s important to feel the raw brakes and develop the necessary skillset to deal with them. Leave the fandanglery for later.

The 53.3-inch (1,355 mm) wheelbase and 76.9-inch (1,955 mm) overall length is relatively compact, but comes off with a big-bike feel that belies its humble displacement and gives the rider a taste of things to come as they work their way up the food chain.

Frame: Steel Deltabox
Front suspension/travel : Upside-down telescopic fork, Ø41 mm/ 130 mm (5.1 in)
Rear suspension/travel system: Swingarm, (Link type suspension)/ 114 mm (4.5 in)
Caster angle: 25º
Trail: 89 mm (3.5 in)
Front brake: Hydraulic single disc, Ø292 mm
Rear brake: Hydraulic single disc, Ø230 mm
Front tire: 100/80-17 M/C
Rear tire: 130/70-17 M/C

2019 Yamaha YZF-R125 Drivetrain

2019 Yamaha YZF-R125
- image 801481
It's a high-revvin' engine that really needs to be spooled up to be useful, and that's going to be felt when you're coming out of the hole.

Yamaha powers the “R125” with a water-cooled thumper that will deliver stable operating temperatures under normal use, and will tolerate some stop-and-go traffic without running into heat problems. A 52 mm bore and 58.6 mm stroke gives it a total displacement of 124.7 cc. Compression is toward the high side at 11.2-to-1, and that’s going to bring with it a thirst for 91-octane fuel, but that’s the price you pay for the 14.7-horsepower that peaks at 9-grand and the 9 pound-feet of torque that comes on fully by the time you hit 8,000 rpm. Yep, it’s a high-revvin’ engine that really needs to be spooled up to be useful, and that’s going to be felt when you’re coming out of the hole.

A single over-head cam times the four-valve head with a variable-valve feature that is meant to broaden the powerband, particularly downward. Electronic fuel injection manages the induction, but there’s nothing in the way of higher engine-control fandanglery to clutter up the works and boost the sticker-shock. A slip-and-assist clutch couples engine power to the six-speed transmission that comes geared for an estimated top speed of 78 mph at 110 mpg; fast enough for the interstate, but with very little power reserve if you need to make a pass or are bucking a heavy headwind. Or are carrying a passenger. Or had too much lunch.

Engine: liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC, 4-valves
Displacement: 124.7 cc
Bore x stroke: 52.0 mm x 58.6 mm
Compression ratio: 11.2 : 1
Maximum power: 11.0 kW (14.8 hp) @ 9,000 rpm
Maximum torque: 12.4 Nm (9.1 lb-ft) @ 8,000 rpm
Lubrication system: Wet sump
Clutch type: Wet, multiple-disc coil spring
Ignition system: TCI (digital)
Fuel system: Electronic Fuel Injection
Starter system: Electric
Transmission system: Constant Mesh, 6-speed
Final transmission: Chain

2019 Yamaha YZF-R125 Pricing

2019 Yamaha YZF-R125
- image 801477
MSRP will likely come in under £5k.

The factory is keeping the price close to the vest, but last year it rolled for £4,649, and I expect the price on the new model to be somewhere between that and an even five-grand.

Color: Yamaha Blue, Tech Black, Competition White
Price: TBA

2019 Yamaha YZF-R125 Competitors

2019 Yamaha YZF-R125
- image 801483
2014 - 2019 Honda CBR125R
- image 729031
Yamaha takes a big hit at the checkout counter, but offers a little more power and ABS.

It’s difficult to move away from Japanese machines once onto them, mainly because the Big Four have refined and shaped that market in their own image, and it has become a game of inches with all the main players adhering to a roughly uniform design philosophy. So with that in mind, I went straight to Honda’s CBR line for the CBR125R.

Like the Yammy, the Honda ride borrows heavily from the racing division, even going so far as to offer a package with the “Repsol” race-team livery in the recent past. Diminutive engine aside, the overall look of the CBR is that of a straight-up supersport with the full body panels that leave us with but a peek at the drivetrain. A narrow waist leaves the rider with plenty of room for body English, because, like the YZF, the CBR is meant to be tossed around in the corners. Unlike the YZF, Honda runs with an old-school, rwu, standard front fork for a slight ding, though neither offer any kind of adjustability so both have room for improvement here.

It looks like the Tuning Fork Company is alone in the ABS department, so if you insist on having that layer of safety gear, it’s going to narrow your prospects to the Yammy product. Honda opted for a two-valve, water-cooled thumper for power, and it generates a claimed 13-horsepower and 7.6 pound-feet against 14.7/9, respectively, so it alone gets the most out of its displacement bracket. You’ll pay for that at the till; Yamaha’s MY19 YZF-R125 will likely not be lower than 4.7 K, while Honda lets the CBR125R roll for £3 999.

He Said

“The projected price difference may well cut into Yamaha a little bit, but I maintain that it’s worth it to get that extra little bit of performance. You’re already operating close to the edge of the envelope, so you’re gonna’ want every ounce of thrust you can get. As usual, Yamaha puts together a nice looking bike with almost shameless references to its racing program, much to the delight of the new blood across Europe.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “You know, these small-displacement rides are not just for new riders. They’re fun to ride and make really nice commuters especially in an urban area because you can let-’er-rip without holding anything back. Let’s face it, it is so much more fun to ride a small bike balls-to-the-wall than it is to ride a big bike and have to keep things tame. For 2019, Yamaha put on a wider rear tire for even better handling and improved traction. For the money, I think this is a nice bike; nice fit-and-finish, good brakes, very agile, and very lightweight at just a little over 300 pounds. ”

2019 Yamaha YZF-R125 Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC, 4-valves
Displacement: 124.7 cc
Bore x stroke: 52.0 mm x 58.6 mm
Compression ratio: 11.2 : 1
Maximum power: 11.0 kW (14.8 hp) @ 9,000 rpm
Maximum torque: 12.4 Nm (9.1 lb-ft) @ 8,000 rpm
Lubrication system: Wet sump
Clutch type: Wet, multiple-disc coil spring
Ignition system: TCI (digital)
Fuel system: Electronic Fuel Injection
Starter system: Electric
Transmission system: Constant Mesh, 6-speed
Final transmission: Chain
Chassis:
Frame: Steel Deltabox
Front suspension/travel : Upside-down telescopic fork, Ø41 mm/ 130 mm (5.1 in)
Rear suspension/travel system: Swingarm, (Link type suspension)/ 114 mm (4.5 in)
Caster angle: 25º
Trail: 89 mm (3.5 in)
Front brake: Hydraulic single disc, Ø292 mm
Rear brake: Hydraulic single disc, Ø230 mm
Front tire: 100/80-17 M/C
Rear tire: 130/70-17 M/C
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall length: 1,955 mm (77 in)
Overall width: 680 mm (26.8 in)
Overall height: 1,065 mm (41.9 in)
Seat height: 825 mm (32.5 in)
Wheel base: 1,355 mm (53.3 in)
Minimum ground clearance: 155 mm (6.1 in)
Wet weight (including full oil and fuel tank): 142 kg (313 lbs)
Fuel tank capacity: 11.5 liters (3.0 gals)
Fuel consumption: 2.13 l/100km (110.4 mpg)
Oil tank capacity: 1.15 liters (1.2 qts)
Details:
Color: Yamaha Blue, Tech Black, Competition White
Price: TBA

Further Reading

Honda CBR125R

2014 - 2019 Honda CBR125R
- image 801462

See our review of the Honda CBR125R.

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Read more Yamaha news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: yamaha-motor.com, honda.com

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