It was between the early 90’s and noughties that the 2-stroke 125cc sports motorcycle saw its peak. Full of character and speed but with the need to warm up in its own time and a fear of the cold – oh how it’s nice to reminisce! – we had our ups and down with them.

It was all about the engine and though they were fast, most reaching over 25 hp and when de-restricted some could do over 100 mph, they weren’t very economical, so it’s been a while since we’ve seen one.

Therefore, to celebrate their glory days join us in this new blog as we take a trip down memory lane and reacquaint ourselves with 6 of the fastest 2-stroke 125cc motorcycles.

Suzuki RG 125

Designed to give the Italian 125cc racers a run for their money, Suzuki’s RG 125 was a pocket rocket that made a name for itself touring the 1984 European motorcycle shows.

This tiddler reached 33 hp and borrowed a lot of its features, including graphics, paintwork, bore and stroke, from its bigger brothers, the RG250 and RG500, so you can imagine how excited a 17 year old would have been riding one of these!

But what made it so special was the shape and size of its engine and its 96kg bodyweight. Its engine was incredibly narrow which meant you could lean in far when it came to cornering and being so light in weight only helped.

It was launched in 1978 and because of its sportsbike characteristics and good looks, it became very popular and stayed popular until it was discontinued in the 1990s. Nowadays though, if you’re lucky you might be able to find a restored option for around £1,400-£1,500.

Production 1979-1993
Engine 125cc, 33 hp (unrestricted), 2-stroke, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 12L
Brakes Front disc and rear drum
Seat height 730mm
Weight 96kg
Price £1,400-£1,500 (restored)

Yamaha TZR 125

With its signature single square headlight, the TZR 125 was first released in 1987. It went on strong until production ended in 1992 when Yamaha released their ‘R Series’ and the TZR 125 became the TZR125 R.

From the race-ready graphics to that sweet 26 bhp output, it seemed to tick every single box. It was a desired bike that didn’t come cheap so if you were a teen back in the 80s it would have definitely been one of your biggest wants –  if not THE!

Just like the RG 125, there are people out there restoring them for fun so you could find one of these beauties for anything between £2,000-£5,000.

Production 1987-1992
Engine 124cc, 26 bhp (unrestricted), 2-stroke, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 12L
Brakes Front disc and rear drum
Weight 104kg
Price £1,500-£5,000 (restored)

Derbi GPR125

For the Derbi GPR125 production didn’t end until 2010 so when compared against the others, it’s one of the ‘newer’ models on the list.

There’s no denying that this was a beautifully built bike. I’d even go as far as saying that if you saw it from a distance, at speed or squinted you could mistake it for a mini-Ducati.

It was nicely equipped with all the 125cc sports motorcycle essentials, including 17” wheels, a 6-speed gearbox, and two-piston radial caliper rear brakes.  

If you wanted one now, the original 2-stroker might be hard to find so you may need to settle for the more modern 4-stroke which replaced it, but could you bring yourself to when its former self reached 33 bhp?

Production 2005-2009
Engine 125cc, 33 bhp (unrestricted), 2-stroke, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 13L
Brakes Front disc and rear disc
Weight 123kg
Price £1,500-£2,500 (used)

Honda NSR125

First released in 1988, inspiration for Honda’s NSR125 was taken from its road racing big brother, the NSR500 GP.

It was categorised into the JC20 and JC22 (AKA the ‘fox eye’). Each could be recognised by their different headlight styles with the JC20 featuring a double round and the JC22 a fox eye headlight, hence the nickname. Both featured a 2-stroke, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine that could see a power output of around 30 bhp.

With Honda’s renowned reliability and build quality, you won’t be surprised to hear that there are more NSR125’s knocking around than others, but if you’re looking for a modern-day equivalent, you may want to check out the 2021 4-stroke, liquid-cooled CBR125R.

Production 1988-2001
Engine 124cc, 30 bhp (unrestricted), 2-stroke, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 13L
Brakes Front ally twin-spar and rear disc
Seat height 800mm
Weight 127kg
Price £2,000-£4,000 (used)

Cagiva Mito

Born in 1989, Cagiva’s Mito was inspired by the GP500.

At its heart lay a 2-stroke, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine that could hit 33 hp. Looks-wise it was restyled by Massimo Tamburini to resemble Ducati’s 916, so featured full-fairing, dual headlights, a small windscreen, die-cast aluminium wheels and bright red paint job which really did make this entry-level sportsbike look nice.

That promised power and stunning Ducati styling was the reason the Mito was at the top of all learner rider’s wish lists!

A little fun fact before we move on, this was the very first motorcycle Valentino Rossi raced on back in 1993 – you never know which pub quiz that could come in handy for!

Production Since 1989
Engine 124cc, 33 bhp (unrestricted), 2-stroke, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 12.9L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 760mm
Weight 117kg
Price £3,000-£4,500 (used)

Aprilia RS 125

Excellent performance, a high level of equipment and bright styling, Aprilia’s RS 125 was a sought-after model in the ’90s and, still to this day, is considered a class 125cc option.

It wasn’t just popular because it looked the dog’s wotsits, with a claimed 33 bhp owning one of these as a teenager was your golden ticket to finding out what riding a real sports motorcycle was all about!

Originals are hard to find but the RS 125 is one of few to be given a modern reboot. Whilst it may have kept its pretty exterior, the 2021 model now features a 4-stroke, liquid-cooled engine that reaches a smaller 14.7 hp, BOSCH ABS, redesigned ergonomics and new digital display, so, it’s still a pretty good two-wheeler to ride. 

Production 1992-2010
Engine 124.8cc, 33 bhp (unrestricted), liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 14L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 805mm
Weight 126kg
Price £2,500-£3,000 (used)

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The last stop

Though we don’t see much of them anymore the 125cc 2-stroke motorcycle will hold a special place in a lot of people’s hearts, and because of this, they’ve turned into a bit of a collector’s item.

If you have one of these featured bikes in your collection or would be desperate to get your hands on one, let us know in the comments below now!