125cc motorcycles have been going from strength to strength in recent years. Sure, the days of the mighty two-stroke may be long over, but the level of polish and ride quality is better than ever. Not only that but a 125cc motorcycle remains one of the most economical ways to travel and all you need is a CBT to get started!

The new year is upon us, so it’s time to take a look at some of the very best 125cc motorcycles that are going to be on offer in 2022...

10.

Keeway Superlight

Let's kick the list off with Keeway's top-selling model - the Superlight 125.

Just by looking at it, you can tell why it sells so well! The unique design and cool matt colour schemes offer something that is currently pretty rare in the category and for me, looks pretty sweet too.

Now when it comes to tech and features, the Superlight is pretty basic with halogen lights, combined braking and some vintage-looking instrument dials but in a way that adds to the stripped-down charm of this bike. The engine is an air-cooled single-cylinder with fuel injection and a 10.5bhp power output. That makes it the least powerful bike on the list, although as the name suggests, it is incredibly light for a cruiser at 134kg dry.

Aside from the vintage looks, the other huge selling point is how economical the motorcycle is. We get a huge 15 litre fuel tank with a 110 mpg and the cost of owning one of these is just £2,499. An absolute steal!

Engine 124cc, 10.5 bhp, air-cooled
Fuel tank 15L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 730mm
Weight 134kg
Price £2,499 (+OTR)

9.

Lexmoto LXR SE 125

The LXR is another decent budget offering from China, although the version hitting our showrooms has had a lot of fine-tuning specifically for the UK market. The combination of exciting sportbike looks and sub £3k price tag has ensured the LXR is a big seller here.

Recently updated with a brand new Euro 5 engine, the LXR SE 125 has also received some new USD forks, a lightweight aluminium swingarm and full-colour TFT screen. There is no ABS on this one as Lexmoto has opted to go for the combined braking system instead.

While it certainly looks the part, the new liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine puts out 12.5hp which again puts it a little bit lower in the performance department than the other class leaders here. It also comes in slightly heavier than its rivals at 167kg, which further compounds the issue. With that said, it will still offer decent performance and make for a very cost-effective run around when priced at £3,099 for the Special Edition and just £2,799 for the regular LXR.

Engine 125cc, 12.5 hp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 13.5L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 820mm
Weight 167kg
Price £3,099

8.

Zontes ZT125-G1 | ZT125-U1

We've covered some of the most expensive and deluxe models so far but now it is time to get into the budget area of the category where there are some surprisingly good motorcycles on offer! To start with, let's keep things neo-retro with the Zontes ZT125-G1.

Yes, it is Chinese but the days of low-budget, low-quality imports are coming to an end with bikes like this showing great attention to detail and manufactured to a very high standard. The engine is a liquid-cooled single with a 14.5 hp output. It is just a shade below the top models in the list, but it is certainly no slouch and can reach speeds of 70mph on a nice long road.

Zontes recognise one of the big selling points of 125s in the modern era is their commuting ability and the ZT125 comes with a whopping 20 litre tank, which they reckon can do 600 miles between fill-ups in ECO mode. That's right this bike has ride modes with ECO and Sport. It also has Bosch ABS and keyless ignition. Combined with its excellent big bike looks, it seems like an absolute bargain at £3,199. If you aren't a fan of the neo-retro style, they also offer the ZT125-U1 as an alternative. All the same spec and price but this time wrapped up in a very tasty super Motard design.

Engine 124.7cc, 14.5 hp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 20L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 765mm
Weight 160kg
Price £3,199

7.

Husqvarna Svartpilen 125

Following on from the success of the larger Svartpilen models, Husqvarna is now offering it in a 125cc capacity and despite the downsize in power, it looks almost identical to the 701 and 401 versions. Assuming you are a fan of the neo-retro design then the Svartpilen 125 is a real beauty.

The Svartpilen uses the same Euro5 DOHC four-valve single-cylinder engine and steel trellis frame as the KTM 125 Duke, so despite being on sale for less than a year, we already know the performance will be highly competitive. It also has the ByBre brakes, WP APEX front forks and Bosch ABS as well, so it really does come down to whether you dig that hipster fashion or not. Unlike its larger siblings, however, which tend to come in at a high price for that fashion, this one is right on par with its rivals at £4,499.

Engine 125cc, 14.7 hp liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 9.5L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 835mm
Weight 146kg
Price £4,499

6.

Suzuki GSX-R125 | GSX-S125

Another great choice from Japan and once again coming in two flavours, the GSX-R125 with its sporty MotoGP styling or the aggressive street styled GSX-S125.

Similar to Kawasaki, Suzuki aren't piling on the extra gadgets (aside from keyless ignition and Bosch ABS) to make sure the price stays competitive. What they are doing is providing a freshly updated Euro 5 engine with fuel injection and a high spec 14.7 hp engine. It also has the best power to weight ratio in the category. The GSX-S125 weighs in at just 133kg and miraculously the faired 'Gixxer' is just 1 kilo more!

Despite the racy performance, Suzuki claim when ridden sensibly the GSX-R125 can still achieve 122mpg which is pretty impressive but even ridden more realistically it should be fairly economical. The GSX-S125 starts at £4,199 with the GSX-R125 a touch higher at £4,499.

Engine 124cc, 14.7 hp, liquid-cooledd
Fuel tank 11L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 785mm
Weight 133kg (GSX-S125) & 134kg (GSX-R125)
Price £4,199 (GSX-S125) & £4,499 (GSX-R125)

5.

Aprilia RS 125 | Tuono 125

Aprilia's RS 125 is the stuff of legends with a long history of being one of the most formidable 125 motorcycles in existence. The rowdy 2 stroke may be just a memory thanks to the ever-escalating Euro emission regulations, but the RS 125 remains one of the best A1 motorcycles on offer in 2022.

First let's start with the way this bike looks, for my money this is the most impressive-looking bike you can own on a CBT licence. At a distance, it looks near identical to its bigger brother the RSV. It isn't just for show either, with Aprilia promising unrivalled ergonomics and handling.

The latest 125cc engine produces the maximum allowable 15bhp and with a long enough runway with the wind on your back, you can reach speeds of 80mph. There are plenty of options available including a quick-shifter and a race replica edition, and now the fairing-less Tuono 125 gives an option for sport naked enthusiasts as well. The base RS starts at £4,850 with the Tuono being a shade more friendly on the wallet at £4,600.

Engine 124.2cc, 15 bhp, liquid-cooled
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 820mm (RS 125) & 810mm (Tuono 125)
Weight 144kg (wet)
Price £4,850 (RS 125) & £4,600 (Tuono 125)

4.

Kawasaki Z125 | Ninja 125

Kawasaki made their long-awaited return to the 125cc market in 2019 with a pair of A1 motorcycles to suit both naked and sports enthusiasts. Both the Z125 and the Ninja 125 has the same basic core of full-size trellis frame and 14.7 bhp single-cylinder engine, which means once again, they can compete right at the top of the performance scale for 125s.

Both have excellent sharp designs and are finished in the traditional black and green of Kawasaki, they absolutely look the part. When it comes to advanced features, the Z and Ninja have been kept minimalistic with little to speak of other than ABS. What they do have though is high quality and the real selling point is the price, both being slightly lower than similar powered competitors. The Z125 starts at £3,899 with the faired Ninja 125 costing an extra 200 quid, giving another excellent option for 2022.

Engine 125cc, 14.7 bhp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 11L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 815mm (Z125) & 785mm (Ninja 125)
Weight 147kg (Z125) & 148kg (Ninja 125)
Price £3,899 (Z125) & £4,199 (Ninja 125)

3.

Honda CB125R

Honda's 'Neo Sports Cafe' got a recent update in 2021 with a brand new DOHC 4V single-cylinder engine that gives increases to both horsepower and torque. Performance-wise the CB125R can now compete with the best of the 125cc division while retaining the same unique style and big bike proportions it already had.

Speaking of the big bike proportions, another update in the latest version of the CB125R is some very tasty 41mm Showa Big Piston forks, finished in gold. Along with the full-size tyres, this is another quality 125 that will not just look like a larger machine but also have a smoother and more responsive ride quality as a result.

Coming in at £4,399, it's priced very competitively to its rivals and takes an easy spot on this list.

Engine 124.9cc, 14.7 hp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 10.1L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 816mm
Weight 130kg
Price £4,399

2.

KTM RC 125 | 125 Duke

KTM has been putting out fantastic low-capacity motorcycles for years now and the 125 Duke was one of the first 125cc models to offer a full-sized frame and real big-bike proportions. In 2022 it's become the norm with all manufacturers levelling up their offerings, but the Duke remains a great option.

KTM actually has a fresh 2022 update for their RC 125 on the way with extensive improvements over the previous version. It still uses the same base as the Duke, including its 15hp single-cylinder engine, WP APEX USD fork and rear shock setup and BOSCH ABS. The RC 125 is now considerably lighter than before, with a new lightweight frame, rims and ByBre brakes all saving kilos. The final dry weight is down to 147 kg and the improved ergonomics are going to make this one of the fastest 125s on the market. Further improvements include the new visual styling and MotoGP-inspired paint scheme as well as some adjustable clip-on bars.

Both of these bikes are great choices with the Duke coming in at £4,499 and the RC 125 at £5,049.

Engine 124.7cc, 15hp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 13.7L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 824mm
Weight 147kg
Price £5,049 (RC 125) & £4,499 (125 Duke)

1.

Yamaha MT-125 | XSR 125 | R125

Finishing with one of the most impressive 125cc motorcycles out there, the MT-125 from Yamaha. In fact considering Yamaha's trio of 125 motorcycles all share the same engine and basic components you could consider this a triple bill, with the R125 and XSR 125 also making for terrific options.

I got the chance to test ride the XSR last year and to say I was impressed is an understatement (be sure to read the Yamaha XSR125’s full review) and the freshly updated MT-125 takes the already winning formula and just tweaks it a little further. We have the same 14.8bhp engine with its VVA (Variable Valve Actuation) technology. The idea behind this is to offer two separate valve timings, one for low revs and one for high, the engine will automatically swap from one to the other as you accelerate and provide constant pull. And boy does it work!

Perhaps my only criticism of the XSR was its average brakes. The latest MT-125 now increases the size of the front brake disc up to 292mm which might just remedy this, combined with the addition of a slip and assist clutch, just to make the bike even smoother to ride. At £4,700 for the MT, this is definitely a top contender for 2022.

Engine 124cc,14.8 bhp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 11L (MT-125 & XSR125) & 11.5L (R125)
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 810mm (MT-125), 815mm (XSR125) & 825mm (R125)
Weight 142kg (MT-125), 140kg (XSR125) & 144kg (R125)
Price £4,700 (MT-125), £4,450 (XSR125) & £4,900 (R125)

The last stop

That brings this list to an end! We want to know your thoughts. You know the drill, drop your favourites in the comments below!

Before you go, If you're looking for an affordable insurance policy for your motorcycle, Lexham offers a range of policies on everything from 125cc bikes to adventure bikes. Cheap motorcycle insurance doesn't have to mean poor quality and, with over 20 years of experience, we are two-wheel insurance specialists, offering you great savings and exceptional service. Did I mention, that our best deals are direct!