As more of us are seeking alternatives to public transport, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing an increase in the world of two-wheels – especially with 125cc motorcycles.

Offering the best of both worlds, 125 MCs are affordable, easy to ride and the perfect partner for those fresh-faced first-time riders to take on their daily commute or weekend backroad blast.

On this new list for 2021, and to stay true to our top 10 reputation, we’ve chosen to have only one entry per manufacturer. As you can imagine, because of the variety of different makes and models, this wasn’t the easiest of tasks, but we managed it and we’re sure none of these contenders will disappoint. So, let’s get straight into it!

Based in the historic heart of British motorcycle manufacturing (Birmingham) and sticking to their ethos, Mutt have delivered an easy-going and classic Brit-looking 125. The iconic round headlamp, low and wide handlebars, and traditional styling provide this retro flame with all the right tools to hammer through the city. But with a top speed of 70mph, this bike isn’t only bred for urban environments, you’ll have no problem bending round those country lanes.

CBS with front and rear discs alongside chunky 18” tyres offer extra stopping power, security and inspire confidence in the rider. A 4-stroke motor and a fuel injection mean this Mongrel isn’t just all bark…it’s got a pretty good bite too.

Engine 125cc, 12 hp, air-cooled
Fuel tank 14L
Brakes Front and rear disc (CBS)
Weight 125kg
Seat height 780mm
Price £2,950 (+OTR)

Upgraded for 2021, Sinnis’s low-capacity ADV bike is set and ready to cover all types of Terrain. This learner-legal workhorse comes with side luggage as standard and improved chassis which helps to create a practical, secure, and worry-free ride. A 12.7 bhp engine and 14L tank keep the fuel usage low so this pioneer can travel longer distances at ease. This is the perfect explorer for those new adventurers looking for something fun, economical, and reliable that will make you smile for literal miles.

After road-testing the 2019 model, the BikeMatters team couldn’t have been happier after riding the Terrain and agreed that “Sinnis have hit the nail on the head with this one!”

Engine 125cc, 12.7 bhp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 14L
Brakes Front and rear hydraulic disc
Weight 162kg
Seat height 780mm
Price £2,999 (+OTR)

Beneath the robust trellis frame, a liquid-cooled engine lays at the heart of the best-selling LXR and provides a smooth power output to boost performance and riding experience. Weighing 167kg it’s the heaviest option on our list, but this full-size sports bike supplies a lot of spec so is a great choice for the youth of today – and as it’s priced at £2,199.99 we’re not surprised it’s in such high demand!

BikeMatters were lucky enough to test the LXR 125’s big brother – LXR SE – for two weeks and in the road test review found that “in terms of the steering and control, we couldn’t ask for much more. The steering was responsive and felt firm, allowing you to really throw the bike into the corners and maintain good control, and inspiring a lot of confidence whilst riding. Perfect for a beginner on a CBT!”

Engine 125cc, 12.1 bhp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 13.5L
Brakes Front and rear hydraulic disc
Weight 167kg
Seat height 800mm
Price £2,199.99

Aprilia has had a lot of success over the last 25 years and what better way to celebrate than revamping their RS 125 model?

With the sports DNA, the brand is known for running through its veins, the RS is a dynamic and sports-focused machine that was born to zoom around the track or road and attract new blood to the scene.

Taking fashion advice from its older brother, the RSV4, the RS features the same sleek, aggressive and bold styling that makes it worthy of its race-ready reputation. Combining BOSCH front wheel only ABS, advanced suspension and 17” spoked wheels provide total control, better safety, and efficiency.

Being one of the lightest and the fastest on our list, reaching 15 bhp, means you’ll carve up the road effortlessly, and pretty quickly compared to its rivals, riding this beauty!

If you’re looking to get up close and personal with Aprilia’s RS make sure you check out BikeMatters in-depth ride review of the RS GP Replica.

Engine 124.2cc, 14.8 bhp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 14.5L
Brakes Front and rear disc (ABS)
Weight 144kg (wet)
Seat height 820mm
Price £4,499

Suzuki’s GSX-R line has helped to define sport bikes for over 30 years, and with more than a million sold worldwide, it’s clear to see why. The GSX-R125 showcases funky styling with lashings of colours, 10 spoke cast aluminium wheels, and a lightweight chassis to ensure nimble handling and a responsive ride that puts on a full and vivid display. In terms of ability, a DOHC engine and larger bore improves the shape of the combustion chamber and increases the compression ratio and fuel economy which helps to create a strong and effective power output that really hits the spot.

Impressive spec – including 6-speed gearbox, liquid-cooled engine, key-less ignition, and Suzuki easy start system – marry the whole package together and warrant the higher price tag of this Sportster.

Engine 124cc, 14.8 bhp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 11L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Weight 134kg
Seat height 785mm
Price £4,499

Is it a shock that the green giants have made our list for another year? We didn’t think so either. Like its older brothers in the Z series, the Z125 features an exposed frame, close-fit bodywork, and naked ergonomics to make this a mean piece of kit that can tackle the urban sprawl in one smooth and controlled manner. Sharp and striking aesthetics and a 4-stroke engine really maximises its sporty nature so you can get as much enjoyment on the road as possible.

One quick takeaway, this is a more premium-priced motorcycle, so if you’re umming and ahhing between colours, expect to pay around an extra £100 for both ‘Spark Black’ (£3,899) options compared to ‘Candy Lime Green’ (£3,799).

Engine 125cc, 14.8 bhp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 11L
Brakes Front and rear petal disc
Weight 146kg
Seat height 815mm
Price £3,799 (£3,899 for both Spark Black options)

Following on from the 401 and 701, for 2021, Husqvarna have released an all-new 125 version of their much-loved model the Svartpilen and we just had to include it – and that’s not just because it shares a few features with a certain Austrian model also on our list (more on that in a moment though).   

I have two words for this bike, and they are: premium quality. From its rugged, retro, yet futuristic, design upright riding position to that 15 hp performance of the liquid-cooled engine, this 125 is giving you what you pay for and then some!

And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also packed full of features that help to instill confidence in the rider and allow its true agile, versatile and robust nature to blast through – 17” wheels, off-road style handlebars, LED lights, WP suspension, comfortable padded seat, luggage rack with clip-on points, BOSCH ABS and a lightweight steel trellis frame at the heart of it all.

As I already mentioned, it shares a few things with KTM’s Duke 125, including the frame and EU5 engine, and the similarities don’t end there either. Both models are competitively priced and spec is close in numbers, but all are swaying in favour of the Duke 125 today, and that’s why, on this occasion, it’s beating Husqvarna’s Svartpilen 125 for a place in the top 3. 

Engine 125cc, 15 hp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 9.5L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Weight 146kg
Seat height 835mm
Price £4,499

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Bright, striking, and angry-looking aesthetics and a compact engine with a respectable 15hp create a solid bike that packs a punch. At a twist of the wrist, the 33mm throttle body and fuel injection system make this urban warrior ready to battle morning congestion, country corners, and everything in between.

Lightweight upside-down WP forks, advanced ABS, BYBRE brakes, as well as 17” racing wheels, ensure this Duke is easy to handle so you can really put the power down with confidence. With a base price of £4,499, this is creeping towards the more expensive end of the spectrum, but with a spec like this, it’s obvious where your money is being spent. 

Engine 125cc, 15 bhp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 13.4L
Brakes Front and rear disc (ABS)
Weight 139kg
Seat height 830mm
Price £4,499

Updated for 2021, the CBR125R features a stripped-back exterior and contrasting metal finish that emphasises the cafe racer influence and shows off the raw nature of this stunner.

A liquid-cooled engine and top speed of 75 mph mean this bike can hustle. As one of the flagships on our list, this is a more premium entry-level bike full of edge, tech, and traditional styling which achieves the perfect balance of old and new.

With a spec like this and Honda’s reliability is it a surprise that it’s been one of the biggest selling 125s of recent times in the UK? 

Engine 124.9cc, 14.7 hp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 10.1L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Weight 130kg
Seat height 816mm
Price £4,299

Athletic, aggressive, and dark bodywork with new LED face features give this predator a menacing stare and road presence, but with a liquid-cooled 124cc EU5 engine, it’s not as intimidating as it looks. Yamaha’s exclusive torque boosting VVA system with two intake cams, plus YZF-R125 tech gives the MT-125 an impressive response with top-end performance and makes this one of the strongest players in the category – and that’s why it’s secured our number 1 spot.  

Being the most expensive choice, priced at £4,650, an advanced spec list, including 41mm upside-down front forks, A&S clutch, and a wide 140-section rear tyre, gives this bike a big stance even bigger attitude.

With all this considered, if you’ve got the budget, the MT-125 would still be a great choice for any new budding rider.

Engine 124cc, 14.8 bhp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 11L
Brakes Front and rear hydraulic single disc (ABS)
Weight 142kg (wet)
Seat height 810mm
Price £4,650

So, there we go! What did you think of our updated top 10? Did we miss your favourite or current rider? Let us know your thoughts below or on social media.

If you are thinking of buying a new motorcycle insurance is very important and luckily, we know a business that can help you out. Visit Lexham Insurance (the two-wheel insurance specialists) to get the best deal direct!