Whilst you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, I think we can make an exception for this category because with Retro Motorcycles, it’s all about the looks!

With their classic styling, spirit and character, going retro has never been more fashionable. It’s a class of motorcycle that’s been booming, especially now the majority of manufacturers offer smaller capacity machines to allow riders of all capabilities an affordable and accessible introduction to the retro world.

Full of chugging charm and good looks, join me today as I explore just what the 125cc Retro Motorcycle has to offer the market for 2022.

10.

Bluroc Hero 125

Kicking the list off today is a familiar face. You may be sitting here thinking, this bike looks familiar, and you’d be right because whilst it’s changed its name, the Bluroc Hero 125 visually remains pretty much unchanged from when it was formerly known as the Bullit Hero 125.

Politics of why the brand changed their name aside, the Bluroc Hero is a great looking bike and whilst its £3,199 price will appeal to those without the larger budget for a £4k+ Yamaha XSR125 or Fantic Caballero Scrambler 125, it remains a decent choice for those looking to get their leg over a retro model for the first time.

Engine 125cc, 11.6 hp, air-cooled
Fuel tank 15L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 860-910mm
Weight 120kg
Price £3,199

9.

MASH Dirt Track 125

Pumping out 11 ponies, power isn’t going to be mental, and being Chine-built, the MASH Dirt Track 125 won’t be crazy when it comes to spec either, but it still looks good, and that’s the most important quality in this category – it’s all done to look good!

With no thrills or fancy tech and styling to reflect old times, the Dirt Track 125 only costs £2,699 which not only means it sits at the lower end of the pricing spectrum but also means it’s one of the cheapest on the list today and, therefore, will be more than affordable for most.

Engine 124cc, 11 hp, air-cooled
Fuel tank 12L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 810mm
Weight 112kg
Price £2,699

8.

AJS 71 Desert Scrambler 125

With its chunky tyres, Scrambler features and fruity colour choices (‘Blazing Orange’ being particularly nice), the AJS ’71 Desert Scrambler 125 will suit those looking to hack it round town on a retro-styled steed.

Built to commemorate the successes of AJS's USA Sales Manager Mike Jackson in the 1971 Barstow to Vegas, District 37, Mojave Desert race, it actually has the history to back up these looks too – that’s my reasons for positioning it at #8 anyway!

With an air-cooled motor reaching 9.9 and CBS, spec isn’t going to blow you away but as already discussed, it’s not necessarily about the equipment in this category. Yes, having features such as a liquid-cooled engine and ABS will be the cherry on top but what it looks like is what’s going to help these types of bikes sell well.

Therefore, through a blend of average spec, not-so-crazy power, trendy styling and bargain-bucket £2,899 price tag, the AJS ’71 Desert Scrambler sits comfortably and competes well with the other Chinese 125cc’s on today’s list.

Engine 124cc, 9.9 hp, air-cooled
Fuel tank 13L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 760mm
Weight 126kg (wet)
Price £2,899 (+OTR)

7.

Herald Classic 125

The exposed, raw and industrial-like metal bodywork work very well for the Herald Classic 125. The chrome detailing, sculpted teardrop fuel tank, spoked wheels, flat rider seat and peashooter exhaust make it a retro roadster worth talking about! Could I even say it has the similarities of an old-school, scaled-down Bonneville? What do you think, is that a fair comparison?

We can be picky and point out that the spec on the Herald Classic 125 is a tad basic and budget but with it being Chinese-built, we are expecting that. There’s a place for budget and it’s the 125cc market. There’s nothing wrong with that because if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be able to be as incredibly wallet-friendly as it is at £2,299. It’s this price that makes it the cheapest on today’s list and that’s reason enough for it to be given the #7 spot.  

Engine 124cc, 9.9 hp
Fuel tank 12L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 740mm
Weight 126kg
Price £2,299 (+OTR)

6.

UM Scrambler X Cafe 125

When looking at UM’s Scrambler X Cafe 125, I think the styling is cool and from the tan leather tuck-roll seat, sculpted fuel tank, scrambler style side plates and wire-spoked wheels, it’s really quite nice to look at indeed.

For all its good looks though, it’s still going to be Chinese-built and therefore share quite a lot of similarities with some of the others – that includes the air-cooled engine, average power output and CBS. However, that also means the price will be lower. It’s the £2,799 price and those looks that carry it through and means it ranks higher at #6 today.

Engine 125cc, 9.6 hp, air-cooled
Fuel tank 15.5L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 790mm
Weight 136kg
Price £2,799

5.

Mutt Akita

Whilst the first few bikes have been pretty similar, standard and ‘straight out of the factory’ models just with a different tank badge, Mutt and their British-born but Chinese-made machines set themselves apart from the rest. By adding an extra scoop of goodies and sprinkling of modifications, they take the average Retro 125cc Motorcycle and give it an edge. This is especially prevalent when looking at the Mutt Akita, the model kicking off today’s final 5.

The devil really is in the detail here and Mutt has graced this pooch with classy finishing touches in the form of a custom tan seat, handmade stainless steel mudguard brackets and branded handlebar ends.

These added accessories and quality touch-ups are why the Akita sits slightly higher than the rest. It’s also why Mutt can warrant and get away with slapping a few extra pounds onto that price tag!

Engine 125cc, 12 hp, air-cooled
Fuel tank 16L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 780mm
Weight 127kg
Price £2,799

4.

FB Mondial HPS 125

Designed in Italy FB Mondial’s HPS 125 is a real poser.

AKA as the Hipster, a highlight on this bike is the styling. It brings a classic swagger and grown-up Cafe Racer looks to the 125cc retro market. She’s a real stunner and, as an added bonus, doesn’t just look good in one colourway, but in a choice of 5! With ‘Titanium Icon Stripes’, ‘Black Gold Stripes’ and ‘Grey Black Stripes’ you also get ABS but it’s CBS if you choose either the ‘Titanium Yellow Stripes’ or ‘White Red Stripes’.

Overall, with its gorgeous Italian styling, better finishing and more than ample components including a liquid-cooled engine, you’re quid’s in here because the FB Mondial HPS 125 only costs £3,799.   

Engine 124cc, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 9.5L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 850mm
Weight 133kg
Price £3,799

3.

Fantic Caballero Scrambler 125

With their history dating back to the 1960s, Fantic has built their bikes and reputation in their Italian-based factory. And the bike claiming 3rd place today is the Caballero Scrambler 125.

At £5,495, the Caballero Scrambler 125 is the most expensive choice on the list, and you’re definitely paying for the privilege of riding one. As high as it is, it’s this price that pays for this bike’s Italian origins, unique looks and brand badge and quality as well as a pretty decent list of spec that includes a liquid-cooled engine, 14.7 horseys, slipper clutch, VVA system and ABS.

Engine 124.6cc, 14.7 hp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 12L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 820mm
Weight 130kg
Price £5,495

2.

Honda Monkey

Now, you may underestimate just how iconic and popular this next bike is – I’d even argue and say it’s the most iconic on the list today.

With a pretty strong reputation already, Honda’s Monkey is based upon the mini-bikes that came before it. I’m sure many will have a fond memory or two of one of these darting around town. Yes, you may have looked slightly comical riding one with your arms and legs sticking out at sharp angles (similar to a circus monkey, hence the name!), but it’s the level of commutability that made it such a big seller.

Nowadays, with an extremely light 104kg kerb weight this modern Monkey continues to be just as good a commuter! Alongside that, with its diddy fuel tank, short mudguards, little wheels and coloured suspension, it’s instantly recognisable and continues to rock the retro look. I love the way Honda has paired the chrome detailing with a funky ‘Pearl Glimmering Blue’ paint job too!

At the end of the day, what isn’t to love about this teeny tiny tiddler? It’s a small bike that brings high levels of fun!

Yes, this cheeky Monkey may cost almost £4k and houses an air-cooled engine that won’t be as powerful as some but that’s not the point of this bike. Being so small with a still respectable 9.2 hp output, it’s the fact this little guy was designed to fly round towns, cities and small streets that makes it appeal to most – it also helps that it’s so goddam cool!

Engine 124cc, 9.2 hp, air-cooled
Fuel tank 5.6L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 775mm
Weight 104kg
Price £3,899

1.

Yamaha XSR125

Built upon the same foundations as the MT-125 and R125, Yamaha’s XSR125 brings all that you’d expect from a Japanese 125cc as well as an abundance of retro good looks.

Restyled to reflect the timeless styling that makes this category so special, it really does look the part, and whilst it’s so lovely to look at, it’s also well-equipped and backed up by a long list of Yamaha’s modern technology.   

From what I can see, Yamaha hasn’t scrimped on much. Where a lot of the Chinese bikes here use an air-cooled engine, Yamaha are using their very latest liquid-cooled engine along with ABS and full LED lighting.  

For a 125cc to pack such strong equipment and cost only £4,450 is truly exceptional. The XSR125 is a real standout bike. Being absolutely gorgeous and modern in all the right ways, only made it easier to crown it today’s winner!

Engine 124cc, 14.7hp, liquid-cooled
Fuel tank 11L
Brakes Front and rear disc
Seat height 815mm
Weight 140kg (wet)
Price £4,450

The last stop

That brings our Top 10 125cc Retro Motorcycles list to an end. You just read why I think the Yamaha XSR125 is more than deserving of today’s crown but are you in agreement with me? What do you think to the Honda Monkey, or even the Mutt Akita? You’ll have to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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