The retro motorcycle market has been booming across the board for years now but the 125cc category seemed a little slow on the uptake. Not so long ago there were very few options when it came to 125 bikes with classic styling but I'm pleased to say that manufacturers have now caught up with the trend and there are a whole bunch of great models on offer.
In this blog we are going to look at 10 of the very best retro 125cc motorcycles currently on the market in 2023. I'll aim to cover a wide variety of styles from neo-retro to classic scramblers and cafe racers and I've even sneaked in a vintage cruiser so there should be something for everyone. Style is the name of the game here and these bikes are some of the coolest models on sale anywhere, combined with their 125cc economy, you can actually save money while still being one of the trendiest riders on the road.
So without further delay, here are my top 10 retro 125cc motorcycles in 2023!
1. Yamaha XSR 125 Legacy
The Yamaha XSR 125 is the cream of the crop when it comes to the 125cc retro category with class-leading performance and an all-round level of refinement you don't often see in a 125 motorcycle.
The XSR 125 is a visual treat, with a mixture of retro and modern flavours and attention to detail in almost every area. For 2023 we get the new historic black colourway which takes an already gorgeous bike to the next level, complete with a blacked-out engine and gold rims.
The real star of the show, however, is Yamaha's fantastic 14.8hp single-cylinder engine seen across their 125cc range. Aside from putting out the maximum allowed power for CBT holders, the engine's Variable Valve Actuation technology ensures that acceleration is constant across the entire rev range and makes it an absolute blast to ride.
Obviously, if you want something this polished you have to pay for it and the XSR 125 doesn't come cheap. One of these brand new will set you back £5,200, which makes it the second most expensive model on my list. However, this is a bike that could last you for years and thanks to Yamaha's excellent build quality, should retain its value fairly well. If you want to learn more about the XSR125 you can check out my full review.
2. Fantic Caballero Deluxe 125
The Caballero Deluxe 125 is based on Fantic's excellent 125 Scrambler but with some tasty visual tweaks and extra details to bring its cool factor even higher.
The visuals are spectacular, a retro scrambler fusion in black and grey with a vintage brown leather seat and gold forks for contrast. The large 19" front wheel with knobby tyres completes the classic dual sport look with lovely big bike proportions.
The Deluxe 125 isn't just for show though, with a new Euro 5 single-cylinder engine that can put out 14.8hp, it is right at the top of CBT allowance. Similar to Yamaha, Fantic's Italian-built engine is using Variable Valve Actuation for smooth and constant acceleration and even comes with a slipper clutch for effortless gear changes.
The Fantic Caballero Deluxe 125 is the most expensive bike in this top 10 at £5,500 brand new but it excels in every area, making it a 125 motorcycle that is convenient and fun to ride with style factor you can be proud of.
3. Honda Monkey 125
I said I would be including a large variety of motorcycles here and the Monkey 125 is perhaps the most unique of all.
Honda has taken the engine from their hugely popular Grom and given it a classic vintage 70's design to resurrect the classic Monkey for a new era. The engine itself is a Euro 5 air-cooled 4-stroke and despite being one of the lowest power outputs here at 9hp, the Monkey's ultra-low 104kg wet weight means it will be surprisingly nippy!
The Monkey's design won't be for everyone but I love its retro styling and the new 2023 version adds a splash of colour amongst its chrome details with a red tartan seat and red forks. You can also get shining black and banana-yellow colourways and for me, all 3 are packed with charm and offer something completely different from the norm.
The Monkey's small stature makes it a perfect urban commuter, able to fit in gaps other bikes couldn't quite manage. The 5.6L fuel tank is going to limit longer trips but that isn't really what this motorcycle is about, it's for zipping around town and having a great time doing it. Priced at £4,042 the Honda Monkey 125 is perfect for medium budgets and those who want something totally unique!
4. Mondial Sport Classic 125
Mondial has some of the finest-looking 125s on the market and for me, this might just be the most beautiful yet.
The Sport Classic 125's visuals are inspired by the original 125cc world championship winning bike from 1949 ridden by Nello Pagani (whose name adorns the side fairing) and is practically a work of art. In fact, at a glance passers-by may assume they are looking at a super premium big bike but the Sport Classic is actually a budget offering manufactured in China.
Don't let its Chinese construction put you off, Chinese bikes have been improving every year and this one is built by Zongshen who has a lucrative partnership with Piaggio, ensuring attention to detail you don't always find in budget motorcycles.
The engine is a liquid-cooled single cylinder derived from those used in modern Aprilia 125s and is capable of 70mph+ top speeds. Having ridden Mondial's naked HPS 125 (which features the same engine and basic setup), I can tell you that the gear changes are smooth and acceleration is decent with dual carriageway cruising easily possible.
When it comes to features, Mondial has kept things basic, although it does come with ABS rather than the combined braking systems usually found on Chinese bikes. The result is an attractive retro motorcycle with an equally attractive price tag of £4,349 on the road.
5. Mutt Mushman 125
Based in Birmingham, England, Mutt Motorcycles have a whole range of gorgeous retro motorcycles on offer, in fact, I could easily fill a list with just their bikes alone but for now, I'll focus on the freshly resurrected Mushman 125, which is another absolute stunner.
The gorgeous classic scrambler styling is available in titanium or matte green colourways and comes complete with an 18" front wheel and knobbly tyres. Plenty of subtle attention to detail is on display with one of my favourite new features being the vintage-looking leather and steel tank rack.
The engine Mutt is using here is an 11hp air-cooled single cylinder which combined with a lovely low wet weight of just 128kg should offer some nice agile performance. The low weight is even more impressive given that it is including a fully filled 15L fuel tank, so medium-range commutes are definitely on the cards with this one. The Mushman 125 doesn't have much in the way of modern features but that is in keeping with the retro theme and results in a budget-friendly £3,750 starting price.
6. Herald Brat 125
Herald is another British company and all their models are designed in the UK. They have recently begun manufacturing bikes here too but the Brat 125 is still currently being built in China as of 2023.
As you would expect from any motorcycle in this top 10 retro list, the visuals are again outstanding. A lovely fusion of classic and modern design, it comes in orange, silver or black colour options which all share the same stylish blacked-out frame and USD forks, as well as a tasty-looking stainless steel pipe.
Herald list the latest Brat 125 as having a 14hp power engine which is a big improvement over previous versions, although it does weigh in at 155kg with its 10L tank filled up, so it is a little on the heavier side. Still, performance should be decent and as with most of these 125 bikes, it will excel on an urban commute or when tearing up the back roads.
Tech features are kept minimum but with a £3,295 starting price this is another great budget option.
7. Mash X-Ride 125
Well, I promised plenty of variety and here is another completely unique motorcycle, the retro adventure styled Mash X-Ride 125.
Designed in Europe and built in China, the X-Ride 125 takes its visual cues from the off-road bikes of the 70's. It comes in white or black colourways and a few modern touches like the gold rims, LED lighting, digital dash and ABS brakes give it some contemporary flare. Again, when it comes to the visuals, it has a style all of its own in the 125 category and if you like that 70s adventure vibe the X-Ride absolutely nails it.
The engine is a liquid cooled single cylinder with 11hp output, so not the most powerful in the class but a low 130kg running weight means the power to weight ratio is good. Despite the adventure styling, this is definitely a bike that's more at home on the roads and the decent sized 10L fuel tank makes it an ideal commuter.
Starting at £3,899 it's another accessible motorcycle that provides plenty of style without breaking the bank.
8. Bluroc Tracker 125
The Tracker 125 marks a huge step up in spec for Bluroc, whose lovely cafe racer-styled Spirit 125 could also have easily made it onto this list. I've gone with the Tracker partly to cover an even wider variety of bikes and partly because of the new liquid cooled single cylinder engine that pumps out the full 14.8hp of CBT allowance. Pretty darn good for a Belgian-designed, Chinese-built budget bike!
As usual, the visuals are stunning. Black and gold seem to be the vogue colourway of 2023 which is just fine with me but the Tracker also comes in a steel grey and flame orange version too. The fat 150" rear tyre is a nice touch as well, helping to increase that smooth big bike look and feel.
The Tracker is extremely light, weighing in at just 110kg dry, you can expect it to sit at around 120kg with its 12L tank filled up. Either way, the power-to-weight ratio is outstanding for the class and it should be an agile little ripper on the back roads.
Excellent looks, high 125cc fun factor, and a £3,999 starting price. Not bad at all!
9. AJS Cadwell
I couldn't make a retro list without at least one cafe racer, so now seems like a good time to introduce the AJS Cadwell!
AJS is a much-respected name in the motorcycle industry and was first founded in Britain in 1909. Modern day AJS scooters & motorcycles are manufactured in China, however, AJS are keen to keep the prestige and history of the AJS brand running, and while many new and lesser-known brands have appeared, AJS does uniquely offer that heritage British brand name at a very budget friendly price With that said, the Cadwell certainly looks the part and really nails that classic cafe racer design. It's also the cheapest model on the list, with a very attractive £2,899 starting price!
The engine used here is an air-cooled single that puts out a respectable 12.7hp. With a full 11L fuel tank the Cadwell weighs in at around 120kg, so despite not quite reaching the maximum power allowance for CBT, the power-to-weight ratio is very good for this category.
As you would expect from a Motorcycle that costs less than three grand, tech features are kept minimal but that is in keeping with the retro theme. The Cadwell even has some cool analogue dials that add to its vintage charms. If you love the cafe racer styling, then this is definitely worth looking at, especially with such a budget price tag!
10. Sinnis Outlaw
I thought I would throw in a bit of a wildcard here with the Sinnis Outlaw, a super cool retro cruiser with another bargain price tag.
The Outlaw goes for that 70s Roadster vibe and for a more recent comparison, it reminds me a bit of Harley's 883 Iron, which is a good thing. Although much lighter than your traditional cruiser, weighing in at 150kg with a 13L tank makes it heavy compared to the scramblers and trackers in the class.
Still, it gets the cruiser styling spot on with a ride position that isn't too extreme. The engine puts out 12hp so again pretty respectable, it likely won't accelerate as swiftly as the lighter bikes here but you will be flying once you get up to speed. I've ridden many Sinnis bikes and have always been impressed with how well put together they are and how fun to ride they can be. The Outlaw looks no different.
With a £2,999 price tag, if you are a fan of retro cruisers, this bad-boy looks fantastic and is as accessible as it gets. Why not do your economical commute in style? For more 125 cruisers check out my top 10!
It is wroth noting that if you find yourself in the position where there are no Sinnis dealers in your area, it would most definitely be worth checking out the Lexmoto Detroit instead, as apart from a few cosmetic parts, both the Outlaw and the Detroit are basically the same machine.
The last stop!
So there you have it! Here are 10 great 125cc retro options that show you can have a cheap commuter on a CBT and still look darn cool doing it!
If retro scooters are more your speed, why don't you check out our Top 10 Retro Scooters article?
Beginners Guide to 125cc Motorcycles
In this blog, we are going to be running down everything you need to know regarding 125cc motorcycles.Read more