WHAT MAKES A GREAT LEARNER BIKE?

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Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes -

TEST 1 — OFF THE LINE

We lined up for our first test – emer­gency brak­ing. But as we waited for the in­struc­tor’s sig­nal some­one blipped their throt­tle, ig­nit­ing a fu­ri­ous flurry of revs and we were now do­ing an ac­cel­er­a­tion test in­stead. The in­struc­tor dropped her hand and we all screeched for­ward. The Yamaha blitzed it with its racy YZF-R125 mo­tor. It packs the big­gest punch at 14.79bhp and 9.15ftlb of torque, while the heavy Kawasaki is just be­hind it with 13.8bhp and 8.48ftlbs torque. The lit­tle PCX came in third with the old air-cooled CB tail­ing be­hind.

Yamaha MT-125

TEST 2 – EMER­GENCY BRAKE

Af­ter a stern telling off we lined up once again Ð this time with re­strained wrists, and child­ish grins hid­den be­neath hel­mets. We moved off to­gether, quiv­er­ing fin­gers hang­ing over clutch and brake levers. Once we were all at a steady 25mph the sig­nal was given and the CB125F and PCXÕS tyres screeched. Nei­ther of the Hon­das have ABS, but the PCX fea­tures com­bined brakes that help keep it bal­anced un­der hard brak­ing. The CB with its dated rear drum brake and twin pis­ton caliper up front took the long­est to stop, fol­lowed by the PCX. It was a close call be­tween the Yamaha and Kawasaki, with Team Green just about tak­ing the win. The MT-125 was in­cred­i­bly close be­hind and de­manded a re­match. But ev­ery­one else was al­ready lin­ing up for the next race. WIN­NER: Kawasaki J125

TEST 3 – SLOW RACE

If weõre not al­lowed a proper race, weõll have a slow race in­stead. Our in­struc­tor had been say­ing how im­por­tant lowspeed clutch and brake con­trol is for learn­ers, any­way. The slow race very quickly Ð or slowly Ð turned into a tri­als bike-style test of bal­ance and con­trol. With el­bows nudg­ing rib cages, boots and weight. A learner wonõt want a big heavy bike, they want light ma­chines with smooth clutches and low seat heights, be­cause mas­ter­ing low-speed ma­noeu­vres is the most im­por­tant as­pect of a new rid­erõs train­ing. So, for most, the Hon­das will be the bet­ter learner bikes.ó kick­ing knee caps and more than a lit­tle cheat­ing we set off, last one to the fin­ish line is the win­ner. The two scoots were eas­i­est to con­trol, and de­spite the Kawasak­iõs phys­i­cal size and weight, it was the most well bal­anced, earn­ing its se­cond win of the day. WIN­NER: Kawasaki J125

TEST 4 – FIG­URE OF EIGHT

Low-speed con­trol spelled bad news for the MT-125. It was em­bar­rass­ingly elim­i­nated dur­ing stage one. It’s the high­est revving of the bunch and the 810mm seat height made it harder to bal­ance com­pared to the lighter and lower CB125F and PCX. The Kwak was out next, it’s the largest, heav­i­est and long­est mak­ing it pretty hard to turn in tight slow arcs. The CB125F has the low­est mass at 128kg, a low seat and easy-go­ing mo­tor, mak­ing it a dod­dle to flick round the two cones. With­out clutch con­trol to bal­ance at su­per low speed the PCX couldn’t tighten up its cir­cles and was no match for the CB125F.

Honda CB125F

U-TURN

At the start of the day ev­ery­one made a bee­line for the Yamaha, but sud­denly no­body wanted go near it. With the worst steer­ing lock of the bunch there was no way it would make the U-turn. Even at full lock it sent me head­first into the cones on stage one. The Kawasaki was next to hit the or­ange cones of shame, leav­ing the PCX and CB125 to bat­tle it out. With sur­gi­cal pre­ci­sion and low-speed fi­nesse Liam took the win on the mighty PCX. The Burgman is slightly more prac­ti­cal and is £300 cheaper than the Kawasaki. But the Kwak has a pre­mium feel to it, some­thing the Burgman no­tice­ably lacks. It also has ABS and a lit­tle more poke mak­ing it more fun to ride. Kawasaki takes the win on style and per­for­mance, Suzuki nabs com­fort and func­tion. But on bal­ance, we’d take the Kawasaki.

THE FACTS: Burgman 125

Price £3499 En­gine 125cc, liq­uid-cooled, sin­gle-cylin­der Power 12bhp @ 9000rpm Torque 8ftlb @ 6500rpm Kerb weight 159kg Tank size 10.5 litres Seat height 735mm

“When I raise my hand you should stop. Stop, I said... stop... STOP!” So much for the brake test, MT takes on PCX in bat­tle of the 125cc ti­tans Honda CB125F proves light is right for learn­ers

The smaller bikes ran rings around the J125 in the Fig­ure of Eight test

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