Are the latest crop of sub-£3000 naked 125s worth it – or are you being taken for a ride?
You can buy a brand new 125cc naked bike with a 24-month warranty and dealer backup for less than £2000. You could run around on one of these for two trouble-free years then at the end of that period of fun commuting either trade it in for a new model or sell it for £500. You’ll still be quids in.
Think about it: would you rather be on the tube, sweating hot, with your face buried in a stranger’s armpit – or actually enjoying the world above the surface? I know where I’d rather be.
But am I painting an unrealistic picture? How good can a budget 125cc really be? In a wintry November would I still choose two wheels, and if so where does the smart money go?
It’s not rubbish... it’s worse
I can’t remember riding another new bike as bad as this. Some bikes get off to a bad start, but then you start to appreciate their character – or make concessions because of their budget price. But the Hyosung has no character, few redeeming features, and is the most expensive bike on test. Justin, our guest rider, owns a 1953 Enfield that he feels is more refined than the Hyosung.
So, where do I start? Who thought putting an air/oil-cooled 125 V-twin in what appears to be a 650 chassis was a good idea? The breathless motor has the pulling power of a one-eyed troll. A headwind or slight gradient forces you to knock back a gear to maintain any speed. There’s no torque, nothing below 6000rpm, and you have to
be brutal with the revs to keep up with traffic. Above 8000rpm it can just about stay with the other bikes here, but you really need to cling to the redline. That means beasting it at close to 10,500rpm all the time.
A lack of torque makes it a nightmare in town as you are always revving the nuts out of the comically slow engine. Everyone turns around to stare as they hear a bike screaming at 10,000rpm – but only doing 20mph. And it’s heavy, too. At 167kg it weighs more than a BSB bike! It’s also physically big, clunky, and has virtually no steering lock. Oh, and the brakes are shocking.
It looks like my two-year-old son made the rear disc at nursery and the exhaust looks like it’s been taken from a 1990s Suzuki Bandit. The engine, carbs and airbox are a mess.
The positives? It looks and feels solid, and has road presence. The big dimensions will favour larger riders, but big, heavy riders will only exacerbate the gutless delivery. The dash is the most modern of the bunch, but that’s as good as it gets. Hyosung do make some good bikes, but this isn’t one of them.
HONDA CB125F £2699 This bike is made in China. It’s the only bike on test with twin shocks and a drum rear brake – but it is fuel injected. HYOSUNG GT125P £2899 The Korean Hyosung is the most expensive bike here, powered by an air/ oil-cooled 125cc V-twin. It also has the tallest seat. There are few things to recommend the GT125 V-twin as a town bike. But it is solidly built...
Keep it pinned at the 10,500rpm redline