A grand plan
A used XT125 is cheap and it will make you cheerful
What we said then
“The XT125X is a scaled-down version of the XT660X and has the same supermoto styling such as a large front disc brake, aggressive plastics and 17in wheels with wide tyres. Although learners are allowed to ride a 14.6bhp bike by law, the air-cooled XT only makes 10bhp, which is a shame.” MCN launch report, 2005
But what is it like now?
There is something pleasing about returning to your two-wheeled roots and, if I’m honest, because I’m tight I also love the fact 125s cost little to buy and run. In this context a £1000 used Yamaha XT125X is right up my street!
In the flesh the XT is just what I expected from a 125 in this price bracket. Visually it’s a bit tired and there is a fair amount of rust on areas such as the exhaust as well as a few battle scars. But it isn’t a bad-looking bike at all and the known Japanese name on its tank means a lot. As does the fact it starts first prod of the starter button.
A few years ago I made the mistake of buying my wife a 100cc bike with only a kickstart when she was learning to ride. This put her off using it as it was a bit of a pain to start and any stalls soon resulted in a flap to get it going again rather than a simple push of a button. Bikes with an electric start (and ideally a kickstart backup) are a far better investment for new riders. And the XT’S style also appeals.
While a lot of 125 owners want a race rep, if you are taller a supermoto or trailie style such as the XT range are a better option. I’m six-foot two inches tall and while I felt a bit like a gorilla on a monkey bike, the XT wasn’t that uncomfortable. I wouldn’t want to go big distances, but that’s not what 125s are for.
On the go the 125cc engine does exactly what you would expect. It’s smooth, doesn’t vibrate and will (eventually) make its way up to 70mph. In town the clutch is nice and light, the gearbox slick and the bike’s overall lack of weight makes it very easy to manoeuvre - although the suspension is soggier than a wet weekend in Wales. The lack of fuel gauge is an annoyance, but with its 10-litre tank I’d expect to see at least 140 miles between fill-ups and on a 125 you are seldom that far from a petrol station so just having a fuel warning light isn’t a huge issue.
Overall, it’s a cool-looking 125 that starts, stops (no ABS, which isn’t a surprise on an older 125) and is cheap to buy and run. Happy days.
Any obvious faults
This example has 11,116 miles on its clocks and while it looks tatty under its clean plastics, it runs perfectly well. The exhaust is rusty but doesn’t have any holes and the bars are straight. All the electrics function as they should and the motor, gearbox and clutch all feel fresh. Cosmetically it’s not great, and scratches on the brake lever indicate it has been down the road, but as a winter hack or for a 17-year-old to learn to ride on it starts, stops and has 12-months MOT.
Or worthwhile extras
The only non-standard part on this XT is the rust, which isn’t uncommon on a used 125 as they are built to a budget. Some bikes come with aftermarket pipes, which add a bit of noise, but this is still on its original system, hence the rust. The plastics look suspiciously new, but again, they are often replaced.
As cheap transport, a 125cc bike is worth considering. The XT will do 70mph, has an electric start, delivers over 70mpg and costs very little to insure. As a £1000 winter hack you could do a lot worse and it should give a 17-year-old their first taste of (reliable) two-wheeled freedom.
For under £1k, the XT is a lot of bike