Our Top 10 Learner Legal 125cc Motorcycles

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At one time there was a very limited choice of what motorcycles learners could ride. 

Today there are almost unlimited options available from cruisers, supermoto’s, sportsbike replicas, whatever your preference there is a bike for that riding style. 

This is both a blessing and a curse, having an abundance of choice means everyone is catered for but it can also be quite difficult to narrow down exactly which one is going to be best for you.

The good news is we have picked 10 of the best learner motorcycles available across all the different categories, which will hopefully help you make your choice. 

What makes a great learner motorcycle?


In 1983 learner riders were restricted to a 125cc for the first time and in 1990 the CBT scheme was first introduced. 

Today there are different routes into obtaining your motorcycle licence, but if you are 17 or over and have completed your CBT you can ride a 125cc with L plates

You can read all about what CBT entails here.

After that, you can get to the fun stuff of picking out your very first motorcycle. 

On the basis that many riders start out riding 125cc motorcycles, we have decided to focus our list on 125’s. 

Aside from the engine capacity here are some of the key factors that make a great learner bike:

  • Lightweight
  • Neutral riding position
  • No extreme’s in seat height, bars, footpegs etc.
  • ABS

Other important things to consider as a learner are the following:

  • Cost of purchase and ownership – Is the bike affordable to both purchase and run in the long term?
  • How practical is the bike? Will you be commuting on it or just using it for leisure trips? This will affect the style of bike you go for.
  • Insurance – Some motorcycles will be more expensive to insure than others 
  • Cost of replacement parts – As much as you want to avoid it, dropping the bike at some point is possible, so are replacement parts easy to come by and affordable?
  • Is the bike a route to something bigger shortly? This will affect how much you want to invest, if you are looking to do your big licence soon. 

With that all said, let’s take a look at some of the best options on the market.

Yamaha MT125

Yamaha MT125

Specs:

  • Engine – 125cc EU5-compliant, with Variable Valve Actuation
  • Max Power – 15 horsepower
  • Max Torque – 11.5 Nm
  • Seat Height –  810mm
  • Kerb Weight – 142kg

When Yamaha released their MT range it wasn’t long before the MT-07 particularly took over the streets, there wasn’t a social media rider in the world not posting about this all-new hooligan torque monster. 

So, it would only stand to reason that Yamaha would release an MT-125 version and let me tell you that it is a flipping good bike. 

The engine is derived from the R215 sportsbike (just like the bigger models), and it has plenty of low down torque which makes it easy to ride with power on tap regardless of which gear you are in. 

The seat height is a little high, however, once you get your leg over you are positioned to sit in the bike and the suspension is soft so that many riders will find it manageable. 

This is helped by the bike being lightweight and the fact it is balanced really well for optimal performance. 

The seating position is very upright and commanding which is exactly what a learner rider needs. 

Rideability is up there as a priority from Yamaha, with ABS and an Assist and Slipper Clutch as standard. 

Smooth gear changes are a breeze and ABS is there when you grab a little too much front brake, to help keep you safe. 

It is the MT’s styling that will appeal to many with a modern fresh approach to a learner machine. 

It won’t look out of place at a bike night and when side by side with the bigger bikes in the range it is quite hard to tell them apart particularly between the MT-125 and MT-03. 

Check it out on Yamaha


Honda CB125F

Honda CB125F

Specs:

  • Engine – 124cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder 
  • Max Power – 10.4 horsepower
  • Max Torque – 10.9 Nm
  • Seat Height – 790mm
  • Kerb Weight – 117kg

Having launched in 2008 the CB125F quickly became the favourite go-to bike for riding schools and learners, for a while it was Honda’s best selling motorcycle in the UK.

Honda has upgraded the CB125F over the years with a lighter chassis, more economical engine, and higher spec components. 

Overall though, it carries the same principles; a really solid, reliable, bulletproof 125cc motorcycle that will be the best companion for all learner riders. 

Wide handlebars, a big tank for gripping with your knees, neutral footpegs all create a neutral seating position giving the rider full command in the saddle. 

The latest iteration is also 11kg lighter than previous versions, so you will have the utmost confidence riding in and out of bends. 

Honda has equipped the CB125F with CBS which is a combined braking system aimed to give the rider better control, applying the rear brake also applies the front. 

Being economical is what the CB125F is designed for with Honda claiming a potential 800km/497mile range between fuel fill-ups, so you can spend less time on the garage forecourt and more time riding. 

Check it out on Honda


Honda MSX125 (Grom)

Honda MSX125 (Grom)

Specs:

  • Engine – 124.9cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder
  • Max Power – 9.6 horsepower
  • Max Torque – 11.1 Nm
  • Seat Height – 761mm
  • Kerb Weight – 103kg

Honda has another bike to offer to the list and that is the MSX Grom.

The Grom has taken the world by storm since its 2014 release with its quirky mini-moto styling but impressive performance. 

Equipped with an all-new 125cc engine, the latest model now comes with 5 gears and pumps out more power than previous versions. 

The obvious great advantage for new riders is the height and weight of the Grom, most riders will be able to flat-foot it easily for ultimate control at stops and peace of mind during slow-speed manoeuvres. 

The Grom looks really cool too and quirky, it has developed a huge following of owners customising to their heart’s content and forming Grom only riding groups. 

Don’t be fooled into thinking the Grom is a clown bike, however, as the 125 engine ensures that it is just as capable as other bikes on the list and will get you around town without any issues; longer journeys are now easier with an added fifth gear. 

Check it out on Honda


Kawasaki Ninja 125

Kawasaki Ninja 125

Specs:

  • Engine – 125cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder
  • Max Power – 15 horsepower
  • Max Torque – 11.7Nm
  • Seat Height – 785mm
  • Kerb  Weight – 149kg

Perhaps you are looking for something more sporty so you can follow in your favourite racers footsteps, well have no fear Kawasaki are here with one of the best offerings in the category.

Even those not interested in motorcycles will likely have heard of the Kawasaki Ninja, the Ninja name is up there with the most iconic bikes in history.

The latest Ninja 125 features a full-size chassis, with a slim, compact trellis frame, sporty suspension and 17” wheels. The chassis offers light and nimble handling while allowing new riders to get used to handling a full-size sportsbike. 

You have the option of a choice of seats with Ergo-Fit so that you can optimise the seating position for yourself. 

The bike has supersport styling with full-fairings, sharp windscreen and silhouette. 

The seating position is naturally aggressive too following the supersport theme, with the rider leaning over the tank to reach the clip ons. 

You will want to bear this in mind if the Ninja is your first bike, as riding a sportsbike is different from riding an upright street bike. 

With that said the Ninja 125 nods to the supersport ergonomics more so than actually replicating them, so it isn’t quite as extreme. 

Equipped with ABS the Ninja is there to reassure new riders when needed and the punchy powerful engine will have you chasing the red line which is the most fun on small capacity bikes. 

Check it out on Kawasaki


Suzuki GSX-R125

Suzuki GSX-R125

Specs:

  • Engine – 124cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled
  • Max Power – 14.7 horsepower
  • Max Torque – 11.5Nm
  • Seat Height – 785mm
  • Kerb Weight – 134kg 

Another sporty option is the GSX-R125 from Suzuki, the Gixxer is an iconic silhouette in sportsbikes and the GSX-R125 is just as cool as its bigger siblings. 

Suzuki claims that the GSX-R125 has the best power-weight ratio and acceleration in the 125cc class, with the Gixxer line going back 30 years that claim is likely not unfounded. 

Suzuki also points to the fact that MCN took 6 sporty 125s and the baby Gixxer came out on top with a top speed of 72.75mph. 

It is a very lightweight motorcycle that makes it super easy to ride, the chassis is also compact for nimble and controlled handling. 

As with the Kawasaki, the Suzuki is sporty in its ergonomics so you need to be conscious of that when making a choice for your first motorcycle. 

The lightweight chassis and excellent rider feedback when riding counters for the sporty riding position and most riders should be comfortable handling the GSX-R125.

The ABS is the lightest version currently on the market and is effective when needed. 

As well as ABS you get LED lights, LCD dash, keyless ignition, and an easy start system as standard. 

Check it out on Suzuki


Aprilia SX125

Aprilia SX125

Specs:

  • Engine – 124.2cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder
  • Max Power – 14.8 horsepower
  • Max Torque – 11.2 Nm
  • Seat Height – 880mm
  • Kerb Weight – 134kg

If you can’t decide between an off-road or street bike, or maybe you have ridden off-road bikes before and want to transition to the road, then the SX125 supermoto might be just the bike for you. 

Aprilia has a history of producing excellent supermoto racers and all of that knowledge has trickled down into the SX125.  

What you need to note is that the seat height is pretty high (the highest of all the motorcycles on the list), this is because ground clearance is key for off-road duties. 

However, the SX125 is lightweight and so should be easy to manage even with just one foot flat on the floor, particularly if you come from an off-road background. 

Bosch ABS has been used with the SX125 which has anti-roll-over integrated into the system; what this does is stop the rear wheel lifting up under heavy braking.

It is a punchy little motor with plenty of power for all situations you will find yourself in, and the seating position puts you in full control of the bike with great visibility of the road and obstacles ahead. 

Check it out on Aprilia


KTM Duke 125

KTM 125 DUKE

Specs:

  • Engine – 125cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder
  • Max Power – 15 horsepower
  • Max Torque – 12 Nm
  • Seat Height – 830mm
  • Kerb Weight – 149kg

The KTM Duke doesn’t hold back; it is an aggressive street fighter that just like the MT-125 echoes it’s bigger siblings sentiments to a tee. 

Details like lightweight upside-down forks, Bosch ABS, LED headlights and TFT display make the Duke stand out from the pack. 

There is after all no need for new riders to feel short changed compared to those with a full licence. 

KTM claim that the powerplant used is the sportiest option out there for 125 riders with the power output sitting right at the limit of exactly 15 horsepower. 

Brakes are from BYBRE which is a derivative of the renowned Brembo brake company and they work great with the advanced ABS system utilised. 

The design of the small Duke is meticulous with details having been looked at just as carefully as the 1290 Super Duke R. It is great to see design and production standards are high across the range regardless of capacity. 

Ergonomically the Duke is more aggressive than the MT-125 with the pegs pulled back a little further which leads the rider to lean forward a little. 

On the whole though you are upright and in a comfortable position for as many miles as you can handle. 

The wide bars sit quite high, with the TFT display sitting centrally, it is a commanding stance, allowing the rider to develop their confidence before pushing their skills further.

Check it out on KTM


Lexmoto Michigan

Lexmoto Michigan

Specs:

  • Engine – 125cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder
  • Max Power – 9.4 horsepower
  • Max Torque – 9 Nm
  • Seat Height – 735mm
  • Kerb Weight – 143kg

Lexmoto has a whole range of motorcycles that cater to the 125cc market and they offer a 2 year parts and labour warranty. 

The Michigan is a cruiser styled 125 and fills a gap in the market for small capacity cruisers. 

It is a smart, moody, big boy styled bike ready to cruise around town or on the back roads. 

The seat height is nice and low so you will get both feet down on the ground without any bother. 

Handlebars are pulled back and footpegs mid-mounted, the seating position is nice and neutral with a laid back edge, giving you cruiser style with maximum control. 

The Michigan is equipped with a combined braking system as an extra step of safety for learner riders. 

Check it out on Lexmoto


Sinnis Terrain

Sinnis Terrain

Specs:

  • Engine – 125cc, water-cooled, single-cylinder
  • Max Power – 12.7 horsepower
  • Max Torque – 10.5 Nm
  • Seat Height – 780mm
  • Kerb Weight – 162kg

Sinnis offer a fully-fledged adventure bike to the mix and it is a really good one at that. 

The Terrain took part in the Mongol Rally in 2019 which is 10,000 miles in the harshest conditions you can ride a motorcycle in, you can read all about that adventure here

If that doesn’t go some way to debunk the theory that Chinese bikes are rubbish I don’t know what will. 

Sinnis offer the Terrain up with a full luggage system of a top box and hard panniers, which make the bike ready for your commute to carry spare clothes etc or to take you on a longer adventure. 

The seating position is upright and comfortable, wide bars put you in full control of the bike and the large seat gives you space to move around on those longer trips which is an underrated bonus for comfort. 

Like the Lexmoto the Sinnis has a combined braking system. 

If you are dreaming of a BMW GS down the line the Terrain is the perfect entry-point into the world of adventure bikes. 

Check out our full Sinnis Motorcycles roundup


Mutt Mastiff 125

Mutt Mastiff 125

Specs:

  • Engine – 125cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder
  • Max Power – 12 horsepower
  • Max Torque – 10 Nm
  • Seat Height – 780mm
  • Kerb Weight – 140kg

Dark, moody, retro, industrial, Black Sabbath and Birmingham are all the things that pop into my head when I think of Mutt Motorcycles. 

Based out of Birmingham, they have been producing retro styled small capacity machines using the likes of classic BSA, Norton, Ariel models as design inspiration to much success.

While the bikes are put together in China, with most using a Suzuki GN125 engine design, parts are upgraded when the bikes land in the Birmingham shop. 

If you are looking for something a bit different, a bit more stripped back and reminiscent of the good old days of British motorcycling then look no further than Mutt. 

The Mastiff is my particular favourite with a beefier fuel tank and overall chunky feel. 

Seating position is upright and comfortable, with a bench seat that allows you to move around as needed. Bars are nice and wide and there is great feedback through the front forks, so you feel in control at all times. 

Having owned a Mutt and done many miles on one including several camping trips, I can tell you that they are capable bikes. 

Perfect for commuting but more than happy to carry you and all your luggage through the Welsh mountains if you so desire, without missing a beat and you look pretty damn cool while doing so.  

Check out our full Mutt Motorcycles roundup