Hyosung Aquila Grand Voyage GV125S
Renchlist via Nate Kwarteng

Hyosung Aquila GV125S Review: Cruiser Style in a Smaller Package

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I spent a few days with the Euro 5, Hyosung Aquila GV125S. Five years in the making, it’s an A1 licence friendly, cruiser-style motorcycle with big bike looks. It sounds clichéd, but I remembered how much fun there is to be had on small-displacement motorcycles. See my complete thoughts about this bike below.

Hyosung Aquila GV125S Review

First some background. Before swinging a leg over the Aquila Grand Voyage 125S (GV125S) it’d been a good four years since I’d ridden a 125. Despite a keenness for all things two-wheel for most of my life, I began riding later in life [my late thirties] choosing to go down the A1 route, then onto the full licence

Today, two-wheels are my sole means of transport – so, I ride to live and live to ride (all-year-round). In six years I’ve accumulated circa 40,000 miles of experience in all weather conditions viable for motorcycles. Two of those years were spent commuting and riding in London on a Herald Classic 125.

Rider wearing helmet viewing Hyosung Aquila Grand Voyage 125S
The GV125S should appeal to new and returning riders – Image: Nate Kwarteng

Hyosung Aquila GV125S: Who’s it for?

If you follow me on social media you probably know, for more than three years I’ve been riding a Thruxton 1200 R. It’s a torquey bike with nearly ten times the cubic capacity of the bike I was tasked with reviewing. Evidently, a mental adjustment of sorts was required on my behalf, in order to evaluate this Hyosung GV125S fairly.

So in test-riding this mini v-twin cruiser, I attempted to place myself in the mind of a rider who might consider a 125cc cruiser. Essentially, I had to reconfigure my expectations of motorcycles. Forget I’d ever experienced more torque and power that is necessary on a UK road.

Admittedly, it took me longer to settle into this mindset than anticipated. Although, once I did I had a blast.

Learner or Returning Riders

So who would ride the GVS125? Well, I imagine you’re possibly either returning to riding after a hiatus. Or more likely a learner, entirely new to (motorised) two-wheels as a mode of transport/leisure. At the very least I presume that you’re looking for an easy bike to ride: a machine that offers a relaxed riding position and is low to the ground. Probably, and most importantly you’re drawn to cruiser and bobber aesthetics.

If some or most of the above is true then the Hyosung Aquila GV125S might just be right for you.

Aquila GV125S: Looks & Style

Hyosung Aquila Grand Voyage GV125S
Hyosung Aquila Grand Voyage 125S – Image: Nate Kwarteng

Immediately apparent is the cruiser/bobber style and how large the bike looks. As it was wheeled off the van’s ramp (on delivery) the thought that this wasn’t the correct bike crossed my mind.

The Aquila doesn’t look like a 125; it seems considerably larger. The relatively chunky tyres at the front (120/80) and rear (150/80) are set on 16″ and 15″ black spoked rims, respectively. It’s a combo that gives this learner-friendly motorcycle the aspect of a motorbike far greater in engine capacity.

Classic round motorcycle headlight
This classic round headlight is one of many design features that make the Aquila GV125S highly desirable – Image: Nate Kwarteng

Other road users react to it with more respect than I remember being afforded on my former 125. While riding the Aquila on B roads, slower motorists on several occasions yielded and indicated for me to pass. Clearly, none were aware that I was packing a mere 14 bhp and I wasn’t necessarily able to pass at speed – and yet I did pass.

The poise of the bike is no doubt responsible for the respect proffered – although equally, I imagine the lack of L-pates contributed.

Beautiful Finish

The Hyosung Aquila is beautifully finished and thoughtful too. Features like the contoured guards for the headers, are not only protective (in the event of a spill) but look great. Additionally, they’ll stop plastic from coming to rest directly on the pipes of the Aquila.

It’s a feature that will be appreciated by any inner-city commuter, who’s ever had to endure the lingering acrid smell of a burning supermarket plastic bag on hot pipes.

Header guards will prove useful in protecting the bike but look great . Image: Nate Kwarteng
Header guards will prove useful in protecting the bike and also look great – Image: Nate Kwarteng

Turning to the overall shape bike – it’s clearly no accident that Hyosung has the vibe of a Harley Sportster about it, albeit a much smaller and less noisy one. Other riders seem to think so too.

On another ride-out, I dropped into a local biker hangout to glean feedback. By chance, a group of Harley riders congregated around the bike – all with positive feedback to offer. Some were little puzzled by the idiosyncrasy of the gap between the seat and 12-litre fuel tank. Prevailing sentiment was nevertheless “… they [Hyosung] have done a good job”. Besides, I found a good use for the gap. [see below]

Goldtop England gloves wedged in the gap between the fuel tank and the seat. Image: Nate Kwarteng
Goldtop England gloves wedged in the gap between the fuel tank and the seat. Image: Nate Kwarteng

Those Harley riders seemed to dig what the South Korean marque has done with this bike. Anecdotal that may be – nonetheless, it’s probably music to the ears of the designers and engineers, who’ve worked on this bike for the last five years. (It’s not a stretch to suggest they likely had Harley imagery in mind.) So, a grand endorsement of a kind, especially if the sentiment is true for most large cruiser riders.

Still on the topic of looks, occasionally I caught a glimpse of myself and the bike’s reflection in a shop window while riding around town. I was not displeased at all with what I saw. (Come on don’t judge me – we all do it.) Once again I was reminded of this motorcycle’s larger than expected presence.

Top down - side profile of the Aquila 125 cruiser's clutch lever and wing mirror
Solid components are to be found on the Hyosung GV125 – Image: Nate Kwarteng

Probably more importantly, one universal indicator of an attractive motorcycle is whether a rider looks back after dismounting. In shorthand, the look-back factor – this motorcycle has it.

GV125S Engine

Airbox in front of the Aquila's 60º v-twin engine
A prominent air-box sits in front of the 60º v-twin engine – Image: Nate Kwarteng

The most intriguing feature of the Aquila is the v-twin engine. Yes, that’s right, it has a liquid-cooled 60º v-twin engine which further strengthens its cruiser credentials. Moreover, this cements the Aquila’s big bike aspirations. The aforementioned Harley riders centred the majority of their positivity on the engine.

I later discovered the v-twin produces a more pleasing note than a typical single-cylinder 125cc bike. This note emanates from a matt black, 2-into-1-into-1, bazooka-style end-can, that you might find on attached to a custom bobber. I suspect some may prefer this in chrome however.

V-twin engine - seen from the left the Aquila
60º v-twin engine seen from the lefthand side of the Aquila – Image: Nate Kwarteng

Hyosung’s spec sheet says it produces 14 bhp which is more than class-competitive. Pleasingly, I found power was delivered consistently throughout the rev range, redlining at 10,000 rpm. At no point did the bike feel like it was going to run out of breath, as some small bikes do. A shift down a gear tackled all the steep inclines I encountered.

You’re probably wondering about top speed. Well, on one of my runs out with this bike (on a straight dual-carriage road) the digital speedometer indicated 65mph. Admittedly, that was with the assistance of a slight slope.

And while you may not find the Aquila 125 racing at the TT next year, it’s fast enough for a 125 within the urban environment it’s more likely to be ridden. Moreover, as a new rider, you’ll certainly feel the thrill of acceleration while remaining comfortably within your skill band. In any case, I doubt speed is the driving force behind the purchase of a 125cc cruiser.

Aquila 125 Brakes

GV125s' single disc brake (front)
The GV125S benefits from disc brakes applied via a combined braking system – Image: Nate Kwarteng

Braking on GV125S comes in the form of single disc brakes front and rear applied by a three-piston, floating caliper at the front and a large double piston at the rear. They’re sharp and effective.

125cc motorcycles require at the very minimum a combined braking system (CBS), which is what you’ll find on the GV125S. With CBS, as normal the right lever controls braking on the front wheel. (Typically that’s the main brake on a 125). Where ordinarily the right foot pedal controls the rear brake, on the GV125S it activates the CBS.

When activated the pads are engaged on both front and rear discs simultaneously. This means more acute braking is delivered safely. Neither the rear nor the front will lock – so no stoppies or inadvertent stunt braking.

It may require some acclimation for returning riders, although, both new and experienced riders will find the system much more dependable.

Comfort

Plush diamond-stitched, pillion ready motorcycle seat.
A plush pillion ready seat comes as standard on the Aquila – Image: Nate Kwarteng

One key characteristic of cruiser bikes is a foot-forward riding position. Generally, this is portrayed as laidback. And while that may lead you to the conclusion that all cruiser bikes are comfortable, it’s not necessarily the case. That’s especially true when ape hangers and extreme footpeg positioning is combined. You’ll find none of that on the Aquila; with its straight handlebars and footpegs in the mid position, it’s a relaxed seating position.

Regardless, the comfort of any motorcycle is dependent on geometry. That of the bike and of the rider. Despite my average 5ft 10″ height, at a length of 31,” I’m relatively longer in the leg than my torso warrants. As such, the riding position felt somewhat cramped for me.

Additionally, notwithstanding the plush nature of the diamond-hand-stitched, saddle-like seat, I found myself occasionally shifting uncomfortably after 40 to 50 minutes of riding. Yet, I had way too much fun to mind too much.

Naturally, the comfort of one’s derriere in any given seat is incredibly subjective. A long test ride prior to handing over your deposit will establish whether your behind and the Aquila’s seat will be friends or not. If not, a custom aftermarket seat might be the way to go.

Equipment

Aquila GV125s instrument panel displaying the message: "Get Ready"
The Aquila’s instrument panel offers all the basic data a rider needs – Image: Nate Kwarteng

In terms of equipment like most 125s, the Aquila offers an unencumbered riding experience. Or in more common parlance the equipment specification sheet is basic. I was nonetheless impressed to see the instruments panel has a smattering of useful aids. Though not too many to distract.

Turn the ignition key and a backlit LCD screen playfully displays “Get Ready”. Beyond that, riders will appreciate the gear indicator and digital fuel gauge. Those features are in addition to the coolant temperature gauge, rev counter, and an odometer with a total and trip mileage counters.

Ride-ability

Rider flat-footing the Aquila GV125s
Most riders will easily be able to flatfoot the Aquila 125 – Image: Nate Kwarteng

With its low stance, I was able to comfortably flatfoot the bike. Not just because of my disproportionately long legs; the seat height only measures 710mm. And if you’re a new rider who’s anxious about having to tiptoe and potentially drop your bike, at a local biker café (no doubt in front of a crowd of experienced riders), you’ll appreciate this facet of the Aquila’s design. Of course, that’s a design aspect present in all cruiser style bikes.

At 165kg the Aquila is light for a motorcycle but arguably heavy for 125cc. Nonetheless, with its low centre of gravity, it’s agile around town. That, paired with a light clutch meant I made light work of filtering through rush-hour traffic.

Reflection of a building in the mirror of the Aquila GV125s.
Mirrors on the Aquila GV125S allow plenty of rearward visibility – Image: Nate Kwarteng

Mirrors on the GV125S give good visibility. I found that I didn’t need to squeeze my elbows in too far to see what was behind. Nevertheless, the left mirror was particularly shaky at redline… though that’s to be expected really.

Unusually for a 125, the tyres inspired confidence in corners, with plenty of grip. That was true even in the more treacherous early phase of a rain shower I found myself in while testing this bike.

Inevitably perhaps, the large front tyre made the steering heavier than I expected on a smaller bike. Still, the Aquila responded well to steering input; mid-corner line corrections were a breeze.

Chunky (120/80) front tyre on the Aquila GV125S.
Chunky Front Tyre (120/80) on the Hyosung Aquila GV125S – Image: Nate Kwarteng

The Grand Voyage comes with standard telescopic forks up front, protected by rubber gaiters. At the rear, you’ll find (preload only) adjustable twin shocks. It could be said that the suspension is in the sweet spot (on the harder side of soft). Not too bouncy on bumpy roads and stable on decent tarmac – perfect for a cruiser.

Hyosung Aquila GV125S Price & Value

At £3,595 + OTR, the Aquila GV125S is the highest-priced within the 125cc cruiser class. It’s nearly £2,000 more than the lowest-priced motorcycle in this segment [Lexmoto, Michigan]. So, does that mean the Aquila is expensive? In relative terms maybe. However, not so in terms of quality and ride experience.

There isn’t anything on the bike that feels flimsy. In fact quite the opposite; it’s a solidly built machine that may well justify the extra cost when that fact is paired with its looks and performance.

If you’re in the market for a learner-friendly, small capacity cruiser, with big bike looks this is it. The Aquila 125 is available now in black or grey, through Sinnis Motorcycles‘ dealer network.

Hyosung Aquila GV125S: Specifications at a Glance

  • Model Code: GV125S
  • Length: 2080mm
  • Width: 750mm
  • Height: 1050mm
  • Wheelbase: 1425mm
  • Weight: 165kg
  • Maximum Load: 165kg
  • Engine Capacity: 125cm3
  • Power: 9.9kW @ 10250rpm (approx. 13.3bhp)
  • Max Tested Speed: 98kmh (60.1mph)
  • Number of Gears: 5
  • Braking System: CBS (Combined Braking System)
  • Front Tyre: 120/80-16 (60P)
  • Rear Tyre: 150/80-15 (70P)
  • Approval Rating: Euro5
  • Fuel Consumption: 2.7l per 100km
Aquila GV125S Review
Hyosung Aquila Gv125s
Renchlist Opinion
A highly attractive, well-constructed, laidback cruiser, with big bike looks and an excellent finish to match.
Looks & Style
Engine
Brakes
Comfort
Equipment
Ride-ability
Value
For
Big bike presence
High quality finish
Killer cruiser looks
Against
A little cramped for long-legged riders.
Heavy for a 125
Relatively high price
4.1
Overall Score