Launched in May '21 the Yamaha XSR125 introduces a fresh, learner-legal 125cc to the small displacement retro segment. It's a launch that may compound the purchase decisions of experienced commuters and aspiring modern classic riders alike.
Yamaha XSR125 Bolsters the Sports Heritage Lineup
Part of Yamaha's Faster Sons philosophy is to make its retro motorcycles better than the motorcycles (of yesteryear) they seek to emulate. So it's not surprising that similar to some of its competitors, its approach to designing retro motorcycles (so far) has been to wrap existing hyper sports bikes in a retro package. That's of course coupled with some tweaking.
The marque's XSR 700 and XSR 900 models are the MT-07 and MT-09 platforms (respectively) with an emphatic seventies vibe.
It's a cautious approach in comparison to other major manufacturers whose modern classic machines are built on a smattering of original platforms. Nonetheless, a formula that's proved successful for Yamaha's Sports Heritage line. And it's into this esteemed stable that the XSR125 enters with the same schema applied.
XSR125: Seventies Styling
Much like its larger siblings, it's clear from which decade the stylish XSR125 takes inspiration. Of the three colour schemes available, Redline and Impact Yellow have the strongest seventies design motif. And while the Tech Black scheme is also retro in its inspiration, it's more contemporary than its counterparts.
All three schemes appear on the tank, side panels and mudguards are complemented with aluminium components – a reminder of the high-quality nature of this compact motorcycle.
In keeping with the seventies design (and somewhat new wave custom aesthetic), this thumper has a comparatively flat tuck and roll seat. It's a feature that further enhances the neat horizontal lines of the XSR125.
This small roadster's neo-retro credentials are accentuated by a single round instruments' dial which houses a modern LCD display unit. In a similar way, a chunky exhaust also channels new wave custom design.
Yamaha XSR125 Engine
Borrowing from the MT-125 Hyper Naked and R125 Supersport the XSR125 has the benefit of a proven power plant. Yamaha promises that Euro5 complaint, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, 11kw motor offers a best-in-class ride. The implication is that it will keep riders entertained around town while delivering on the motorway.
For the most part, this thumper should live up to that hype, as it benefits from Yamaha's Variable Valve Actuation (VVA) technology which is supposed to offer torque at lower speeds and maintain performance higher in the rev range.
Importantly, the engine achieves a reported 14.8 bhp – just a smidge below the maximum 15 bhp power output permitted for a 125cc in the A1 licence category. So, it should more than hold its own against other A1 motorcycles.
In keeping with the Faster Sons edict, the XSR125 is furnished with modern technology encased in classic design. Good example are the round LED lights found at the front and tail. Equally, so are the lightweight 10-spoke, black 17-ins alloy wheels which with their complement of grippy block-pattern tyres (140/70 rear and 110/70 front) should inspire confidence in the turns.
This little retro superstar comes equipped with 37mm (KYB) upside-down front forks with 130mm of travel. They should offer riders easy handling and a comfortable ride around town and on the backroads.
Additionally, the lightweight nature of the bike(140kg wet weight) combined with a low seat height (810mm) and upright riding position, should appeal to new riders honing roadcraft and experienced commuters. Both of those groups will take comfort from the stopping power afforded by the Nissin twin-pot calliper with a single 267mm disc, combined with ABS.
XSR125 Thoughts Price & Availability
Without question, the XSR125 has curbside appeal. Turning up to a bike night with one of these machines (a retro 125 from a major manufacturer) is bound to elicit conversation.
However, this neo-retro 125 roadster enters into a segment of the 125cc market that so far has been dominated by a handful of smaller motorcycle manufacturers and importers. Their motorbikes fully embrace the modern-classic form. And while those brands may lack the longevity of the 76-year-old Yamaha, their machines are as attractive as they are affordable.
Priced at £4,450 does the XSR125 have the appeal that can eat into this market share?
On looks alone (albeit not as retro) probably yes. With its higher overall cost, the XSR125 becomes a more considered decision. Yet, when offset by PCP cost of circa £50 /month, it's once again in the running.
For many riders, its looks combined with the badge alone will be enough to coax a deposit. But for most, the question of ‘which new 125 commuter or first bike?' just became much more difficult.
The XSR125 is available at Yamaha dealers right now with a range of Faster Sons accessories, to personalise the XSR125.