You’ve passed your CBT, so you’re ready for that bike of your dreams right? Perhaps not.

When I first passed my CBT the Aprilla RS125 was seen as an exotic super bike. The Honda NSR125 was a long lusted after bike and the Cagiva Mito pure porn. What I actually ended up with though was a Kawasaki KH125, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Yes it looked like a 1970s Japanese commuter, and in fact it was, despite my model being built in 1996. What it had going for it was simplicity. It was a very basic motorcycle, not only was it easy to ride, but it was easy to work on. Something that is often over looked when choosing your first motorcycle.

Whilst on a CBT you are basically building up your motorcycle knowledge, not just in terms of riding but also maintenance. My old KH125 allowed me to dive right in, in that regard. When I later changed to a Honda NSR125 I learned what a real pain it was to have to remove the fairings all the time. The only reason I had the Honda in the first place was because the KH125 was stolen and my replacement NS125 written off. Yes these things can and do happen all the time. Even if you never drop your bike yourself, (and people do, I remember seeing a friend disappear out of view when was lost the front end on his TZR125), 125cc bikes are a real theft magnet.

Anyway, without further ado here’s my list of learner friendly 125cc motorcycles for those fresh off their CBT.

The best CBT friendly motorcycles

Yamaha MT125

Yamaha MT125

The Yamaha MT125 is a stylish and versatile motorcycle that combines the essence of the MT series with the practicality of a 125cc bike. Its muscular naked bike design stands out, and its 124cc engine delivers smooth power and responsive performance for urban and twisty road riding. The high-quality components, including the robust frame and suspension, ensure stability and comfort.

New, the Yamaha MT125 is priced around £4,300, making it a competitive option in its segment. The high-quality components, including the robust frame and suspension, ensure stability and comfort.

Its upright riding position, comfortable seat, and well-positioned controls make for an enjoyable ride with few disctrations. With a seat hight of 810mm it might be a bit tall for some riders, but if you can handle that, the Yamaha MT125 offers a thrilling and stylish option for those seeking a sporty 125cc motorcycle, without the cumbersome and expensive fairings of the YZF-R125.

Lexmoto XTR125

lexmoto xtr 125

When I was learning to ride, saying you had a Chinese motorcycle would get you laughed at and ridiculed. Things have come along way since then. Quality and attention to detail has improved, and there’s even dealer support.

Lexmoto were one of the first Chinese motorcycle brands in the UK, and remain the largest. The Lexmoto XTR125 is one of its most popular models, known for its value for money and practicality. It features a sleek and aggressive design that appeals to riders seeking a sporty look, without costing the earth.

Powered by a reliable 125cc engine, it offers decent performance for both city commuting and leisure rides. The XTR125 has a seat height of around 800mm and a weight of approximately 122kg, making it accessible and easy to handle for new riders. Best of all, is its price. At less than £2,000, it’s certainly the budget-friendly option.

Outside of its affordability, pros of the XTR125 include stylish design, and comfortable riding position. However, we’ll admit, the overall build quality and performance may not match some of Lexmoto’s own higher-end models, let alone those from the popular Japanese manufacturers.

Honda CB125F

honda CB125f motorcycle

The Honda CB125F has long been a favorite among learners for its exceptional reliability and fuel efficiency. Powered by a smooth 124cc engine, it delivers a balanced performance suitable for both urban commuting and longer rides.

The CB125F features a comfortable riding position, user-friendly controls, and a well-built chassis. With a seat height of around 790mm and a weight of approximately 128kg, it offers a manageable and confidence-inspiring riding experience.

The main pros of the CB125F include its low fuel consumption, low maintenance costs, and renowned Honda build quality. However, some riders might find its power output comparatively lower than other models, especially for those looking for a more exhilarating experience, but for a learner, with a CBT, it’s a great start.  Oh, and let’s not forget, priced around £2,800, it’s one of the cheapest and most cheerful motorcycles on our list.

KTM Duke 125

ktm duke 125

The KTM Duke 125 is a great option for those who want a more sporty and aggressive look. It has a powerful engine (comparatively speaking given it’s a 125), great suspension, chassis, and brakes.

It sports fancy looking , but also great performing 43mm upside down forks with 142mm (5 1/2″) of travel. The front disc is 320mm, the same size as those used on the larger more powerful 890 Duke, and it also offers 6″ rear suspension travel.

The only downsides are the price, at over £5,000 on the road, and the seat height. At 830mm it might be a little too high some. I certainly saw some shorter students struggle with this when my local school used Duke 125s for the CBT.

Kawasaki Z125

kawasaki z125

The Kawasaki Z125 is a compact and agile naked motorcycle that packs a punch despite its small displacement. With its sharp lines and aggressive styling, it captures the essence of the larger Z series motorcycles (often used by schools for full motorcycle licence training). Its peppy 125cc engine delivers lively performance that is perfect for urban commuting and spirited rides. It features nimble handling and responsive acceleration, making it fun and engaging to ride.

The seat height of the Kawasaki Z125 is approximately 815mm, providing a comfortable and accessible riding position for most riders with more than a 30″ inside leg. It has a weight of around 146kg, which although heavy for this class, does contribute to its overall stability.

The Kawasaki Z125 is priced around £3,800, offering a mid-range option for those seeking a blend of performance and style, without spending KTM money.

Pros of the Z125 include its attractive design, agile handling, and spirited performance. Additionally, its compact size and lightweight nature make it maneuverable in congested urban environments. However, it’s important to note that taller riders may find the seating position slightly cramped and may benefit from considering their comfort before making a decision.

In conclusion, the Kawasaki Z125 is a stylish and exciting naked motorcycle that offers a blend of performance and agility. With its striking design, lively engine, and accessible riding position, it appeals to riders looking for a compact and dynamic 125cc motorcycle.

Which should you choose?

Ultimately, the best learner 125cc motorcycle for you will depend on your personal preferences and riding style. Be sure to test ride a few different models (if you can) before making a decision, and try to consult with a qualified motorcycle mechanic or instructor to ensure that the bike you choose is a good fit for your skill level.

What you want, and what is actually suitable for you might end up being two very different things, so taking someone else along with a level head, can pay dividends.

Whichever bike you choose though, be sure to ride safely and never stop learning.