We love a bit of nostalgia here at CB-NET, so we decided to put together a top 10 of the best tiddlers from our era.
Yup, we’re talking about 125cc machines which – in restricted form – were the only bikes 17 year olds were allowed to ride, after 1982’s change to the learner laws. Those who went before look back on the 250s with rose-tinted spectacles, but for us young ‘uns, the 125 was where it was at…
So then, in no particular order…
Bike: Aprilia RS125/R
Years produced: 1992-on
Top speed: 70mph (restricted) 96mph (1994 model)
Price then: £3591 (March 1992) £4489 (1998)
Still crazy after all these years and still being sold: the RS125 has been released in a host of replicas and bodywork styles to suit the cool racers and bikes of the time. From Loris Reggiani (early 1990s) through Max Biaggi (mid-1990s) Tetsuya Harada, Valentino Rossi (late 1990s) and Manuel Poggiali in the early 2000s: today’s machine apes the look of the V4 RSV four-stroke, rather than the two-stroke Aprilia racers of days gone by. Today one will cost you £4499.
Bike: Cagiva Mito
Years produced: 1991-2012
Top speed: 70mph (restricted) 104mph derestricted
Price then: £3369 (1992) £4024 (1998)
A long-lasting two stroke, the original took its looks from Eddie Lawson’s GP bike and the colour (of course) had to be red. The original twin-round-head-light model was pretty and had a seven-speed gearbox. From 1994 on, the Mito Evo 1 had looks that mirrored the 916 and it was also the fastest model ever. The bike was later re-launched for the Noughties, but by 2012 regulations and emissions laws had caught up with the old campaigner. Shame!
Bike: Yamaha RD125LC
Years produced: 1982-1987
Top speed: 70mph (restricted) 90mph derestricted
Price then: £840 (1982)
We loved this bike because – well – it was a ‘real’ LC! Released at a time when the RD350 was the bike we all dreamed of having, this was the machine that guaranteed that you were too cool at school. The only bug-bear was that it was pricey at the time…
Bike: Yamaha TZR125
Years produced: 1987-on
Top speed: 70mph (restricted) 95mph derestricted
Price then: £2079 (1992)
Suddenly Yamaha went proper race-replica with the TZR in the late 1980s. This shared the looks and the Deltabox of the original TZR250 of the same vintage, a bike which was the Powervalve’s younger and better brother. Later, in the mid-1990s it was replaced by an even sexier version which looked even more like the TZR racers of the time.
Bike: Yamaha TDR125
Years produced: 1994-on
Top speed: 70mph (restricted) 90mph derestricted.
Price then: £2800
When race-replica 125s were all the rage, what bike did you buy if you felt you didn’t fit on one? Well, trail bikes like the KMX, DT, TS and MTX, naturally, and then there was this. The styling was almost identical to the original bug-eyed TDM850 of 1992 and the beefy Deltabox chassis hid a TZR125 motor.
Bike: Honda NSR125
Years produced: 1989-2001
Top speed: 71mph (restricted)
Price then: £3239 (1992)
Typically Honda, this bike was reliable and looked nice enough – shame it wasn’t a real out-and-out Mick Doohan replica! Quality also wasn’t too great on the later versions built in Italy. Later, naked versions were ‘fugly’ as feck!
Bike: Gilera CX125
Years produced: 1991-1993
Top speed: 90mph
Price then: £3000
Weird man! This was a hub-centre steered, single-sided rear swingarmed strange kettle of fish! Styling made the CX a head-turner: futuristic, even today – if you could find one.
Bike: Gilera GFR125
Years produced: 1992-1995
Top speed: 98mph
Price then: £2999 (1994)
Pretty damn rare – even at the time – the Gilera died thanks to the Italian tiddler bike crash of the mid-1990s. It copied the early RS125’s single-sided swingarm and featured twin easy-fill caps for both fuel and two-stroke oil, while colours and styling were similar to the Gilera 250cc racers of the time.
Bike: Suzuki RG125 GAMMA//125FUN
Years produced: 1985-1991 (Gamma) 1992-1996 FUN.
Top speed: 102mph derestricted.
Price then: £2889 (1992)
Another machine to copy big brother, the original ‘Light Sprinter’ came in half and full-faired versions and looked like the RG250/500. By 1991 it was replaced by a steel-framed RGV250 copy.
Bike: Suzuki RG125UN Wolf
Years produced: 1991-1995
Top speed: 80mph (restricted)
Price then: £2889 (1992)
A much simpler proposition for learners in the 1990s was this: think streetfighter RG125FUN and you’re spot on. More comfy than the race-rep brother and quicker/lighter, too!