There’s no denying it. 99% of adventure riding and motorcycle touring marketing is aimed at those on bigger-capacity bikes. And that annoys me!
Because while 99% of riders are on big bikes, that doesn’t mean the 1% riding 125’s can’t enjoy this beautiful planet in which we live.
Riding 125cc adventure motorcycles is often seen as a stepping stone for those on their way to getting their big bike licence. But what if you’re riding a 125 because you’re happy riding a 125?
Or what if you have an injury or a medical condition that limits you to the modest and manageable weight of a smaller capacity machine?
Shouldn’t you enjoy an adventure?
Of course you should!
The sole purpose of Motorcycle Tourer is to inspire people to get out there and do what inspires them. And if you choose to ride a 125cc touring bike, that’s absolutely fine by me.
So grab your lid, grab yourself one of these 125cc adventure motorcycles, and come along for the ride.
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- Proper-size bike
- 3-set luggage
- Tank range
- Power at top end
- Combined braking
The Sinnis Terrain 125 makes its way onto our list for two specific reasons. Firstly, it’s a proper-sized bike! So many 125’s are small. And that’s great if you’re a flexible and bouncy 17-year-old, over-caffeinated on Monster energy drinks.
But if you ride a 125 adventure bike out of choice (especially if you’re experienced), you likely want space to spread out and carry your kit.
The second reason is its value for money.
If you’re the sort of person that will only consider a BMW or a Ducati, then the Sinnis isn’t for you. But if you can look past the badge, you get a lot of bang for your buck with this well-equipped, not-so-little adventure bike.
I think Sinnis have done well to get the performance they have out of what is quite a sizeable bike.
Its 125cc engine produces 12.7bhp and 7.7 lb-ft torque. In real-world terms, you can happily cruise all day at 60mph. Twist the throttle a touch more, and you’ll make motorway speeds.
Considering the size of the bike and the fact it’s loaded up with full luggage, that isn’t bad at all.
Range & Economy
The good thing about decent-sized bikes is that they generally come with decent-sized tanks. And this is also the case with the Sinnis.
With its 14-litre tank and frugal consumption (you should see around 100mpg at sensible speeds), you can expect to get up to 300 miles from a tank.
The dash on the Sinnis is basic but perfectly adequate, displaying all the information you need to know and have come to expect. This includes speed, revs, fuel-remaining, odometer, gear indicator, and time.
It comes with 66.5-litre (combined) 3-set luggage, which is roomy and seemingly well-built. You’ll also find a 6-speed gearbox and a handy USB port to charge your phone.
For me, the Sinnis is the best adventure bike for those wanting an affordable all-rounder.
Lexmoto Assault 125 EFI
- Decent acceleration
- Basic set up
- No luggage
- No screen
The thing with the Assault is that there isn’t really much to say. But when you can buy a brand new one for £1,399, it’s worth a look!
Okay, so it doesn’t have the punch of a KTM, the style of a BMW, or the build quality of a Japanese bike. But it’s a simple bike that does exactly what it says on the tin.
Pimped up with knobbly tyres and a high mudguard, the Assault is a road bike dressed up as an adventure bike (despite the marketing!)
Its 14.3bhp picks up speed pretty well once you get past the short first gear. It will then top out at around 65mph – perfectly adequate on dual carriageways.
Once on the twisties, the Assault is actually fun to ride. The handlebars are wider than expected, making it surprisingly nimble through the bends.
In terms of kit, you can expect combined braking, a digital display, LED indicators, and a top box rack. Not bad for less than £1,400!
Related: 9 A2-Friendly Adventure Bikes You Can Tour On
Honda XL125V Varadero
- Feels like a big bike
- Build quality
- Running costs
- Not as economical as others on this list
Next on the list is another full-sized bike. You can’t buy this one from new anymore. But the Honda XL125V Varadero was built at a time when Honda produced bikes that were reliable for years on end.
It looks and feels like a bigger bike than the engine would suggest. And this shows in its 154kg weight – not heavy compared to modern-day 1,000cc+ adventure bikes, but still on the heavy side for a 125.
The four-stroke v-twin engine is smooth and consistent, churning out 15bhp. That doesn’t sound a lot for a big bike, but it will happily do motorway speeds before topping out at around 72-75mph.
In true Honda fashion, the engine is easy to use and completely unintimidating – even for new riders. And despite its age, you should still be seeing around 65mpg from its 16.8-litre fuel tank.
MGB ATX 125 Adventure
- Looks good
- Full luggage
- Value for money
- Quite heavy
- Limited top speed
- Unknown quality
The MGB ATX 125 Adventure makes its way onto our list as another cheap-as-chips adventure-inspired bike. With a front end that’s trying to be a GS, the overall result is pretty positive!
I wouldn’t go as far as to describe it as the “all-terrain” adventure bike as the marketing would suggest, but it’s fine for touring on tarmac combined with a bit of light, impromptu trail riding.
As with the Sinnis above, the MGB ATX 125 Adventure also comes with panniers and a top box. Add to this the GS-inspired styling, knobbly tires, and spoked 19” front wheel, and it’s good value for around 3 grand.
Related: The Best Bikes For A Round-The-World Trip. Our Top 9
Derbi Terra Adventure 125
- Great owner reviews
- Off-road capabilities
- Suspension & brakes
- Build quality
- Quite expensive
- Difficult to find good quality examples in the used market
- Others more economical
The Derbi Terra Adventure 125 is another bike that suffered at the hands of bike snobs back in the day. But speak to people that have owned one, and most of them love it.
As with many 125 adventure motorcycles, the styling is clearly inspired by a GS. But if you’re after a budget bike to have fun on (and doesn’t cost the earth), the Derbi Terra Adventure 125 is a belting choice.
On tarmac, the Derbi throws out 15bhp, will see you cruise at just over 70mph, and revs up to 11,500rpm. For a budget bike, the ride is really quite good. In terms of economy, the 11-litre fuel tank should let you ride for 130-135 miles between fuel stops.
Off-road, the Derbi handles well, stops well, and has good suspension. Unlike the MGB ATX above, the Derbi comes with a bash plate – which certainly helps on the trails.
The seat is narrow and perhaps not ideal for long-distance touring. But it’s comfortable and is 815mm – making it lower than many other similar bikes.
The Derbi Adventure is one of the more coveted 125cc adventure motorcycles on this list.
Suzuki RV125 VanVan
- Unusual & quirky
- Fun factor
- Easy to ride
- Lacks quality compared to others
- Build quality
- Lacklustre engine
Okay, so the Suzuki RV125 VanVan won’t win any awards for being the best bike in the world. But we cater for everyone here – and the VanVan caters to a specific sort of person!
If you’re into your retro mods and are currently doing up a VW Campervan in your back garden, you’ll love it.
The VanVan was introduced in 2003 based on its predecessor from the ’80s. The engine in the VanVan actually doesn’t differ all that much from the original. So if you’re looking for pioneering technology, this isn’t the bike for you.
What it does have, though, is oodles of charm and character. The 125 single-cylinder just about makes 11bhp and will get you up to about 60mph. But it isn’t about speed – it’s about enjoying warm summer rides at a casual pace and taking in the scenery.
With its big, funky tyres (that are both unnecessary and expensive to replace), the VanVan certainly stands out in a world full of clones.
And despite not being the best bike around, it will definitely put a smile on your sunkissed face!
Overall, the VanVan is one of the best 125cc adventure motorcycles for those wanting a retro vibe.
- Great engine
- Excellent to ride
- Struggles two-up
- Others are more economical
- Good used examples are expensive
- Seat may be too high for some
For me, the Yamaha WR125X is a rider’s bike. Simple, dependable, and bulletproof. It lacks many of the fancy gadgets we’ve come to expect on modern bikes, and for me, it’s all the better for it. You know where you stand with it.
The X makes for a more friendly bike than the off-road inspired R for general use and touring.
Given its size, it’s quite a spacious bike. Although with a 920mm seat height, you probably won’t get on with it if you’re 5 feet 2!
With 15bhp and 8.9 lb.ft of torque, it will power you to around 65mph. And whilst it will sit on a dual carriageway, it’s more at home on the trails and taking the longer (more interesting!) way around.
The good news is that people love them because they’re such good bikes. The bad news is this puts them in high demand – and they can be hard to find. Even when you do find one, a good one will be expensive.
In terms of kit, the Yamaha WR125X is pretty sparse. Although it does come with a stock LCD dash and a tool kit (providing it hasn’t been lost or stolen – which it usually has!)
Related: 9 Best Touring Motorcycles For Short Riders
- Excellent all-rounder
- Fun on greenlanes
- Good brakes
- Lacks top-end power
- Struggles on steep inclines
- Not great on fast roads
Ahhhh, you’ve gotta love an XR125L! Once again, it’s an old school trail bike built with Honda’s renowned quality.
The four-stroke 125cc makes 11bhp. So whilst it isn’t the fasted engine on this list of 125cc adventure motorcycles, it makes up for it with its smooth, reliable, and easy riding.
The XR125L is certainly more suited to green-laning than it is to long stretches on the motorway. That isn’t what this bike is about.
But if you want to take the scenic route through the French Alps or the Pyrenees, this is a great option to consider.
One of the positives of an engine that is smooth and conservative on the power is that it’s economical. So you can expect a return of around 65mpg.
- Bulletproof engine
- Easy to fix
- Parts available across the world
- Feels cheap compared to some rivals
- Could use a few extra horses
- Not the most exciting
The Suzuki DR125SM is the opposite of the XR125L above. Although its 125cc engine produces 12bhp (only 1 more than the Honda), the engine is livelier and will even allow you to reach motorway speeds on your way to the ferry.
As you’d expect from Suzuki, the engine is all but bombproof. But it is slightly let down by wollowy suspension and a cheap finish. But in its day, the DR125SM was cheap to buy, so a lesser finish should be expected.
All-in-all, the Suzuki is basic and to the point – which is great if it breaks down and you need to fix something at the roadside.
Components, parts, and after-market accessories are readily available the world over. So if you’re planning an elaborate RTW trip, this bike should be on your list of 125cc adventure motorcycles to consider.
Related: How To Deal With A Breakdown On Tour
- All-day smiles
- Great quality
- Nimble & practical
- Not much equipment as standard
- Finish somewhat flimsy
- Lacks a bit of power
The Yamaha XT125R is a bike you buy because you love it. With 11bhp, it isn’t the fastest bike around. And whilst the build quality on new ones was always regarded as exemplary, those who have owned one for a while complain of numerous quality issues.
The standard of equipment is sparse. And the equipment it does have is flimsy and basic.
That said, the XT125R’s party piece is the joy it brings when you’re throwing it around the trails like a toy. At just 111kg, it goes exactly where you want it to with zero effort. It’s brilliant fun on the gravel and makes for an excellent lightweight adventure bike.
Add to this basic mechanics that are easy to fix and a 120-mile range, this four-stroke is brilliant fun both on and off the trails.
So there is our top 125cc adventure touring motorcycles. Do you tour on a 125? If so, let us know what you ride in the comments below!