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Small Displacement and Big Style: New Yamaha and Kawasaki Aimed at Youth Market Overseas

Yamaha MT-125

Yamaha MT-125

Yamaha has expanded its MT family with the lightweight MT-125 (claimed wet weight is just over 300 pounds) just announced for the European market.  This follows on the heels of Kawasaki’s announcement of a single-cylinder naked for Asia called the Z250SL.

Here is how Yamaha describes the new MT-125:

Yamaha’s new generation of MT models have totally shaken up the world of motorcycling. With their radical style and ultra cool image, the MT family is all about pure riding emotion. Now the new MT-125 is here. And the 125cc class is never going to be the same again!

With its awesome looking naked chassis, the MT-125 really is like nothing else. Featuring aggressive streetfighter style that demands attention wherever you go, this bike has some serious attitude. And with its full-size chassis the latest MT gets maximum respect on the street.

You’re only young once. So make sure that the new MT-125 becomes a part of your life. Now.

Yamaha MT-125

Yamaha MT-125

Details

  • Radical new naked 125cc bike
  • MT family DNA gives a serious ‘full-size’ bike look
  • Streetfighter style
  • Sporty, upright riding position for everyday fun
  • Deltabox frame and monoshock rear suspension
  • 125cc single cylinder liquid-cooled 4-stroke
  • YZF-R125 platform with high-end components
  • 41mm diameter upside down front forks
  • 292mm floating front disc with radial caliper
  • Lightweight race-style Y-spoke wheels
  • High-tech LED instrumentpanel
  • Short tail end with LED taillight
Kawasaki Z250SL

Kawasaki Z250SL

The new Kawasaki Z250SL is derived from the mechanically identical Ninja RR Mono we reported on earlier. Follow the link for the technical details.

We do not know whether Yamaha or Kawasaki will bring these smaller displacement models to the U.S. market. Although the U.S. market is embracing smaller displacement bikes, initially they may make more sense overseas where tiered licensing and city commute distances create different customer incentives. In the Asian marketplace, a 250cc bike is still considered a big bike.

Perhaps more interesting is the effort the manufacturers are putting into not only the styling but the frame and chassis design for these relatively low cost, low displacement models. If the popularity of the Honda Grom is any indication, other manufacturers may bring smaller bikes to the U.S. to grow the youth market here.

Kawasaki Z250SL

Kawasaki Z250SL

66 Comments

  1. Mars says:

    Nindja 250R FTW. And yeah – they REALLY have a problem with smaller cc bikes in the US where we have no license tiers because of cost. A 650R aint much more than a 300 and the 650 is “more bike” for most of us. And trying to cheap-out won’t work. THe new Yamaha triple with that superb motor calls to me, but the cheap-o brakes and suspension kill the deal. I know – you can’t get something for nothing, and so motorcycling seems to be splitting along the same lines as everything else – top tier for those with $$$ and junk for everyone else.

    • Larry says:

      People said the same thing about the SV650 and that sure turned out to be an awful motorcycle. /s

  2. Dave Joy says:

    These bikes are mainly aimed at new learner riders in the UK and other countries where you are limited to bike size when starting out in the sport. I spent the first five years of riding on quarter litre and less bikes in the 60′s back in England. All the manufacturers were making some great machines, especially those lovely little 2 stroke screamers! My Suzuki Super 6 was a fabulous little bike. Whether these bikes become popular this side of the pond is another question, it always seems to be that size matters over here! The older I get the smaller my bikes become. I am 65 now with a 650…….when I’m 80 I may be on one of these!!

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “it always seems to be that size matters over here!”

      June 29 1956, President Eisenhower signed into the law the National Highway Construction Act…

      and that was all she wrote.

      • Curly says:

        But Norm there are still plenty of secondary roads with 60mph limits that bikes that will go 75 like these would be just fine on. You don’t always have to get on the super slab to get from here to there when you’re 16. In my youth I put 16K miles on a 73cc, 6.5hp Yamaha that topped out at 53mph (60 downhill). That bike never got on an Interstate.

        • Mark McCarty says:

          Curly,

          Yeah, I have a 250cc Honda Helix which doesn’t really see the super slab either. When going to visit my mom’s grave, I’ll hop on I-195 for 3-4 miles to bypass inner city Trenton; that’s NOT a good place for a white boy to be! But yeah, I pretty much stay confined to back roads, because my Helix will do 70-72, no more…

          Mark

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “But Norm there are still plenty of secondary roads”

          yup, I ride them.

          I can report, they’re clogged with all the same cars and trucks pulling off the interstates.

  3. Mars says:

    Hey Kawasaki – paint that trellis frame green and put it on a Ninja 300 – or – or – or – or – put a KLR650 motor in it, raise the suspension a bit, and make a Duke Killer!!!!!!! Yes – THAT!!!!!

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      A Duke killer? With a KLR engine? BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ahhhh…. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

      • Mars says:

        Not that it would go FASTER, but perhaps the bottom end won’t break the second time you do a full power launch or donwshift sloppily. Kawasaki is more reliable than KTM, only to me, not to anyone else, only to me. Everyone else has perfect luck with KTM, and their bikes never break.

  4. Mars says:

    I have a Ninja 250, a 500, a 650, and a 1000. Wanna guess which bike gets pulled out the most?

    125cc is TOO SMALL, but small bikes ARE more fun. And yeah, 10K for a single cylinder Duke that you cannot ride across the state is too much. But DAMN I’d like a nice used one for 6500.

  5. CJ says:

    I would not want a small displacement bike, however I like the style of the MT-125. I wish that the MT-07 looked like that! The only thing I dislike is the forward sloping rear sub frame and seat which would have the male rider crushing some very sensitive parts – make it level, please.

  6. Gronde says:

    Folks are saying how much better the Grom is. Let’s call the Grom what is really is. The Grom is nothing more than a clown bike. It has very limited use and is quickly outgrown. Yes, it’s probably a hoot to ride around town or in the circus ring, but it’s still a clown bike. Some folks need a clown bike just to clown around on, I guess.

    • paul says:

      ….they say it takes a clown to recognize a clown bike.

    • Dave says:

      Most motorcycles are “clown bikes” in some regard, ex. what is the practical purpose of a 160hp sport bike on the street? Ditto 150hp “adventure” bikes.

      I have a friend who’s got 4k miles on his from so far and doesn’t seem interested in growing out of it.

      • Norm G. says:

        Q: “what is the practical purpose of a 160hp sport bike on the street?”

        A: life support.

      • Gronde says:

        Every bike has it’s intended purpose and used within that realm, it’s ideal. You can choose between a clown bike or a 190 hp KTM and ride them however you wish, but no one bike is perfect for every task.

  7. Don Fraser says:

    All you macho men should try a ninjette, you might be surprised at how much fun it is to beat the crap out of a bike. How about wfo from Indy to Columbus, meaning 85 mph.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “How about wfo from Indy to Columbus”

      how about WTFO with a 75 foot combination on your a$$…? I’ve been on that corridor, must be a terminal or something around there…? that stretch of 70 is practically OWNED by FedEx and UPS running doubles/tandems. 85 mph for those drivers is like a “suggested minimum”. OG’s who watched the episode of Speed Racer Vs. the Mammoth Car as a kid knows what I’m talking about… :)

      10:45

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsICZNn1SOM

  8. dave says:

    This is a nice looking motorcycle, it has udx forks.
    125cc for stroke = 62.5cc two stroke (no thanks)

    • Dave says:

      That math no longer applies. No 500cc street 2-stroke ever made 170hp (common for top level literbikes) , nor did a 300cc 2-stroke make 105hp (vs. 600cc 4s).

      • rg500g says:

        SURE they can make 170 HP! It’s a question of how long they can make 170 HP. It’s kind of like the ‘loudest car stereo’ competitions. You make 160 DB for .137 seconds then the cones eject from the baskets. Well, you hit your HP peak on the dyno then the piston crowns ventilate. Ah, the smell of molten aluminum in the morning. It smells of… money, LOTS of money.

  9. Morgan says:

    MT-125 138kg wet!!!! For a 125 single. All these euro-market 15bhp “full size” 125s weigh far more than a 125 single needs to. My old Yamaha RS125 from 1980 would leave any of them in its dust around town with its 12bhp (90 kg dry).

  10. Gary says:

    Much nicer than the wretched little Grom.

    • Blackcayman says:

      A friend of mine who is a retired dirt track racer and owner of over 100 motorcycles – the fastest street and road track rider I’ve ever seen, bought one and its quite a bit of fun for what it is.

      Ripping around the neighborhood, running to the store, pit bike, and RV companion.

      The small size is part of what makes it great. Its not much to look at compared to these, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

      • Gary says:

        As it happens, I’m a retired dirt track racer, too. Not a pro, but I raced many years. It was some years ago. I wore one of those antique Bell helmets featured in another story here.

        To each his/her own. The Grom is not for me, but for every saddle there is an ass.

  11. Gronde says:

    These things will probably cost nearly as much as a Kawasaki
    650 twin. The 650 is a lot more bike and could be an only bike for many riders. Yes, a smaller cc bike is a lot of fun in the right environment, but 125cc’s has it’s limitations. Would be a great toy for kicking around the neighborhood, running errands and
    Introducing new riders to the sport.

    • Blackcayman says:

      right, that’s where it gets dicey – when compared directly to larger cc bikes at the same or near the same money.

    • Curly says:

      That would be bad if true but I don’t think it will be. In Europe (a target market for the MT)the Kawasaki ER6n 650 naked sells for $8996 in US Dollars while the YZF-R125 full faired version of the MT-125 sells for $6196. Seems reasonable that the MT version will be a few hundred less so less than $6000 or about $3K less than the 650.

  12. Ronbob says:

    I had another fun back road ride yesterday on my wife’s TU 250. Last Friday’s 84 mi round trip commute at 60 to 70 mph was less fun than on our Buell Blast or XB9XS. Our 883 Superlow is for sale, as it is our least fun, but all of the bikes I have owned brought some kind of fun, starting with my ’64 street 90 Honda[ and even the '59 Lambretta 175 2 stroke scooter that got me started on two wheels].

    • dingerjunkie says:

      We experienced riders know this. How many under-20′s are actively being marketed on this joy? We’re the part of the market that is dying off/ageing out (respectively)…and the people with experience that they’re expecting to purchase the higher-ticket rides are “finding the fun” in the bargain basement again. Looks like the growth model just got turned on it’s head for the industry.

  13. John Hruban says:

    My first bike (1947) was a CZ 125,4 HP, Top speed 45. I would have died and gone to Heaven??? if these new small bikes were made then. I wish I was 16 again. (Now 83 and still riding, a 75 Honda CB360)

  14. dingerjunkie says:

    The Grom looks more fun. These two look like great high-school scoots, outside of the very uncomfortable spot for giving a nervous schoolgirl a ride home. Unfortunately, either the costs are off or the market has disappeared.

    “School bikes” in the late sixties or early seventies could be paid off in one summer by a lower-middle-class kid hustling at the Caddy Shack or busting hump at a local burger joint/movie theater. No kid can cover one of these in a summer.

    What can they bring in that the average pimple-face can pay off in one year without help from the parents (after all, they’ll be hiding it in a friend’s garage)?

    • KenHoward says:

      In the sixties, you could pay off one year of college tuition with a summer job.

    • paul says:

      Back in the sixties there were no where near as many other “must-have” products competing for your summer job earnings. Things like smart phones, ipods, ipads, game boxes, lap tops, big TV’s in every other room etc. The focus was much easier… get that bike.

      • dingerjunkie says:

        Then the motorcycle manufacturers have no real viable future in the United States as it did 50 years ago. Period. Even looking at bikes like this is a waste of time.

        They need a product that 16-year-old lust to buy with their own money (without parental intervention) or in a market pocket that the parents will openly support (Nicest people on a Hunda, PLUS, cheaper option that allows my kid to work/live while getting one out of soccer-mom duty).

        The GROM is close, these two are nowhere near that, and real earnings are gone relative to current product pricing regardless of the presence of other cocooning technologies. Sell these to commuters in developing countries and just write off the US if this is as close as they can get.

  15. Starmag says:

    All the race rep manufacturers have obviously determined that their bikes won’t be rad enough and therefore sell well unless the seats are increasingly pointy and point ever higher to the sky with the attendant longer and longer license plate brackets. How high can they go? Where they stop nobody knows!

    Yamaha for it’s part seemingly feels that fake scoops are the answer to flat sales. What is this? Three in a row now? Gather that fake air for a fake ram-air effect for extra fake horsepower. Coooool.

    • todder says:

      Maybe yamaha could do is make the fake scoops double as secret lockable compartments. That would be cool!

  16. hipsabad says:

    Why did motorcycle manufacturers agree to give up on passengers? Such bikes are less efficient and practical than cars. These days most scooters have better pillion accommodations. A world of single-passenger motorcycles removes what was one of biking’s sweet validations. The OEMs never fail to disappoint.

  17. Hot Dog says:

    Great styling, I’d love a MT-07.

  18. Tommy See says:

    This is so cool , getting back to the sixties again! How I yearn for a modern day 250 Ducati single.

  19. Gronde says:

    If you think a 250 is slow, wait until you try a 125!

    • Norm G. says:

      today’s winner ladies and gentleman.

    • paul246 says:

      My 125 is “faster” in a different way, its so light and lithe in the city that its like rediscovering for the first time the fun of riding a motorcycle. Seriously, the grin factor is way better than I would have previously thought, having ridden mostly 650cc and up. I look forward to every ride I can get on this little bike.

      • GearDrivenCam says:

        paul246 – absolutely correct and the true winning statement here. But keep in mind that this truth does not apply in N. America where absolute horsepower wins every time – not how well the bike handles or how fun it is to ride. Most here would not be caught dead on a 125 – no matter how much fun the bike is. Once again – like the Honda Grom – many here just don’t get it.

      • David Duarte says:

        what Paul246 said.

      • Ed says:

        How long can you keep the throttle pinned before you get a hand cramp?

  20. JPJ says:

    Only problem with the small bikes coming to America is the usually high MSRP $$ . Then when these models sit on the dealers floor collecting dust, the manufactures pull the importation. Used bikes that sold well are a much better deal. Suzuki SV, Kawasaki 650 Ninja, Yamaha FZ-6, Harley 883 Sportster. Ducati sold the Monster 1100EVO for $11,995 new,(Used price $now?) so why purchase a KTM 690 Duke @ 10 grand new? I love the KTM but I doubt that it sells well here in the USA. I believe the 500cc & 650cc Hondas, the 300cc Ninja, will be good selling bikes.

  21. John says:

    Nothing that 5 more cylinders won’t fix.

  22. Buckwheat says:

    Neither of these look as fun as Honda’s Grom.

  23. denny says:

    Do what you like, but please stop using that childish name Nin-dja. It’s major distraction. Other than that, bikes look ok, as long as Chinese will not latch on.

    • Gabe says:

      But the Chinese can latch on with the handy passenger grab strap I see on both bikes!

      • denny says:

        Their bikes are not as trendy, but they are practical and perfectly suitable to ‘utility’ riders.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “please stop using that childish name Nin-dja.”

      but isn’t that the point…? to appeal to the youth and attract a fresh crop of consumers who AREN’T on scrips for blood pressure and arthritis…?

  24. paul says:

    Sold my Valkyrie, bought an XR650L dual sport, sold the dual sport and bought a Honda CBR125R. All fun bikes in their own right, but the CBR125R delivers the most fun I’ve had since I was a kid. The 100mpg is just a bonus. I may buy another bigger bike but I will hang on to my 125. Love it!!

  25. Rene says:

    I really like the look of the black Kawasaki with the red tube frame. I’d buy one, if it fit my 6′ body comfortably.