Let's Talk About The Best 125's _ For the Money

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6/23/2016 1:26 PM
Edited Date/Time: 6/23/2016 1:27 PM

My son who's only 12, has gone through a huge growth spurt and is too big for his 85. I'm beginning to search for a 125. We are professional practice racers smile My main goal is for the kid and I to always have something in common, and put him on something a bit cheaper for the time being. He's a pretty good novice rider, and been on a bike since around 4 years of age.

I don't have loyalty to brands and and just want the best bang for my buck. I was recently told that the 03-05 Kawi's were great bikes and diamonds on the rough. Were Suzuki and Kawi in cahoots with each other during this time ?

What are the best years and bikes for around 2k ? I plan on doing some work to it .... Suspension and new top end etc.

The obvious ...
06- up Yamaha

03-05 Kawi ?

Suzuki ?

03-07 Honda ?

Thanks in advance !

Heres an example ...


6/23/2016 1:39 PM
Edited Date/Time: 6/23/2016 1:40 PM

I currently ride an 08 KX125 (they sold them till 08 in the rest of the world, its basically and 05) great bike, but underpowered against a new YZ or KTM125, if you get a good one they are a fun bike for sure, parts and upgrades are easy to come by,

I used to run RM125's and they were quicker, turns better, but not as stable at speed,

The Honda's were slow back then, when they went alloy frame and 5 speed gear box they were slow, but good handling, if you can find a nice one still not bad bike,

I think the YZ125 is the best of the bunch for smaller lighter riders at the moment, i would look for a 05 or later YZ125 or buy a new one if your that way inclined,

the new KTM is probably the fastest of the lot, but i think the YZ would be a better option all around than the KTM


6/23/2016 1:52 PM

I am a novice rider and i absolutely love my 05 kx125. Its impossible to come off the track not grinning on this thing.


6/23/2016 1:53 PM

btw i also bought mine for 1900


6/23/2016 1:57 PM
Edited Date/Time: 6/23/2016 1:58 PM

04-05 KX. The 03 is kind of a bastard year.

06+ YZ


Race Bike: 2018 KTM 350SXF

Other Bikes: 1985 CR80R, 1990 CR250R, 1998 PW80, Specialized Fuse Comp 29.

Sold: 2016 YZ250F, 2012 CRF250R

6/23/2016 2:00 PM

I had a 01 CR 125 & a 03 RM 125. The Honda was a slow bike just felt like it was lacking power. I thought it handles okay but could of been better. The Suzuki was a great bike. Good engine and the famous Suzuki cornering. I wish I wouldn't of sold it. I have rode my buddies '10 YZ 125 a lot. ( we trade bikes sometimes after practices for sh!ts & giggles ). I love the Yamaha. Suspension is great, always has plenty of power on tap for a 125, and it handeld great. If I was you I'd buy a Yamaha. There a all around better bike. You probably won't be able to find a newer KTM at your price range. But still I'd choose blue


2011 Yamaha YZ 250 -MX
1996 Yamaha Banshee 350 -Trails
1982 Chevy S10
2005 Pontiac GTO -451rwhp

6/23/2016 2:08 PM

Look for a 02 or newer yz.


A big Thank you to FLY racing. OMA KTM. 100%. DT-1 Motorex and Bell helmets . Racing for you JG96

6/23/2016 2:25 PM

My view, for what it's worth, on the 125's I have owned (all when they were current model bikes):

2004 KX125 - light and fun. Solid in every area, but not exceptional in any. Suspension can be improved. Likewise with the motor, but I wouldn't hesitate to have another.

2004 RM125 - this year engine is a copy of the KTM, so it is fast. Felt very different to the KX. Handling is better than anything else I have ever ridden. Build quality can be suspect, and like other Suzuki's I have owned, it seemed to wear quickly and got tired before long. Little things annoyed me, like cheap bolts and fasteners and how quickly the frame and engine powdercoat/paint rubbed off. As a brand new bike it ran badly. Turned out that the main jet was loose in the carb and had spun around a few turns (but could happen to any bike).

2007 YZ125. Amazing suspension, great turning and bullet proof. Would be my choice for sure, but they're popular and the prices seem to be a little higher than the Kawasaki or Suzuki equivalent.

2011 125SX. Fastest motor of all, superb brakes and build quality. Once the suspension was dialed in, it was every bit as good as the YZ.

Some pretty good deals on leftover TC125 Husqvarna's if you wanted to spend a little more; a dealer near me let a new 2015 go a few months back for a shade over 5k just to get rid of it. All of the above bikes were great, and I would look for one with low hours above anything else if buying used.


6/23/2016 2:26 PM

Best for the money? New KTM SX (125 or 150)
Best for a practice rider? Any 04 and up major brand 125 smile
I just love my -08 RM125 smile


6/23/2016 2:27 PM

Honestly, if he's coming from an 85cc he isn't going to feel like any of the 125s are bad. In general, a 125 is a great handling bike and all of them are faster than what he's used to. Unless you find a KX125, RM125 or CR125 for under $2000 that is in mint condition, I would rule them out because they are no longer produced. The parts are more expensive and used parts are going to be harder to find. Everyone discounts the 2005 YZ125 because it doesn't have SSS forks. Honesty, the 2005 YZ forks are better than the KX and CR forks of the time and they're quite a bit better than anything KTM I've ridden.

The benefits of buying a 2005+ YZ125 or a 2012+ KTM 125SX is the parts are available because they are recent production machines (KTM changed their entire engine & chassis for 2016, the YZ is basically identical from 2005+)

Yamaha parts cost substantially less than KTM parts. A lot of OEM Yami parts are roughly half the cost vs KTM. The YZ125 has been basically the same for 10 years. The stock suspension works well and the engine is fast, but easy to ride. The KTM makes more peak power, but it's slightly harder to keep on the pipe. Both KTM and Yamaha make a chassis that handles well.


6/23/2016 2:31 PM
Edited Date/Time: 6/23/2016 2:34 PM

Buy the cleanest low hour 125 you can find no matter what the brand is..

That link you posted looks nice! I loved my 03 kx.


6/23/2016 2:36 PM

There may or may not be a awesome 2002 CR125 in the bazaar right now... just saying!




Washed up moto and enduro weekend warrior.

6/23/2016 3:00 PM

We have an 03 YZ125, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another of that year for the right price. The thing has been bullet proof and we have a ton of hours on it. Top end every 20 hours, and we replaced the crank at 129 hours but I know I could have went longer).

It's noticeably more powerful than the Honda of that era. The suspension and handling are solid. The only thing I noticed is the brakes are weak, but that's in comparison to a KTM, and no other bike has brakes or a clutch as good as KTM IMO.


6/23/2016 4:19 PM

Any aluminum-frame YZ in decent condition, adjusted for $, is the best bang for buck 125cc bike you can get.

Power, reliability and handling and ergos are all top-notch. Brakes are good enough.


Braaapin' aint easy.

6/23/2016 5:09 PM

Thanks for all the info. guys ... I appreciate it !


6/23/2016 6:02 PM

Another vote for the YZ! You'll never want to sell it and even if you do, resale is good.


6/23/2016 7:12 PM


6/23/2016 7:36 PM
Edited Date/Time: 6/23/2016 7:37 PM

I always scratch my head when people ask what the best used 125 is (assuming they're all in relatively good condition)...

We've only been over this 10,000 times and Yamahas always get the most votes 10,000 times.


6/23/2016 10:29 PM
Edited Date/Time: 6/23/2016 10:30 PM

If your gonna stay in the 2k range a Kx 125 would be a great bike. Just send the suspension out and have it set up for your son. They are good bikes for the price. Cr is good, takes a little bit to get the motor fast but almost all the parts are available and cheap from OEM. Lots of the parts interchange. Just stay away from the 04 the rest can be made to good bikes.


6/23/2016 11:33 PM

I am a Suzuki guy, but a aluminum framed yz125 is a no Brainer based upon it being arguably the best bike, but more importantly the massive volume of available bikes and parts .

Donot let peoples sentiment sway you...
Rm and kx are hard to find and the cr125 handled well because all slow bikes do.


6/24/2016 2:02 AM

06- YZ125 if you can find a tidy one for good money...


6/24/2016 5:13 AM

06 up Yamaha. Parts are readily available, easy to maintain, best suspension on a 125....


2020 YZ450F
2018 KTM 450SXF FE
2016 YZ250F 2008 CRF450R
2015 YZ250F 2008 CRF250R
2001 CR250R
2010 YZ250 2012 CRF150R
2009 YZ125 2010 KX109.5
SSR Motorsports Dealer
TAGMX Suspension & Graphics! www.tagmxsuspension.com https://www.liquidskinzdesign.com/

6/24/2016 5:25 AM

What is a realistic price for a 2006+ YZ that is in fair shape. I have seen such a wide range of prices from around 2500 to 4000. 4k seems way high unless its one of the newest ones lightly used.


I'm not an actual kid
Me Racing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2ggzGxSb90&t=

District 14
2017 KTM 150

R.I.P. Steel City

6/24/2016 9:25 AM

zehn wrote:

I always scratch my head when people ask what the best used 125 is (assuming they're all in relatively good condition)...

We've only been over this 10,000 times and Yamahas always get the most votes 10,000 times.

Keep scratching buddy, I don't live on message boards and not gonna sort through thousands of pages to find the one I want. You could have just moved on.

Everyone else, thank you !

Maybe you could find an old thread for me since theres 10000 of them and they are so easy to find. This isn't about the new yami vs the new KTM.


6/24/2016 9:49 AM
Edited Date/Time: 6/24/2016 9:50 AM

When you're asking about the "best for the money", you're looking for a cost to goodness ratio that doesn't have an exact answer, just good suggestions.

I'd say best bike would be an 06+ Yamaha, but if you can get an 02 RM125 for $800 bucks I'd say that's better "for the money". Around where I live people think all 125's are worth 2k+ for some reason.

Watch Craigslist like an eagle, don't miss opportunities but don't be impatient either. As people have said, generally all major brands 04+ can be made awesome, sometimes you'll be switching forks and stuff to make it awesome, but they've all got potential, it's about getting a live one to start off with for cheap.


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6/24/2016 9:55 AM


6/24/2016 10:18 AM

Yup, that's killers bike. Def. on my radar ! Good price, hoping to sell the 85 this weekend and pull the trigger !

Thx !


6/24/2016 2:06 PM

It's easier to make a slow bike fast than to make a shitty handling bike handle.


well we ain't the smartest folks in the world...i mean we're fucking dirtbike riders for christ sakes.- BobbyM

If you chose not to decide you still have made a chioce.

6/24/2016 4:40 PM

Cygnus wrote:

It's easier to make a slow bike fast than to make a shitty handling bike handle.

Then again, 125's all handle well. So go with the most usable power.


6/24/2016 5:03 PM

Here is my philosophy on 125s

It's a 125, they are all slow as shit. Saying one is faster than others is like saying a Honda Civic is faster than a Nissan Sentra. Who cares, when every other big bike on the track will blow by you on a straight? If you want to go faster, buy a bigger bike. You ride a 125 to have fun, not go fast. But something that has the lowest hours you can find, good chassis, and easy access to replacement parts. Put your money into suspension and tires, not motor.

For me, that's a CR. I don't care that a YZ is a tad faster. If I want power, I'll hop on a 450.