Seeing as most 125cc motorbikes or scooters are every day transport, it makes sense to fit a tyre that gives you confidence, keeps you safe and lasts the distance. While we’re all for saving money, our advice is buy the best tyre you can afford.
Budget vs Premium
A quality 125cc motorcycle tyre will warm up quickly, offer plenty of grip, last well and give you more confidence. The great thing about a quality tyre, compared to the budget tyre that your motorbike or scooter was supplied with, is that there’s not a lot of difference in price between a budget tyre and a quality tyre.
For example a pair of Anlas Tournee tyres – which are a budget tyre – for a Yamaha YZF-R125 work out at around £120. Whereas a pair of Michelin Pilot Street tyres – which are a premium motorcycle tyre – work out at around £160 for a pair. A £40 difference. You’ve spent a decent amount of money on your bike, your kit and your insurance, so is it worth cutting corners on a pair of tyres?
I’ve got a Sports 125, can I fit sticky tyres?
The tyre manufacturers make various grades of tyre for 125s, from budget to premium sticky sports tyres. These sizes are fairly common for small capacity motorbikes although there is some cross over to larger motorbikes.
However it’s not a good idea to fit a tyre designed for a larger motorcycle, even if it will fit your 125’s wheel sizes. The reason being, tyres have different load ratings and this determines how stiff a tyre’s carcass is, in order to support the weight it’ll be subject to. Generally speaking, 125cc motorbikes are light weight bikes and so a tyre designed for a heavier bike won’t flex as it needs to and work therefore work as well.
Putting a tyre on your bike that’s designed for a heavier or faster bike will cost you more money (as the tyre uses more materials) and it won’t work as well as it won’t warm up and offer the grip you need. So it’s a false economy to try and buy the stickiest tyre possible. Always buy a tyre designed for your 125.
What are the best wet weather tyres for 125 motorbikes?
If you want better grip in the rain or in the winter months, you’re best off running a tyre that’s aimed towards touring, rather than a super sticky sports tyre. A Bridgestone RS10 is a great summer tyre and it’s not bad in the wet but a tyre like the Continental ContiMotion is a better all-weather tyre.
With the Conti Motion you’re losing a tiny bit of outright grip on dry roads but you’ll gain a faster warm up time and better performance when it is raining. A tyre like an Anlas NR50 would be an excellent choice but they don’t make them in sizes for 125cc motorbikes.
Another great choice is the Michelin Pilot Street. This is a very popular tyre for commuters as it works well in all conditions. So if you commute all year around and you want a tyre that lasts a long time and give good grip no matter the weather than a Michelin Pilot Street is a great choice, hence we have recommended it on a lot of the bikes listed below.
How long will my motorcycle tyres last?
This depend on the type of riding you do and how you ride. A typical 125cc tyre should last a minimum of 3,000 miles and up to 5,000 if you’re riding on A-roads and dual carriageways. 125cc motorcycles tend to be used in towns and cities as they are ideal commuters. Each journey is short but involves a lot of stopping and starting, which is the main cause of tyre wear.
So if you ride your 125 on flowing A-roads you’ll get more miles in between tyre changes than if you were using your bike to commute 5 miles back and forth through the city.
Do I need to scrub in my tyres?
Yes. Even though a 125cc motorbike doesn’t have a lot of power, you still need to take it easy for your first few miles. With a bigger bike, the risk on a new set of tyres is spinning up the rear under power. On a 125 the risk is actually on the front wheel. Because the bike doesn’t weigh much and therefore doesn’t put a lot of weight on the front wheel, you risk locking the front wheel when the tyre is new.
Our advice is to ride like it is raining for 10 miles and once the sheen has disappeared from the tyre’s surface, it’ll be nicely bedded in.
What tyre pressures should I run?
This depends on your bike. Your manufacturer will state its recommended tyre pressures in the manual an this will vary depending on the bike.
However if you don’t have the manual to hand and you just want a good starting point, then our recommendation is to run 34psi in the rear tyre and 28psi in the front tyre. This is a safe set of pressures but always check your manual as soon as you can to adjust your pressures.
You don’t need to adjust the pressures depending on the weather. A common myth is that by reducing your tyre pressures in winter, you’ll allow the tyre to move more and it’ll warm-up quicker. However this isn’t always the case, as this reduced pressure can close up the tread pattern meaning the tyre can’t cut through water as well and therefore it won’t offer as much grip.
Can I repair my motorcycle tyres?
Yes you can but only the rear. As long as the puncture doesn’t go through the sidewall or isn’t on the last 1/4 of the tyre then you can use a puncture repair kit to fix your puncture. If you are at the road side, pumping the tyre up might be an issue once you have fixed the repair. Buy a puncture repair kit with gas canisters inside to add air into the tyre and then ride to a petrol station or motorcycle workshop and properly inflate the tyre.
Best tyre options for 125cc motorbikes
We’ve put together this guide to help you find the best tyre for your 125cc bike.
We’ve spoken to a leading insurance company to get data on the most popular 125cc motorbikes on the road in the UK.
Where possible we’ve listed the OEM tyre and then we’ve also listed the tyre that we think is best for each model and a really good budget option. Our cheap tyre suggestion isn’t the cheapest tyre you can buy but is is the budget tyre we recommend. There’s just no point fitting the cheapest tyre on your bike as it won’t feel good and when it comes to riding motorcycles, feel is king.
Since its introduction in the mid-90s, Aprilia’s baby racer has been the posterboy for sports 125s. This two-stroke pocket rocket made 15bhp as standard but could be derestricted to produce around 30bhp. They’re one of the fastest 125cc motorbikes out there and they deserve to be on decent tyres, in order to get the best from the performance on offer.
Aprilia RS4 125
The RS4 125 is the four-stroke version of Aprilia’s iconic RS125. It was introduced in 2012 after emissions laws killed off the 2-stroke version. It has a narrower front and rear tyre than the two-stroke version. It’s not as quick as the original but it’s just as good-looking.
Aprilia Tuono 125
The Tuono 125 is available in two-stroke and four-stroke versions. We have listed the tyre size for the modern version, the 4-stroke. This naked street fighter has an upright riding position and wider bars. It’s an excellent choice for city riders or those looking to have a blast on the weekend.
The original CB125 was introduced in 1977 but the modern version is completely different to the original. Designed with urban riders in mind it’s sleek and aggressive-looking at the same time. It has a chunky 150 section rear tyre which makes it look like a ‘big’ bike. We think it’s the best-looking unfaired 125 on the market.
The CBF125 is one of Honda’s most popular bikes. A favourite with motorcycle training schools, commuters and Deliveroo riders and it’s easy to see why. They’re reliable, fun to ride, cheap to run and easy to repair. They might not be the best-looking 125 out there but the CBF is easily one of the most reliable.
The CBR125R was introduced in 2004 and ran until 2017. It was a seriously popular bike at the time so it’s a surprise that Honda dropped it from their 125cc line-up. As far as sports 125s go it was always a close rival to Yamaha’s YZF-R125 but the Yamaha always seemed to pip the Honda in the sales charts.
They’ve probably sold more Honda CG125s than every other bike on this list, combined! Honda’s budget commuter has long been a no-nonsense favourite two-wheeled option for budget bikers, commuters and those who just want motorbike that’s as reliable as a sundial.
The MSX125 has a cult following. Known as the Grom outside of Europe, this pint-sized motorbike packs a 125cc engine and tiny wheels, making it a fun ride. It’s a great bike for new riders as the low seat height means you can get both feet easily on the ground, no matter how long your legs are. There are a huge range of aftermarket accessories you can use to modify and improve your MSX . So if you’re into a bit of customising, the MSX is a great option.
Winter tyre upgrade Anlas Winter Grip 2
Kawasaki Ninja 125
New for 2019 the Ninja 125 is Kawasaki’s entry into the sportsbike 125 market. With looks similar to its biggest brother, the ZX-10R, the Ninja 125 certainly looks the part. It’s an A1 licence friendly sportsbike that you an ride with just a CBT. They also produce a Performance version which is fitted with an Arrow exhaust to unleash more power, more noise and more speed!
KTM 125 Duke
KTM’s angular Duke is an aggressive-looking street bike that’s perfect for crawling the urban jungle. It has the same family lines of the KTM Supermotos and it looks every bit the big motorbike. The rear tyre is a huge 150-section which makes the bike look bigger than it is.
KTM’s 125cc sportbike, the RC125 is angular and looks like it takes no prisoners. KTM don’t make any larger sportsbikes any more so the RC125 doesn’t have a litre sportsbike to mimic but it does have a bigger brother in the form of the RC390, a four-stroke 400cc middleweight sportsbike.
Lexmoto ZSA 125
Front tyre size: 90/90/17
Rear tyre size: 110/80/17
Our upgrade tyre pick: Michelin Pilot Street
Lexmoto ZSB 125
Front tyre size: 300.18
Rear tyre size: 110/90/16
Our upgrade tyre pick: NR25 rear NF2 front
Mash Seventy 125
Front tyre size: 90/90/17
Rear tyre size: 100/90/17
Our upgrade tyre pick:
Our budget tyre choice:
Mutt Mongerel 125
Front tyre size: 4.10/18
Rear tyre size: 4.10/18
Our upgrade tyre pick: Kenda K270 Dual Sport
Our budget tyre choice:
A proper Adventure motorcycle in 125cc form. The Sinnis Terrain is designed to take on the trails as well as the tarmac roads. It has a ‘big bike’ feel and a riding position that’s great for tall riders. You an get some decent knobbly-looking tyres for the Sinnis or you can get some more road focused rubber if you never venture off-road.
Suzuki DR125 SM
The only Supermoto on this list, Suzuki introduced the DR125SM in 2008 and it followed on from the popular DR125 which was more of an off-road or trail bike. The SM version has 17-inch wheels front and rear and long travel suspension. It’s a fun bike to ride but the tall seat height isn’t for everyone!
Suzuki’s sporty GSX-R125 follows in the footsteps of its legendary siblings, the GSXR600, GSX-R750 and GSX-R1000. It’s Suzuki’s only 125cc sportsbike and its stubby nose and perked-up tail give it a hunched-forward racing look. The front is a narrow 90-section and the rear is a 130-section, a common fitment for sports 125s to give them great handling.
This funky little 125 from Suzuki echos the look of the fully faired GSX-R125 but is has wide bars not clip-ons and a more upright riding position. It’s a naked bike that looks like it came form the race track. The GSX-S has the exact same wheel size as the GSX-R and so you can fit the same sticky rubber or you can opt for something cheaper that won’t give the same amount of grip but will last a little longer.
Yamaha MT-125 2020-
The unfaired version of the YZF-R125, the MT-125 has a variable valve actuated engine , LED headlights, a slipper clutch, upside down forks and a radial front brake. That sort of specification is what you’d expect to get on a high-end sportsbike! With a wide 140-section rear tyre the MT looks the business.
A non nonsense commuter that’s a rival to Honda’s CG125. The YBR125 has an air-cooled 125cc engine that’s as reliable as the tides. If you need a cheap motorbike for commuting or just as a stepping stone onto your first big bike, the YBR is a decent choice.
The YZF-R125 isn’t just the most popular 125cc sportsbike of the last decade it’s the most popular 125 motorbike of the last decade. It’s no surprise the YZF is a top seller because it looks so good. From a distance you can’t tell whether it’s an R1 an R6 or an R125. It’s only the bom-bom-bom single-cylinder four stroke that gives it away. With a 100 section front and 130 section rear, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to tyre options. We’re going to help you pick a good one.
Call us for advice
If you’re after a recommendation for your nest set of tyres, just give us a call on 0207 205 2205. We stock every major brand of tyre, so we’re completely impartial when it comes to helping our customers pick the best tyres for their riding needs. We want you to be on the right tyre, so give us a call.