The 125cc class is one of the most popular size of dirt bikes for up and coming riders. Younger riders will likely be moving up from small wheel 50cc to 85cc machines. Adults who are starting may find full-size 125cc bikes the ideal way to learn. With easy to manage power bands and a choice of two-stroke and four-stroke models, you will find 125cc dirt bikes to suit your riding style.
125cc Dirt Bikes for Kids
Motocross and enduro require you to dial in key physical and mental processes. Kids will learn techniques for cornering, braking, jumping, accelerating and negotiating technical sections. Never put a kid onto a dirt bike that terrifies them. Fear will translate into a lack of aggression, riding tight and an increased risk of crashing.
Young riders moving up from the smaller classes will find that small wheel 125cc dirt bikes offer increased power and easier handling than larger bikes. A kid who is competing in motocross or enduro, or who is trail riding for fun should consider small wheel 125cc bikes before jumping on anything bigger.
125cc Dirt Bikes for Adults
The same theory applies to adults as for kids. Power and aggressive looks of the bigger engine machines can seduce. Remember, dirt bikes can be incredibly powerful, especially the two-stroke engines. Adults who are riding dirt bikes for the first time have a lot to consider.
Reasons an adult should consider a 125cc dirt bike.
If you are new to riding dirt bikes, you will need to get your basic techniques right. We believe you should ride a 125cc bike at its full potential than it is to ride a larger cc bike at half its potential. The experience of winding a 125cc up to its maximum performance, and finding the limit of the bike will make you a more capable rider.
Most dirt bikes have tall seats. Riders who find tall bikes difficult will appreciate the lower weight of a 125cc. We have included seat heights and dry weight of our featured bikes.
The secondhand dirt bike market is very healthy. You can buy a two-stroke 125cc dirt bike and be confident that you will be able to sell it for a good residual price when you are ready to move up in size and power.
Reasons you might want to avoid a 125cc dirt bike.
Power to weight ratio is always more relevant on smaller-engined bikes. If you are of stocky build, you might find a 125cc does not have enough power for you to be competitive in races.
Perhaps you already ride fast bikes on the road or the circuit. If you do, you may already have some of the skills and confidence required. If this sounds like you, we suggest test riding a 150cc and 250cc bike. You will have enough transferrable skills to make a judgement.
Best 125cc Dirt Bikes for Motocross
If you are looking for a motocross bike, there are three incredibly capable machines for you to look at for 2021. Our line up features brand new machines that are race-ready.
1. KTM 125 SX
Team Orange are one of the dominant forces in the motocross scene. KTM has the slogan “ready to race” – and the 125 SX is no exception. KTM’s best 125cc dirt bike has all the features you would expect on a competition machine.
If you have any doubt as to whether a 125cc will be fast enough, this beast can hit 100mph, with an impressive delivery of power from a competition two-stroke engine. There is more than enough capability here for you to explore what the bike can do and advance your techniques.
Motocross features include:
- Two-stroke competition engine
- Lightweight chassis
- Broad power band
- High-quality chromium frame
- Multi-plate Brembo clutch
- Six-speed gearbox
- WP Xact 48mm forks
- WP Xact rear mono-shock
- Seat Height 950mm
- Dry weight 87.5KG
2. Husqvarna TC 125
KTM also own Husqvarna and so the TC 125 is based on the same engine and design as the KTM 125 SX. There are a few features which differ from the KTM, and of course, the Husqvarna is finished in traditional white and blue colour scheme.
How is the TC125 different to the KTM SX125?
The differences between the KTM and the Husqvarna are largely cosmetic. If you prefer white and blue to the KTM Orange then go for the Husqvarna. If you do, you will also have different bars, airbox construction and clutch cylinder. Beyond that, the two bikes are identical.
The Husqvarna is a hundred or so dollars more than the KTM. This is not likely to bother anyone shopping at this level. Either bike is going to give you the pinnacle of 125cc motocross performance and insane two-stroke power delivery. Both are easy to manage whatever level you are at, and can hold their own against many larger machines.
3. Yamaha YZ 125
The Yamaha 125cc has been around in one form or another since the mid-seventies. With such a long pedigree, Yamaha has had time to fine-tune their lightweight dirt bike.
The Yamaha is very slightly down on HP when compared to the KTM/Husqvarna. However, it is worth noting that the power delivery is a little less aggressive, and so brand new riders may appreciate the more subtle performance. Whereas the KTM engine is a little fussy when exiting bends at low revs, the Yamaha is more forgiving. This flexibility in the lower rev range can add up over multiple laps.
On the straights, the Yamaha can hold its own, although it is noticeably slower than the KTM engine. The Yamaha is a full $700 or so cheaper than the KTM bike.
Motocross features include:
- Two-stroke 125cc engine with reed valve technology
- Electronic ignition
- Constant-mesh multi-plate wet clutch
- Speed sensitive inverted front forks
- Fully adjustable rear mono-shock
- Ultra-lightweight aluminium frame to increase handling and reduce rider fatigue
- Legendary Yamaha power valve system for better bottom-end response
- Seat Height 975mm
- Dry weight 94KG
4. TM MX 125 2S
TM Racing is an Italian based specialised manufacturer. It boasts an impressive range of machines across all engine classes. We like the TM Racing bikes for their thoroughbred racing DNA.
Although TM racing could be considered one of the smaller brands of MX bike, they are certainly no less competitive than their larger rivals. If you are looking for a 125cc dirt bike for competition purposes, then you should have the TM brand on your radar.
Export channels are strong, with the worldwide distribution via a dedicated network of importers. With national, world and regional wins in 2020, TM has a great reputation in competitive motocross.
Motocross features include:
- Aspirazione V force reed valve
- Competition two-stroke engine
- Keihin PWK38 Carb
- Electronic ignition with two mapping settings
- Multi-disk wet clutch
- five-speed MX gearbox
- TM racing custom rear mono-shock
- KYB USD front forks
- Brembo front brake and calliper
- Nissin rear brake and calliper
- Significant upgrades for the 2021 model, including a new exhaust system and port timing.
- Seat height not available
- Dry weight not available
Best 125cc Dirt Bikes for Enduro and Trail Riding
1. Honda CRF 125 – Best 125cc Dirt Bike For Beginners
The mighty red CRF dirt bikes are a familiar sight all around the world. The CRF 125 four-stroke is a great all-rounder for the rider who is looking for reliable, easy to manage power delivery.
The CRF 125 is designed for younger riders and smaller adults. The construction is typically Honda with good quality components and easy to use controls.
One of the most appealing features of the CRF 125 is its reliable, air-cooled engine. Power deliver is spread across a broad band of revs, and although no slouch, is very rider-friendly.
The Enduro/trail design means a simple hydraulic clutch with a four-speed gearbox, adjustable mono-shock suspension and 31mm front forks. The seat height is one of the lowest too, at 749mm. Dry weight is 87KG, so it is not the lightest bike but is within the expected weight for its class.
This bike meets the strict emissions standards required in Europe and California.
The CRF125F is incredible value for money when compared to the competitive MX machines listed above. Prices start from a little over $3200, around a third of the price of the MX equivalents.
2. Suzuki DRZ 125 – 125cc Dirt Bike for Beginners
Suzuki has had mixed fortunes in competitive racing over the last few years; however, their 100th anniversary sees the DRZ 125 still in the lineup. Like the Honda, the DRZ is from good stock. The model was originally launched in 2008 with looks inspired from the more competitive RMZ range.
Simplicity is key with the DRZ. An air-cooled, four-stroke engine with a five-speed gearbox, and wet clutch. The trail DNA is evident in with its factory fitted skid plate and simplistic suspension.
We like the choice of small and large wheel specifications. This allows you to pick a suitable seat height from either 775mm or 805mm, and both variations come in at around 88KG.
Suzuki racing yellow gives the DRZ a bold look which will stand out on the trails.
3. Beta RR 125 2T
Beta is perhaps best known for its trials bikes; however, in recent decades they have developed their enduro range. Originally they based their bikes on KTM engines, but the RR125 2T has the Italian brands own powerplant.
The Beta RR is super aggressive looking for an Enduro, with bold red colouring, modern styling and high-quality components. Whereas the Honda and Suzuki are aimed at leisure riders who enjoy trails, the RR 125 2T is a competitive enduro machine. Factory riders Steve Holcombe and Brad Freeman took Beta to a double world championship year in 2019.
Power comes from a single-cylinder, two-stroke, liquid-cooled engine which can get you to around 75mph.
The 2021 model has numerous improvements throughout. The Beta RR is a full-size enduro with a seat height of 930mm and dry weight of 94KG.
4. Sherco SE 125 Factory/Racing
French manufacturer Sherco builds competition standard dirt bikes. Founded in 1998, Sherco has earned a reputation for competitive enduro bikes.
We love the styling of the SE 125 factory and Racing models.
Sherco has been very busy throughout 2020, bringing a wide range of upgrades to their 125cc bikes. The 2021 range is ready to take on the most demanding trails.
Both models have two-stroke, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engines with electric start. Each has competition braking and suspension systems, inspiring complete confidence on the trails.
Both the factory and racing models have a seat height of 950mm and dry weight of 95KG.
The main differences between the Racing and Factory bikes are components, such as the suspension. (WP on the racing, and KYB on the factory).
Sherco is not cheap, at over $12k per bike. However, if you are buying at this level, the budget is likely secondary to performance.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best 125 motocross bike?
Best 125 Dirt Bike – TeamMA choices for 2021
Our top pick for the 2021 competitive motocross class is the KTM SX125. This competition-ready dirt bike has incredible performance, superb handling and will challenge you as a rider. If you learn to ride this bike to its maximum potential, then it will be an easier step up to the 250cc class.
When it comes to the trails/enduro class, we are going with the Honda CRF 125 as a superb all-rounder.
Admittedly the CRF is nowhere near the performance and capability of the Sherco and Beta competition bikes, which are in a different league. If you are a competitive rider, requiring competition standards, then naturally our choice is not for you!
For new riders, we feel the Honda offers the best value, with a super low price, reliable four-stroke performance, and easy riding.
Is a 125cc dirt bike worth it?
Absolutely! Technique over speed, every time. Moving up to a 125cc rather than a 150cc plus promotes confidence. Riding with confidence results finding the limit of the bike.
Riders with no motorcycling experience will want to learn basic techniques. 125cc dirt bikes are a great starting point with high residual values, so you will not lose out too much on resale.
Anyone willing to spend some time on a 125cc bike is ultimately going to develop technique, confidence and ability much more efficiently.
How fast does a 125cc dirt bike go?
Depending on the style of bike, the models we have featured here will achieve between 45mph and 101mph.
We guarantee that a 125cc bike will put as big a smile on your face as any other machine. Ride your 125cc hard and find its limits. You will become a much better rider for it.
Have fun out there!