Able to be ridden on L plates with only a provisional licence and CBT. Cheap transport for some. Capable of almost 70 mph. A foot on the ladder to motorcycles for most. 125’s are arguably one of the best engine sizes for all round motorcycling on a budget.
As grown men seeking some fun. One of the fads in our local bike club a few years ago after “Honda C90 off roading” was 125cc bikes. A handful of us regulars who rode together fell victim to the craze and rushed out and bought cheap learner bikes. A few hundred quid spent, a bit of fettling and we were young once again! I remember two of us had Yamaha YBR’s, one had a Honda City fly and another had a Honda CBF. Like kids we’d secretly try and make our bikes faster than the others. Drilling holes in the air box pumping your tyres right up solid and making other silly modifications like you did back in the day.
My chosen weapon was a 2007 YBR. I rescued the rusty turd from a local garden. After an afternoon de rusting and cleaning her up. I fitted some decent tyres, a new battery and got an MOT. Looking quite presentable, and after removing the top box and L plate, she was ready to race!
In the summer, every Monday night we’d meet up like teenagers for a bag of chips and go out and thrash the living daylights out of these undestructable little engines. Mostly at legal speeds as they didn’t go much faster than national speed limit! We’d race each other around the lanes like we were competing in the Isle of Mann TT. A slight exaggeration I know but at times it felt like you were dicing with death. Not wanting to be the slowest bike, the heat was one. Constant head to head action, slip steaming each other for an extra few mile an hour or taking a chance to get by each other on bends. The riding was not so much about speed but tactics. Every gear change counted. Late braking into corners was so important, everything mattered as you didn’t have the power to catch up on the straight if the gap got to big. I remember several times, the YBR piston slapping the head in second trying to squeeze a bit more out of it.
One moment I will never forget was riding three abreast along the Deal to Sandwich road. Approaching Deal, I was in the middle of the other two. We were flat out at about 65mph and level with each other whilst approaching a left hand bend. All praying a car wasn’t going to come the other direction as no one was willing to let off the power and lose! I glanced left and right only seeing the other twos eyes through the visors. I could see the grin on their faces. We were all laughing. I honestly can’t remember who gave in now but shortly after we stopped in the bus stop, the three bikes ticking away like they were about to explode. We took our helmets off and just laughed shaking out heads like children again. Irresponsible and somewhat stupid but for an hour every Monday we felt like super bike riders!
Some of the lads even had a long weekend away in the New Forest on them. Some of us still own them. Steve’s CG 125 has done about 25,000 miles since and he admits it is his best all round bike. None of us could ever catch the CG, or was that just we couldn’t catch Steve?
If you haven’t, you must try it. That was the most fun under 70mph I have had in a long time. The fad moved on a while after, to mopeds.. but no doubt will return one day!
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