You've just passed your compulsory basic training (CBT) in the UK, and you've turned 17. You're ready to ditch your moped and get on your first proper motorcycle.
The law only allows you to get one up to 125cc but don't be disappointed! Small, lightweight and energy- efficient, you can learn to fall in love with biking with these models as your entry point.
1. Yamaha YZF-R125 (2008-current): GBP 1,500 – 4399
Yamaha’s YZF-R125 has been popular with budding sports bike fans since its inception as it looks grown up, sporty and has a variety of high-end mods available. In its eighth year of production, the highly-reliable and plucky single now produces 15bhp at 9000rpm. Specs have improved over time – original versions came with conventional forks but newer models boast upside-downers. Today, it's possible to get your first YZF after two months of minimum wage - though newer models are still quite expensive.
2. Honda CBR125R (2004-2010): GBP 1,200 – GBP 2,000
The mode is still being produced but new riders should try and get the older generation CBR as it offers Japanese reliability at a fraction of the price of a new bike. Producing a claimed 13.4bhp and 7.8ft lb of torque from its 124.7cc four-stroke, the miniature CBR has been a hit with fresh riders since its launch.
On the downside, it can look slightly less exciting than rivals. With skinny tyres, tiny dimensions and lightweight clutch, however, it's real easy to use around town.
3. Honda XL125V (2001-2009): GBP 1,000 – GBP 3,000
Perhaps you find Japanese rides a little more suited to shorter people. Taller, ganglier Europeans might find the XL125V a little better to ride, offering big-bike styling and dimensions on a small-capacity machine. Housing an easy to use, non-threatening V-twin motor, this bike has a real presence – meaning you won’t feel dwarfed by traffic.
At 15bhp, the Varadero has a top speed of around 70mph and has good mileage from its 17 litres capacity. Build quality and reliability on these bikes is generally good, but pay attention to the mild steel downpipes or they will rust with neglect.
4. Suzuki VanVan (2003 – current) : GBP 1,500 – GBP 3,199
Perhaps you're not the young and dangerous type, and prefer some old-school charm and style instead. Then the 60mph max on the VanVan won't perturb you. With a wide and spacious seat, easy push-button start, advanced compact EFI system and retro single clock, the VanVan has become something of a cult bike and its docile 12bhp engine and narrow turning circle make the little Suzuki the perfect urban adventurer. It's wonderful at conserving fuel with 60 miles on the gallon, returning you up to 150m on a full tank.