Aprilia RS 125 review

Sharper than a box of knives and slicker than a gallon of two-stroke oil. The RS 125 is small, but reassuringly expensive

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

If you’re looking to hone your novice riding skills using the finest new machinery at your disposal, then look no further than Aprilia’s learner-legal RS 125. It’s probably the best all-round 125cc bike on the market. The price is high, but you’d expect it to be with such a good pedigree, and that sexy styling will make you the envy of all your mates.

Pros:

  • • Stunning looks
  • • Exquisite handling
  • • Fantastic brakes

Cons:

  • • High price
  • • Less characterful than two-stroke

The original two-stroke RS 125 sold over 100,000 units worldwide, won numerous race championships at club and world level and helped a generation of adrenaline junkies to get high. The rip-snorting, high-revving and peaky (but often fragile) performance from its two-stroke engine made it the stuff of legend on road or track.

Best superbikes on sale

With that unit replaced by a much more sedate, but reliable, four-stroke engine, the RS4 125 had the looks, but lost the magical performance and characteristic soundtrack. Aprilia dropped the ‘4’ from its name for 2017 and redesigned the bike to celebrate its 25th anniversary, but don’t expect to regain the lost power band and excitement of those smoky two-stroke days. You do get ABS, though, along with phone storage and the option of a quick-shifter; and, it’ll get you home, so you won’t need your breakdown service on speed dial.

Engine, transmission and brakes 4.6/5

Even though the original two-stroke engine has been replaced by a liquid-cooled four-stroke unit, it’s not all bad news. Frequent rebuilds, expensive bottles of messy oil and the compulsive urge to make the bike even more fragile by buying tuning goodies and expansion pipes are a thing of the past.

The four-stroke engine may only make the permitted 15bhp (rather than the derestricted 35bhp of the two-stroke) but it’s still great fun and will take you to over 80mph - with your head down. Add the optional £100 quick-shifter and there’s no need to use the clutch between second and sixth gears, meaning you can keep the power on all the time, which is very important when making the most of a 125’s diminutive power. The brakes are fantastic and the Bosch ABS means you won’t be locking the wheels if you get a bit too ham-fisted.

Performance, ride and handling 4.8/5

The RS 125 will certainly keep you entertained; in the right environment, you can have more fun on a decent 125 like this than you can on a superbike. Twisty country lanes, multiple laps of local roundabouts and having fun with your mates are what it’s all about.

The chassis is sublime, the tyres grippy and the handling stupendous, so you can learn the art of controlling a motorcycle without going too fast on an RS 125. You can see 80mph on the clock, but as with all small-capacity four-stroke machines, it’s not overly exciting getting there.

MPG, running costs and reliability 4.7/5

The RS 125’s engine is well proven and, compared to the old smokers, there’s nothing to worry about. Keep it serviced, check the oil regularly and look after the chain, and you’ll enjoy owning it. It’s an expensive 125 to buy, so look after it and it’ll be worth more when you trade it in for your RSV4 after passing your test.

Design, practicality and build quality 4.9/5

Built in Italy, the RS 125 oozes quality, and every last detail looks like it just arrived from the racetrack, especially in MotoGP trim. Fellow riders will mistake it for the RSV4, whether it’s parked up or on the road, and it looks stunning. Even though it’s a sportsbike, it isn’t overly uncomfortable to ride and is actually fairly roomy.

If you do want something slightly less aggressive-looking and with a little more comfort, the Tuono might be a better bet. Both models have a storage compartment beneath the seat, and it’s big enough for a 6.0-inch tablet or your phone, and you can add an optional charge point (although it’s a shame it’s not fitted as standard). Who says a sportsbike can’t be practical?

Key specs and dimensions

 

Model

 

Aprilia RS4 125

 

Price

 

£4,700

 

Engine

 

124.2cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 4-valve

 

BHP

 

15bhp @ 10,750rpm

 

Torque

 

12Nm @ 8,000rpm

 

Top speed

 

70mph

 

Weight

 

144kg

 

Seat height

 

820mm

 

Suspension

 

41mm Upside down forks, rear monoshock

 

Brakes

 

300mm front disc with radial 4-pot caliper, 218mm rear disc. Single-achannel Bosch ABS

 

Fuel capacity

 

14.5 litres

 

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e
Fiat 500 vs Honda e vs MINI Electric
Car group tests

Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e

The new Fiat 500, MINI Electric and Honda e are three retro-inspired electric superminis - but which is best?
19 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Volkswagen ID.4 SUV

New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review

VW ID.4 EV gets another electric motor and four-wheel drive in hot GTX form
21 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review
Volkswagen Caddy California MPV - front
Volkswagen Caddy

New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review

It’s a family hauler and weekend camper all rolled into one, but is the Volkswagen Caddy California any good?
21 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review
Mercedes C-Class - front
Mercedes C-Class

New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review

The new Mercedes C-Class compact exec gets S-Class-inspired tech and new suspension to challenge the BMW 3 Series
21 Jun 2021
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition
Ford Puma

Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed

Ford unveils a special edition Puma ST, with a black and gold colour scheme chosen by Ford fans over social media
18 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space
Peugeot 308 SW - front
News

New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space

The Peugeot 308 SW joins the hatchback in the range and arrives with two plug-in hybrid options
22 Jun 2021
'A top footballer works minutes for his car, but the average worker must graft for 12 months'
Opinion - average car
Opinion

'A top footballer works minutes for his car, but the average worker must graft for 12 months'

Mike Rutherford says it's increasingly easy for them, and far harder for us, to earn enough for our new cars
20 Jun 2021