Scanning the classified ads in Motorcycle News or Bike Trader can cause serious problems for the prospective purchaser. There are hundreds of fantastic-looking choices, and whether it’s your first 125, or your first big bike, without a little bit of guidance it’s easy to get lost. Here’s a look at some of the best choices in a variety of styles; of course you’ll need to make sure the individual machine is in good order, but at least this should whittle down the list a bit!
Everyone has to start somewhere, and some people love their scooters so much they stick with them. Peugeot’s Speedfight range has been extremely popular over the years, and a decent 50cc or 100cc version can be picked up these days for under £700. Have a look at the prices of second-hand 125 Vespas, and you’ll appreciate that a Speedfight can be a huge bargain – if you find a good one.
125’s are available in all styles these days, from cruisers to sports bikes, but bear in mind that a 125 version of either can start to look a bit sad if you park it next to a full-size one. Suzuki’s Van Van suffers no such indignities – it’s a 125 and proud of it. Not everyone will like the fat back tyre, but it’s an honest machine and very easy to ride. You should be able to find a clean one for around £1200-£1500.
So, you’ve passed the full UK bike test, and you fancy a big trailie. A good Honda Africa Twin will hold its value, and offers great visibility in town (like all such bikes) as well as power that’s not intimidating, but will allow you to make good progress even with luggage. Look out for examples that have been ridden on actual adventures; they may be tired, but they may also come with a pile of extras. Expect to pay £2500 for a decent one, over £4000 for an excellent example.
If you want a cruiser, the chances are your dream bike is a Harley, and a good second-hand Sportster can be picked up for under £3500. It’s worth looking at Japanese versions as well; the Suzuki Intruder M800 is a good-looking bike with fat tyres, plenty of power and a proper V-twin, for about £4250. You should pay substantially less for high-mileage examples.
Sports bikes were the UK’s most popular genre for many years, and consequently there are a huge number on the second-hand market; good news for buyers. Many people who buy a sports bike know exactly what they want – brand loyalty is strong amongst speed demons! Kawasaki have a reputation for producing bikes at the mad end of the spectrum, with Honda’s Fireblade occupying the “sensible” bracket (all things are relative!) Perhaps the most important factor to consider is engine size. 600’s often require high revs to access the power, and can be uncomfortable for bigger riders. For under £5000, you should be able to find a Suzuki GSX-R1000 with fairly low mileage. The gears are silky smooth (typical of Suzuki) and there’s all the power you’ll ever need. In theory…