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Jonny_Tallboy 02-27-2013 02:42 PM

125cc Touring
Touring around on a bike with a top speed of 50mph (if there's no headwind!) might not be everyone's idea of fun.
But it is our's, and it seems there are a few like-minded souls on this forum, so I thought I'd share a few of our rides.

There's also a trip in the pipeline for this summer, so the thread is going to be 50/50 ride report and planning.
This planned trip will be our most adventurous so far, covering 3 countries and a couple of thousand miles. On these little bikes it brings a few concerns and headaches… how to carry all our gear for one.

First things first… The bikes.

This is mine - a 2001 Yamaha SR125 4-stroke single

And my mate's - a 1994 Suzuki GN125 4-stroke single.

Not quite R1200GS territory, but should get us where we need to be…

…we hope.

Our first outing was a relatively tame expedition of about a week riding through the Lake District national park in North West England, up into Scotland and then back home via the Lake District once more.

We decided to take camping gear to take advantage of the wild camping laws in Scotland. so we had to find space for this on the bikes. We had no panniers, but the large pillion seats on these bikes seemed to make a good place for stowing the gear. Everything else then had to be squashed into a small tank bag:

We were pretty minimal with everything else… one set of clothes all trip.

Our first night's camping out the way, we woke to a cold surprise. It dropped to around -6 to -7 deg over night. Waking up to this wasn't fun:

although it doesn't look too snowy, there was a hard frost on the bikes and riding in these conditions with no wind protection was utterly bitter. When the numbness passed the fingers, hands, wrists and started towards the arms we had to stop, warm up and then start riding again. The stops were many, and the miles travelled that day were few. It didn't help that passing us the other way on the road were hoard after hoard of smug-looking BMW GS riders with wind deflectors, heated grips and seats. We were pretty envious.

The next few days we were rained off, and didn't ride much - preferring the local inns hostelries.

We also made the most of the bad weather to stock up on supplies:

But then the sun finally came out:

We could finally get some good riding in:

Passing over quaint bridges...

Over mountain passes…

Down deserted country lanes.

There was time to stop and relax by the lakes…

Find inner peace at ancient stone circles…

Stage the occasional photoshoot…
no mountains were injured in the taking of this photo

And sometimes to just stop and admire the bikes…

After finishing the tour it was safe to say we'd bonded with these mild machines. At times we wished for a more comfortable bike, for more BHP, more torque (those hills!) and heated grips.
But on reflection, these little bikes had carried us over a thousand miles, most of them fun, and on the right roads (smaller the better) these bikes become a lot of fun, and the riding sublime.
We realised that by gently thumping along at 40-50mph we saw, and experienced, the whole country and landscape. The times taken to cover moderate distances were long, but this added to the sensation of making a voyage. And the hills and headwinds seriously impeded progress at times, but this only added to the sense of adventure and fun.

So much so that we have now booked the next trip later this year, and we'll be going further overseas, covering a much larger total distance, there'll be mountains 3 times the hight to overcome… but we'll still be on the same bikes.

Jonny_Tallboy 02-28-2013 05:17 PM

So now we've booked the next trip.

We'll be riding down through the UK.
Getting on a ferry to Spain.
Then the aim is to ride over the Pyrenees into France. Head north through France to the channel tunnel, and then back into the uk.

The ferry is booked, so no going back.

There are a few concerns:

Where to put all the extra gear, tools, spares etc. for a slightly longer trip, and being much further from home.
And how these little bikes will cope with the long slog over the Pyrenees.
And making sure we're able to navigate, avoiding major roads and taking our time on the country lanes. Getting directed onto a 3-lane motorway on these bikes will be no fun.

It's a tame trip compared to some others on here, but to me it still seems like a challenge.

Any tips will be greatly appreciated.

We set off in a couple of months. I'll keep you posted.

UpST8 02-28-2013 05:23 PM


Originally Posted by Jonny_Tallboy (Post 20825954)

WOW!! This is a really great picture amongst great pictures! :thumb Thanks for posting :lurk

Jonny_Tallboy 02-28-2013 05:43 PM


That's my riding buddy heading off.
It's taken in Lake District which, IMHO, is the most beautiful part of England.

The sun came out 'just right' that morning.

bogieboy 02-28-2013 05:52 PM

Very cool idea!!!! Ever since i got my ke100 last year i have wanted to take a trip with it...would be interesting finding a way to carry enough injection oil for the lil 2stroke sure it can be done....LOL and i probably will later this year....

crg infidel 03-01-2013 05:53 AM

Great thread, and wonderful pics! Makes me want a 1/8 liter touring bike :D

Crazy_Dave 03-01-2013 06:00 AM

Thats the way to do it right fu*king there.

thedrewski86 03-01-2013 07:19 AM

Great pics there man. I've put more than a few miles on a gz250 myself, little is fun! I bet that would feel pretty luxurious compared to the 125 though, I'm envious of the terrain out there too.
Nothing wrong w/ some oxford heaters and grip deflectors, it's not cheating :evil

Diabolic 03-01-2013 07:28 AM

Great pictures and nice to see you having fun on 125's

I have an RV125 and thoroughly enjoy it.

Here's a ride report I put up from last year, we had similar weather

Jonny_Tallboy 03-01-2013 08:35 AM

There were desperate moments when we considered the idea of crafting wind deflectors from cut-in-half oil containers and gaffer tape!

The beauty of the 125s for touring is their parsimonious fuel consumption over long distances.

I think the pair of us realise that a 250cc bike would be our perfect machine, balancing good mpg with a tad more grunt. But time and funds don't allow it for the Spain/France trip.

Hopefully next year.

At least we shouldn't need heated grips over there in summer!

Matt 82 03-01-2013 09:17 AM

Great stuff. Been riding around Scotland on a 125cc Suzuki myself. Maybe I'm just imagining it but I'm sure there's a look of envy/shame on the faces of those who spent a fortune on a Goldwing or GS when they see you doing the same roads as they are but on the most basic of machines.

klaviator 03-01-2013 01:24 PM


Originally Posted by UpST8 (Post 20835026)
WOW!! This is a really great picture amongst great pictures! :thumb Thanks for posting :lurk

I have to agree with UpST8 on this, it is a great pic!

Nice report. You've got the right attitude, it doesn't take 1000+ cc's and the latest gear to make for a great ride. I wish you the best on your future trips.

Underboning 03-01-2013 01:58 PM


Originally Posted by Jonny_Tallboy (Post 20825954)

Really nice pictures and a good story, too. I have to ask, though, why such big bikes? :lol3

125uCrazy 03-01-2013 02:52 PM

Jonny Tallboy

125cc touring is the best. You won't have any problems with the Pyrenees other than slow hill climbs but that gives all the more time to appreciate the views.

Your mates GN looks mint for nearly 20 years old.

Nice RR and be sure to post the next trip

Jonny_Tallboy 03-01-2013 05:23 PM

Cheers guys,

Thanks for the comments on the photos. They were just snapped with my iPhone, so I'm pretty amazed how well they've come out. I'll take my proper camera to France and Spain, if there's room...

@125uCrazy - the bikes are cosseted and doted on more then most 125s I think, as I said, we do love 'em!
I've just spent the winter stripping mine down and repainting the engine (plus a lot of polishing) so it looks a bit different now.
The GN is currently stripped back in my mates garage undergoing a winter renewal. He's on this forum somewhere, maybe he'll chip in.

@matt 82 - I've been following your thread on here as it's of a similar vibe to our riding. It was a bit of inspiration to post our own ride report, knowing that your's had generated a fair amount of interest for a UK-based 125cc report. It's good to have your input here.

I think as we get closer to departing, there'll be a few more photos from the trail runs, gear tests etc. that we want to do before leaving. We have a weekend tour coming up to try and gauge the distances we can realistically cover on these bikes on different road types. I'll get some photos posted of that. Should help with the planning.

Again, thanks to all for your interest.

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