It may not be big news for North American riders, but the Yamaha MT125 is being updated in Europe for 2020.
Now that we can all move past that horrible pun, here’s the deal: the MT125 is Yamaha’s micro-naked bike, sort of an answer to the Honda Grom and Kawasaki Z125—but it’s a little more technically advanced than those machines. It’s got a liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine, and has variable valve timing (Yamaha calls it variable valve actuation). That’s almost unthinkable in a pint-sized hooligan bike like this. There’s also a slipper clutch, and six-speed gearbox (both the Grom and Z125 have four-speeds in North America). Supposedly, peak output is 14.5 hp at 9,000 rpm, and 12.4 Nm of torque at 8,000 rpm. Not bad! There’s also a new TFT display. Wet weight is 308 lb, and there’s a 292 mm front brake disc and 220 mm rear brake disc.
The updated MT125 is visually very similar to Yamaha’s MT15 bike, which is sold in the Indian market. It’s getting a similar dual-beam LED front headlight for 2020. Overall, the styling is very much in line with Yamaha’s “Dark Side of Japan” theme it’s been running for years, but without the bosozoku elements. In fact, you could say the marketeering in Yamaha’s official YouTube launch video (above) is even more ominous—taken wrongly, you could look at it as a promotion of video games over motorcycling, although we’re sure that wasn’t the intention …
So why doesn’t Yamaha bring this bike to North America? Probably because, as always, they don’t see enough business for the machine. The Grom and Z125 sell well because of their low prices. If the MT125 was more expensive, would it sell enough units to justify all the expense and paperwork of bringing it in? Maybe, maybe not, so Yamaha is playing it safe.