Want to add some bandwidth to your motocross career? Buy a YZ125. It not only hearkens to the days of AMA 125cc motocross and supercross championships, but it will retrain your brain as a rider, especially if you grew up on four-strokes. The main lesson the YZ125 imparts is to ride with aggression: Despite its reed-valve intake and power-valve exhaust, the 125cc engine basically is a light switch—no tooling around or short-shifting this one. Fortunately, the six-speed gearbox’s narrow ratio gaps help keep the liquid-cooled motor on the boil.
The YZ125 has an aluminum frame like its bigger YZ brothers, and the suspension is fully adjustable with a speed-sensitive fork. While the ergonomics are contemporary, the YZ125 lacks the handlebar and footpeg adjustability some bigger bikes offer. A carburetor instead of fuel injection means owning a YZ125 requires some tuning skills. Otherwise, care and feeding are easy. Best of all, though, the YZ125 weighs just 207 pounds fully fueled with premix, giving it almost a downhill mountain-bike feel compared to contemporary 250cc and 450cc MX mounts.
Likes: Lightweight, highly flickable, way fun
Dislikes: Adjustable handlebar and footpegs would help growing riders
Verdict: A great starter bike for teens and a fun second bike for vets