Although many bikes are deliberately sexy there is of course a market for good solid dependable workhorses. Bikes that are built to get you there without needing to look good in the reflection of a shop window, bikes like the commuter friendly Yamaha YBR 125.
The dull but fully functioning YBR 125 is built to provide no frills basic motorcycling from a name you can trust. If looks aren’t important but learner legal reliable transport and 90mpg are high on your list of priorities the Yamaha YBR 125 might just be the ideal commuter bike for you. The five speed, fuel injected four stroke single cylinder engine isn’t likely to set your world on fire but it is economical and fairly smooth. It’s also air cooled and easy to get at, so if you know one end of a spanner from the other home servicing won’t be too much of a problem. The earlier models made 12bhp but power went down to 10bhp in 2010; those two extra horses are worth having so it might be worth looking for a good condition early model. The latter ones, as tested here are a little bit gutless but you will just about see 60mph on the clock and to be honest it pootles along quite nicely and doesn’t struggle to maintain its speed. The engine is quite smooth too and the gearbox is nice to use, no nasty clunkiness or false neutrals to worry about, as you’d expect from Yamaha, even on a cheaper end bike.
The bike is built primarily for commuting so it’s relatively light, easy to manoeuvre and handles surprisingly well, the suspension works quite well too, so corners can be good fun and the YBR will hold a line well enough, so most bends can be taken with the throttle pinned if you want to spice up your morning commute, not that that was what Yamaha intended when it was built. The YBR also makes good use of its single front disc/rear drum brakes so stopping isn’t an issue but the standard tyres are worth replacing for some better rubber when tread gets low.
The 780mm seat height means it’s manageable for most riders and the bikes low weight and forgiving nature makes it the perfect novice machine. It’s not a bike suited to regular motorway use though, more than a couple of junctions would become tedious. 65mph is about the best you’ll get, downhill with the wind behind you, head tucked in but the bike will be happier to sit at around 50-55mph on the flat. The light clutch, comfortable upright riding position and good manners means frequent stop/start traffic is a doddle; so busy town work isn’t a problem.
Don’t expect big name components and fancy electronic gadgets or you may be disappointed. What you do get is a few practical touches like a comfortable seat, useful chrome rear carrier, a centre stand, an analogue speedo, fuel gauge and rev counter. That’s about your lot but what do you need? Ok a clock would have been a useful addition, especially when you’re running late for work but you can buy a small stick on one from Oxford if it bothers you too much. The finish is generally good but remember this bike costs just less than £2500 new so don’t be expecting quite the levels of finish you’d get on an R1! Like most cheaper end bikes, you will see signs of surface rust on some used YBR’s, especially around the rear carrier, exhaust downpipes and heat shield. On a bike designed primarily as a commuter most of them will have been ridden in all weathers and left outside for much of their life so it’s worth treating your YBR (or any bike that gets year round abuse) with some rust preventative spray, like ACF-50 to give it a fighting chance of long term survival. Having said that our 61 plate bike was still looking very tidy, (other than a bit of rust around the exhaust) despite being used as a demo bike for the last couple of years by the dealer who supplied it http://www.smalleycross.co.uk The YBR had 7900km on the clock and is on sale at £1999 so give them a call if you’re interested.