Mellow glider

As reported in BIKE India earlier, the YBR 125 signifies Yamaha’s serious intentions for the commuter class. Piyush Sonsale test-rode this new bike prior to recording his impressions

The YBR 125 is a middle-aged avatar of Yamaha’s SS 125. Realising the potential of the Indian market in this segment, Yamaha have re-established themselves in India as a brand offering world-class two wheelers. YBR is Yamaha’s international series for small-capacity engine commuter bikes. So the use of the name in India is Yamaha’s attempt at fitting the Indian market within its global nomenclature.


The YBR 125 marks the SS 125’s transition from youth to maturity in motorcycle terms. At heart (engine) it is still the SS, but with a completely different character. It has a new four-speed transmission, a longer wheelbase and a higher ground clearance. A less radical colour scheme and livery have replaced the sporty ones on the SS. The windscreen and pillion footpeg mounts are new. It has shed the plastic underbelly, the sporty exhaust and has gathered colour around its edges (the turn signal indicators have orange plastic).

The YBR’s build quality reflects Yamaha’s attention to detail and strict quality control. It is available in three colour schemes – red, red-black and black – with matching livery that gives a sense of motion. Silver alloy wheels are a standard feature.

Now for the functional features. The front and rear mudguards are longer than on the SS. The tail-mounted grab-rail gels with the design and its simple shape facilitates a comfortable hand grip and support to the pillion. Rear-view mirrors have the right size and good visibility. A metal loop is welded on the rear brake pedal, which is either a heat shield for the rider’s leg or is meant to keep the leg in place on the footpeg. In either case, it looks superfluous. The brake and clutch levers are so designed that in case of a heavy impact, only the end would chip off and the rider would still have functional levers until repairs. Thoughtful. The fuel tank lid could have been hinged for convenience, but Yamaha have stuck to the pull out design. The headlight assembly features a pilot lamp as well. Switches include a headlight flasher, a self-starter and an engine kill switch along with the regular ones. The all-analogue console has two dials with a backlit Yamaha logo in between. The left dial accommodates the speedometer and an odometer. The right one a fuel gauge. Tachometer and trip meter are conspicuous by their absence.

The bike has a large silhouette for a small 125-cc machine. The term ‘small’ is restricted to engine capacity. It doesn’t  give the rider a sitting-on-top feeling commonly associated with small bikes. The large tank, high handlebar and long wheelbase ensure that the rider is ‘tucked in’ well. Rider comfort is one of the strongest points of the YBR. The chassis absorbs engine vibrations very efficiently and desists from tickling the rider even at high speeds. The suspension (front telescopic, rear coil sprung swingarm) aided by a well-contoured broad seat with the optimum amount of cushioning and a laid-back riding posture combine to give one a smooth ride, even for hours on end. The bike handles well and the tarmac-hugging MRF Nylogrip Zappers (front 2.75”, rear three-inch) ensure that the bike stays on two wheels even while cornering or braking. Luckily, the recent weather vagaries gave us a chance to test the bike on wet roads, which didn’t affect its performance barring the fact that the drum brakes compromised the bike’s slowing down potential.

Small bikes are generally tuned for chaotic traffic wherein speed variation is frequent. In other words, low-end torque and power are a given. However, the YBR 125 attains its peak torque of 10.4 Nm at 6,500 rpm while its full power of 10.88 PS is unleashed at 7,500 rpm; the reason for its sluggish throttle response at low speeds. With a pillion the low-end performance dips even further. The bike has a  four-speed  transmission in a unidirectional shift pattern. The gear ratios are well set for low speed commutes but the absence of a fifth gear has brought the top speed down to 102.7 km/h from the SS’ 108.2 km/h.  The YBR takes 9.87 seconds for the 30-70 km/h climb in the third gear, which is a very competitive figure in this class, but the top gear takes never-ending 18.9 seconds. In riding terms it means that third is the gear to be in while overtaking or chasing the green light and the fourth should be saved for empty streets.

With eight other options already available in the 125-cc segment, a profitable market share postulates a well-defined product. The YBR 125 leaves much to be desired in that sense. Its acceleration is feeble at low rpm. With an average fuel economy of 57.5 km/l (10 km/l less than the SS’), it has the greatest thirst for fuel in its class. The 13.6-litre fuel tank, however, proves useful during long-distance rides.

At Rs 52,900 (OTR, Pune) the YBR 125 is one of the higher priced bikes in its class. It doesn’t have a disc brake, even as an option. The  SS, meanwhile, is just Rs 3,200 away and comes with a front disc and a sporty design. Thinking of the positives though, the YBR does have its own appeal. It is a  high-quality product with a comfortable ride. It offers almost every functional feature available in the segment, suits a tall rider and has an upmarket professional look. 

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