2016 Yamaha TT-R125LE Test |
From tiny 50s to full-on racing 450s, riders need sensible steps along the way when off-roading, and the 2016 Yamaha TT-R125LE is an excellent point of progression for riders looking to move from minis to adult bikes. However, for some smaller and older riders, the TT-R125LE is a destination motorcycle, one that won’t be outgrown. Instead, it will be relied on for years as a way to enjoy off-roading in a wide variety of situations.
Certainly, the Yamaha TT-R125LE is a platform with a proven record of reliability. The chassis is durable, and the motor is definitely under-stressed and offers more torque than horsepower. In fact, I owned a Scorpa SY125F trials bike powered by this very same engine. One nice touch that the Scorpa didn’t get is the TT-R125LE mill’s electric starting, in addition to a traditional kickstarter.
With a square motor and 10:1 compression ratio, the air-cooled, SOHC, two-valve motor gets by on regular gas without a problem. The CDI provides a good spark, and the 20mm Mikuni VM carburetor is spot-on, even as it’s lean enough to satisfy the Green Sticker issuers in California. This lean condition is most noticeable at warm-up, which can take a while. The choke knob is on the triple clamp, which is convenient, and right next to the keyed switch for the ignition—a good security and safety feature.
Yamaha markets the TT-R125LE as “big fun for the whole family” with “adjustable suspension calibrated for aggressive and/or bigger riders.” That’s an interesting combination, but it works. The styling pleasantly recalls the YZ and WR models; because of that, Yamaha is correct in claiming the TT-R125LE “begs to be ridden by everyone from bigger kids to adults.”
Much larger than a mini, but well-short of a full-size bike, the TT-R125LE has moderate dimensions, including a seat height below 32 inches, and a wet weight claimed to be less than 200 pounds. At 5’ 6”, and a 29.5-inch inseam, the TT-R125LE feels small, but not cramped. The more I rode the bike, the more natural the ergonomics felt. The compact size allowed me to get more aggressive than I would a full-sized bike such as the WR250F, even if I wasn’t going as fast.
With a reasonably skilled pilot aboard, you can take the 2016 Yamaha TT-R125LE almost anywhere. Black diamond trails don’t intimidate the bike, and the low seat height and mellow torquey power delivery gives the rider plenty of confidence. Ground clearance is generous for the size of the bike, so that helps.
In technical terrain that is rocky, the TT-R125LE’s weakness is the wheel sizes. While large for a youth bike, the 19- and 16-inch wheels won’t roll over obstacles with the ease of full-sized wheels—such is a price you pay for a lower seat height and less weight.
Strangely, the clutch is a bit abrupt, making slipping the clutch or nudging the bike between a couple of rocks trickier than it needs to be. We would definitely like to see the clutch engage more smoothly over a wider sweep of the lever.
Still, any reasonable challenge can be surmounted with patience, and maybe a little muscle. It doesn’t hurt that Yamaha outfitted the TT-R125LE with excellent IRC iX-05H tires. The hillclimbing is quite impressive, as the gear ratios perfectly match the power output.
Although the suspension has modest travel—about seven inches at each end—it’s adequate for the power production. Sure, a hard-riding kid with some heft will be able to bottom the suspension out, but most riders will rarely face that situation.
Both ends can be adjusted for spring-preload, while the shock has compression damping adjustment, which is not common on bikes of this type. The easily accessible, hand-adjustable compression damping adjuster ring on the bottom of the shock does make a noticeable difference; set it at the softest position and stiffen the damping if the shock frequently bottoms.
If you’re exceeding the capabilities of the TT-R125LE’s forks and shocks regularly, it’s time to consider the full-sized TT-R230 trail bike, at the very least.
Yamaha did an excellent job of giving the TT-R125LE neutral handling. While the 28.5 degrees of rake sounds excessive, remember that the TT-R has a wheelbase of just 50 inches. That extra rake gives the bike needed stability, while the short wheelbase, low center-of-gravity, and light weight ensures agility in corners. Turning is effortless, with no surprises in store to spook the new rider or disappoint the experienced pilot.
The TT-R125LE is happiest on tighter trails, but it is still able to run down dirt roads at full throttle in fifth gear without handling issues. Sandwashes aren’t as kind to the Yamaha, as the 124cc motor doesn’t quite have the beans to get up on top of the sand, and the IRC tires are shaded toward hard-to-intermediate terrain.
Maintenance is a breeze for the 2016 Yamaha TT-R125LE. It takes just one bolt to remove the number plate and access the tool-free air filter assembly. There’s no user-serviceable oil filter, so changing the oil couldn’t be easier. Snail cams simplify chain adjustment. Other than that, put in gas, push the start button, and go riding!
With conveniences like electric starting and a triple-clamp mounted choke, plus performance enhancements as the damping-adjustable rear shock and quality IRC tires, the 2016 Yamaha TT-R125LE is easy to use and effective on the trails. Riders growing up will not be intimidated, and larger riders will feel totally in control and capable of going nearly anywhere the big bikes go.
Photography by Don Williams
Helmet: Fly Racing F2 Carbon Fastback
Goggles: Fly Racing Zone
Pants, jersey, and gloves: Fly Racing Kinetic Women’s Racewear
Body armor: Alpinestars Stella Bionic Jacket
Hydration: Fly Racing Hydropack
Knee braces: Leatt C-Frame
Socks: Fly Racing Knee Brace Moto
Boots: Alpinestars Stella Tech 3
2016 Yamaha TT-R125LE Specs
Type: Air-cooled SOHC 4-stroke single; 2 valves
Bore x Stroke 54mm x 54 mm
Compression ratio: 10.0:1
Fueling: Mikuni VM20 carburetor
Starting: Keyed electric and kick
Battery: 3.2 Ah
Transmission: Constant-mesh 5-speed
Clutch: Multiplate wet
Lubrication: Wet sump
Final drive: 428 chain
Front suspension: 31mm telescopic forks w/ adjustable preload; 7.1 inches of travel
Rear suspension: Compression- and spring preload-adjustable shock; 6.6 inches of travel
Front brake: 220mm disc w/ four-piston caliper
Rear brake 110mm drum
Tires: IRC iX-05H Motocross
Front tire: 70/100-19
Rear tire: 90/100-16
L x W x H: 74.2 x 31.3 x 42.7 inches
Wheelbase: 50.0 inches
Rake: 28.5 degrees
Trail: 3.7 inches
Seat height: 31.7 inches
Ground clearance: 10.4 inches
Fuel capacity 1.6 gallons
Wet weight: 198 pounds
Warranty: 90 days, Limited Factory Warranty
Color: Team Yamaha Blue/White
2016 Yamaha TT-R125LE Price: $3290 MSRP
2016 Yamaha TT-R125LE Photo Gallery