Express & Star

First Ride: Kawasaki Ninja 125

The learner-friendly Ninja 125 has got loads of charm and charisma, but is it good to ride? Jack Evans finds out.

Kawasaki Ninja 125

What is it?

Kawasaki Ninja 125
A number of colourways are available

The new motorcycle market has got a whole lot of options for those after a 125cc-engined motorcycle. They’re coming in all shapes and sizes, too, but one of the most angular of the lot is this – the Kawasaki Ninja 125.

Designed to capture some of the essence of the full-fat Ninja and transfer it into a more approachable and learner-friendly motorcycle, this is a Kawasaki with superbike looks but more everyday performance. Let’s find out what it’s like.

What’s new?

Kawasaki Ninja 125
From a distance this 125 looks a lot like a full-size Ninja

Even from a distance, this 125cc bike is recognisable as belonging to the Ninja line-up. It’s all angles, edges and motorsport-inspired touches. But underneath there’s a sensible and robust mechanical setup, designed to keep ease-of-use and value at the very forefront of what the Ninja has to offer.

You get a general sense that Kawasaki has just shrunk many of the features of its larger Ninja onto this smaller bike, too. The finish is excellent, while the eye-catching paint scheme will no doubt draw younger riders towards it.

What’s underneath?

Kawasaki Ninja 125
You can take a pillion passenger on the Ninja

The beating heart of the Ninja is a water-cooled four-stroke petrol engine kicking out 14.8bhp and powered through a six-speed transmission. Emissions are impressively low at 61g/km CO2 and while official fuel consumption figures haven’t been released, the fuel gauge was particularly hesitant to go down during our time with the bike. A full top up of the 11-litre tank isn’t going to break the bank – even at current prices – making this a very cost-effective way of getting around.

You get ABS braking assist as standard, too, while the exhaust – though compact in size – actually gives out quite a pleasant sound. With peak power coming in at 10,000rpm, this is a bike that is at its very best being wrung out whenever possible.

What’s it like to ride?

Kawasaki Ninja 125
The Ninja feels nippy around town

The Ninja feels at its very best around town, where its nippy acceleration and neat handling come to the fore. The brakes are progressive and easy to manage, too, while the light clutch action and easy-to-find gears make this particularly learner-friendly.

Overtaking slower vehicles does require quite a lot of forward planning, mind you, as the Ninja 125 can’t claim to be particularly fast. You’ll need plenty of commitment if you’re heading onto a dual carriageway, too, as the Ninja needs to be worked hard to keep up with regular traffic. We also found that the aggressive riding position did cause a little bit of wrist ache during longer rides. It is, however, brilliant on fuel and is great for nipping here, there and everywhere without using very much petrol at all.

How does it look?

Kawasaki Ninja 125
All versions get disc brakes as standard

As we’ve already highlighted, the Ninja 125 has more than just a bit of a resemblance to the larger bikes in Kawasaki’s range. Many people confused our test bike with more powerful Ninja versions, no doubt swayed by this bike’s aggressive styling and eye-catching colour scheme.

It’s fair to say that those riding on L-plates will love the look of the Ninja as it’s so much like a far more powerful version in terms of its design. Don’t fancy the design quite so much? Kawasaki does a slightly different model with the same powertrain as the Ninja with the Z125. It might be a better option if you’d like to sit a little more upright, too.

What’s the spec like?

The Ninja 125 is priced at £4,299, which does represent good value for money when you consider the lower running costs that it’ll bring. All versions get single-petal disc brakes – 290mm at the front and 220mm at the rear – as well as dual-piston calipers at both front and back.

There’s also a full digital screen, which relays your speed and fuel level. However, we would’ve liked to have seen a little more information included here such as a gear indicator and a fuel tank range as well. It does have a neutral light, but apart from that, there’s no symbol for which gear you’re in – something that a new rider would no doubt find very useful.


The Kawasaki Ninja 125 represents a great entry into the motorcycling world. It’s great to look at, easy to ride and it’ll be cheap to run, too, making it feel particularly poignant in this cost-of-living period we’re all facing.

Some may find the riding position a little aggressive, but it would be wrong if something carrying the Ninja name was all laid-back and casual. It’s also got enough performance to keep things interesting but without being too intimating – the perfect balance, then.

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