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KTM RC 125 and Yamaha YZF-R 125 in comparison test

Super lightweights in a duel

It’s not just the youngsters who have been waiting for this – welcome to the title fight for the sporty eight-liter machines! In the orange corner: the challenger KTM RC 125. In the blue corner: the reigning champion Yamaha YZF-R 125. Can the newcomer from Austria contest the Japanese top dog for the super-lightweight belt? Five rounds, ring free!

Bam – that sat. When the Yamaha YZF-R 125 was presented in 2008, it was immediately clear that a winner had seen the light of day. Wins all comparison tests straight away, completes the 25,000 kilometers in the MOTORRAD endurance test with flying colors, is coveted like first-row tickets to the Klitschko Fight. Over 12,000 copies of the Rennerle were sold in Germany alone – in recent years the absolute bestseller in the Yamaha range and among light motorcycles. But, as is well known, the competition never sleeps. With the 125 Duke, KTM has been shaking the Yamsel throne seriously since 2011. But: A direct comparison of these two, athletes versus naked, is not possible. Now finally climbs with the KTM R.C 125 the long-awaited eight-liter racer from KTM into the ring, ready to compete in the duel of the year.

KTM RC 125 and Yamaha YZF-R 125 in comparison test

Super lightweights in a duel

When entering the arena, the KTM RC 125 makes it clear what is going on: fat, bright orange tubular space frame, upside-down fork, fine cast aluminum swing arm, radial brake caliper, 150 mm rear tires, ABS. Challenge. But the blue corner sees it calmly, as the Yamaha YZF-R 125 underwent rigorous training at the beginning of the year in the form of a thorough model upgrade. Since then, the YZF-R 125 also has a USD fork and radial saddle, has also received a digital cockpit and modifications to the engine and injection mapping. The crisp fairing in the style of the R6 has remained. The defending champion looks wiry and sinewy, and the ring scales attest not a pound too much: 141 kilograms with a full tank, 49 percent of it on the front wheel, 51 percent at the rear. Nearly perfect. The RC 125 is a bit thicker: 154 kilos, 53 percent of which on the front wheel. Where do the pounds come from? As with the Duke series, the RC 125, 200 and 390 are based on the same chassis; the 125 series benefits from generously dimensioned components. But enough of the preliminary skirmish, gong for the first round. Gentlemen, start your engines!

First advantage of the Yamaha YZF-R 125

The two water-cooled four-valve injectors start up without any problems. According to the statutes, 15 hp are allowed, but the KTM RC 125 makes the first punch with measured 16.6 hp. But the Yamaha YZF-R 125 is also fed up with its 15.7 hp. Both are barrel organs, of course. But between 3000 and 9000 tours, the long-stroke R 125 always provides 1 to 2 HP more, and only just before the rev limiter does the Kantn outperform the Yamsel.

The result: the lighter Yamaha YZF-R 125 of the KTM RC 125 drops to 80 km / h for just under a second. The clutch and transmission are tied, the two athletes take nothing here. While the test motorcycles shifted a bit unsteadily at the presentation of the YZF-R 125, the well-run-in test specimen was on a par with the smooth gearbox of the RC. Both clutches are pleasing with little manual force and good controllability. So overall advantage of Yamaha.

KTM RC 125 provides a bit more stability

In lap two things get down to business: the chassis. Here the champion Yamaha YZF-R 125 hands out neatly. Compact, stable chassis, low weight, narrow tires – this results in razor-sharp handling. The blue one converts impulses via handlebars or shifting weight into a change of direction in a flash. It wants to be driven delicately and with concentration, you have to be prepared for that. But if you pay attention to this, you will be rewarded with unprecedented agility. This is also underlined by the spring elements: taut, well damped, honest and direct.

In short: the Yamaha YZF-R 125 drives as sharp as it looks. KTM takes a different approach. The KTM RC 125 drives more good-naturedly and conveys a bit more stability, but doesn’t quite offer the prancing lightness of the Yamaha. The basic setup of the RC is quite soft, especially the rear shock absorber lacks damping. Overall, however, the RC handling is also impressive. Only one thing spoils the fun when cornering: the choice of the first tires. The revz-e-tire from the Indian supplier MRF cannot build up the grip of the Michelin Pilot Sport of the Yamaha in the dry and certainly not in the wet. Low blow, warning, point of deduction. Because the Michelin also provides good feedback, the Yamaha creates a lot of trust and can really be bent.

KTM scores with ABS

Lap three: braking. Again the champion starts offensive. Fantastic, with what crystal-clear pressure point, excellent controllability and violent bite the stoppers of the small Yamaha YZF-R 125 do their job in front and behind. Who’s got it, brakes with the Yamaha exactly to the blocking limit. A solid southpaw, but the KTM blocks and counters. Your ByBre front brake has a somewhat long idle travel and does not achieve the transparency of the Yamaha system, but it also decelerates at a high level. And: The KTM driver need not be afraid of the blocking limit, because that is where the standard ABS of the KTM RC 125 takes effect. The importance of this safety net in tricky situations can hardly be overestimated, especially on a sporty 125 cc, and all the more so because the Bosch system of the RC 125 works perfectly. So this lap is close, but deserves to the challenger with the ABS hook.

Thing, thing, thing: round four, everyday life. This is where the Yamaha YZF-R 125 stumbles, paying the price for its racing ambition. High footrests, high seat cushions, low handlebar stubs, at least a good knee joint: the seating position is super sport with all its advantages and disadvantages. This gives a lot of feeling for the front wheel when heating, but is about as convenient in city traffic as Arthur Abraham is as a sparring partner. Better the KTM RC 125: Although its seat height is also specified as airy 830 millimeters, the soft springs reduce this significantly when you sit on. Bolted directly into the fork bridge, the handlebars are higher and further apart. This is more a long-distance race than a sprint race and works much better in everyday life. The same applies to passenger comfort. The small, high seat bun of the Yamaha, together with the acute knee angle, works as an emergency seat at best, while the cleverly made, wide and softly padded passenger seat can be attested to the KTM practicality.


KTM RC 125 in the driving report

125cc in a sporty version

read more

Both digital cockpits provide comprehensive information

In terms of equipment, both machines offer superior class standards. The digital cockpits provide comprehensive information; in addition to speed and engine speed, there are two trip meters, average consumption, fuel gauge, cooling water temperature and shift light. The KTM scores with a gear indicator, but the larger cockpit of the Yamaha YZF-R 125 is easier to read. Many small details on the KTM RC 125 are well done: oil level control via sight glass, service flap in front of the tank for battery and fuses, easy-to-remove mirrors with integrated indicators and a mount for a work stand on the swing arm. This testifies to the practical know-how of the KTM designers. Still a draw because of the higher weight of the KTM.

Last round, costs. Neither of them are really cheap, of course, but you can get a lot for around 4,500 euros. We especially like the workmanship and the finish of the Yamaha, built by MBK in France. The KTM RC 125, manufactured in India by KTM partner Bajaj, also looks very solid, only the weld seams on the frame are a bit rustic in places. Points are deducted for the unsightly rust soup that dripped from the rear frame onto the rear wheel cover after a few rides in the rain. Shortly before the end, the Yamsel brings a cracking straight to the finish line: The KTM is already enjoying an average consumption of 2.7 liters, but the 2.2 liters of the R 125 are simply sensational. This results in a theoretical range of over 500 kilometers and is easy on the young budget. Thus, after the end of the fifth round, the referee’s judgment is clear: Yamaha YZF-R 125 wins on points! But one thing is for sure: the RC 125 has given out a lot. She will also find many fans after this duel.

Technical data and measured values


Performance measurement.

The Yamaha packs just under one on the permitted 15 hp, the KTM even just under two. But top performance is not everything, as the diagram shows. Due to the long-stroke design, the Yamaha YZF-R 125 is more powerful over the entire speed range, which can be felt when driving. In a nutshell: The Yamaha can be turned, the KTM RC 125 wants to be squeezed out.

Power on the crankshaft. Measurements on the Dynojet roller test stand 250, corrected according to 95/1 / EG, maximum possible deviation ± 5%.


  KTM RC 125 Yamaha YZF-R 125
type design Single cylinder four-stroke engine Single cylinder four-stroke engine
injection 1x Ø 33 mm 1x Ø 28 mm
coupling Multi-disc oil bath clutch     Multi-disc oil bath clutch
Boron x stroke     58.0 x 47.2 mm 52.0 x 58.6 mm
Displacement 125 cc 124 cc
compression 12.6: 1 11.2: 1
power 1.0 kW (15 PS) at 9500 rpm 1.0 kW (15 PS) at 9000 rpm
Torque 12 Nm at 8000 rpm 12 Nm at 8000 rpm

landing gear

  KTM RC 125 Yamaha YZF-R 125
frame Steel tubular frame     Bridge frame made of steel
fork Upside-down fork,
Ø 43 mm
Upside-down fork,
Ø 41 mm
Brakes front / rear    Ø 300/230 mm Ø 292/230 mm
Systems assistance SECTION
bikes 3.00 x 17; 4.00 x 17 2.75 x 17; 3.75 x 17
tires 110/70 ZR 17; 150/60 ZR 17      100/80 R 17; 130/70 17
Tires MRF revz-e Michelin Pilot Street

Dimensions + weight

  KTM RC 125 Yamaha YZF-R 125
wheelbase 1340 mm 1355 mm
Steering head angle 66.5 degrees 65.0 degrees
trailing 88 mm 89 mm
Front / rear suspension travel     125/150 mm 130/114 mm
Seat height¹ 830 mm 830 mm
Weight with a full tank¹ 154 kg 141 kg
Payload¹ 181 kg 189 kg
Tank capacity / reserve 10.0 / 1.5 liters     11.5 / 1.2 liters
Service intervals 5000 km 6000 km
price 4595 euros 4350 euros
Additional costs 250 euro 150 euros


KTM RC 125 Yamaha YZF-R 125
Top speed 126 (114 *) km / h    126 (120 *) km / h
0-80 km / h 9.4 sec 8.5 sec
0-100 km / h 16.5 sec 14.8 sec
50-80 km / h 14.3 sec 11.4 sec
Consumption country road / 100 km 2.7 liters 2.2 liters
Reach country road 370 km 523 km

* Manufacturer information; ¹MOTORWHEEL measurements



Neither of them are really cheap, of course, but you can get a lot for around 4500 euros.

KTM RC 125 Yamaha YZF-R 125
Top speed 10 10 10
Acceleration / draft    10 6th 9
Engine characteristics 10 7th 8th
Start 5 5 5
Clutch / gearshift 5 4th 4th
total 40 32 36

Remarkable how the 125s run – measured 125 km / h top speed! The drive of the Yamaha YZF-R 125 has noticeably better elasticity, the KTM RC 125 a bit more top performance.

landing gear



KTM RC 125   Yamaha YZF-R 125 Handiness 10 7th 8th stability 5 4th 4th Suspension tuning    10 7th 8th total 25th 18th 20th

Handy, firm, agile. The firm chassis of the Yamaha YZF-R 125 turns on. The KTM RC 125 is a bit softer, more good-natured and a little more stable.


KTM RC 125    Yamaha YZF-R 125
Brakes 10 8th 10
SECTION 5 4th 0
Light sight 5 4th 4th
total 20th 16 14th

Only KTM has that. The KTM RC 125, like the 125 Duke, takes off with ABS. Otherwise, the brake decelerates well, but does not achieve the brilliant bite of the Yamaha YZF-R 125.

everyday life

KTM RC 125    Yamaha YZF-R 125
Furnishing 5 3 3
Weight 5 1 2
Driver comfort    5 4th 3
total 15th 8th 8th

The seating position of the KTM RC 125 is more comfortable in everyday life than that of the Yamaha, which is very sporty. The Yamaha YZF-R 125 scores with low weight.


KTM RC 125    Yamaha YZF-R 125
processing 5 3 4th
Consumption (country road) 10 9 10
Price-performance ratio   10 4th 5
total 25th 16 19th

Neither of them are bargains, but the value is right. The Yamaha YZF-R 125 is even more economical and leaves a good impression of quality.

KTM RC 125     Yamaha YZF-R 125
Overall rating    125 90 97
placement 2. 1.

MOTORCYCLE test results


The Yamaha YZF-R 125 wins the comparison test against the KTM RC 125.

1. Yamaha YZF-R 125
Sovereign appearance, title defended. The Yamaha YZF-R 125 wins thanks to its crisp chassis, first-class brakes and the powerful and economical engine. In everyday life and because of the lack of ABS, however, it takes hits.

2. KTM RC 125
Intelligent details, magnificent appearance, stable chassis, ABS. There are many good reasons to choose the KTM RC 125 – only the MRF world market tire is not one of them. Successful debut despite missed title.

KTM RC 125 and Yamaha YZF-R125 in price comparison

1000PS marketplace app

These A1 motorcycles are sporty on the road.

Friends of compact super athletes can look forward to it, because the selection of used A1 super athletes is large. Both the KTM RC 125 and the Yamaha YZF-R125 can be found on the second hand market, some of which have been refined with accessories. Here is the price comparison: used Yamaha YZF-R125 and KTM RC125 in Germany.

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