Hi friends, this is Sam Raj from Chennai. I am here to present my first ownership review of my Dad’s 1 yr old, 15000kms clocked Yamaha SS125. First, I would like to thank BikeAdvice for helping me know what bike is all about, letting me know about various bikes available in Indian market, helping me in choosing a bike, for letting me know different bike technologies, for changing the way I ride a bike and for imparting a passion on biking in me. Thank you Deepak and BikeAdvice.
A small introduction about myself. I am 22 year old guy working for an IT organization just after completion of my engineering. I learnt to ride a geared bike in a proper manner when I was 16years old, in my dad’s newly bought TVS Star City.
I who was a Yamaha hater finally ended up buying a Yamaha one in 2011,when our Star City was 5 years old. You ask me why I was Yamaha hater? The reason is absolutely stupid. It is because in my childhood, my dad had a HH CD100SS and then I used to feel Yamaha RX100 is its rival and villain bike and simply hated it.
The ignorant hatred that developed in me almost persisted till I bought the SS125, not a Yamaha hater anymore. I would like to tell everything I have experienced with my bike so far. If this review feels a bit too lengthy ,kindly bear with me.
Need for a Bike Replacement
It all started when my dad started feeling that a replacement for the 5 year old Star City (1,00,000kms in odo) is needed. Although the bike is in good condition even today, it started giving body ache to him. Mechanic suggested us Honda Shine. But sadly I was so dumb that I wasn’t even aware of which bike was Shine then.
I didn’t know which bike is FZ,R15, Stunner, Gs150r too at that point of time. I only new Splendors, Discovers, Pulsars, Apaches, Unicorn, Xtreme, Hunk etc. But later got to know about Shine and it looked ok to me and we (I and Dad) booked it on one fine day and showroom gave a 3 months waiting period.
But to our surprise, we got a call in just three days informing that bike is ready for delivery. Meanwhile, my friend told me about Bike Advice and I started going through ownership reviews of Shine in BA and got to know all its technical specifications, its pros and cons etc. Its then I came to know about vibration problem in Shine, which I just couldn’t digest that a Honda product vibrates.
It was a life of tolerating vibrations for past 5years in TVS and wasn’t ready to tolerate anymore. As the reviews of Shine and comments were on negative side, we halted the delivery process of Shine and looked for alternatives.
The Hunt for a Masterpiece
I was sure that my buy must atleast have a 125cc mill or 150cc, but clearly not sporty 150cc’s like an Apache or FZ, because the bike is for my dad and not for me. The things which we were basically expecting from a bike were below according to the priorities:
- Smoothness and refinement
- Good power
- Durability and Reliability
- Atleast 50+ mileage(most of the 125cc bikes would offer)
Many chaps over here in BA strongly tuned my mind to fact that Japanese bikes are the most refined and reliable ones, both of which were my primary concerns. So I didn’t look or think about buying a Discover, Platina 125 or Flame. The bikes that I shortlisted were
Honda Stunner: Superb bike. Dad rejected it just for its over styling.
Suzuki GS150R: I had rode it in prior and I knew how smooth and solid it was. Again dad test rode it and rejected that it would look too big for him. Yes, why wouldn’t it feel so for a 5.5 feet tall and 70kg man.
Suzuki Slingshot: Its acceleration till 60kmph was good and felt just too sluggish past that and I didn’t like its looks along with the fact that it produces mere 8.5bhp from its 125cc mill. This was the reason why I didn’t consider HMC’s 125cc bikes as they too were under powered.
So, with no favourite options left, the only bike that my heart was leaning towards was Gs150R, but my Dad wasn’t ready for that trade. Its then the names I had come across struck me to have a look at. Yes, they were the names ‘Yamaha SS125’ and ‘Yamaha SZ’. I didn’t have a look at them till then because I had no interest in Yamaha ones.
But, to my surprise SS125 reviews were all positive and the three facts that pulled me towards it were that the bike is vibration free at all speeds, it produces 11ps of power, and its very reliable. BikeAdvice too had rated it next to Stunner and above the popular Shine. So we visited Yamaha and its looks impressed us and SZ also impressed me.
Then the confusion shifted between them both. After thoroughly going through their specs, I doubted the build quality of SZ because its less expensive bike from Yamaha although its engine is from FZ. At last, I felt that SS125 is premium bike of its segment whereas SZ is cheaper bike of its segment.
So I thought SS125 must be better in quality between them both and loads of power or torque wasn’t our requirement either. So, thus decided to go for the new avatar of Gladiator, the Yamaha SS125. So, I booked it and got it delivered on 22.4.2011 after an agonizing 50days wait. Although it was bought for my Dad, I rode it with much joy from showroom to home, keenly observing each and every response of it for my throttle and handling inputs.
Hmm, no boring stories of mine anymore. Now lets roll on to the real technical review of the 125cc masterpiece I have chosen. The forthcoming review is all based on my experiences with my SS125 and it might differ with fellow SS125 owner’s views.
Some might beg to differ with me when I say, ”SS125 is a head turner!” and might question me “If SS125 is head turner, then what are Fz, R15 and CBR?”. It doesn’t mean that a racy designed or macho looking bike only must turn heads. A man or guy who owns or going to own a commuter segment bike has all reasons to turn his head to stare at a neatly designed commuter bike.
Many people have enquired me about my bike in signals, fuel stations, stickering shops etc. I have seen people starring at my bike in signals and roads. SS125 looks glossy in the black-red combination and the paint job on this machine is absolutely superb. However the bike is dusty and looks awkward with dirt, just with a wet cloth wipe, it again shines like new one.
Although its a commuter segment bike, its designed in a manner to give sporty look. What gives the bike, the sporty look are the front number plate that is clamped to a slit in the visor (number plate blocks the air flow through the slit, which otherwise could have reduced wind resistance), tank extension scoops with Yamaha logo on them, the racy engine cowl, foldable rubber-layer mounted aluminum rider foot pegs with a tiny ground scrubber at the bottom which features only in premium segment bikes, the foldable aluminum foot pegs for pillion, toe-shifter gear lever, open chain case, rised up pillion seat, slant angled exhaust with a muffler and unique tail light design with indicators integrated to it.
The engine parts are all blacked out and 5-spoke alloy wheel rims are also black painted. Overall SS125 stands out as one best lookers of the segment. May be the second best looker after Stunner.
My Rating: 8.5/10
The heart of SS125 is 123cc air-cooled, SOHC engine which is refined to the core. The engine is of absolute Yamaha class. It churns out 11ps of peak power at 7500rpm and pulls forward with a peak torque of 10.4Nm at 6500rpm. This is an indication, that the engine is not tuned for rapid initial acceleration rather its tuned to achieve good top speeds.
The engine is not torqy and its peak power and torque figures transform into excellent lively speeds and acceleration only at higher rpm. As a result of this, one would find the low end torque of the bike to be less. Anyhow an addition of 0.6Nm to torque figures, would have increased its acceleration to compete with its tough competitor Stunner in terms of acceleration,but sadly Yamaha didn’t.
Now, how can I miss to admire and boast about the best trait of SS125. Yes, I am talking about its engine refinement. I would certainly claim the SS125 to be the best refined bike of the segment, even better refined than the Honda’s two 125cc bikes. No offense Shine and Stunner owners.
I‘ve personally ridden them and I’ve felt pronounced vibrations in them, which one would never feel in the Gladiators/ss125 s. Everyone who has taken ss125 to higher speeds would witness what I say. I would like to explain how the ride feels at different speeds. From halt to 58kmph, one would never get a clue that the engine is running, through the handlebar, footrests and seat and all one would notice is its lousier unusual engine note.
In 58-63kmph speeds which is more of the resonance band of the engine, a change in the smoothness level experienced till then occurs, but they aren’t the vibrations. The engine note changes from louder one to a screaming note in 50kmph-60kmph range. From 63-100kmph the engine and bike feels solid with no hint of vibrations (less vibes in 79-82kmph could be ignored), but one could feel that engine is running in this speed range unlike the 0-58kmph range.
Past 100kmph, a very very small vibration can be felt in accelerator alone and that too could be felt if the accelerator is held too tight and this persists till the top whack is reached. The engine note past 60 changes into a rough grunt from scream, but this would be hardly heard due to the wind noise.
So ultimately what SS125 gives is a smoothest and solid ride through its entire speed band except for the very tiny vibrations past 100kmph in accelerator which no other bike of its segment manages to provide to its owners. This is why I claimed SS125/Gladiator to be best refined bike of its segment.
Overall SS125 has got a reliable, thoroughly refined, rev happy, rock solid, class engine.
The classy engine that I was talking about so long is mated to a classy 5-speed gear-box. The gear-shifting which was bit on harder side when the bike was showroom-new persisted for about a week or two. After that it softened out, and the gear shifting since then to present feels smooth, soft and neat.
Butter-smooth gear shifting is the term, every reviewer commonly uses to express his gear-shift feel, but only who has experienced it alone can feel the phrase ‘Butter-smooth gear shifts’ and for the rest, it just seems to be a mere adjective. I am one such rider who can feel that phrase. Gears neatly fall into their slots with a sweet ‘TIKK’ sound each time the toe-shifter lever is shifted up.
The clutch also feels too soft, that I haven’t frankly played such softer clutch till now in any bike including my Dazzler. And somewhere I get the feeling that the gear ratios are tall, especially the 3rd,4th and 5th. Because in all these gears, the engine freely revs up to higher rpms and achieves higher speeds.
I have achieved 85kmph and 100kmph in 3rd and 4th gears respectively at 10000rpm, honestly, don’t rise your eyebrows in disbelief. There are no gear slipping issues or pronounced false neutral issues either (I get false neutrals once in a blue moon). Overall SS125 is again high on marks for its classy transmission.
Performance is always the most awaited section of any review and performance of Yamaha here is again impressive but it comes in the guise of top speed rather than breath taking acceleration because of its engine tuning which I have explained earlier in the engine section. Let me explain the negative part of this section first.
As I’ve mentioned earlier the acceleration of the bike is slightly sluggish due to its less low end torque and the acceleration with a pillion is even big let down. SS125 demands more throttle input unlike some other bikes in market, to extract the juice out of engine. But anyhow the sluggish throttle response can be made up with aggressive throttle input and by shifting gears at higher rpm.
Although the SS125’s low end torque is less, still one can ride at speeds of 27-28kmph and 30kmph without and with pillion respectively in the top gear without engine snatching (Platina 125 ran without snatching at 20kmph in 5th gear without pillion! Woooh!). As I told earlier, SS125 has got a revvy engine that freely revs to higher rpms of around 10000rpm in 3rd and 4th gears although the redline starts at 9500rpm.
With high rpm gear shifts and aggressive throttling, the best 0-60kmph timing I could achieve is 7 sec(+/-) 10 millisecs and this is a good figure for a 125cc machine with different sort of tuning and one must also remember that most of 150cc bikes achieves this mark only in around 5.5 seconds.
The acceleration past 4k rpm is better and bike reaches 40kmph-95kmph in quick time and past 95 it takes its own pace to reach its top speed which in my case is 110kmph at 9.5k rpm in top gear. So, thats all I have to say in the performance section.
Yamaha is best known for its handling and SS125 is no exception. The handlebar is nearly flat, not flat as the one in FZ though and its mounted over metal slab kind of thing unlike the old generation Gladiators that had conventional square shaped hand bar. What one gets is a compact seating posture which is neither upright like Unicorn’s and other 100cc’s nor a sporty one like FZ’s.
But something in between which perfectly suits for its geometry and provides neat handling for zipping through the traffic. As it weighs less than 125kgs when the tank is not full, one can easily flick through the city taffic. SS125 to me is superb city handler and the turning radius is also made small, for taking effortless U-turns. In highways, although one won’t get the stability of 150cc’s due to its light weight, it gives enough confidence to cruise at 100+ speeds.
Although I am not genius at footpeg scrubbing cornering, it gives me enough confidence to lean at decent angles compared to my StarCity. I personally feel rear-set rider footrests and fatter tires would have improved its cornering abilities to even different levels, but the fact that its a commuter bike must also be remembered. On the whole, it achieves its goal of being an excellent city handler.
Comfort and Suspensions
The first thing I noticed when I sat over the bike is its softer seat. Its softer than the seats of many other bikes I’ve ridden. The seating posture is comfortable for long rides, but long tours would cause back pain and its best suited for the city rides. The pillion seat which is slightly rised up would give the feeling that the pillion seat is very high for the ladies sitting for first time, but they will get used to it and ss125 offers decent pillion comfort as well.
The conventional swingarm rear suspension is neither too soft nor too hard and its something in between. It absorbs unevenness and potholes to a decent extent but can’t match up anywhere near the Gas charged shock absorbers. With a heavy pillion, the suspensions act like softer ones and due to the low ground clearance (155mm), the main stand hits against the bike breakers (high speed breakers). The lower ground clearance is definitely a disadvantage and the overall bike’s comfort and suspensions are on a decent scale if not excellent.
Brakes and Tires
SS125 is equipped with a 130mm rear drum brake and 240mm Bybre disc brake in the front wheel. The drum-disc combination is very functional and they are adequate to halt the bike from high speeds within a decent stopping distance. The disc brake in the front is just awesome as it possesses that required bite and also gives the confidence that wheel won’t lock up.
However the brakes are sharp,if the tires aren’t good, one can’t escape skidding in the emergency braking conditions. Here in SS125 which features good brakes, what comes as icing on the cake are the MRF Nylogrip Zappers (tube) in both wheels. The 3.00 inch rear MRF Zapper-C and 2.75’ inch front MRF Zapper FS, both fitted to 18 inch alloy wheels offer a fantastic roadgrip on dry tar roads and decent grip on wet roads too.
One who has experience with TVS tires like me would definitely appreciate the greatness of MRF tires. Anyhow sandy gravel roads would readily skid the MRFs for sure under harsh braking. The braking and handling experience would have been superb if the rear tire had been 100/90 Zappers.
But again mileage and pick up are the more important constraints for a commuter bike than the braking and handling. Its a trade-off between the above mentioned parameters but still one can’t deny the fact that SS125’s braking is impressive.
The electricals of the bike are neatly laid out. SS125 features a conventional 35W halogen head lamp lit by 12V, 5Ah battery, that gives decent enough illumination to ride in the nights of Chennai where street lights mostly function. Even in dark roads also you can cruise at decent pace with the bike’s headlight illumination confidently.
The engine can be turned on in any gear by holding onto the clutch and just with a push on self start button. Now coming to the dash board, SS125 features full analog, basic yet adequate dashboard which consists of two circular gauges and fuel meter in between them. The left gauge contains speedometer, odometer, indicator and neutral lights whereas the right one contains tachometer, highbeam light and indicator light.
The dials are backlit by a halogen-bulb colored yellow light which makes the dashboard look too simple. Had they been backlit by a mercury-bulb colored white light, the dials would have looked pretty cool. The fuel-meter is a reliable one and no issues with it. The bike also features a pass light switch,and a functional engine-kill switch that is very handy in the signals.
Bike’s horn is average and a trip meter could have been included. Suzuki famous gear indicator is also absent. Although simple,everything is functional and the quality of switches are also fine.
Coming to the most important aspect of commuter segment bikes, I haven’t tested the bike’s mileage separately in city and highways, as I have to ride through the mixed conditions. The mileage which was around 50’s in the initial days has gone up. Under sane riding conditions of 40-60kmph, it offers around 60kmpl and offers 55+ kmpl in normal riding conditions of 55-75kmph and anything beyond that would return 50-55kmpl.
One has to literally thrash the bike to get anything below 47kmpl. Aren’t these average figures sounding good for a decent powered ‘Yamaha’? Another thing I assume to be fact through personal experience and by going through various forums is that although Gladiators and SS125 share the same engine.
Gladiators achieve a greater top speed of 115-118kmph (astonishing figures for 125cc) which many Glady owners have witnessed, but less on mileage by returning around 46-52kmpl. SS125 on other hand returns 55+ average figures with ease but manages to touch only 110kmph. Someone can explain on it in the comments. SS125 anyhow seems to be a good balance on power and average.
Maintenance plays a chief role in deciding the bike’s durability and endurance. The photographs available here were taken when my bike was around 15000kms. So how does my look like?
My maintenance activities on my bike include:
- Regular service at intervals of 2000-2500km in Yamaha service centre. So far 8 services have been completed (6 free services +2 paid)
- Oil Change would be done regularly in every service and so far I have stuck to Yamalube 20w40 engine oil which is the prescribed one. Anyhow I am thinking of upgrading to synthetic or semi-synthetic oil.
- I get my bike Teflon coated (costs 400 bucks)on every alternative services as they would prevent color fading and protects the good paint job that the bike has been offered.
- Open chain cover although looks sporty, is high on maintenance. The O-ring chain demands lubrication every 500-700kms, and sadly I just used to spend Rs 140 on chain job (chain cleaning and lubrication) in every service only.
- As the area I am living in is not very dust prone, I don’t clean air filter by myself and I just used to clean the dust on the body of bike.
Apart from these, I haven’t done anything on maintenance scale. Like any other bike SS125 also had small issues so far. They are
- Battery got drained once and the service guys couldn’t charge it back because the charge kept on draining immediately. So they replaced the battery in warranty.
- As chain needs maintenance for every 500-700km and I lubricated them only in services, the sprockets have worn out soon, and its making noise often. They needs a replacement. This is not a problem with all Gladiators, but only with mine as I didn’t maintain them properly.
These are the two big issues so far I have faced with my bike. No noteworthy problems in bike except them both so far. I have changed the handlebar and brake pedal as they both were bent when I met with an accident, and the bike is not responsible for it anyhow. I haven’t made any modifications so far and as per owner manual, air filter and sparkplug must be replaced in 12000kms and I still didn’t change them as there are no issues with them so far.
But planning to replace them with Iridium spark plug and the same normal air filter in the next service. Availability of spares is always a problem with Yamaha. Most of the spares won’t be available on the first demand, and the service is not too bad but on an average scale.
Pros and Cons in a nutshell:
- Sporty Styling.
- Awesome engine refinement.
- Good top end speeds.
- Classy transmission.
- Good handling and decent comfort.
- Good pair of brakes and tires.
- Excellent mileage for the performance it offers.
- Adequate electricals.
- Less low end torque and hence sluggish initial acceleration.
- Basic looking dashboard.
- No trip meter
- Open chain case demanding more maintenance.
- Low ground clearance.
- Less availability of spares.
I think, I have written enough on technical stuffs. Now, I would like to explain my personal feeling over my bike.
What I feel about my Yammie
From the day of transformation from Yamaha hater to Yamaha owner, its all totally love and love with my machine. Its my first big decision from my family perspective and it worked out fine. It has fetched me my parents appreciation and gives a feeling of pride, when someone stares at it or enquires about it.
These things automatically increase my love towards my machine. I have recently bought a Dazzler after a waiting period of 6 months and in those waiting days I have been riding SS125 predominantly and gave Star City to my dad and so, its me who have ridden the most 15k kms and it has always been a passionate ride. I would always observe how the machine I selected out of the lot, fares in different driving conditions.
Everytime the engine rpm zooms past 9000 without any vibrations, it brings a feel of pride and big smile to my heart. My love for my buddy has never diminished a bit too, after the arrival of my Dazzler. I also feel that SS125 is the best 125 cc along with Stunner considering all the aspects and even Bike Advice had rated Stunner the best 125cc, with SS125 right next to it, losing out by 1 point.
Proud to own a marvelous piece of automobile from the legend Yamaha. Yes! Yamaha.
My Verdict on the Bike
SS125 is the best value for money, offering many quality features at an on-road price of 58,000 (approx) in Chennai in 2011. (Price would have gone up now due to tax hike). SS125 is both for a youngster and middle aged person, who needs a right balance of power and mileage with stylish sporty looks and good reliability. The bike is more suited for urban conditions.
It is still a wonder that inspite of its quality, its still an underdog in market and people are just scared to buy a Yamaha bike due to the mileage impact of RX series. But good thing is I can see few SS125s rolling on streets now a days. Glad news for the Gladiators.
One kind advice for people who blindly go for Shine, Super Splendor and Glamour, “Just pause a minute to peep at Yamaha showrooms to have a look at more stylish, more refined, better performing and better handling bike with almost same mileage and on-road price and then make a decision!” As per the ratings I have given in each sections,the overall average rating for my SS125 is,
Overall rating: 8.5/10
Thank you everyone for reading my lengthy review with patience and I am sorry if there are mistakes in my review, either technical or grammatical, because its my first review on a website ever! I have given my honest opinions, facts and figures to the best of my knowledge without bias. Don’t forget to drop in your comments.
Thank you BikeAdvice for giving me an opportunity to review my machine! Wear a helmet strictly, either for your sake or cop’s sake. Ride safe! Take care of your machine! Good luck buddies!