Barun has submitted this review in our Ownership Review Contest No 13, ensuring himself an assured prize. The contest also offers a chance to win Riding Jacket, Helmet and more.. You can submit your review to us as well before 23rd Feb. Here are all the details.

Hi all, this is Barun Dey from Kolkata, West Bengal. I’m here for my review on my YAMAHA SS125 after 11500 KMs on the ODO and 400+ days in the calendar.

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Firstly, let me tell you that I am not an automobile expert. This review is purely from a commuter point of view. So, please pardon any technical misinterpretations.About Me:

I’m a 29 year old professional whose workplace is 12 KMs from home. My height is 5 feet and 4 inches and weight is 63 KGs. I had been to biking for around 2 years before I bought my own bike. I had the experience of riding most of the bikes with engine displacements ranging from 100-150ccs (borrowed from my friends and relatives). I used mostly office cabs and public transport to and fro my office. But for my own convenience and weekend trips, I decided to buy my own two-wheeler.

My Loves:

Now, let me tell you something. Having grown up in the 1990s I had pictures of RX100, RX135, Yezdi, Rajdoot, Kawasaki-Bajaj, and Suzuki Shaolin in my mind. My school was 2 KMs away from my home and I used to walk my way to school. Seeing an RX100 speeding away was a common thing those days. I did not have the level of understanding back then to know the technical details of biking but I now in 2013 I can guess what we, the present generation bikers miss.

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The choice was limited but the quality of the choices were unmatched even by today’s standards. I have always had a secret admiration for YAMAHA since childhood. As 2 strokes are illegal to ride in India now (due to various norms), my dream of owning an RX135 or possibly the RD350 will remain dream unfulfilled I guess. So, I had to limit my search within available four strokes.

My Choice of Bikes:

I began my research around mid September 2012. I had some criteria while searching for my two-wheeler. Budget was from Rs. 55000 to 65000, engine displacement: 110-135 cc. It had to be powerful and fuel-efficient at the same time. Engine needed to be very smooth and durable. Had to be powerful enough for long drives with a pillion. Own and pillion comfort was a must since I have to carry my mother or wife most of the times when I’m not going to office. Looks also had to be decent – but that was not the primary concern. And the exhaust note HAD to be sweet.

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So, after a lot of research, I zeroed in on the following,

  1. Honda Shine
  2. Discover 125
  3. Pulsar 135
  4. Honda Stunner
  5. Hero Glamour
  6. YAMAHA SS 125

Why I Discarded Them:

Now, what I felt about each one of those. No offence meant to anyone. These are purely my personal opinions on why I selected SS125. I do not disrespect any other’s choice or any manufacturer.

1. Honda Shine – Good bike with good fuel-efficiency. But only 4 gears and vibrations over 60 KMPH Underpowered for highways. Basically all Honda bikes under 150cc suffers from this two problems (those are otherwise very reliable though). Plain looks.

2. Discover 125/ Discover 125 ST – A very common bike but somehow I don’t feel it has the premium finish and quality of body parts also didn’t impress me. The new Discover ST is a very good bike but the rear tyre and pillion seating is a cause of concern.

3. Pulsar 135 – Perhaps the best among the lot on paper. But the split seat was a big no-no for me as it is best for girlfriends/male friends as the pillion but not for wife/mother. Also, I’ve seen many P-135s after 7-8 months of their purchase and I didn’t like their conditions. You can agree with me or disagree but I am a little suspect to quality of TVS and Bajaj as compared to YAMAHA/Honda/Suzuki.

4. Honda Stunner – An underpowered and overpriced bike. Again the split seat thing. Hero Ignitor can best be described as ‘Old wine in new bottle’ as far as comparison with Stunner is concerned. Frankly, I am not too fond of the look of the bike which according to me is overdesigned. Also, vibrations over 60 KMPH is there.

5. Hero Glamour – A good commuter with very good mileage. Very common one. But, underpowered for highways (only 9.13 PS of power for a 125cc). Does the job of transportation from point A to point B but not fun to ride on a long drive.

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6. YAMAHA SS 125 – I just fell in love with this beauty when I first saw it at the YAMAHA showroom. Design was great and a bit different from others in its class. I rode the previous version (Gladiator) twice as one of my friends is having it. I also found loads of positive reviews about it on the internet. As this was a YAMAHA product, engine refinement, performance and quality was not something to worry about.

Many of my friends and relatives warned me against SS125 as this is the ‘least’ seen 125cc in Kolkata. They advised me to go with Bajaj/Hero instead. But I was firm on my decision. It was my hard earned money after all and I knew where I should spend it.
So, on 10th November 2012, I brought my SS125 home and have not for once repented my decision.

Design, Looks and Road Presence:

Due to the unconventional and uncommon looks, my SS125 gets a lot of glances at traffic signals and petrol pumps (and also when parked). Most of the people don’t even know that this model even existed. The presence of the racing cowls has made it even more attractive. Tank design is a big plus as well. It also helps that SS125 comes in only two colors and all the equipments come standard to one model.

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In the crowd of Discovers and Glamours, I’ve been able to create a separate identity as a biker due to the unique design of SS125. In my office, more than 250 two-wheelers are parked including all the shifts. Believe me, I was the only one to own a YAMAHA SS-125 till a month ago! Wherever I go, I get some curious and appreciative looks. This might be due to the fact that this is perhaps the least selling 125cc in India. I get queries in petrol pumps, signals, social gatherings and my office as well. Sometimes one can fell that the tank design is odd-looking when viewed from front but with time, you get used to this.

Performance, Handling and Engine:

Engine is simply awesome. Engine smoothness and refinement is something which differentiates SS125 with the other sub 150ccs. I’ve attained a speed of 96 KMPH (with pillion) and 107 KMPH (single) till now. Even at that speed, engine is not under any kind of stress and ride is smooth. It can easily go till 95 KMPH and after that, you have to be patient for the top whack. I think, after a proper servicing, and with the help of a long stretch of road, one can push this beauty till 114-115 KMPH. And also keep in mind that Speedo error is minimal in YAMAHA as compared to other brands.

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At any speed, vibration is zero. The true performance of this bike can be enjoyed @ over 60 KMPH. Once you reach 60 KMPH you can compete with some of the common and low priced 150ccs (including YAMAHA’s own SZ series). I have to cross a steep flyover on my way to and fro office and I’ve got past many of the 125ccs @ more than 70 KMPH while climbing. You’ll know what separates SS125 from other 125ccs when you drive it on a highway at full throttle. Handling makes you confident and till date I’ve never felt like toppling over. Engine noise is barely audible.

In Kolkata, last year the temperature dropped to 7-8 degrees in some parts. At 5.30 am in the morning (I need to go to my office early in the morning), I needed barely 2-3 kicks to start the bike. During other part of the year, one kick is enough to start the engine.

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Recently I went on a ride along with my wife on Basanti Highway (on the eastern side of Kolkata). Distance was 204 KMs from my home to Basanti and again back to my home. I completed the journey in 4.5 hours including 30 minutes of break and considerable amount of time in signals within Kolkata. I maintained a speed of 75+ KMPH most of the time with the top speed being a little more than 85 KMPH. Never for a moment had I felt that engine was stressed. It was simply a pleasure to ride my SS on a highway.
Apart from that, I have had 3 rides of 190+km.s and 2 rides of 150+km.s with my wife as pillion.

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One more thing. I know, it might seem ridiculous to many, but to me, the exhaust note of a two-wheeler matters. For the same reason, I am fond of HH Karizma and Honda Unicorn from the present generation of bikes. But, after spending a year on my SS, I can say I’m very happy with the exhaust note it makes. It’s very unique and sweet at the same time.

Gear, Tyre & Braking:

SS125 has 1 down and 4 up gear system. Transition between gears is butter smooth. I had a few instances of false neutrals and not so smooth transition between 2nd and 3rd before the first servicing. It’s gone after the first servicing. The front disc brake is superb and has enough bite on it. The rear drum brake could have been a little better. The MRF Zapper tyres are far ahead in terms of quality and road grip in comparison to the TVS tyres seen in most bikes. The combination of good tyres and brakes gives you confidence and peace of mind.

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Having said that, I still feel, tubeless tyres would’ve been a better option for those who love to travel long and in the interiors. Also, especially the rear tyre could’ve been a little fatter. I have also thought of replacing the tyres with fatter tubeless MRF Zappers when the present ones require replacement.

Mileage

Well, before the first servicing, I used to get around 43-45 KMPL. Now after the 6th servicing, I’m getting around 52-53 KMPL in city and 57-58 KMPL in Highways. That’s decent enough from my point of view. I was always ready to sacrifice 3-4 KMPL for better riding experience. Frankly, most of the people riding a YAMAHA will barely think of mileage. If that had not been the case, one wouldn’t have seen so many of FZs and SZs. They give far lower mileage than other 150ccs.

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It’s the quality of the ride that matters. Today, people are still crazy about RX 100 and RX 135 knowing they will give much lesser mileage than say a 225cc Karizma or a 200cc Pulsar NS. Also, mileage varies on your riding style. Do not overload/over speed and you’ll get a better mileage. Once, I rode my SS between 80-90kmph constantly for 40 minutes. I got the mileage of 40 KMPL. Also, the quality of fuel matters.

Comfort:

Now comes one of the most important parts – Comfort. I was a bit apprehensive about the height of the bike before the purchase as the sitting posture and height is more suitable for taller people. But, in this one year, I have never ever felt any discomfort. Nor did my wife or mother. I have gone for several long rides with my wife with three of them being 180 km drives (to my in-laws place – more than 80 km. of which were the worst Indian road you can ever imagine).

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I never felt that the suspension was inadequate. Instead, I think the suspensions are the most underrated part of this even underrated bike. Spacious and long seat makes for a pleasurable riding experience. I’d been able to ride atop many bikes but believe me, this bike is the most comfortable among sub 150 ccs.

Instrument Panel & Electricals:

Instrument Panel includes Odometer, RPM meter and Fuel indicator. Readable and clear. Precise too. Again I am old-schooled as I prefer analog meters over digital ones. I think electric starts and digital meters simply can’t replace the thrill of kick start and analog meters. Just swing your leg across, accelerate and see the needle going north. Whoa!

Also, too much information on the instrument panel makes things complicated. I get the informations I need to ride a bike, not a jet.

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Electricals are fine except headlights. If I ride within the city, it’s fine. But when I ride on village roads or even darker city roads, I somehow feel the lamp is at least 25-30% less powerful than what it should’ve been. I plan to upgrade it in future. Apart from that, switches are smooth and works very well. Horn is neither too weak nor too loud. Electric start works fine. I don’t know why but the battery got discharged fully around six months back. I went to the service station and got my battery ‘charged’ for six hours and it is working fine till date. I have also made it a point to kick-start my bike whenever possible.

After Sales Service and Showroom Experience:

This is one area which is overlooked most of the times. I’ve been able to visit Honda, Hero and Bajaj showrooms courtesy my friends. And comparing the experience one gets in those showrooms, YAMAHA is much better. I’d rather say they are the best. They are much more enthusiastic and courteous. Showroom people are friendly and attend to your requirements even during the servicing (which unfortunately is not the case with the other showrooms I’ve visited).

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The mechanics are technically very sound and do not overburden you with unnecessary and avoidable charges. Once I broke my left rear view mirror and went to the showroom unaware of their break timings. It was lunch time and I was supposed to wait for 30 minutes for a job of 2 minutes. One of the supervisors then took extra initiative and made sure that it got replaced within next 5 minutes before he himself went to lunch. Now, trivial things like this make you recommend a particular brand over others.

Cons:

There are some areas which could’ve been better from my point of view.

  • Rear drum brakes could’ve been better.
  • Ground clearance is poor as far as Indian roads and bumpers are concerned.
  • Rear tyre could’ve been a little fatter. Tubeless variant should’ve been there.
  • This bike is meant for highways. Considering that, headlights could’ve been better.
  • Acceleration below 40 KMPH is not one of the bests.

Some tips from a commuter

  • Take proper care of your bike during the run-in period.
  • Do not over speed/overload. Always ensure a good helmet for you and the pillion. I use Studds Ninja 3G (a little heavy but sturdy enough to keep you safe).
  • Never do anything silly or adventurous on roads unfamiliar to you. Or during night.
  • Use good quality fuel. Use YAMALUBE as engine oil as it is custom made for YAMAHA performance.
  • Do proper servicing for optimal performance. If possible, continue with YAMAHA servicing as long as possible.
  • Use kick start in extreme cold mornings. I’d rather suggest use kick start whenever it’s possible even during daytime. I use self start only during signals or when I’m stuck in a jam and need to start within seconds.
  • Warming up your bike for a while before any ride is a good idea. Also, try to shift between all the gears within the first 1-1.5 KMs.
  • Maintain regularity in riding. Do not let your bike be idle for a long period of time.
  • PLEASE DO NOT TAKE SHARP CORNERS AT HIGH SPEEDS. I’VE SEEN THREE ACCIDENTS WITHIN THE LAST 4 MONTHS SOLELY DUE TO THIS. AND PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THE REAR VIEW MIRRORS FOR STYLING PURPOSE.

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My Final View:

It is the best bike within 125 cc and/or 65K. SS125 mixes performance with looks and comfort. If you want the bike with the best mileage, this is not for you. If you dare to venture out of the familiar Glamour-Discover-Shine zone and trust the unmatched quality of YAMAHA, you will not be disappointed. Biking for me can be categorized into two segments –

  1. Necessity
  2. Pleasure

It is entirely up to the rider on which priority lies with. If pleasure is your primary concern, SS125 is the best bet. It does not use any groundbreaking technology like some others in its class (most of which is nothing else but marketing gimmicks) but still manages to outshine others. Take care of your YAMAHA and YAMAHA will take care of your pride for years to come.

Thanks,
Barun Dey

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