Motorcycles

Yamaha shows retro lightweight 125cc motorcycle that gets 220 mpg

Yamaha shows retro lightweight...
The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha PAS
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The Yamaha PAS
The Yamaha Y125 concept is unveiled
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The Yamaha Y125 concept is unveiled
The Yamaha PAS
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The Yamaha PAS
The Yamaha PAS
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The Yamaha PAS
The Yamaha Y125 concept from the front is obviously extremely lean
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The Yamaha Y125 concept from the front is obviously extremely lean
The Yamaha EC-Mui
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The Yamaha EC-Mui
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha EC-Mui
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The Yamaha EC-Mui
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha EC-Mui
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The Yamaha EC-Mui
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The Yamaha Y125 front wheel and brake are featherweight items
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The Yamaha Y125 front wheel and brake are featherweight items
The 80 kg Yamaha Y125 concept
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The 80 kg Yamaha Y125 concept
The 1955 Yamaha YA-1 and the 2011 Yamaha Y125, side by side
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The 1955 Yamaha YA-1 and the 2011 Yamaha Y125, side by side
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept
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The Yamaha Y125 concept
View gallery - 34 images

Yamaha's press conference at the Tokyo Motor Show today was a genuine sign of the times. Four brand new world premiers were shown. The largest internal combustion engine amongst them was a 250cc model with fat tires designed to go anywhere - the SUV of motorcycles was the claim.

There was also a three-wheeled electric commuter, a fold-up electric pedal-assist bicycle and, wait for it, an 80 km/l (226 mpg Imperial or 188 U.S. miles/gallon) retro 125cc commuter that's somewhere between a bicycle and motorcycle - it weighs just 80 kg and it is beautiful.

Firstly, the I've always been a big fan of 125cc four-strokes - it happened about 30 plus years ago when I was testing a 125cc Kawasaki for a motorcycle magazine and at the end of a week of valve-bouncing and lane-splitting, found I'd managed close to 100mpg for the daily commute. It was around the time of the first energy crisis and I figured that I'd found the answer.

If a high-revving, OHC four-stroke could achieve close to a 100 mpg when being shamelessly mistreated, what sort of economy could it deliver if it were tuned for economy, ridden gently and placed in a suitably lightweight frame?

Yamaha's Y125 appears to answer that question. Modeled on Yamaha's first motorcycle, the YA-1, the Yamaha Y125 is a modern interpretation of that motorcycle. Though the YA-1 was itself a copy of the German DKW RT125 and was powered by a two-stroke engine, I am certain readers will agree the Yamaha concept has faithfully updated the YA-1.

The 1955 Yamaha YA-1 and the 2011 Yamaha Y125, side by side
The 1955 Yamaha YA-1 and the 2011 Yamaha Y125, side by side

The YA-1 weighed around 140 kilograms and produced 5.6 bhp @ 5000 rpm for what was at the time, a highly competitive motorcycle not just on the road, but on the racetrack.

The big difference with the Y125 is in the fuel consumption. Yamaha claims the bike uses its "world" 125cc four-stroke motor, though the engine certainly seems to have been lightened and polished and beautified, and heaven knows what they've done with the internals.

The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept

The Y125 uses what is by today's standards, close to a bicycle frame with sophisticated lightweight suspension and similarly, the brakes are also featherweight. The end result is a bike that tips the scales at 80 kg - just a tad more than half the original YA-1's total.

The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept

At this stage, it's a concept but who knows what might happen simply because it's such an enticing bike that takes everything back to basics. Sure, the lights are LED and the rear wheel is driven by a belt rather than a chain, but nothing seems like rocket science - it's just a very traditional basic design updated with modern day computer design and material science, and it is an absolute celebration of the form of the original Yamaha.

The Yamaha Y125 concept
The Yamaha Y125 concept

The "world" motor Yamaha claims is used in the bike produces double the horsepower of the original YA-1, so the Y125 will never be embarrassed for acceleration or top speed on urban roads. The 80kg weight will ensure it is far quicker than your average scooter to ride, and the fuel consumption of 80 km/l (226 mpg Imperial or 188 U.S. miles/gallon) is testimony to what can be done when you really want to achieve economy in a two-wheeler.

View gallery - 34 images
41 comments
DemonDuck
I really LIKE this one!!!!
Pres
Thanks for bringing this machine to our attention. It\'s great that Yamaha decided to upgrade the classic RT125 design to next century design and components. Seems excellent for urban or neighborhood travel.
Caimbeul
That Y125 is a stunner. Might even consider risking these old bones on a trip for errands into town on something as trick as this.
RodD
I haven\'t seen the \'world\' 125 engine, but can they really shave almost all the cooling fins off an air-cooled motor for all target markets? Even if it\'s only a 125 surely stationary operation (i.e. traffic) and hot climates would suggest not. Have they shaved them off for the looks of a concept? The left side has none and the few that are present are very short.
zekegri
WOW I want one-or three! Please make this bike Yamaha-smart stylish and efficient-YES
You could make an electric or hybrid as well!
fenriq
It is a really nice looking little motorcycle. Not sure about air-cooled but it\'s still pretty slick!
Dave222
Finally! Hands up which guys have always wanted to do the right thing by switching to a more enviro friendly commute, but didn\'t want to look like an Asian girl. Thanks Yamaha for giving blokes a proper looking bike, that you can throw your leg over, without the weight and ridiculous horsepower that has become standard on motor bikes. Definitely on the right track.....but if youre going to do retro......do it well and expose more of the beautiful engineering......don\'t cover it with plastic futuristic shapes that you entrusted to a work experience kid. These flowing, cg\'d shapes are a dime a dozen on online design forums and anyone can make them. Ask the same kid to do a layout of a chromed carby assembly and he\'d struggle....cause that takes engineering design skill......not just clickin n draggin.
Oztechi
Yamaha should definitely produce this bike. It is perfect for both developing countries and developed countries that really encourage low fuel consumption forms of transport.
There are lots of people that wouldn\'t consider riding a bicycle (too slow in traffic/hard up hills and long distances) but would happily ride one of these and easily use less fuel than many motorcycles and cars.
Scion
Now if only a mass market version were made and it didn\'t cost $20,000 in Australia we\'d be set. I\'ve looked at plenty of fuel efficient, light commuters but they are almost always too expensive. I bought a \'99 Honda ST1100 for $3,500. It isn\'t the world\'s most fuel efficient, but it is big and powerful and cheap. I checked out the commuter bikes and you have to start at $4,000 and go up from there. Too much for a glorified pedal bike. Maybe I\'m just grumpy, but...
Dana Lawton
I don\'t own a motorcycle mainly because I\'m not all that good at driving one but since the weight of this bike is just 80kg it makes me think that it would be pretty easy to handle and it has very good power. If they did produce it and the price were right, I\'d seriously think of getting one.