Road-testing the Hyosung RX 125
On the showroom floor you will see some bikes which look as if they would not be out of place on Grand Prix circuit. Others have more than a passing similarity to machines seen in enduro or motorcross events. Some echo the all-American "iron horse" image. Few, if any these days, bear much resemblance to the type of machine your grandfather chugged on to work.
In the car world you do not see such a range of difference. That is because the four-wheeled vehicle has become a necessity. Essentially a beast of burden, perhaps incidentally a "recreational" vehicle. The marketing men know that if they tried to sell something that looked like the sort of thing Schumacher drives, there would be precious few takers. A single-seater with go-faster stripes would be useless for the school run.
But not so with motorcycles. Whilst it is true that there are many people for whom a motorcycle is the main means of daily transport, it is still the case that the majority of machines are used only occasionally, and mostly for recreation. When it comes to selling recreation, the better a machine evokes some lifestyle the greater its appeal.
Within the last 15 to 20 years we have seen the emergence of the motard, "supermoto" or trail-bike type of machine. Bikes that at least have off road pretensions, a high ground clearance, upright seating position, long suspension travel and knobbly tyres.
Now, while such machines do not look at first sight, as if they would be anything but "agricultural", the fact is that in performance terms, especially at the higher end of the market, they can be as sophisticated and competitive as any "sports" machine. BMW's R 1200GS, Honda's XL1000V Varadero and Suzuki's DL 1000 V-Strom being typical examples.
However, thanks to power restrictions which affect youngsters as well as those in their first two post-test years coupled with, in Ireland, incredibly high insurance costs, small, less powerful and cheaper machines are every bit as popular here as they are on the Continent.
In the small "trail bike" sector, Hyosung's RX 125 is a worthy option. Made in Korea, this is a single cylinder, SOHC, oil/air cooled, 125cc, 4-valve, 4-stroke. The engine produces 8.9kW (12hp) at 10,300rpm and 9.9Nm torque (7.3lb-ft) at 7,500rpm. Dry weight is 116kg. The gearbox is 5-speed and final drive is by chain. Typical of this style of machine, the seat height at 850mm uncompressed, is on the high side. Both the telescopic 41mm USD front and swinging arm rear suspension have long travel, coupled with an 18" rear and 21" front wheel makes the machine well-suited to the vagaries of our roads.
The build quality and overall finish struck us as being as good as anything in the sector, many of which carry a higher price tag. This is a sector of the market where price is highly sensitive. The RX125 is one of the keenest priced machines of its type, one could easily spend 50 per cent more with little to see for it.
Especially for those for whom this would be a first bike, the RX125 is vice-free and un-intimidating. The engine revs willingly and whilst motorway maximum speeds are beyond its reach, the bike will cruise all day without the least sign of strain at 85km/h and can reach 90-95km/h in good conditions. Not breathtakingly fast, bear in mind it is only 125cc, but it will still maintain 80km/h even on quite steep gradients. We found the ride comfortable. The brakes, front disc, rear drum type, were perhaps a touch on the soft side but they are well up to the performance and free of any sudden grabbing which can be particularly disconcerting for learners.
With the tall riding position, comfortable suspension and willing engine we found the RX125 to be particularly well suited to the urban and suburban jungles. It proved to be equally satisfying on winding, indifferently surfaced country roads. It was also more fun to ride than many of the "learner legal" 125s.
It is capable of "green laning" as well, though for serious mud-plugging the tyres would need changing. Mature riders would like its comfort while younger ones would be pleased with its cool looks. Both should find it a robust and willing workhorse.
ENGINE: 124.5cc, SOHC, oil/sir-cooled, 4-valve, 4-stroke. 8.9kW (12hp) at 10,300rpm and 9.9Nm torque (7.3lb-ft) at 7,500rpm. 5-speed gearbox, chain drive.
CHASSIS: Telescopic 41mm USD front forks, monoshock swinging arm rear suspension. 18" rear and 21" front wheels. Brakes: single 240mm front disc, rear drum.
DIMENSIONS: Seat height 850mm, Fuel capacity 7.5L, Dry weight 116kg.
PRICE: Price is €2,950