125cc Scooters

Why you need a scooter

Britain still has this love affair with the motorcycle and we here at Device Squad can’t fathom why. It’s all origami-looking front ends and high power outputs for reaching speeds impossible to attain on any highway. Magazine shelves are full of pictures of high-powered beasts with silly names, ugly design flourishes and hideously childish colour schemes that make the average British bloke (and it’s mostly blokes) drool at the prospect of looking like an advertising hoarding. A scooter, on the other hand, is a different kettle; an automatic everyman/woman vehicle. Something to nip around town on or pick up some shopping. They’re all over Europe and Asia, so several billion people can’t be wrong.


125cc scooters are de rigeur for crossing city postcodes – you don’t need 650 cubic centimetres to get you from Hammersmith to Central London. What’s more, a 125 scooter can be ridden in the UK on a provisional licence (or car licence) and a CBT (Compulsory Training Certificate) that is valid for two years. Taking a CBT is a doddle – simply ride round some cones for a day and then go on the road with an instructor behind you barking directions in a one-way headset. It’s not like a proper bike test which is a scary experience. Rather, think of it as a guidance test. You’ll almost certainly pass unless you fall off or ride into the back of a car.


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honda, pcx, 125, 125cc, scooter, commute, commuter, ride, bike, motor, engine, motorcycle, motorbike, fast, town, city
Honda PCX 125

There are loads of scooter styles available, from trendy small-wheeled retro Vespas to modern larger-wheeled Japanese scoots. In this instance we’re looking at the Honda PCX 125 which was launched in 2011. This is one of the nicest looking scooters on the road right now. Its seat’s low enough for someone from, say, 5’6” upwards and it’s unbelievably easy to ride. Like all scooters, you simple twist and go. And just like a bicycle, the front brake is on the right and rear brake’s on the left. The Honda PCX has larger 14-inch wheels than the current range of retro scoots on the street and this really helps when the road gets lumpy. The PCX doesn’t have the best brakes in town (a disc up front and a drum on the rear), but they’re perfectly adequate given the speed you’ll be travelling. And speaking of speed… a simple twist of the throttle will take you to 30mph in a thrice, leaving all cars in your wake. Its top speed is around 60mph which is plenty fast enough, thank you very much.

The Honda PCX’s fuel consumption is excellent – around 115 miles on a tank that costs just £6 to fill up. You’ll get even more mileage out of it if you use its unique ‘idle stop’ feature. Like many modern cars, when you come to a stop, the engine cuts out. This not only saves fuel and helps keep the engine cooler in searing temperatures but it’s actually rather pleasant sitting at the lights in complete silence. To start off again, simply open the throttle, and the engine fires up immediately. 

The Honda PCX has plenty of space under the seat for an open-face helmet plus a small unlockable cubby hole for stashing things. The UK model doesn’t come with an alarm so get a decent lock and chain or a Xena disc lock alarm with a 6mm pin. The Honda PCX retails for around £2500. That’s £1300 less than its direct competitor, the Yamaha X-Max, reviewed below. After four years of riding this little titan, we’re pleased to say it’s been superbly reliable, starting up first time even on the coldest of winter days. It handles extremely well, is confidence inspiring at moderate speeds and, above all, it puts a big smile on the face.

£2,600, honda.co.uk

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yamaha, x-max, xmax, x, max, 125, 125cc, scooter, commute, commuter, ride, bike, motor, engine, motorcycle, motorbike, fast, town, city

Yamaha’s X-Max 125 costs a whopping £1,300 more than the Honda PCX (that’s equivalent to around five years of insurance premiums). So where’s all the money gone? Well, the engine’s a little more powerful, it has twice the fuel capacity of the PCX, a larger disc brake up front and another on the rear (the PCX has a drum on the back), its shocks are adjustable and its front wheel is an inch bigger (15” as opposed to the PCX's 14”). Its glove compartment is lockable too.


Whether all this amounts to better value for money is a moot point. What we do know is that the Yamaha X-Max rides like a dream. The seat is a little taller than the PCX but its wider and more comfortable and there’s an ample 47 litres of storage underneath it too. The biggest noticeable difference is in the X-Max’s better braking. Otherwise there’s nothing outwardly dissimilar between the two brands. Both scoots are brilliant for crossing post codes but for our money the Honda PCX pips the Yamaha X-Max on price alone.

£3,900, yamaha-motor.eu/uk

Yamaha X-Max 125