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5 Best first bikes for £2500

Choosing your first motorcycle, especially when you’re an inexperienced 16-17-year-old and operating on a tight budget, can be one of the most exciting – but also daunting – experiences involving two wheels. Here’s our pick of the best first bikes for £2500 to help you choose…

Phil West

Words by: Phil West

Published on 20 February 2023 | 0 min read

On the one hand there’s the thrill of looking for your first ‘freedom machine’, a bike that’ll not only be fun and exhilarating but will also make you the envy of your mates and give you the ability to go places by yourself never experienced before.
On the other, there’s the practical concerns of fitting your particular needs, whether you’re after an AM or A1 class machine, a scooter or a geared motorcycle, an easier, upright all-rounder or something sportier and demanding… … and when you dial in a fixed budget or, say, a real world £2500, which rules out most (but not all) new bikes and so raising the concerns of reliability, durability and likely resale value, it’s a choice that gets more difficult still. Which is why our experts at Autotrader have been scratching their heads and come up with this hopefully useful guide. We asked them to pick their five best first bikes for under £2500. We’re not concerned with A2 class machines here and are instead focusing on the sort of 50s and 125s you can buy at 16 and 17. We are, however, looking at all different types for various types of riders.

5. Best AM/50cc scooter – Yamaha Aerox 50, £1899-2699

If you’re 16 and after an effective, sporty-cum-allrounder, easy-to-ride scoot and have a budget of £2500 you can, as we’ve highlighted elsewhere, still buy new. Lexmoto’s popular Echo remains under £2000 plus there’s the new WK TTR 50 which is even cheaper still, with both offering the reassurance of being new and coming with the peace of mind offered by a warranty.
If you’re thinking ‘used’, however, there ARE better alternatives. Aprilia’s sporty two-stroke, the SR 50, is considered one of the classic 50cc sports scoots, is fun, stylish, well-built, on the whole reliable and can be had for around £1500, but these now tend to be over 10 years old and 10,000miles or more. Instead, we’d pick another well-regarded classic. The Aerox 50 was Yamaha’s sports scooter offering for over a decade until being dropped in 2020. It’s superbly built, as 30mph fast as any other, stylish yet practical and has the benefit of being well-developed and from a respectable that’s easy to find dealers and parts for. New it was quite pricey – especially compared to a Chinese Lexmoto or WK. Now, however, mint, used 2019 or so examples, with little more the 2000 miles on the clock, can easily be had for £2500. Find a Yamaha Aerox 50 here.
Rieju MRT 50
Rieju MRT 50

4. Best AM class 50cc motorcycle – Rieju MRT 50, £2400-2700

Again, as with 50cc scooters, it IS still possible (just about) to buy a brand new 50cc geared motorcycle, complete with warranty. WK’s Scrambler 50 is one that immediately springs to mind – but the Chinese-built machine is very basic, if not altogether crude. Buying used, however, opens up a whole realm of, for our money, more exciting possibilities.
Our pick, this time, is a sporty, trail-styled bike, which by so being looks like a full-sized bike but is also easy to handle, stylish and fun. Spanish manufacturer Rieju specializes in sporty 50s and 125s and its MRT 50 comes in either trail bike or Supermoto form, is powered by a two-stroke, single-cylinder engine and new normally costs well over £3500. If buying used, however, you should be able to find a decent 2018 or so example that’s effectively in as-new condition with under 3000 miles under its wheels for around £2450. Find a Rieju MRT 50 here.
Peugeot Speedfight 125
Peugeot Speedfight 125

3. Best A1 class 125cc scooter – Peugeot Speedfight 125 £1800-2700

Moving up to the A1/125cc class gives an even wider choice for your £2500, not just for scooters, but for roadster and commuter style bikes and even sportsters.
Dealing with scooters first, the choice is so wide at this used price point that it depends a little bit what you want. The most popular new commuter scooter is currently Honda’s stylish, comfortable but practical and affordable PCX125, closely followed by Yamaha’s recent NMAX 125. You can easily get a 19-plate, 8000-mile PCX for £2500 and it’ll also buy you a 16-plate, 10K miles NMAX. But if you fancy something a little more stylish and sporty, yet just as highly regarded and proven, we’d go for a Peugeot Speedfight 125. £2500 will get you a virtually as-new, 20-plate, 3000-miler which is not only a great, easy introduction to two wheels, but is also proven, practical and stylish enough to impress your mates. Find a Rieju MRT 50 here.

2.Best A1 class 125cc all-round motorcycle – Yamaha MT-125, £2100-4400

For many, the safest bet when choosing their first bike at 17, is to go for a traditional, straightforward, upright roadster. This sort of machine (rather than, say, a sports or trail bike) offers easy, upright manageability (without the sometimes-high seats of trail bikes), so are great to learn on; without fairings and fancy components makes them also more affordable.
On the slight downside, all of that, as exemplified by Honda’s CB125F or Yamaha’s YS125 (which are both popular at training schools), also makes them overly sensible and unsexy – although commuter buyers probably won’t care about that. Which is why our choice at this price point is Yamaha’s MT-125. Although an ‘upright roadster’, it’s also derived from Yamaha’s class-leading 125 sportster, the R-125 and has the same frame, perky engine and quality suspension and brakes. Plus, although upright and easy to ride, it’s also comparatively stylish and well-equipped. Best of all, however, although currently approaching £5K new, £2500 will buy you a good, proven, 2015 or 16 example with around 15,000 miles under its wheels. Find a Yamaha MT-125 here.
Lexmoto LXR125
Lexmoto LXR125

1. Best A1 class 125cc sports motorcycle – Lexmoto LXR125, £2000-3400

We’ve repeatedly declared here at Autotrader that the best 125cc sportster is Yamaha’s YZF-R125 (now called simply the R-125) for its unmatched combination of MotoGP styling, quality components and build, a class-leading four-stroke engine and all-round quality few can match. Unfortunately, however, it also now costs around £5000 new and, although it dates back to 2008 which means that used examples can be had for under £2500, they tend to be fairly ropey, old high-mileage ones. The closest we found, for example, was 2009 bike with 23,000 miles, which makes us wary.
But there are alternatives. Honda’s CBR125R, although dropped after 2016, ran the Yamaha close for quality and style and £2500 will still get you a 2015 example showing about 13K miles. But overall, we’d recommend instead getting a newer and therefore better nick bike from one of the leading Chinese manufacturers such as Lexmoto. The British based brand’s LXR125 is, looks-wise, the closest thing to Yamaha’s R-125, has a similarly impressive spec and there’s not much in it performance-wise, either. Normally £3400 new, your £2500 budget will get you a barely used 2021 example on a 71-plate that’s done little more than a 1000miles. We’re not sure we’d recommend one that’s 10 years old or done over 20K, but at this age and price it makes a lot of sense. Find a Lexmoto LXR125 here.

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