2011 Yamaha Raptor 125 Ride Review
Small price, BIG FUN!
September 23, 2010
I was impressed with Yamaha's excitement toward their new Raptor 125. After a five minute drive from the hotel I gazed upon a well-built track on the infield of Ventura Raceway, which is mostly used for sprint car racing. I was blown away with how serious Yamaha was about showcasing the Raptor 125's abilities. The track completely filled the infield of Ventura Raceway's oval. It looked as good as a National TT course, actually better than many that I've raced on. The track seemed to have everything you could want; whoops, tight turns, table tops, plenty of jumps, berms, off-camber turns and an awesome high-speed sweeper. Needless to say, I was stoked!
Yamaha could have made many big mistakes with this quad but I'm thrilled to say that they didn't. The machine is based on the Raptor 250 but wisely they didn't just put a smaller engine in the 250's frame and call it a day. First off, the Raptor 125 gets its power from a proven quick-revving 124cc TTR-based air cooled four stroke work horse, which features a two-valve, single overhead cam, five-speed manual transmission and electric start. Powering a quad isn't as easy as it is on a bike, so Yamaha equipped the TTR engine with its own exhaust, 29mm Mikuni BSR carb, cam system and clutch assembly. The engine delivered smooth power with a good mid-range punch.
The Raptor 125 shares the same A-arm and swing-arm suspension components and handling characteristics of the award-winning Raptor 250. It gets its smaller size from a more forward and lower handlebar location, which can easily be moved for bigger riders, or a growing youth rider. In short, it's a smaller quad yet it has an amazing roomy feel. Yamaha is quite proud of this and gives credit to an ergonomically-designed seat and redesigned riding position.
Hydraulic disc brakes are used front and rear, and I might add Yamaha uses the same high-rigidity calipers that have the same rotor and master cylinder as the award-winning and top-selling Raptor 700R. Like its big 250 brother five-way preload adjustable suspension is used. Up front the machine features a respectable 7.5 inches of travel and 7.9 in the rear.
The mighty little TTR based 124cc engine in the Raptor 125 makes smooth power even when lugging around full sized adults.I'm so glad Yamaha opted to use tires and wheels made specifically for the Raptor 125. These aren't Raptor 250 hand-me-downs. Maxxis 19” x 6”-10” tires are used up front and low profile 18”x 9”-8” units on the rear. The specially built Maxxis tires are absolutely perfect for this machine. The smaller wheels and tires mean less rotating mass and allow a slightly lower center of gravity. I noticed almost no roll or tipiness. Breaking the rear end loose was simple and fun, almost addictive at times, yet the machine got up and went with excellent forward moving traction.
The 125 handles just as well if not better than the 250 yet weighs a whopping 31 pounds less making it the lightest production sport ATV ever at just 299 pounds wet weight. With this excellent power to weight ratio I was able to completely man-handle the quad at will. The feeling of being in absolute control over the machine at all times is a complete blast, perhaps this is why so many adults are obsessed with the 50cc pit bike. Enter yet another market for this exciting new quad.
It only took a lap on the well-made blue-grooved track and I was in love with the cool new Raptor 125. The ride is smooth, predictable and very fun. I was impressed that I never once blew through the suspension and not once did I feel as if I were riding a wimpy low-cost “mini quad”. I could wheelie at will, brake hard and late into the corners and pitch the quad sideways to steer through the turns. All the while, I don't know how, but I never felt cramped. What a blast!
Yamaha opted for smaller wheels and tires for the 125. With less rotating mass and a lower center of gravity the Raptor 125 handled fantastic. The Maxxis front and rears are spot on for this ATV.Yamaha packed plenty of Raptor 125s in their semi trailer so there were plenty available for everyone, including; several magazine editors, Yamaha employees, Yamaha's factory backed rider Dustin Nelson and photographer-genius (and experienced Pro-Am racer) Adam Campbell. The race was on every time someone entered the track, and when exiting big smiles were everywhere. It's with this that I had to ask myself, would it be more fun if I were on a 450? Well, I think I would have gotten tired faster – that's no fun, we wouldn't have had as much bar to bar racing to smile about and if I were paying I would have had to shell out another five grand! So, my answer to my question was no.
It's also worth mentioning that after a day of hardcore bar banging extreme fun, Adam Campbell's photo assistant, Joanna, a first time rider, took to the Raptor 125 with ease and had just as much fun as the rest of us. I think this really tells the story about this new sport quad quite well.