YAMAHA ZUMA 125 / BWs 125 (YW125)
For 2009, Yamaha responded to enthusiasts cries for a larger version of the always popular BWs / Zuma scooter. Since then this machine has proven popular with BWs/Zuma fans, new scooter buyers and even the Honda Ruckus crowd who have been clamoring for a 125-150cc version of that scooter for years. The Zuma 125 is a solid seller every year thanks to its fair price and unique style. It remains a mainstay of Yamaha USA’s lineup as of 2015. Yamaha Canada did skip the 2012 model year to clear out some inventory, but this scooter was back in Canadian showrooms for 2013 and even sporting a $300 lighter price tag.
Straight to it: the YW125 is one awesome scooter. It’s got nice storage under the seat (5.5 gallons), rugged looks, excellent quality and a fancy fuel injected, 4-valve engine. The new engine is quite a bit faster than the older 125cc engine Yamaha was using in their Vino 125. The Z125 engine is entirely different than the air-cooled, 2-valve carbureted Vino 125 motor, which lags in power, fuel economy and ease of starting.
What’s interesting about this new engine is that it’s an unusual blend of new and old tech. The fuel injection and 4-valves are downright cutting edge (in engines this small), but strangely Yamaha opted to skip the liquid cooling and instead keep the temperatures under control with a fan. This is a curious decision because Yamaha has recently added liquid cooling to their two 4-stroke 50cc models. There must be some merit it to the idea though, as Honda has also gone this route with their new 2013 Metropolitan. There are some advantages to air cooling (simplicity, light weight) but the steady temperatures, close engine tolerances and higher compression ratios that liquid cooling enables are still optimal.
One known issue with the Z125 that is possibility related to inadequate cooling, is the fuel pump can cease to function when it gets too hot. Sometimes when you go for a long ride on a hot day, the fuel pump will get too hot and if you shut off the scooter and try to restart it, then the fuel pump won't operate. When this happens, the scooter doesn't respond when you press the start button. It doesn't crank over until you let it cool down for 10 minutes or so. It’s unclear if this issue has been addressed in subsequent model years and/or if Yamaha is officially recognizing this problem. It can be tough to get this warrantied as it's very difficult to replicate at the dealership, but the good news is it won’t leave you stranded for more than 10 - 15 minutes.
Top speed of this scooter is 95km/hr (57-58mph) which is enough for most roads but not really highway material. The YW125 accelerates well to 80km/hr (50mph) and then it wanders higher from there. 55mph is easily achievable in normal conditions. For owners who want more speed, lots of performance parts are already available including substantial big bore kits (see links section).
Environmentally, this scooter deserves full marks because it has a catalytic converter to reduce emissions in addition to its fuel sipping engine. Yamaha reports that this scooter gets 38km/l (89mpg) but that’s heavily on the optimistic side because Yamaha assumes you’re holding a steady 25mph (40km/hr). Realistic fuel economy is in the 70-75 mpg range. The YW125 does have a relatively small fuel tank of just 6 litres (1.6 gal) which means even if you can attain the listed 89mpg, you’re still going to be out of gas after 142 miles (230 kms).
A tiny gas tank can make going to the gas station a low cost experience, but a larger range would still be nice. Something 50% bigger is closer to the norm for this class. My personal experience with the YW125 is that you can get about 100 miles per tank under normal driving, as little as 70 miles if you do the full tank at full throttle on the highway.
Storage & Convenience
Perhaps the reason Yamaha opted to keep the fuel tank small is to maximize the underseat storage capacity. Yamaha has done a good job at providing a nice amount of storage under the seat, although moving the fuel tank into the floorboard would free up even more volume. The underseat storage area is capable of swallowing most (up to large usually) full face lids. You won’t get the seat down with an XL bucket underneath. A neat touch is that the seat is spring loaded, so when you pop it open by turning the ignition, the seat actually lifts open for you.
How about the rest of this scooter? There are a few main qualities to look for a scooter (besides the engine) which are storage, comfort, quality and style. Being a Yamaha, you know the quality is good. Comfort of this scooter is mixed. The seat has enough room to accommodate larger riders, but it’s a bit stiff for longer trips (check out this CMG review). During a 10,000 km (6000 miles) cross Canada road trip on a BWS 125, the seat comfort was tolerable, but not great.
One small gripe is that Yamaha passed up an easy opportunity to include a glove box. Perhaps it would have interfered with knee room a bit, but it looks like it could have been done. Having both a glove box and underseat storage is great so you have place for your small stuff (ownership, insurance, spare gloves etc) and then a larger compartment for....well, larger stuff. Yamaha does sell a ‘front basket’ (below) for the left side of the inner legshield, but this ‘basket’ is really a plastic cupholder and less usable than a lockable cubby hole would be.
Yamaha has priced this accessory at a surprising $40 in the USA ($47 in Canada). Yamaha’s other accessories including a windscreen ($130) and rear rack ($110). The hook shown in this photo is not included with North American Zuma 125’s, but if you get resourceful you can source one overseas.
Overall Yamaha did quite a nice job with the styling. The only funky areas are the headlights and the mirrors, both of which are easily changed. The ‘bug eye’ headlights and mirrors both look out of place because they are overly cheeky compared to the rest of the aggressive scooter. Understandably Yamaha had their hands tied with the headlights because these are one of the main design elements of the smaller BWs/Zuma. Yamaha did a nice job of updating the smaller Zuma style without losing the essence. If you wish, you can replace the cute round mirrors with aftermarket ones and replace the headlights with the Euro spec ones. Overseas, this scooter is sold with a different single headlight array (see bottom of page) that is quite nice. You can convert your BWS/Zuma 125 to this setup for about $200.
The main competitors to the Z125 are Piaggio’s Typhoon 125, Honda’s PCX 125 / 150 and Kymco’s Super 8 150. Compared to those scooters, the Yamaha battles it out with Honda for the titles of most technologically advanced and fuel efficient, while the Kymco easily wins for value ($2399). Stylistically, the closest competitor is the Typhoon 125 which is a very sharp scooter and it undercuts the Zuma 125 by $650.
Overall Yamaha has a winner on their hands - partly because they’ve managed to keep this a physically small scooter. The Z125 feels like a powerful and fun small scooter, not like an underpowered maxi-scooter which some physically large mid-sized scooters feel like. All the key dimensions of the YW125 are within an inch or two of its 50cc sibling which is why this scooter retains a sporty vibe to it. This scooter really is the same Zuma of old but with twice the motor and improved new styling. If you’ve got an extra grand to burn, the 125cc version of this scooter is the way to go unless you’re a 2-stroke fan.
OWNER REVIEWS (12) - Browse Zuma 125 Owner Reviews REVIEW - Add Your Zuma 125 Review
* Fuel injected, 4-valve, 4-stroke engine
* Rugged looks
* Catalytic converter
* Kickstand and centerstand
* Ceramic cylinder coating
* Nice looking rims
* Air cooled
* No kickstarter
* Oversized muffler
Zuma / BWs 125 Service Manual - Very helpful for anyone who works on their own scooter.
MotorscooterGuide Forums - Visit the forum on this site to chat about this scoot.
BWs 125 Review - Awesome and humorous write up by the fine folks at CMG Online
Moto123 BWS125 Review - Nice writeup
Yamaha Website - Here’s Yamaha’s page on the YW125
* MSRP: $2999 (USA 2009) to $3390 (USA 2012), $4199 (Canada 2009), $3899 (Canada 2013).
* Engine: 4-stroke, air-cooled (fan assist), SOHC, 4-valve, single
* Displacement: 125 cc
* Bore and Stroke: 52.4 x 57.9mm
* Compression Ratio: 10 : 1
* Maximum Torque: 7 ft-lb. @ 6,000 rpm
* Fuel Delivery: 24mm throttle body fuel injection
* Estimated Fuel Consumption: 38kpl / 89mpg (This is assuming you travel at a steady 25mph).
* Lubrication: Wet Sump
* Ignition: TCI / Electric Start
* Transmission: Fully Automatic
* Final Drive: V-belt / Spur gear
* Suspension: (Front/Rear): 27mm fork / Dual shock unit swingarm
* Brakes (Front/Rear): 220mm Disc / 150mm Drum
* Tires (Front/Rear): 120/70-12 / 130/70-12
* Length: 1,910mm (75.2'')
* Width: 765mm (30.1'')
* Height: 1,110mm (43.7'')
* Wheelbase: 1,290mm (50.8'')
* Ground Clearance: 125mm (4.9")
* Seat Height: 780mm (30.7'')
* Fuel Capacity: 6 litres (1.3 Imp. gal.)
* Wet Weight: 122 kg (268.4 lb)
2009: Yamaha Blue, Metallic Black, Calm Yellow
2010: Team Yamaha Blue, Alpine White
2011: Raven aka Metallic Black
2012: Raven aka Metallic Black, Alpine White (no Canadian model in 2012).
2013: Matte Black (aka Metallic Black in Canada), Dynamic Blue (USA Only), Vivid Metallic Red (Canada Only)
2014: Matte Titan, Burnt Orange Metallic
2015: Stardust Silver, Competition Silver & Heat Red
Overseas the YW125 gets a different headlight setup: