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Moto-Roma MRX125 Enduro and SMX125 Supermotard

Road Test by Adrian Percival

The everyday basic small motorcycle seems to be totally out of fashion these days, it's sole purpose in life - getting around town, and to and from work locally seems to have been taken over by the thousands of 'twist and go' scooters infesting the world's roads! Scooters are all well and good for a lot of journeys and local trips, but there are things that a real motorcycle, even a little one, can do that a scooter simply can’t. A small motorcycle will teach its rider almost every basic riding skill there is. Clutch and throttle control, braking into corners using gears, and that fine power balance between gears and speed that only a real motorcycle gives you. It will teach you dozens of little skills that you need to make you a motorcyclist and just how satisfying it is to get them right.

Recently I had the opportunity to road test some of these styles of bikes both in 125cc and 50cc form, to say it was challenging is an understatement, but I had fun on all of them even though I'm used to riding some of the most powerful motorcycles in the world! I have split this test up into two, this covers two quite different styles of bike, Motorcross/Trail/Enduro style, and the very fashionable Supermotard style. The bikes tested were a 50cc and a 125cc version of both types of bike, and they gave us some very different results in their riding characteristics...

The first of these was the Moto-Roma MRX125B, an off-road style learner legal 125 with just 12bhp on tap. If looks are anything to go by then this little bike is up there with the best. On first impression it looks like a much bigger bike, but it really is only a 125! Again take a look at it and you see the makings of a good bike with some quality components used in the build. Simple things like braided brake lines, good disc brakes and USD Showa forks all go into this bike making it stand out from the others. It's not a basic bike by any means. This bike gives you a sweet little Yamaha 125cc four-stroke air cooled single, there's an electric starter plus kickstart, a very smooth 5 speed gearbox, decent lights, stylish mini-indicators, a good colour scheme and plenty of seat space for a pillion. What you don't get is that screaming 125cc race-rep performance of the de-restricted 2-strokes that will do almost 110mph. No this bike will do a maximum of about 75mph and run on its 8.5lt tankful for a very long time!

Riding a bike like this makes you learn to use the limited power available, but even with a lowly 12bhp on tap it's still a lot of fun to ride! You have to learn to make the best use of its power delivery, and how to make it work for you without stressing it out. Riding a bike like this will stand you in good stead no matter what you currently ride, or plan to ride in the future. The MRX125 by Moto-Roma is distributed in the UK by Barrus, a company well known in the marine world and for being the UK distributor for Malaguti scooters and motorcycles, so dealer availability and support will be on a par with the major Japanese manufacturers.

On initial impressions there is little power available from this bike, but being used to much more powerful bikes you soon come back to grass roots and start to use what there is and work it to its best advantage. The available power translates into a cruising speed of about 60-65mph, with a top speed of some 75mph on the flat with your head down! You get plenty of time to look at the scenery and yet can cover some serious ground in a pretty short time. Pleasant riding is what I can say for it, smooth on the road, with good handling and suspension taking the little MRX125 merrily on its way to wherever you care to go.

Ride the MRX125 to its design speed and torque will see you canging up at about 8,000rpm, short shifting to use the available peak power. This sees you get up to around 50mph in pretty quick time, well ahead of the cars around you waiting at the lights. Its acceleration is quite brisk in the lower gears, but unless you rev it to its limit then it becomes lazy above 60mph and there's not a lot left in top gear.

I had it up to about 75mph a few times leaning well down on the tank and had it wide open! On a flat road with no winds it slowly built up to speed with the little Yamaha motor revving away underneath. It certainly didn't do it any harm, though I wouldn't recommend doing it on a regular basis just in case. The clutch and gearbox are well up to the demands of stop-start city traffic, and on the small amount of off-road I actually did with it the MRX was very good at low speed trailing through the woods.

The frame is a neat piece of work and is modern in every aspect. This adds to the stability of the bike and allows quick direction change without any stress of worry on the riders part. The suspension is very good up front, the Showa forks are probably a bit OTT, but they do the job of keeping you in touch with the road in the best possible way. The rear is a monoshock unit, again seeming to perform very well on all types of road. I tried to make to Moto-Roma MRX125 misbehave on the road, but whatever I did it stayed well planted to the tarmac on its 21" front and 18" rear enduro tyres. It's stable at speed and very rarely do you have to close the throttle for corners!! Although it lacks the grunt to shoot through gaps in traffic, its narrow, nimble and has a great turning circle, ideal for town riding.

The braking on the MRX125 is a perfect balance for this bike. The front is a single disc with a 4 pot caliper, and the rear is a single 2 pot variant. The combination is probably more than it needs, considering its light weight of around 115kg, but it definately made stoppies that bit easier!!

The styling of the MRX is right up to date Enduro. The seat unit is almost flat on to the tank top, it's slim and has the air ducts up front a-la-watercooled engine. The fittings are good, well made and will last a long time on this bike. the one thing that probably needs a bit of getting used to is the spring-up sidestand, something I had hoped would be sent to the vault of bad motorcycle design after Ducati stopped using the 'Comedy sidestand' a couple of years ago. The instrument panel is a standard twin analogue set-up which is clear yet compact in sixe. With it you get all the warning lights set between and overall is perfectly adequate for the job. The seating is surprisingly roomy considering the bike's compact overall dimensions. The bars are the usual wide MX bars with light controls and good leverage. I never felt cramped or uncomfortable on it even after a couple of hours of riding on the road.

As a learner legal MX style bike the Moto-Roma MRX125 is just perfect, its easy to get on with, will give you lots of good service, its well built and is actually fun to ride! If you are in the market for this type of bike then get along to you nearest dealer and check one out, it's a very good value for money bike and well worth taking a look at as a serious alternative to some of the Japanese learner legals..

Moto-Roma SMX125 Supermoto

Hot on the heels of the Moto-Roma MRX125 is the fashionable SMX125, the Supermotard variant with its funky looks and small wheels. Essentially the same bike in all aspects mechanically, but with some design variations and a totally different handling style and characteristics.

The MRX and the SMX share the same 125 Yamaha 4-stroke unit, the same gearing, brakes and suspension, but the SMX Supermoto style bike rides the road and not the dirt. Up front we now get a 17" wheel with sticky road rubber as is the rear 18", and what a difference this makes to the general road handling of the Supermoto version. With the limited power of the restricted model you can now take full advantage of what you have and ride the corners at full speed (well most of them if you want!), the SMX just sticks to the road like glue, has a good turn in and with the USD Showa forks it glides over any surface imperfections with total ease.

The difference between these two bikes is purely in the roadholding, nothing else mechanically comes into it, in all aspects they are the same bike. For my money there is little between them, just your personal preference for versatility on or off-road. If you want to draw attention in the high street then the SMX Supermoto is for you, for a bit of trail riding and such then go for the MRX, or the Limited Edition MRX 125 Pro with its extras and alternate styling.

Whatever your choice either of these Moto-Roma 125's offer you great value for money and are bang up to date on styling. That's what these bikes are all about, they're both very forgiving to ride and are great learner tools without being boring at all!


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