Top 5 Learner

So you’ve done your CBT and you want to ride some unsurfaced roads or trails. That’s great as it will teach you new skills about how to handle your bike but there are things you need to know first.

Where can I ride:

The first thing to realise is it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle on anything that is not a road, but there are two types of road or (Green Lane) that generally don’t have a tarmac coating. The first is the BOAT (Byway open to all traffic) and the second is The UCR (Unclassified road, often mark on an Ordnance Survey map as “other route with public access). You can get this information from an Ordnance Survey Map but it is also a good Idea to join the TRF.

What can I Ride:

The first thing to realise is that a green lane is still legally a road and there for whichever bike you’re riding must be fully road legal as must you so all the legal aspects explained in your CBT still apply. Below is a list of our top five bikes for learners to Trail ride on, but when riding off road the most important characteristics to consider are: Tyres (tyres designed for tarmac don’t grip in dirt), Weight (you will drop your bike so something easy to pick up is important) and Ground Clearance/ Suspension travel (Green Lanes are not smooth and you will need to cope with bumps and obstacles).

Now I’m going to/sound like your mum, don’t go out alone especially if you just begining to learn.

  1. The Safe Option

The Honda XR125L 

Key facts:

  • 11BHP
  • 119KG
  • 4 stroke 2 valve air cooled engine

The key point about the Honda XR125 is it not an out and out off road bike so it will do your weekday commute and playing in the dirt at weekend. At just under 120 kgs this will be light enough to learn to correct your mistakes on the Trail and it looks the part. Produced between 2003 and 2013.

Expect to pay around £1500

2. The Out and Out Off Roader

The KTM XC-W 125

Key facts:

  • Sold as a competition machine so will need road registering and restricting to make it legal for learner/ A1 license holders.
  • 91KG
  • 2 Stroke 125cc Six speed engine.

If you trail ride the vast a majority of other riders you come across on the trail are riding something orange, with good reason they are the market leader in off road machines for a reason. This is a dirt bike first and foremost so don’t expect luxuries like comfort and good road handling. If buying new your dealer should be able to advise you how to get it road legal. Bear in mind stock this bike will be too powerful for a CBT or A1 license so will need restricting to tay legal. When you get a full bike license this bike still won’t feel underpowered after restrictions are taken off.

Expect to Pay £6550 new second hand prices start around 5k

3. The Weird and Wonderful

Honda C90

Key Facts

  • 8 BHP
  • 82 KG
  • 2 Valve 85cc semi automatic engine

“That’s not a trail bike” I hear you cry, I have spent many afternoons on the trail with riders who will disagree. If you need more persuasion check out for evidence of these being ridden in all conditions, all weathers and all roads. The lack of weight makes up for the lack of suspension and ground clearance. The fact that these are the most popular bike ever made means that parts will be around forever.

Expect to pay £500 – £1500

4. The Pretender

The Honda XLV 125 Varadero

Key Facts

  • 14.7 BHP
  • 149KG
  • 4 Valve V Twin 2 valve engine.

I wasn’t going to put this bike in this top 5 but I feel there is a very important learning point, “adventure bikes” are not sensible trail bikes especially if your trying to learn the the techniques to ride off the tarmac. The bloated weight of adventure bikes mean that it’s difficult to learn to techniques required to ride away from the black top. This however is a comfortable commuter for tall riders and would be adequate for very gentle trails such as the Fosse Way between Castle Combe and Kemble Air Field and some of the gentle access trails on Salisbury plain (be careful if you take a wrong turn as there are some very deep ruts.

5. The Retro Option

Yamaha DT125

Key Facts

  • 12BHP
  • 116KG
  • 123cc two stroke reed valve motor

The yamaha DT125 will hold a special place to people who came of age in the late 80s or early 90s we either wanted one, had one or knew someone who had one. However due to the level of young riders who had one these are difficult to find now but if you get one and look after it as it could be an investment. This bike was designed for one thing; fun and more fun so if you can find a good one the smiles will never end.

Expect to Pay: £500 – £2500

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