Photos and Story by Matt Finley
2011 Yamaha Raptor 125 Sport ATV
First of its
Kind “Entry-Level” Quad from a Major
Yamaha-Motors raised the bar for the entire
Sport Quad community. Again. This time they did
it with the introduction of the all new Raptor
125 Sport ATV. This is considered a "step-up"
quad for youths moving up from the 90cc Raptors
and Yamaha invited us out to Ventura, California
for an exclusive ride so we could come back and
tell you all about this first in its class from
a major manufacturer youth sport quad.
Never before has one of the major manufacturers
brought this kind of performance to youth class
sport ATVs as Yamaha has done with this "entry
level" quad. The Raptor 125 sport ATV takes
riders 16 and older confidently from the world
of toy quads to the real deal without the
intimidation of moving straight up to the 250.
When you hear someone talk about a 125 ATV you
initially think small, weak, no suspension,
right? Not anymore. The Yamaha Raptor 125 is
none of that and then some. It is built on the
same frame as the Raptor 250 but it has a
smaller engine. It has 7 way fully adjustable
suspension, a 5 speed transmission with a manual
clutch and 3 hydraulic disk brakes. It is a real
sport quad in every sense of the word.
The 124cc 4 stroke single cylinder, single
overhead cam engine is light and powerful and
delivers a very usable, responsive power band.
It has a single-axis counter-balancer that helps
reduce vibration that typically transfers from
the engine to the handlebars, seat and foot pegs
and makes for a much more comfortable ride,
especially if you're going to be on it all day.
The five speed gearbox in the 2011 Raptor is the
real deal and, along with the suspension, makes
the Raptor 125 a real winner. It uses a fully
manual clutch and gives the flexibility to take
on just about any track, trail or mud-pit or
sand dune. With the power of the engine and the
manual clutch, there is not much this little
Raptor can't handle. Throw in electric start as
standard equipment that works in any gear and
you've got the makings of a real competitor.
So by this point you're probably about done
hearing me ramble on about the specs and want to
hear the real story: How is it to ride? If I had
to put it into one word it would probably be
something like Epic. Or Awesome. Or
Groundbreaking. Or Capable. Or just plain Fun!
Yamaha had a whole fleet of Raptor 125s for us
media types to hop on and ride at a specially
made track just off the beach. As you might
expect, the Raptor 125s held up beautifully
while we commenced to beating them seven ways
When I first saw the Raptor 125 I couldn't
believe it was only a 125. It looked like a 250.
When you sit on the Yamaha's ample seat you feel
the suspension swoosh down a couple of inches
then smoothly and firmly stop.
The seat is comfortable and big enough to move
around on, which is a very good thing for us
taller riders. There's not a lot of leg room but
it still seemed unusually comfortable and