Make no mistake about it, the TM MX125 is fast. How
fast? It lacks a bit off the bottom, but it has the same peak
horsepower as the 2018 KTM 125SX.
Q: HOW FAST IS THE 2018 TM MX125?
A: Faster than we thought it was going to be. We
know that TM’s specialty is two-strokes, but we didn’t
think it would be able to run with the powerhouse brands
like Yamaha, Husqvarna and KTM. We brought our 2018
KTM 125SX and Yamaha YZ125 out with us when testing
the TM MX125. What did we notice? First, we felt the
lack of bottom-end power right off the bat compared to
the 125SX, but then in the middle of the powerband the
TM came on strong and kept pulling. Fast riders were torn
between the two engines. Second, the YZ125 was left in
the dust by both the KTM and TM. We did multiple head-to-head drag races between them. We did roll-on starts in
second, third and fourth gear. We constantly switched the
riders and still got the same results. Each and every time,
the KTM 125SX got a small jump while the TM MX125
made up ground in the upper rpm ranges. Once the bikes
were wound out, we couldn’t tell who was the victor.
The TM MX125 is more exciting to ride than the 125SX.
It has a midrange sweet spot that ignites the afterburners.
The KTM 125SX has a more linear and easier-to-ride style
of power. We helped the bottom end of the TM by going
up one tooth in the rear. This allowed our testers to pull
harder out of corners and get to third sooner, and it made
the engine easier to ride in its sweet spot. If you like the
adrenaline rush of holding the throttle to the stops and
hearing a smoker sing, you will love riding this bike. On
the dyno, the TM MX125 offers more peak horsepower
than the 125SX, although the 125SX has more torque, more
bottom end and about the same midrange power.
Q: WHY IS THE TM MX125 TAILORED TO
A: Simply because TM’s test riders are fast. The
Italian Federation helps develop young riders to grow
stronger riders for its country. The Federation works hand
in hand with TM, and TM uses these fast, young riders to
develop the TM MX125 in the toughest racing conditions
around. They test by racing, and when they aren’t racing,
they spend a lot of time at the toughest MXGP circuit,
Lommel, to put their bikes through the wringer; however,
testing in the deep sand doesn’t always jive with the con-
ditions that American riders are used to.
Q: HOW DO THE KAYABA FORKS WORK?
A: In the past, we said that the same internal components were used in both the YZ125 Kayaba SSS forks and
TM MX125 forks, with only the valving being different.
This was always hard to believe, as the TM MX125 forks
were atrocious. They were extremely stiff but would blow
through their stroke if you hit hard enough. In MXA’s opinion, they were the exact opposite of the SSS Kayaba forks
that we know and love. Why doesn’t TM just copy the
YZ125 settings? Because Yamaha made an agreement with
Kayaba that KYB could not share Yamaha’s valving spec
with anyone. We get it. A lot of time and effort went into
developing the best fork to ever come down the production
line. We just don’t understand how the TM’s Kayaba fork
could be so bad.
If you remember, we used to say the same thing about
KTM’s WP suspension. They would develop the settings
in Europe, but when it came to American tracks, the forks
were horrible. So what gives? European tracks and riding
styles are vastly different. KTM eventually caught on to
what was happening and started paying attention to its
American R&D department, developing American specs
for its suspension. So, why doesn’t TM have European
and American settings? With TM only selling a handful of
MX125s on U.S. soil, it wouldn’t be cost-effective for them
to develop two settings. Although, for 2018, they met the
American riders halfway.
The 2018 TM MX125 forks are a breath of fresh air. They
are still too stiff, but they move, and when they move, they
don’t bottom. To make for a more forgiving ride, we took