Tests often end with the phrase,
“There is no winner here.” Not true of
this test, because in this showdown,
there are two winners. All you gotta
do is figure out which group you fall
into. Each bike was incredibly specific
to the skill level of the rider (and to a
lesser extent the layout of the terrain).
The YZ144 suited tight tracks, Vet and
Novice riders and those who favor
punch over-rev. On the other hand, the
YZ134 catered to fast riders who were
willing to let it all hang out in the
upper fringes of the powerband—and
willing to give up low-end punch.
Not surprisingly, even though we
went to great lengths to make both
bikes identical in the chassis layout,
suspension and setup, they handled
night-and-day differently. All riders
(slow, fast, old and young) favored the
YZ134’s handling. Why? The smoother, less abrupt, silkier and higher-rpm
powerband didn’t upset the chassis
in transitions. The riders could keep
their weight over the rear and let it
roll. With the YZ144, the harder-hit-ting power tended to upset the bike if
you weren’t ready for it. Additionally,
YZ134 VS. YZ144
when the engine went flat on top, the
bike suddenly felt heavy and sluggish
(a trait that could only be reduced by
Factory Connection’s suspension
setup was much better than the stock
Kayaba SSS components. That is saying something. Both these bikes were
faster than the KTM 125SX, but it was
a different kind of fast.
It is important to note that we are
talking about budget bike building.
We started with used bikes; however, to keep this shootout down
to its basics, you can put in a completely new bottom-end big-bore kit
(either 135 or 144) and gaskets in
these YZ125s for less than 500 bucks.
Depending on how cheaply you can
get a used YZ125, you could be on to
something special for half the price of
a new YZ125 or KTM 125SX.
In the battle of the big-bore 125s, surprisingly
more MXA test riders liked
134 over the 144.