Overall, the Riva 125 is a sharp looking scooter with a few shortcomings, the lack of storage under the seat and the 55 mph top speed mean that this scooter isn’t for people who need to travel on highways or carry a lot of stuff.
Lots of OEM parts available
Official Yamaha accessories
Lots of them out there
Slower than the Elite 150
Minimal storage (only a glovebox)
YAMAHA RIVA 125 (XC125)
The Riva 125 (model code XC125) was first introduced for 1985 and was sold continuously until 2001. It took a few years off after 2001 but Yamaha released a final batch for the 2006 model year. Starting in 1986, Yamaha added a ‘Z’ version of the Riva 125 which appears to simply have fancy black paint with gold striping.
Overseas, Yamaha sold a scooter called the Beluga 125 which appears to share the same chassis and body panels, but it used a 2-stroke engine. You can explore this avenue if you’re interested in the history of this scooter or simply desperate for body parts.
Powering the Riva 125 is a 4-stroke engine of 125cc displacement. This motor is an air cooled design putting out a healthy 11.4 horsepower at 8000 RPM. Torque is 8 ft /lbs at 6500 RPM. This motor seems to have been unique to the Riva 125, as no other Yamaha’s sold appear to use the same parts beyond a few simple nuts and bolts.
The Riva 125 can reach about 55mph and usually averages around 80mpg, which means you can cover about 120miles or 200kms on a tank (1.3 gal. / 7 litres) before it’s time to stop for gas. This is great mileage for a 125cc scooter.
Design and Amenities
The styling of this scooter has held up nicely over the years. Despite harking from the mid 80’s, the Riva 125 style held up well through the 90’s and continues to be a sharp looking scooter.
The storage capacity of the Riva 125 leaves something to be desired. Yamaha equipped the Riva 125 with a decent sized glovebox but was unable to free up any storage space under the seat.
As you can see, Yamaha filled up the underseat area with the gas tank and battery. This is similar to Honda’s usage of the underseat space in their Elite 150 scooter, but the Honda does have a front ‘trunk’ which allows for more storage than just a glovebox can offer. If you are going to use a Riva 125 for longer trips, consider picking up a case that you can mount to the rear rack.
The instrumentation on the Riva 125 is pretty standard fare. You’ve got an odometer, speedometer, fuel gauge and a few warning lights for the side stand, turnsignals and high beams. The only interesting inclusion is the side stand warning light which you don’t see very often. In addition to the light, the Riva 125 is also equipped with a kill switch at the side stand that stops motor when the stand is deployed. The downside of this is that you can’t warm up the scooter while it’s on the side stand, but overall it’s a good feature because the scooter won’t take off if you’ve got it idling on the side stand and the revs get a bit too high. Even more importantly, it prevents you from driving off with the kick stand down. Doing so is highly dangerous because you can lose control mid-corner if the side stand makes contact and takes the weight off the wheels.
With the Riva 125, Yamaha took a shortcut to save a few pennies and omitted a fuel filter. This was a bad call by Yamaha, but they’re not the only brand that’s done this. Fixing this omission is easy and only costs a few dollars. Ask for a universal fuel filter at your local motorcycle dealership and then snip the fuel line and slip the fuel filter into place. It’s highly recommend you do this if you’re pulling a Riva 125 out of storage because you’re only one spec of gunk or gas tank rust away from being stranded on the side of the road.
Overall, the Riva 125 is a sharp looking scooter with a few shortcomings. Specifically, the lack of storage under the seat and the 55 mph top speed mean that this scooter isn’t for people who need to travel on highways or carry a lot of stuff. You can work around the lack of storage but there’s not much you can do about the 55mph top speed. 55mph is frustratingly close to highway speeds, but it’s not something you want to have to deal with daily so it’s better to think of the Riva 125 as a very peppy scooter for around town.
For comparison, Honda’s Elite 150 scooter has a top speed around 65mph and a front ‘trunk’ to hold more of your gear. On paper, the Elite 150 seems to make more sense but the Riva 125 seems like clearly the sharper looking machine and you can find a lot newer examples.
Yamaha’s larger Riva 180/200 is another option as it has a nice top speed around 75-80mph. Unfortunately, there’s still no storage beyond a glovebox and the styling isn’t as attractive. Honda’s late 80’s Elite 250 is also worth considering if you’re looking for a highway capable scooter.
For more info on the Riva 125, check out the RivaRiders group on Yahoo. You need to sign up for Yahoo to access this group, but they have complied an impressive collection of information that makes the sign up worthwhile. There’s also a photos section and a message area where you can talk to other owners.