Having been largely absent from the all-important, learner legal, 125cc scooter market for a few years now, Suzuki is coming on strong in 2023 with not one, but three new models in this big selling sector.
At £2699, the Avenis (well it wouldn’t be a Suzuki scooter without a slightly odd name, would it?) is priced between the £2499 Address 125 and the £2999 Burgman EX in the brand’s learner legal scooter line-up. They’re aimed very much at the commuter on a budget, rather than the gig economy delivery riders who have hoovered up pretty much every Honda PCX125 and Yamaha NMAX to hit these shores since the start of the pandemic, and they mark Suzuki’s rebirth as a value brand, having all but abandoned its sportiest superbikes in favour of a more pragmatic model range.
The three new scooters share the same basic engine and chassis, with different styling and small spec changes across the range to try to appeal to as wide a customer base as possible. Avenis, according to Suzuki management, offers ‘Sporty City Fun’ with styling cues from Suzuki’s motorcycle range, while the Address takes more classic/retro lines and the Burgman EX echoes the posher Burgman maxi-scooters.
Which you prefer is as much down to your own preference. Looks wise, the Avenis is my least favourite of the trio, although I do like the funky ‘Lush Metallic Green’ livery of our test bike (white is also available) and the stacked LED headlight (with neat integrated front indicators). Suzuki describe the Avenis styling as ‘aggressive’ and ‘futuristic’ and although the concept of sports scooters feels a little old hat in today’s market, I think they’ve done a good job with it.
The new Suzuki 125 range is made in India, using a well proven air-cooled two-valve engine. It’s a new design in Europe, but over five million examples of what Suzuki call its ‘Suzuki Eco Performance’ motor have been produced for scoots sold in Asia and South America.
It really is a basic design, and even features an old-fashioned kickstart back-up to the electric starter (which Suzuki grandly dub ‘Suzuki Easy Start’) but it fits the brief nicely and offers just enough performance for its intended purpose.
Peak power is just 6.4kw (8.6bhp), but the Avenis is also very light at 107kg, and it’s quick enough away from the lights to keep ahead of traffic. It’s at its most comfortable in 30 and 40mph zones but understandably struggles a bit at dual carriageway speeds, especially when hitting an incline. I only saw the digital speedo nudge 60mph once in my time on the Avenis, and although I think the performance is ample for short urban journeys, there are plenty of other (albeit more expensive) learner legal scooters which offer more performance. A1 category scooters can have a peak power of up to 11kw and best sellers like the Honda PCX 125 and Yamaha NMAX, which are around £1000 more to purchase, pump out around 9kw and have a top speed around 10mph quicker than the Suzukis. It might not seem much, or indeed very important, but for some riders being able to comfortably keep ahead of trucks and buses on dual carriageways may be important in influencing their purchasing decision.
As with the motor, the Avenis’ chassis uses basic and well proven technology. Underneath the ‘futuristic’ bodywork lies a classic underbone frame design, which makes for a comfortable and practical scooter. Suzuki has gone for a small wheel design, with a 12” hoop up front and 10” at the rear. The advantages of this design are a low seat height and outstanding agility, but the trade off is a slightly harsh and skittish ride. This is most obvious when cornering in the wet, and on bumpy roads, but to be fair, Suzuki has fitted branded tyres to its 125s (Dunlop D307Ns) and the Avenis’ ride and handling is as good as any other small wheeled scooter I’ve ever ridden. That said, given the choice, I’d prefer the poise and stability offered by the bigger and wider tyres found on some more premium scooters.
Staying on the chassis, the brakes are also best described as adequate. There’s a 190mm disc brake up front, gripped by a single Nissin caliper, with a drum at the rear. There’s no ABS, although they are linked as mandated by law – with the left hand lever operating front and rear brakes together. Compared to the various mid-range scooters on the market, they’re pretty lacking in power and feel, but it’s enough to stop a 9bhp/107kg scoot and its rider. The Avenis also has a parking brake, operated by a lever on the left hand side of the handlebar, which is a nice touch when leaving the bike on an incline. There’s both a side and centre stand, aiding to the practicality.
And practical it is. Underseat storage isn’t as generous as the aforementioned PCX and NMAX, with the 5.2 litre fuel tank taking up a proportion of the space, but with 21.5 litres of space you can still get a decent sized security lock and a bag of shopping under there. There’s also the option of a Suzuki branded top box, which offers a further 27 litres of storage and is shaped to allow a full-faced helmet to be carried.
I found the Avenis to be comfortable, certainly more than adequate for the short hops it has been designed to do. We rode the Avenis alongside the Address 125 and I felt the wider handlebars on this sportier model made for a more comfortable riding position. The underbone frame and fuel tank location also gives Suzuki’s 125 range really generous floorboard space. The lack of a frame tunnel, as found on some scooters, makes the Avenis easy to mount and there’s plenty of space for the rider’s feet. You’ve also got a pair of luggage hooks, allowing bags to be securely carried while riding. The small glovebox closes (but doesn’t lock) and contains a USB charging point, allowing charging of devices on the go, which is helpful for riders using their phone as a navigation device.
The LED dash has more functionality than the £200 cheaper Address, including average and instant fuel consumption readouts. Suzuki claim a tested fuel consumption of 148mpg, giving a maximum fuel range of 170 miles, and even when riding mainly at full throttle it would be hard to go below 100mpg. These figures are in line with most other Japanese 125 scooters and considerably better than the previous generation of learner legal Suzuki scoots, the Address 110 and Burgman 125.
There’s not a lot else out there at this price from the Japanese manufacturers. Probably the closest competitor from Suzuki’s established rivals is Yamaha’s similarly specced D’elight. It also has a 12”/10” wheel combination, basic air-cooled engine (with similar power output) and an equally bonkers name, which will bug the hell out of punctuation pedants. But even if the D’elight really rides like a delight, it costs a *whopping* £3200, and in the world of budget motorcycling, that £500 saving represents quite a chunk of money which can be put towards other expenses, such as rider training, riding gear or motorcycle insurance. Instead the Avenis’ main competition is likely to be Chinese models like the Lexmoto Diablo, which is only a few hundred pounds cheaper, and Suzuki will be hoping the reputation of its dealer network and proven reliability, as well as the extended three-year warranty currently being offered, will attract buyers onto their 125s.
Ultimately Suzuki’s new-for-2023 scooter range offers excellent value for money and gives commuters the option of a Japanese branded product and the accompanying established dealer network, for the price of a Chinese scooter.
As an inexpensive set of wheels to get you to work or college, there’s little else out there to do the job as cheaply as the new Suzukis. Which model you choose is more about budget and which design you like the most, with the Avenis offering a more distinctive design and vibrant colourways than the more traditional Address and Burgman EX.
Sure there are more polished 125cc scooters out there, offering more spec and higher performance, but for £2699 the Suzuki Avenis occupies a special place in today’s marketplace and could well thrive as commuters look to tighten their belts in these economically challenging times.