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The Honda CBR125 range of motorbikes were first released back in 2004. Minor changes have occured over the few years with the most significant being the addition of fuel injection in the 2007 models.
I first bought one of these from a local garage just before I passed my CBT (Compulsary Basic Training). You only need the CBT (if you have a car license) do drive one of these on the road. The CBT lasts for 2 years and you must have L-Plates on display.
I had driven a few bikes on my CBT including a small Kawasaki and a few Honda CG125's. I never liked any of these. They felt heavy, difficult and the brakes were none-existant.
So what a shock when I picked up my CBR125R (2004 model)! This is much, much better!
Firstly, you may have noticed that this bike is small. Very small. I fit on in perfect, but many people would not. It is also very thin which is great for nipping through traffic jams and getting out of peoples way, but not so good for being visible on the road.
Starting the bike requires that you use the choke. Yes, this bike has an automatic choke (you need to put it on, but the bike will slowly pull it off as it gets warm). Even though the choke is supposed to pull itself off, I found it never quite got there, so you need to remember to push it right in
when the bike gets warm. Otherwise you are needlessly burning a little too much petrol. The newer fuel injection models shouldn't have a choke.
Then you start the bike with the electric starter. Now, Honda have realised that this is a beginners bike and have tried to make it foolproof. If you try to start the bike with the kickstand down and in gear, nothing happens. Put it in neutral or pull the kickstand up and it will start. A nice simple touch. The headlight and tail-light come on automatically - there is no switch, so you never forget to ride with the lights on.
The gearbox is generally very accurate, though on the odd occasion, I did find it jumped out of gear. I quickly learned that you need to move the gear lever to the full extent to get a 'solid lock' on the gear. The clutch is a breeze and makes the bikes I used on the CBT feel like ancient history. The six gears are quite well set out and you will find that the top speed can be found in 5th gear and not 6th. Top gear can be used for economy driving.
Speaking of economy, it is easy to get 70 to 100 miles per gallon on this bike, depending on how you drive it, though you will tend to get closer to the 70mpg since this does need a bit of throttle to really keep up with traffic. The top speed is reported to be 70mph, some claim otherwise but speedometers are never accurate. My speedo would read around 75mph in normal conditions.
The bike revs nicely around to about 11,000 revs per minute and still feels fairly smooth when doing so.
Brakes are really good. They are disc brakes front and rear and after being on those CG125's, these are lovely to use and don't take much effort on the pedal and lever to come to a sharp stop.
Tyre grip is actuall quite good, even though you do wonder when you look at the small width of the tyres.
Parts are also quite cheap. Servicing is straightforward (though the fuel injection models may not be). This is a four stroke bike and little maintenance is required, unlike the two stroke competition from Aprilia. Their bikes are faster and more sporty, but the Honda is more economical and a little easier to live with day to day.
The bike is very reliable. It didn't start everytime, first time. But I always had the bike running within the first minute. Every time. Once the engine is warm, restarts are very quick (erm, for when you stall. But I never did that much. Not that I am admitting!)
The instruments are clearly and nicely laid out. The standard rev counter and speedo are included but there are also small dials for engine temperature and more usefully and unusually for a small bike, a petrol guage. This doesn't have any lights on it but is very helpful especially to new riders. There is also the indicator lights, high beam light and a light to indicate that you are in neutral gear.
The mirrors are a little odd, being attached to the handlebars they do move around slightly if you are taking a corner. But you quickly get used to them.
Currently the bike is just £15 a year to tax, my insurance was £110 for third party, fire and theft. But then I am on the other side of 25! Petrol is cheap since the MPG is so high. The bike requires very little maintenance and I barely spent anything on it in the last two years.
There is a nice big boot. Well, it's bigger than it looks and you could carry a few tools around in there.
Would I recommend this bike? You bet I would. If you are average or short and light this would be great. It particularly would appeal to a female rider. As a commuter, it is reliable, efficient, cheap, fits through the tiniest of gaps in the traffic and is also good to look at. It isn't a sports bike. But it just over £2500 - a steal.
I read in one sports bike magazine that this little bike actually won a category. It wasn't the fastest or the sexiest, but the best value for money. And it won it by a mile!
- Also on Dooyoo under my other username DarkestGrey