When I bought my 2004 Honda Varadero, I did so with my sensible hat well and truly on. The bike is expensive, there is no getting away from that fact, however, with my biking experience totalling about 20 minutes, the Varadero represented an easy introduction into motorbikes. The bike verges on loveable, it wants, and tries so hard to be a bigger bike, and as close as a 125cc could get
The steering is light, has a tiny turning circle, and the bike weighs very little. Add to that the ability to get anything up to 90mpg, means this bike is a great commuter, coupled with an enormous 17l tank, you will get 200 miles per tank easily. If you can get it below 65mpg, then it will be an impressive feat.
The 125cc V-Twin engine is a riot. While it lacks any top speed, it will still peak over 70mph, so is a genuine dual carriage-way machine. Acceleration from a standstill can be a little sluggish if you’re slow on the throttle, but the 12,800 rpm peak feels urgent when you want to have fun. Even better, its smooth, which means it won’t try to vibrate you to pieces like a lot of single cylinder engines.
As with just about every Honda the gearbox is a bit clunky, but the lack of engine size means it’s pretty good. The odd ‘box of neutrals and false gears is annoying, but are rare. The nicest thing is being able to beat the clutch and gearbox mercilessly and it just thanking you for it.
Expect to pay about £1500-2000, which for a 125cc is steep, but you’ll not regret it if you want a truly competent bike to give yourself confidence while you learn the intricacies of biking. If you asked me for the worst thing about the Varadero, it would be you do not get a fuel gauge. On the EFI version (’07 onwards), you get a light to tell you that you are on the 2l reserve. All other versions get a reserve tap, which is ridiculous in my opinion.
All in all, this is, in my opinion, THE best 125 you could ask for. It’s as powerful as a 125cc can be, it’s got a lovely engine, can take weight (I’ve been two up and it’ll still do 65-70mph), its 17 fuel tank gives a HUGE range, it’ll try hard when you ask it too, or just trickle along with rush hour traffic, and it handles nicely. Why WOULDN’T you at least consider it?