HONDA CBF125 (2009-on) Review

Published: 10 July 2009

"Dependable utilitarian transport but with a dash of style"

Honda CBF125

"Dependable utilitarian transport but with a dash of style"

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Cheap-as-chips replacement for the venerable CG125 offers the same kind dependable utilitarian transport but with a dash of style. The CBF125 has flown out of showrooms since its introduction in January – so much so that dealers complain of not being able to get hold of them quickly enough – and we’re not surprised. It’s a Honda, it’s good looking, it’s cheaper to run than catching a bus, it may be the only transport you need and it costs just a shade over £2000 on the road. It’s even been described as fun. The only question seems to be: Why doesn’t everyone have one?

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

Handling and brakes (drum rear and single disc front) are the right side of competent. For half-hour rides it’s as comfortable as almost any bike but on longer trips your backside will pay a price for the cheap and cheerful twin rear shocks, especially on the motorway. In town you may be reminded of a rocking horse when switching between braking and accelerating in stop-start traffic.

Engine 4 out of 5

The CBF’s 124.7cc four-speed fuel injected single is squarely aimed at delivering fuel economy rather that thrills. With a top speed of around 65mph, it’s up to motorway use but you might not want to make a habit of it. Honda claim 11bhp, one more than its closest rival, Yamaha’s YBR125. In reality there’s nothing between the two in performance. In an MCN test neither could pass the other flat out. 

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

At this price something has to give. So perhaps it’s not surprising, if disappointing, that the finish on the exhaust doesn’t seem fit to last. An MCN test bike was showing rust after a few weeks of winter use. We have also heard from readers unsatisfied with the longevity of that matt black finish. Plastics are flimsy, with easily broken grommets. If the CBF has inherited anything from the CG125, reliability shouldn’t be an issue.

Insurance, running costs & value 5 out of 5

In Top Trumps this is where the CBF would be unrivalled. Unless perhaps the other player had a YBR125 card. The CBF started the year at £1795 but has now gone up to £2020, just £49 less than the YBR. The CBF comes with fairing while the YBR is naked; but the YBR has a rack, arguably more important on this kind of bike, and the CBF doesn’t. Fuel economy figures don’t help. Honda claims 134mpg for the CBF but it managed an actual 87.5mpg in MCN tests while the YBR returned 87.3. In the end superior styling makes the CBF seem like a better overall package per dollar while both bikes offer economy levels to put public transport to shame. Find a Honda CBF125 for sale.

Insurance group: 4 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

The CBF is all about providing only what you need for the cheapest possible price. In equipment terms that means numbers around the edge of the speedometer dial indicating what gear you should be in instead of a rev counter. You do get a fuel gauge, though. If you start with a brimmed tank, you’ll have about a third left by the time it says half. Compare and buy parts for the Honda CBF125 in the MCN Shop.

Owners' Reviews

35 owners have reviewed their HONDA CBF125 (2009-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your HONDA CBF125 (2009-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 3.9 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3.6 out of 5
Engine 3.7 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3.6 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.3 out of 5
Equipment 3.3 out of 5
4 out of 5

23 August 2016 by topplayer89

A fantastic bike for a learner or commuter, bullet proof engine and looks fantastic. The seat is uncomfortable after about an hour of ridding and struggles on faster roads anything over 50mph and it starts screaming. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
Braking system is poor quality and the seat is quite bad for long journeys but that said does have a very good riding position.
Engine
5 out of 5
great engine for a 125cc but could do with a couple more horses in there
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Very reliable never had any issues starting, only part to fail was the fuel pump which is a very common fault with these machines due to there not being a fuel filter (replaced and installed inline fuel filter)
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Very easy to self service, great mpg and low on insurance.
Equipment
4 out of 5
Pretty good bike as standard but would recommend changing the brakes, seat, tyres and must install an inline fuel filter.
4 out of 5

Good 125 to learn and commute on, lots of fun would recommend :)

30 March 2016 by Andrew

Really overall good bike, not as tiny as they look in pictures, pretty high up, but its a 125 so yea..., however its not that slow alot faster than a YBR, and I noticed mine became pretty fast after putting an aftermarket exhaust on it ;) Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
the brakes are ok, like most 125 brakes their not amazing, HOWEVER the engine breaking on this 125 is amazing
Engine
4 out of 5
Typical 125 engine, and with stock exhaust does not sound that bad for a 125, even better than a stock YZF, Not sure who makes the engine, it has decent power and kicks off the line faster than a ybr (what I learnt on) the CBF is a much faster version of most YBR's due to its engine having more BHP
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Its HONDA. Service cost can be between £50 £100, depends. ITs fuel is amazing, round about 200 miles before refuel and that is like £8 lol
Equipment
3 out of 5
Typical basic Equipment, to keep the cost down, No clock which people moan about however who wants to look at the time, enjoy the ride :)
Buying experience

got it from a dealers, I'm its second owner, pretty cheap even tho it was basically brand new.

4 out of 5

125 is best edition /o/

15 March 2016 by James

Fantastic value- Jap design but Indian build quality Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
2 out of 5
Not a very refined ride and the saddle can put pressure on your behind. A few times after a motorway stint my feet have been "buzzing" for a while after due to the engine vibration. Much more nimble at low speeds than bigger bikes but not as good as the YBR or msx as it feels a bit heavier to me. I've dropped it once or twice on flat ground too. Brakes are decent, you have a single disc at the front and a drum at the back. I've never had problems with over our under braking here and they're ideal for their purpose it seems. Riding on the motorway or in strong wind is often a scary thing- if anything passses you, you get buffeted! I've had a pillion a lot and it works well, do remember to over compensate for the extra weight, when had a 20 stone guy on the back and it coped (just) but you better be good friends first!
Engine
4 out of 5
Responsive at lower gear ranges but tips out at about 63mph. I'd love a bit more response going round bends or up hills.
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
It is reliable but if you really care about looks, swap the factory bolts out for stainless steel as soon as possible. They rust very, very easily and the painted components don't last long against the elements. I had to leave it out outside under a cover for a few days and the deterioration was pretty bad. To be this cheap new, you have to save somewhere... Mechanically though the bike is very reliable. I've done about 3000 miles in 2 years and haven't had any serious issues. Worth fitting a Scottoiler too.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
I take mine in for an annual service but aside from that, nothing else really needed. Fuel economy is nothing short of amazing so I wouldn't begrudge spending on it every now and then and this is the best choice for a courier or commuter bike hands down.
Equipment
3 out of 5
New it's very, very basic. You need to sort yourself out with some decent panniers, or a tailbag. I recommend the Oxford first time range which works great. Otherwise, you get a crappy little toolbag under the seat. Security wise, this would be very easy to nick so have a think about that too- get a decent, alarmed disk brake.
Buying experience

I bought this new from a dealer and they've been pretty good. They did leave it outside for a good while before I picked out up from a service which wasn't ideal, but I couldn't pick it up for ages anyhow. There was a 0% finance offer on at the time and it recommend this to anyone considering their first car- get this instead and save a few Bob

4 out of 5

07 October 2015 by Oily Steve

great ecinomical 125 though dont expect amazing trinkets or performance Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
considering to put a 4 but was reluctant to. ride quality is far better than a CG125 and i would say miles better than a YBR125 as well (i had one before the CBF). however the conti go tyres wont inspire confidence, though if you go for it you can get quite a surprising lean on it, thats from me and a couple riding freinds. brakes on 125s are generally bad all round so dont expect the CBF to be good, break earlier than if you were on a bigger bike
Engine
4 out of 5
The baby air cooled single is a really good engine, dont have to replace the filter as often as it is a strange one (mechanic said it was a centrifugal filter). plus a CBR125 will only go at most 5mph faster and will cost you at least £700-800 more if you wanted it in the same condition i got the CBF in so good value for money again. gets breathless at 65mph and hates steep hills but all 125s do as well. I had a cheeky ride down the biggest hill i could find and the speedo said 82mph. so probably 75-76 at a push.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Its got the honda reliability here. has been run over twice in a car park (wasnt even on it) and have been T boned. ( I commute near a college, 18 year old drivers generally have the vision of stevie wonder) but it keeps going!! done ten thousand miles on it and is just about to go into its second winter. the forks are flaking paint and the exposed metal (engine ect) is starting to rust. but for a cheap bike that was imaculate when i first bought it 2 years ago at £1,450 it has done amazingly well.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
cant fault it at all here. the accidents have all gone on the insurance and has never been written off when i thought it would be. the parts turn out to be rather cheap! buying it for £1,450 with the miles only barely wearing in the engine was wonderful considering the "expensive" styling. rear tyre costs about £40-60. chain and sprocket was about £30, chain hasn't lasted long, only about 4 thousand miles and needs replacing. the rear drum brake wont need replacing until we discover warp drives so there is little you need to service.
Equipment
2 out of 5
the the equipment it carries: Fuel gauge Speedo. Thats it, the newer model has a rev counter (i dont have one), but honestly what else to you need.
5 out of 5

Perfect little learner bike.

20 July 2015 by Tim

Lovely litttle bike to learn the basics or just to whizz about town. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
I weigh 17 stone. This little bike was a bit small for such a large guy but was still great to nip around on for upto an hour at a time.
Engine
5 out of 5
Sweet little engine. Plenty of nippiness round town. Ran out of puff on 60 and 70 MPH roads. Not really what it was designed for anyway.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Great quality little bike. The fuel pump failed but was quickly replaced under warranty by Hatfields of Crowthorne. No other problems at all.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
£14 road tax and 140+ MPG! Whats not to love?
Equipment
4 out of 5
Had to fit a small clock on the handlebars as no clock on instrument cluster.
Buying experience

Bought as ex demo from local Honda dealer, Hatfields of Crowthorne. First class service.

4 out of 5

31 May 2015 by Jack Denvir

While the CBF 125 does have issues, it still provides a great leaner legal bike or a great short distance commuter. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
While dual shocks are seen as old fashioned, it provides decent suspension in conjunction with the conventional telescopic forks. Seat is on the hard side and longer travels will become a pain. The single front disk and rear drum provide decent breaking, with my only complaint being the drum is a little vague in application.
Engine
4 out of 5
The CBF engine is a typical Honda engine, as in it's fairly bulletproof. With a 124.7cc 4-stroke engine producing 11.3 bhp, it's decent for an A1 category bike. While the bhp isn't right up there on the A1 limit, it still produces good speed with 70mph being a realistic goal.
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
Due to production in India the overall quality is average. Rust will be a common adversary (With the exhaust being normally the first example) and there are widespread reports of the Fuel Injection system being very susceptible to dirt and impurities. The plastic half fairing and belly pan aren't the highest quality but do the job. But overall considering its a cheap 125 its not too bad. Something to point out is that the CBF is a surprisingly large size bike for the 125 category. Its not Varadero 125 big but its larger than the YBR or old CG
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Running costs are very low. Fuel consumption is low and one tank gets around 150 miles at lowest (and fastest) or around 400 miles when you are being fuel conscious.
Equipment
3 out of 5
Post 2011 CBFs benefit from having a tachometer on the cockpit, along with the standard speedometer, fuel gauge, high beam indicator, neutral indicator and indicators. For commuters a larger front screen and top box are a must. Disappointedly there is no kill switch, passing light switch or hazard lights. ABS isn't available nor is Honda's combined breaking system.
5 out of 5

Competent little commuter

10 July 2013 by konarob8

It does what it is supposed to. It is cheap to buy, frugal in use and competent enough on the road. I've ridden worse. It isn't perfect, another few HP would make all the difference to its usability, it struggles to make more than 50-60 with 14... Read more stone of me on the back. It could do with a clock, I've zip tied a cheap digital clock on to the handlebars. The headlights are a bit puny too, it's fine in town, but once you get out into the country or on a bigger road you realise how weak they are. All that said though, I think it is primarily designed as an urban commuter and in that role it excels. Well over 100mpg, cheap to tax,easy to ride, give it a wash down and oil once a week and it seems fine (I've had mine for nearly a year). The only problem I've had was avoiding the M25 trying to get to Heathrow and I think it overheated in the traffic jams, it started having fuelling problems. But after letting it cool down for a few minutes it was fine and the problem hasn't recurred. If you only want a 125 (and not a high powered one at that) this could be for you.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
1 out of 5

Leave Well Alone

31 May 2013 by sgtspet1375

Bought as new as a commuter bike and can't wait to get rid of it. Looks the part. That is the only plus point. The rest is all negative. have had problems from near enough from buying it. Very sluggish. Struggles to maintain 50 mph. struggles to... Read more change down in gears. What doesn't help is that you're tied in to expensive services with Honda dealers to keep your warranty valid.

Ride Quality & Brakes
2 out of 5
-
Engine
1 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
1 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
1 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Good commuter but..

10 April 2013 by lukeg

The CBF makes for a great commuter but if you're looking for a quick, fun bike at 17, this won't be the one. I found that the tyres were too skinny and feel like you'll topple over if you tip into a corner too quick and also that the metal parts do... Read more tend to rust away if left in the rain overnight. Main components that rust are the top fork bolts, gear changes, pedals, brakes...list goes on. Other than my gripes, the CBF is a great commuter but with a top speed of 70mph on a good day, it's not for the speed seeking, 17 year olds. I have to say though, the engine is brilliant, you can give that little 125 engine as much grief as you want and it will still come fighting back.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Awesome....!

15 September 2012 by moz251

I have owned my CBF125 for a while now, its the 2009 model and has covered now just over 25,000 miles which is quite alot for a little bike. I have serviced the bike regularly (New plug,oil etc) and it works well. My only slight reservations are the... Read more paint on the exhaust which does flake off after a while, however I have taken it off the bike sanded it down and resprayed it with matt black BBQ paint which is heat resistant and does the job. Also due to the mileage it is now a little smokey when in traffic, so it is off to my local garage next week for a new set of piston rings and an exhaust valve seal. Which means it should be good for another 25,000 :-) I've got to say even with its minor ailment it still got me to work and back every day (about 20 miles there and the same back) effortlessly... :-) As the 1970s advert said, "Good things happen on a Honda"!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
Read all 35 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2009
Year discontinued -
New price £2,600
Used price £1,300 to £2,500
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 4 of 17
Annual road tax £17
Annual service cost £90
Performance
Max power 11.3 bhp
Max torque 8.27 ft-lb
Top speed 65 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 87.5 mpg
Tank range 250 miles
Specification
Engine size 125cc
Engine type Air-cooled 4-stroke 2-valve OHC single, fuel injection, 5 gears
Frame type Tubular steel
Fuel capacity 13 litres
Seat height 792mm
Bike weight 128kg
Front suspension No
Rear suspension Preload only
Front brake 240mm disc, twin-piston calliper
Rear brake Drum
Front tyre size 80/100x17
Rear tyre size 100/90x17

History & Versions

Model history

New for this year but replaces CG125.
1975: Honda CG125 launched.
1988: Main Honda CG125 production shifts to Brazil.
1996: Honda CG125 `clones' exported in volume from China.
2004: Updated Honda CG125 gets disc front brake, bigger tank, new styling.
2009: Replaced by CBF125

Other versions

None

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