HONDA XL125V VARADERO (2001-2009) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"Although only a 125, there's plenty of big bike feel"

Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding

"Although only a 125, there's plenty of big bike feel"

  • At a glance
  • 125cc  -  15 bhp
  • 65 mpg  -  250 miles range
  • Medium seat height (802mm)
  • Suitable for A1 licence

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Although only a 125, there’s plenty of big bike feel with the Honda XL125 Varadero. The proportions are right, the motor feels spunky and as it’s a Honda you know it’s not going to fall apart beneath you. As a first bike or commuter the Honda XL125 Varadero represents a clever investment with its low insurance group and parsimonious fuel consumption.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The Honda XL125 Varadero is a neat handling thing, thanks to its wide bars, a terrific steering lock, commanding riding position and poise. The brakes work fine, but it pays not to get too ambitious. The Honda XL125 Varadero's seat and riding position is very comfortable and not a bad place to spend a morning carving across town.

Engine 4 out of 5

There’s not much to get excited about with four-stroke 125s normally. And in the original VT125 Shadow micro-cruiser this V-twin SOHC lump just about copes. But in the Honda XL125 Varadero it rips around town just fine. With a low weight of just 149kg there’s not much mass to haul around, either. Just avoid long straights on the Honda XL125 Varadero.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

The Honda XL125 Varadero's mild steel downpipes rust through if they’re neglected over a winter, but that’s about it. Everything else on the Honda XL125 Varadero is up to Honda’s usual high standards.

Value & Running Costs 2 out of 5

Compared to its XR125L and CBR125RR stablemates a new Honda XL125 Varadero is overpriced to the tune of almost £1000 and £700 respectively and it’s hard to say it’s worth that much more than either of the other two. However, Honda XL125 Varaderos do hold their value well, but not enough to tempt the canny buyer away from the other two. Find a Honda XL125 Varadero for sale.

Insurance group: 6 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

There’s a raft of official kit for the Honda XL125 Varadero, including hard luggage, a taller windscreen, a centrestand, heated grips and sump guard. Most reviews from Honda XL125 Varadero owners will mention the addition of aftermarket parts.

Owners' Reviews

26 owners have reviewed their HONDA XL125V VARADERO (2001-2009) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.4 out of 5
Engine 4.0 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.7 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3.7 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

A perfect first bike

28 April 2014 by jtmc32

I bought this reluctantly as my first bike back in 2008, as I had my eye on the yamaha YZF125, as I didn't think this bike would be fun to ride. Boy was I wrong. When I have ridden on the back streets though, it has been a blast. You do feel... Read more the size, but it is surprisingly agile through the corners, and stops well. It has been ridden all year round, and 2/3rds of its mileage is on the motorway and the engine is still pulling as strong today as the day I bought it. It has plenty of grunt for the motorway, though does sit very high on the rev band. Even so, the mpg were still very good. The bike did well even when I was travelling with a full top box, which didn't effect the bike much. Anyone after a first bike, or a strong reliable commuting bike then look no further.

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

Alot of pull for a 125

06 June 2013 by Morgan86

My first 125, had some real pull for a 125 but weighed a ton for a 125, great bike for a bigger rider with some big grip tyres pretty good bike all round. Read more

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

Brilliant 125

20 May 2012 by Anonymous

I've just part exchanged my 2003 Varadero after 5 years of ownership and I have literally nothing but praise for it. It's one of the larger 125's but that is is no way a negative, it means it is comfortable, large tyres offer plenty of grip and... Read more has a good road presence. The riding position is upright and the seat quite tall so you get a good view of the road ahead. The bike is still quite narrow though meaning good filtering qualities. Despite being heavier than most that weight disappears on the move and it feels light and flickable and quite fast for a 125. The engine is very willing and really smooth. It also looks very smart and most people would not suspect it was a 125 though L plates are the obvious giveaway. In all the time I owned it very little went wrong. I had to replace a few bits and pieces but nothing major, it just went on and on and started first touch every single time, amazing reliability. I bought mine for £1800 5 years ago and just got £1200 for it part exchange so they hold their value ridiculously well. They are hugely expensive new though at £4500, I suppose that is an indication of all the quality, "big bike" kit you're getting if you buy one but at almost twice the price of a CBF125 I reckon it's a bit of a stretch for a 125. I've ridden plenty of 125's in my time and the Varadero is streets ahead of all of them so I hugely recommend them if you can justify the price.

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

Awesome first bike

22 February 2012 by Anonymous

This bike is in one word amazing, dont let the engine CC dissuade you for a first time purchase. I have owned this motorcycle for almost a year now and its fun factor alone is enough to make me want to keep this bike for the forseeable future. Some... Read more have complained that this motorcycle is sluggish because of its size and weight, I strongly disagree with this, the acceleration and also top speed of the motorcycle makes it more than capable of keeping in the fast lane and keeping up with traffic on hilly roads. One of my most favourite things about this bike is the fact that it can almost adjust to whatever riding style your in the mood for, it is capable of giving you the thrills if your in the mood for an adreniline fix, or give you the relaxed feel of a touring motorcycle. If you can afford it i would strongly recommend this motorcycle, i bought it used for around £3k and although the pricing maybe steeper than other 125s on the market, it is well worth it.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

BEST 125 ON MARKET

04 August 2011 by petewatson112

I have owned the Varadero for a year but rode a few other 125s before. The Varadero is in a class of its own though. The suspension allows for more rider weight than other 125s so it is suitable for heavier riders or taking a pillion. Being a full... Read more 15bhp V twin, the engine can also easily cope with any additional weight. Because of the excellent build quality, it also feels more sure footed when travelling at speed or cornering. It has the quality and feel of one of Hondas larger bikes but with the smaller engine. I have passed my test to ride a larger bike but am keeping my Varadero due to the fuel ecconomy, big bike feel and the fact that you can still have fun on it.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

Welcome back to biking

21 June 2011 by pmalcricket

Having not ridden a motorbike for 25 years, I decided that with retirement looming I'd like a weekend "toy" for runs out on minor roads in the good weather (wife permitting of course). Decided that a 125 would fit the bill - but which one? I was... Read more tempted by a new Honda CBF but there was just something about it I didn't feel comfortable with. I looked at the Yamaha offerings, but was equally unimpressed. I even considered a Chinese bike. Whilst they looked OK, close inspection showed the finish to be nowhere near as neat as the Japanese products. Then, when browsing the "net" I was attracted to the Varadero. Very expensive new, but some reasonable second hand deals. I finally found my machine, a 2007 model, 4 years old with only just over 4k on the clock and a solid service history. Have had the bike a fortnight now and am enjoying it a lot. Being 5'10 and 15 stone I needed a fairly large bodied bike and the Varadero is just that. It looks good and isn't instantly recognisable as a small engined runaround. The motor is perky enough but oh what I'd give for a sixth gear. I toddle around at about 50/55mph which is what I bought the thing for, however the engine feels a bit strained at this point with the revs well up for a fairly ordinary speed. A sixth cog would help enormously, but ho hum! That said, for a 125 it's a quality bit of kit, well put together and a truly solid feel, nothing flimsy at all. I'm going to keep it for a couple of years at which point I'll either consider my biking days over or, on the other hand, move up to something bigger. At the moment however, I'm pleased to say that my Varadero is living up to expectation and I'd recommend anyone to buy one - it won't be a disappointment.

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

best 125 for comfort

19 June 2011 by Anonymous

I have owned this bike for almost a year now. Having owned a CBF 125 before, I have to say that the Varadero handles better, is far more comfortable and has a much better build quality. Despite being 15 bhp compared to the CBF's 11 bhp, it isnt... Read more that much faster. Maybe an extra 5 mph at best. You also really need to rev the Varadero to get it going. It redlines at 12,000 rpm and hits 6000 rpm when in top gear going only 40 mph. The fuel ecconamy is slightly behind the CBF. However, for me being 6 foot 1 and 18 stone, the Varadero is the much better bike. If you are looking for something that you can comfortably ride all day, the Varadero is the bike for you. If you are considering paying the extra money purely because it offers the full 15 bhp allowed by law, I would probably say save your money as its not much faster than 11 bhp 125cc bikes at half the price.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

by far the best 125

18 June 2011 by martynuk

i have owned this bike for 5 months now and really enjoying it, bar far the best 125 ever. well worth spending the money on i have had all sorts of bikes and this is good im 22 6ft 12stone, pulls really well keep mine at red line and it has never had... Read more a problem. servicing this is really easy aswel pop it up on centre stand to do chain, changing sparks and oil is simple too. i did change the brake lines as they can be abit spoungy but well worth it feel like could get my knee down when going around an island. will give you confidence and put a smile on your face everytime you sit on it

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

My First Bike

10 May 2011 by MICKROWELL

I clock up 100 miles a day going from dep dark essex to London & back and I must admit I can;t believe that a 125 can be so good she goes fine up the A12 sitting at 65-70,has done 80 with the wind behind me downhill, and I'm not exactly a small chap... Read more anymore (6ft or so & about 15 stoneish). Now the suns out its even more fun on the back roads and only takes a tenner or so every 2 days to fill up which I think is amazing. I'm looking forward to getting a bigger bike but this things so good I'm no rush at all.

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

Cracking 125

06 August 2010 by Anonymous

I have owned my 2005 varadero for nearly a year now, and despite only clocking up 7000 miles so far i am pretty sure it is nearly the perfect 125. I took both my module 1 and 2 tests on this bike and passed first time, which goes to show that despite... Read more the big bike looks and weight it handles great, taking on every manoeuvre with ease. The wide bars and seating position give the rider a dominant position, which is just what i needed after getting swiped on a roundabout on my old cg by a driver who 'didn't see me'. The engine has reasonable pull considering the capacity and the weight it has to heave, with most of the power(typically V twin) in the higher range, with nothing much happening until 8 grand. It redlines at 12,000 rpm and if you want to be doing motorway or reasonable A road speeds then thats about where you will be sitting. The bike doesnt like going above 50mph I find and being mechanically minded I hate to pin it over long distances at high speed. despite it being a Honda I find my hand hovering over the clutch every time I am travelling long distance at 60mph +. I think that if the gear ratios were revised and a 6th overdrive gear were added, it would be perfect. Brakes are ok but really need some gripping to come to a halt quickly and two up you'll need to chuck out an anchor. I find that MPG is pretty good, taking into account the weight, gear ratios and the rev range that you need to shift about in to keep the power on. I get about 200 - 250 miles to a tank, but mine is the carb version, not fuel injected. The clocks are adequate,displaying revs, speed and the usual idiot lights while a little digital display houses coolant temperature, odometer and trip meter info. There is also a handy little 12 hour digital clock. The chunky tyres give bags of confidence but I find the suspension wallows a bit with preload adjustment on the rear monoshock only. Overall this is a cracking bike and even though i am now opened up the the world of sub 33bhp bikes I am still keeping this smashing little all-rounder.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
Read all 26 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2001
Year discontinued 2009
Original price £4,470
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 6 of 17
Annual road tax £17
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 15 bhp
Max torque 8 ft-lb
Top speed 72 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 21 secs
Average fuel consumption 65 mpg
Tank range 250 miles
Specification
Engine size 125cc
Engine type 4v V-twin, 5 gears
Frame type Steel spine
Fuel capacity 17.5 litres
Seat height 802mm
Bike weight 149kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Preload
Front brake 220mm disc
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 100/90 x 18
Rear tyre size 130/80 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

2001: Honda XL125 Varadero launched.
2003: Minor detail changes to Honda XL125 Varadero.
2011: Renamed XL125V Varadero

Other versions

None.

Photo Gallery

  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
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  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Top view
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Top view
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Top view
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda XL125 Varadero motorcycle review - Side view
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