HONDA CB125R (2018 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Neo-retro looks
  • Ride it with a CBT
  • Honda build quality

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £170
Power: 13 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.1 in / 816 mm)
Weight: Low (278 lbs / 126 kg)

Prices

New £3,949
Used £3,100 - £3,700

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Honda CB125R is an entry level neo sports café style naked 125 that sits at the bottom of Honda's CB range. The styling is repeated all the way through the range, including the CB300R, CB650R and CB1000R. 

The small bike benefits from quality touches like beefy 41mm upside down forks, a four piston radial caliper and an LCD dash. Together these parts lend an added layer of sophistication not found elsewhere in this class.

Despite this, the front brake does lack bite and with a seat height of 816mm, it could feel intimidating to shorter novices.  

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Riding along the rain soaked, pothole-laden cobbled streets of Lisbon, Portugal, the ride felt plush and forgiving – ironing out all but the largest of creases with minimal fuss.

As well as being comfortable, it also feels refreshingly nimble, thanks to grippy Dunlop Sportmax GPR-300 rubber and a claimed kerb weight of just 125.8kg – allowing you to scythe through congestion with ease. 

Away from the city centre, the little Honda is also perfectly competent when the going gets twisty, with plenty of ground clearance to inspire healthy lean angles and a mildly aggressive riding position.  

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

At the heart of the CB125R lies a peppy 125cc 2v SOHC liquid cooled engine, producing 13.1bhp. Although up to 1.7bhp down on its main rivals, it’s more than capable of getting ahead and staying ahead of the urban sprawl.

Allowing the bike to stretch its legs, the power delivery feels linear and predictable with a strong low to mid range pulling comfortably all the way to its 11,000rpm redline and producing a characterful warble, reminiscent of a low capacity trail bike.

This is audible at all times, too - thanks to a deliberately up-turned muffler, which Honda designed to help novice riders operating a motorcycle for the first time.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Unfortunately, my time spent with the CB was not without fault and on a few occasions, the bike refused to click from neutral to first gear. 

The front four-piston radial caliper also feels vague and progressive, lacking that initial, confidence inspiring bite that learners desperately need.

The owners' reviews for the CB125R are overwhelmingly positive and it scores a 4.4 out of 5 stars for reliability so that legendary Honda build-qulity is still worth the hype. The single cylinder engine is well tried and tested, too.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The CB125R is serious value for money. It's the second cheapest in class (sitting behind the lesser-equipped Suzuki GSX-S125) and boasts a similar spec sheet to the more expensive Aprilia SX125, KTM 125 Duke and Yamaha MT-125 options.

Being a Honda, you also get the added bonus of a strong dealer network – something not shared as much by the Aprilia or KTM. 

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

Replacing the now outgoing fully-faired CBR125R, the upright CB adds a level of sophistication to the genre, offering big bike looks and components alongside a claimed lightest weight in class and near 300-mile tank range.

With an easy to read and operate LCD dash upfront, the CB also shares the same frame and 41mm upside down Showa forks as the larger soon-to-be released CB300R and would be more than adequate for experienced riders looking for a cheap inner-city commuter. 

You also get an appropriately-damped non-adjustable rear shock, full LED lighting (including indicators), IMU-operated two-channel ABS and a four-piston radial front brake caliper. 

Specs

Engine size 125cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled 2v SOHC single
Frame type Tubular and pressed steel
Fuel capacity 10.1 litres
Seat height 816mm
Bike weight 126kg
Front suspension 41mm upside down fork, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Single shock, preload adjustable
Front brake 296mm single disc. Radial four-piston caliper
Rear brake 220mm single disc. Single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 110/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 150/60 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £20
Annual service cost £170
New price £3,949
Used price £3,100 - £3,700
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 13 bhp
Max torque 7.4 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

2018: Model introduced.

Owners' reviews for the HONDA CB125R (2018 - on)

9 owners have reviewed their HONDA CB125R (2018 - 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 CB125R (2018 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Engine: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Equipment: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Annual servicing cost: £170
5 out of 5 Great learner bike and more.
11 September 2020 by Stephen Moore

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £80

Great bike for the first time rider. Looks like a bigger bike and handles well. Very comfortable and easy to ride.Would recommend it.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Love it.

Engine 4 out of 5

Very good power delivery. Just wish I was a bit lighter. At 15st. 60mph is a good outcome but lacks a bit on any type of hill which, I suppose, is understandable.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

One year and 1500 miles and no issues.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

First service after 6 months and 500 miles. Thorough service, was in garage for over 2 hours. Have had no problems with the bike and it feels much better with age and mileage.

Equipment 4 out of 5

ABS as standard. Good lights. Tyres seem ok but I`m no expert. You have to take the seat and tank off to access the battery, so think they should include a battery hook-up under the pillion seat to enable easy re-charging over the winter months.

Buying experience: Great service from the guys at Honda, Farnham. About £4000.00 OTR.

5 out of 5 My first bike
29 August 2020 by BD

Year: 2019

For my first bike fresh from CBT it is excellent, Looks fab and is a dream to ride.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Absolutely lovely to ride. Brakes could be better but are sufficient

Engine 4 out of 5

Could do with the couple more HP

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Top class build

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Really easy on fuel goes on the smell of it. Service was cheap at Honda dealer and runs better now.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Has everything and more for a 125

Buying experience: Dealer was excellent

5 out of 5 The best 125 for all round riding
09 August 2020 by MB152

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £375

The looks and styling perfectly sits between 'i am a new rider' cb125 and silly fully faired 'wannabe a big bike' cbr125. Battery placement is awkwardly under the petrol tank rather than the seat especially given the battery's tiny short lifespan

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Having had a driver drive into me and a cb125 as a courtesy bike, the CB152R is in a different world in comparison. Shows forks make for a better ride. Higher seat makes you feel more confident on the road. The 13hp, 6 speed transmission makes for sporty feel without being intimidating for a new rider

Engine 5 out of 5

Perfect commuter through London, enough low end torque to not be intimidating but still be fun off the lights. Average speeds to London about 50mph so comfortably in the mid range. At 70mph it is also plucky on the flat but uphill obviously struggles for power but nothing in comparison to other 125s

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

The battery is tiny and I've had one replaced and 3 flat batteries. Partly down to a faulty tracker. I can live with this though as it just means I ride it more

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Servicing with Honda for first 3 services. I run mine for 60-70 miles to London office and back each week and costs £15 a week which is 2 tanks at £7-8 per tank! Cannot argue compared to the train at £500 per week!!!

Equipment 5 out of 5

People give the dash low ratings but they are 100% better than an analogue and more trust worthy. I haven't had any issues with sunglare but use the bike for commuting so early/late sun. You shouldn't be looking at your dash much anyway!!

Buying experience: Honda dealership near me were perfect and I am sure like many bike dealerships, they become extended biker friends before dealers.

4 out of 5 Proper bike little engine
24 May 2020 by Chris

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £80

Not got to ride much and I’m a first time rider. Seems to be a high wind blast at 40+ Bought a givi screen that makes a huge difference . Listed top speed is only achievable down hill with a tail wind I’m only 5’4 an 12 stone.

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

It’s much better with the givi screen the rear seat storage is next to useless I can fit a disc lock in an that’s it.

Engine 3 out of 5

It’s what you get from a 125

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

Led light are great Quality suspension compared to many of others that I looked at. Looks like a proper bike not the chicken chaser it is. Sounds ok for a 125.

Buying experience: Sutton park Honda I Tamworth (Richard) were exceptional at guiding me through the purchase of my first bike from them after I had been everywhere else. Will be back when I finally pass my test!

5 out of 5 Mr Return to biking after a 20 year break
01 May 2020 by Phill

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £100

Looks great, handles fabulously, great gear box, perfect commuter with added style and feel good factor

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Feels great, I often take a longer route home to add to the 45 mins I usually take just to enjoy the ride. Its lovely sweeping through country lanes.

Engine 5 out of 5

For a 125 it's a peach, perky, and performs well.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

It's a Honda, it's exactly what we'd expect!

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Service intervals are fairly standard.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Had to take 1 off for the dash, other than that it's great.

Buying experience: Bought new from a dealer, Sutton's in Bromsgrove, excellent team, very friendly and informative.

5 out of 5 Honda CB125R
31 August 2019 by Al

Version: Honda 125cc Neo Sports Cafe

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £150

This is a fantastic 125cc motorcycle and much much better than the Honda CB125F and Yamaha RD125 (twin cylinder, air cooled) that I had previously owned. This bike has 6 gears, disc brake front and rear, ABS, liquid cooled, monoshock, LED lights, gear indicator, LCD display with clock, wide tyres front and back. The ABS on this bike helped me to pass the A1 MOD1 test.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

The bike is light, nimble and agile. I tend to counter-steer round corners and if I feel I am running wide then I just counter-steer more. However, at really slow speeds it is better to turn in the direction of travel and shift your body weight in the other direction. The ride is firm and this is really good for stability, cornering and getting feedback from the road. As with all motorcycles the front brake is far more effective than the rear brake. The combination of brakes and Dunlop GPR300 tyres enables the bike to stop quickly.

Engine 5 out of 5

After getting the full motorcycle licence I took this bike out onto the M25. I am 13 and half stone so the bike did slow down going uphill but on the flat I was easily doing the National Speed limit. The liquid cooled engine seemed capable of cruising at 70 for hours on end on a hot day.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

It is a well built motorcycle but the exhaust is looking a bit tired for a bike that is only one year old.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

The running costs are low so the only cost that I have to keep an eye on is insurance.

Equipment 5 out of 5

The bike was used for commuting so I did not need any additional accessories. I did buy some rear spindle sliders to protect the bike and so I could lift the bike up using a paddock stand in order to clean and lube the chain.

Buying experience: I was getting my old bike serviced and before I knew it I has purchased the CB125R. On reflection it was the best purchasing decision I have ever made. The dealer made me an offer I could not refuse.

3 out of 5 Honda CB125R (Official designation CBF125N)
11 August 2019 by Nobby

Version: Noir

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £300

I have had the bike from June 2018 to now 11 August 2016 so just over a year and the exhaust looks like it needs to be replaced. This is unacceptable from Honda as is look as if customers are powering the dreams of Honda rather than Honda powering the dreams of its customers. Other than the issue of quality it is a fantastic motorcycle. 6 gears. Liquid cooled. Monoshock. LED lights. Gear indicator. Front and rear disks. ABS. It can jump forwards and backwards in time (I may be exaggerating about this last point.) It looks good. (I may feel differently in 10 years time. Having said that I may dead in which case I will not care too much, either way.) I am a annoyed that one of the most expensive 125's has lost 50% of its value in one year.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

The seat is okay but it would be difficult to go more than an hour and a half without taking a break. The brakes work as you would expect them to.

Engine 4 out of 5

My spark plug were black and oily and this suggests the mixture was too rich. The sensor in the exhaust pipe, the ecu and the regulator in the fuel injection system is supposed to deal with this. So this is not good for fuel for the engine or the fuel economy,

Reliability & build quality 2 out of 5

The issue I have had the bike from June 2018 to now 11 August 2016, so just over a year, is that the exhaust looks like it needs to be replaced. This was highlighted when I was looking to trade the bike in. The quality of the exhaust is bad.

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

The rusty exhaust has reduced its trade-in value as I was looking to upgrade to a bigger motorcycle. The cost of a new exhaust is £300 and I am going to have to fix it myself.

Equipment 5 out of 5

I am sure some propellor-head could point out, wouldn't it be nice to have a: 1) rear view camera 2) built-in sat-nav 3) on-board lavatory etc However, the best solution would be to slap the propellor-head.

Buying experience: I bought the bike new from a dealer. The bike was offered at the RRP and I was given a good deal on the trade-in. Not sure what this has to do with the Honda CB125R.

5 out of 5 Fun to ride, looks good and is economical.
27 September 2018 by Alex

Version: Matt Black

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £90

My favourite features are, in no particular order, the digital display which is clear and easy to read. It includes a fuel gauge and gear selection indicator. The rev meter is easy to read at the top. The LED headlight is super bright at night and has a nice design to it with a whitish hue to the light. All the lights at the front stay on as daytime running lights so you feel safe and visible to traffic. Feels like a quality bike, solid on the road and nimble in the corners. Cheap to run. Looks bad ass in matt black.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Generally it's a very good ride. The way the bike is balanced makes twisty roads and navigating traffic brilliant. You can balance it almost at a standstill. Brakes solid to me.

Engine 5 out of 5

The bike feels torquey and picks up speed quickly. The power delivery is linear all the way up to the top of the revs where there's a slight power bump at the very top of the range. There's more than enough power to keep with the flow of traffic and sit at the legal limit. I haven't ridden it much on carriage ways, just short stretches. Like others have said about smaller capacity engines, it's a lot of fun using all the rev range through the gears.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Build quality feels rock solid and well put together. No issues after 3 months of ownership.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Averaging around 120mpg and that's using all the rev range! The range is near 300 miles.

Equipment 5 out of 5

I like the lights and display. Not many accessories out yet for this bike.

Buying experience: South Coast Honda have excellent service.

4 out of 5 Lovely bike, outstanding running costs.
16 September 2018 by Joe

Year: 2018

Absolutely lovely ride! My first bike I’ve ever had, and it’s so easy to get used to.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Feels planted and is great fun down lanes and on bends.

Engine 5 out of 5

Doesn’t feel underpowered, however I’ve never ridden a bigger bike

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

One of the smartest looking 125’s on the market, however the only thing that has let it down is the fact that on two occasions so far (in the 2 weeks I’ve owned the bike) it was refused to come out of 4th gear.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Can’t argue with £8.50 for a full tank of fuel. Average mpg is 120 at the moment.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Buying experience: Honda dealership in Bromsgrove were brilliant. Nothing was too much trouble.

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