HONDA CBR125R (2011 - 2019) Review

Highlights

  • Learner-friendly sports bike
  • Legendary Honda reliability
  • Entertainment at low costs

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Annual servicing cost: £150
Power: 13 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.2 in / 793 mm)
Weight: Low (300 lbs / 136 kg)

Prices

New N/A
Used £2,800 - £3,600

Overall rating

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

The Honda CBR 125 R has been a sales sensation. It's easy to ride, comfortable, gives good fuel economy and, above all, it’s a Honda, so it's built incredibly strongly. 

As a 125cc motorbike it's suitable for learners on L-plates as long as they've passed a CBT. 

For 2011 the CBR 125 R was updated. The mini-emperor had new clothes and everyone could see they were considerably sportier. While not as sharp as the Yamaha YZF-R125, it carried off the ‘big-bike’ look very well. It rode just as well too. CBR 125 R: the success story lives on.

The Honda CBR 125 R went off sale in 2018, replaced by the naked CB 125 R

Once you've read this review and our owners' reviews, you might want to join an online community to learn more about the bike and what it's like to live with. We'd recommend trying the Honda CBR Forum or the Honda Owners' Club GB Facebook group.

Video: Yamaha R125 vs Honda CBR 125 R vs Aprilia RS 125

In this film MCN's Trevor Franklin pits three of the most popular 125cc motorbikes on sale in 2011 - the CBR 125 R takes on Yamaha's R125 and the Aprilia RS 125.

Ride quality & brakes

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

This precise design ethos runs through to how the CBR rides. Although sporty in looks, the riding position is upright and comfy and the rider sits in the bike to give a feel of being in control. Seriously, anyone can jump onto the Honda and feel at home, safe and confident.

Typically Honda, the CBR’s steering is light neutral and precise. And while the IRC tyre branding puts a spark of fear into the hearts of veteran MCN testers, on dry, warm roads they do a good job of allowing a budding sport rider to build confidence.

While the brakes and suspension are adequate, they sit just right with the CBR’s universal ‘friendly’ appeal by not being harsh or sharp. 

Engine

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

Let’s face it; a restricted 125cc machine is going to receive abuse. Constant full throttle in an attempt to move along with the traffic will be met with heavy gearbox use, but Honda’s little lump has proved to be a reliable unit. It’s modern by way of fuel injection and water cooling and that’s all you need to worry about with basic checks of oil and coolant level along with the usual warranty service schedule. Power-wise it’s bang on the power-to-weight allowance and lacks initial get up and go – it’s a job to stay ahead of traffic from the lights. And what about the Honda CBR 125 top speed? It’ll struggle to maintain 70mph but 60mph isn’t a problem. 

Another likeable part of the Honda is the way it sips unleaded in a commuter-style. 65mpg-plus is easily achievable.

Where the CBR scores highly is the fuel injected motor’s effortless/smooth throttle control. But although the CBR is tractable from the moment the throttle is twisted, it ain’t no power-house. It gains speed with fluidity and no amount of throttle action makes the bike anything but pleasant rather than true race-replica exciting.

Reliability & build quality

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

Built in Thailand under close scrutiny of Honda personnel so Honda’s legendary reliability shouldn’t suffer one jot. Spares can be expensive – like any motorcycle – and this is worth remembering when taking part in the Roundabout Challenge Trophy – the IRC tyres are made for longevity rather than outright grip.

Our Honda CBR 125 R owners' reviews show very positive scores, with only one complaint of a bit of rust starting to appear. Looks very closely over the bike before you decide to take the plunge. 

Value vs rivals

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

Honda was hoping the CBR would sell in volumes and priced it accordingly. Even so it was not as cheap as we’d hoped for – Yamaha’s XJ6 Diversion F ABS was only £6999 – but considering the rising cost of raw materials and poor currency exchange it wasn’t so bad, especially when the bike was as good as everyone expected.

Rivals from the 125cc sportsbike class include the Yamaha YZF-R125, the Aprilia RS125 and the KTM RC125.

The MCN Verdict: Honda CBR 125 vs Yamaha YZF-R125 vs Aprilia RS125 vs Kymco KR Sport 125 vs Rieju RS3-125 LC Racing

Honda CBR 125 vs Yamaha YZF-R125 vs Aprilia RS125 vs Kymco KR Sport 125 vs Rieju RS3-125 LC Racing

It would be fair to ask: "What is the point in paying over £4k brand new for a bike that is only required to pass the 125cc learner test?" The answer to that is you pay for what you believe in… To further the sports bike riding experience, like anything in life, you need the proper tools. OK, a bike like the Kymco KR Sport 125 will suffice for most, but then other factors like desirability and resale values come into play.

Honda’s original CBR 125 and the Yamaha YZF-R125 have strong residual values as borne out by dealers’ resale prices. Yes, they are higher than private sales but you do get the benefit of a warranty.

There will always be a winner in group tests and the ‘performance’ winner is Aprilia’s RS125. Strange then the RS125’s death bell should be ringing. Aprilia is rumoured to be canning its two-stroke engine in favour of a clean and more user friendly four-stroke. We hope it is just the engine because the chassis is the best here.

Rieju is onto a winner with its RS3. The same engine as the Yamaha but the Spanish bike outperforms it. Once the Rieju’s suspension is sorted, the £900 saving over the Yamaha could feel like £2000! Kymco’s KR Sport is now relegated to a workhorse in this company, but this no bad thing if you want value.

And finally Honda’s CBR125 R. Brilliant in every area and keenly priced, it is the bike the heart and head will agree is the bike to have.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

Taiwanese-made but Honda’s design and quality control exude from the CBR. This can be seen from yards away with its heavily influenced Fireblade-form. Look closer and quality of detail hits home – the drilled and slotted discs, long thin-stem mirror stalks to allow an uncluttered view and a shaped hugger to keep crud off the rear end.

There's also a vast range of Honda CBR 125 R tuning parts available from various companies, providing everything from exhausts to full race setup. 

Specs

Engine size 124cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, SOHC, 2v four-stroke single-cylinder. Six gears
Frame type Steel dual beam
Fuel capacity 13 litres
Seat height 793mm
Bike weight 136kg
Front suspension N/a
Rear suspension N/a
Front brake 276mm disc with 2-piston caliper
Rear brake 220mm disc with single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 10/80 x 17
Rear tyre size 130/70 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 88 mpg
Annual road tax £21
Annual service cost £150
New price -
Used price £2,800 - £3,600
Insurance group 6 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 13 bhp
Max torque 7.7 ft-lb
Top speed 70 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 255 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2004 – Original Honda CBR 125 R launched.
  • 2005 – Honda CBR 125 R in Repsol colours available for £100 more.
  • 2007 – Major revision of fuel injection, oxygen sensor etc for emissions compliance. Bodywork restyled to mimic CBR1000RR Fireblade. Forks and swingarm now black.
  • 2011 – Launch of revised model
  • 2018 - Honda CBR 125 R goes off sale, replaced by naked CB 125 R.

Other versions

None, although you may find race-ready versions fitted with a bunch of Honda CB 125 R performance parts. 

Owners' reviews for the HONDA CBR125R (2011 - 2019)

8 owners have reviewed their HONDA CBR125R (2011 - 2019) 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 CBR125R (2011 - 2019)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Engine: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Equipment: 3.6 out of 5 (3.6/5)
Annual servicing cost: £150
5 out of 5 Amazing little bike
06 September 2021 by Jasper Harper

Version: Repsol

Year: 2011

Annual servicing cost: £150

Extremely good bike especially for someone fresh out a cbt, great at confidence building and the big bike style means it doesnt look out of place when riding with people with bigger bikes. Gorgeous to look at and really good fun to ride.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

The bike is great for pretty much all types of riding, I've gone around quite a lot of corners quite sharp due to not slowing down enough beforehand and the bike has handled well and has never had an accident due to that. The seat is comforable but the handlebars vibrate a lot so weighted bar ends would be something I would reccomend as sometimes the vibration sends my hand to sleep after an hour or two of continuous riding.

Engine 5 out of 5

Lots of power for a little bike, I've topped it out at 78 on a straight road and 88 down a hill. Had no issues with it.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Built really well, I've dropped it a few times and its just picked up a few scratching on the fairings but never broke anything. Side stand doesn't go all the way up so it sometimes can cut out if your getting low around a left hand corner but that can be tightened and fixed easily.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Can get a full tank of fuel for £10 which lasts a two weeks for me and i ride a minimum of 30 miles almost every day so its super cheap to run its just the insurance that is high.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Bike is lovely as standard however quite quiet so I would reccomend a louder exhaust and also would reccomend weighted bar ends as previously mentioned to reduce vibrations on the handlebars.

Buying experience: I bought mine on facebook marketplace for £1250 which is an amazing price for what it is and especially since it was my dream starter bike colours and all however didnt come with mirrors so I bought some from SportsBikeShop.

4 out of 5 Best 125cc I've owned or ridden.
20 February 2021 by Chris

Year: 2015

Annual servicing cost: £150

Would be 5* except for the clunky gearbox. Brilliant little bike other than that.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

A little vibrating at speed but same for most 125cc machines. Brakes are spot on however mine or my riding style eats front pads.

Engine 5 out of 5

Great little engine and is relatively smooth. Bearing in mind it's a 2015 and is now 2021 and engine done 17000 mile.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Never had problem but again, the gearbox just let's it down by a star.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

That is a guess-timate £150. That's mainly puncture repair or new tyres. Never had a major issue (touch wood)

Equipment 3 out of 5

Bog standard as far as equipment is concerned.

Buying experience: Baught from dealer as a second hand machine with 4k on her and in almost perfect condition. Paid £2200 in 2019 which was the asking price, didnt attempt to haggle. Overall was positive.

5 out of 5 If a sports-styled 125 could be a sensible choice, this is the sensible choice
24 July 2015 by Alex

Version: Repsol

Year: 2015

125s have moved on a bit from what those in the previous generation (I am 24) remember of them. My parents, neighbours etc couldn't believe it was a 125, whether it is the bulbus fuel-tank, the larger rear-tyre or more generally the larger, chunkier appearance of the bike. If it didn't say 125 on the side you'd have a job differentiating it from a 300. Really all you need to do is get a licence so the terrible L-plates can get torn up and what you have is a good looking bike that is a perfect solution for a sporty London commute

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

More upright position than you might expect, which makes sense seeing as it's not a motorway bike where the wind would give your wrists some release. You don't exactly look like marc marquez sitting up like that but you are at least comfortable. Not had to slam on the brakes yet but generally they stop the bike fine. My commute is 1.5hrs of stop-start London riding and the only reason I might have to take a break is to change the battery in my Go-Pro. Soft suspension is great for a city, haven't tried it on country roads/motorways yet because i don't live in the country and I'm not allowed on motorways!

Engine 4 out of 5

1st gear is crazy short, which is annoying as you're constantly changing gear even in slow moving traffic. However it forces you to learn to shift well since you're always doing it and it is a learner bike. I haven't felt slow yet, on roads up to 40mph you usually have an edge over most cars, by the time you're ready to take on motorways you'll be looking at bigger bikes so this point is mute

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Not had it for very long but it's a Honda so.....

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Can fill the tank for £16 with Super Unleaded and can get nearly 300 miles out of it

Equipment 3 out of 5

Fuel gauge is useful although a gear-indicator would be good especially since a lot of guys like me do a CBT on a moped and teach themselves gearing from scratch. When the gearbox and the rider are both new the shifting isn't always seamless and something to tell you your back in first gear and not still stuck in 3rd would be nice to avoid those embarrassing green-light stalls

Buying experience: I picked up one during a 0% finance promotion making it way cheaper than alternatives financed over 3 years since it is already £1000 cheaper than the R125, the RS4 125 or the RC125. Got it from Dobles in Croydon who are arguably one of if not the best Honda dealers in the UK (according to MCN). Great support and information and got some nice bonuses thrown in.

5 out of 5
10 July 2015 by Alex

Year: 2013

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5
30 May 2015 by whiter

Year: 2014

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

could do with better brakes

Engine 4 out of 5

could do with a bit more power

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

had my cbr since jan 2015 and it started to rust already

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5 honda cbr125r
01 June 2014 by janbusby1

I have a 2012 cbr 125 in repsol colours..its quick,reliable ,and feels like riding a 500.its build quality is up to HONDA standard and i would highly recomend this machine.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5 honda CBR125R
01 June 2014 by

I have owned my CBR125 for 7 months,and i must say,what a gem....firstly its bigger than its previous model which is great as im 6ft and 15 stone..and putting the bike next to a bigger CC bike didnt look out of place.The ride is comfortable due to a larger seat,and even on longer distance i didnt get rear ache.the fuel consumption is superb,ive had over 256 miles on a full 13 litre tank.the ride is a joy,handling is forgiving and the machine likes to let the power loose,tho still showing it is afterall only a 125.the bike in REPSOL race colours which i have looks stunning.the tyres have been made bigger on this model and i feel it makes the bike look more grown up,the brakes are fine but maybe a good set of BREMBO would be better but this would make the bike more expensive.the CBR125R i would highly recomend as a starter motorbike.its over a grand cheaper than the YZF but does the same job.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5 I had one
04 May 2011 by YORKSHIRE1003

Firstly, why don't the spammers sod off. Right. I had a CBR 125R which I loved but I am a small guy and even I thought it was too little, the bicycle tyres didn’t do it any favours. The barn door/ Mickey Mouse ear mirrors had to go but it still shifted as it weighed less than a bag of crisps which in turn made the fuel economy ridiculous; 80mpg on a good day. Great first bike but not really for anyone with an above medium build

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
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