HONDA PCX125 (2018 - 2021) Review
- It’s surprisingly sprightly
- Tested 105.1mpg fuel economy
- Ideal alternative to public transport
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
It’s hard not to like the Honda PCX 125. Available for a quid shy of £3000, or £85 a month over three years on finance, it is a surprisingly nippy, practical urban transport solution for little more than your monthly phone contract.
- Related: 2021 Honda PCX 125 review
The PCX arrived back in 2010 and has received a number of incremental updates since. For 2018, Honda gave the bike a complete overhaul, with a new tubular steel frame, wheels, tyres and revised rear suspension. ABS was also added, and more power was squeezed from the 125cc engine.
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Well priced and practical, it’s little wonder that Honda have sold more than 140,000 across Europe during the past decade – a trend that shows no sign of easing. For example, in June 2020 alone, the PCX out sold the BMW R1250GSA at a ratio of 2.37 to one – with 445 registrations across the country, compared to 188 GSs.
With 28 litres of storage under the seat - enough go to keep up on the commute - and a tested MPG figure of 105.1, it makes sense for inner-city dwellers looking to ditch the train or bus, as well as those travelling from commuter settlements on the outskirts of town.
This is because - on top of being practical – it's fast enough for a quick blast along a dual carriageway without putting yourself in unnecessary danger. What’s more, tiny BMX-like proportions and predictable handling make it serious fun along a tight lane and instantly transforms any greying slice of urban sprawl into your own private kart track – all within the speed limit.
That said, the half-pint Honda is not without fault, with the two-piston, ABS-equipped front brake lacking any real feel, the under seat storage unable to successfully swallow this tester’s full face helmet - despite Honda claiming it will - and the rudimentary non-adjustable rear shocks tying themselves in knots as soon as you push hard.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
As you might expect from a sub-three-grand commuter, the suspension and brakes on the Honda PCX 125 are pretty basic. For 2018 the non-adjustable 31mm forks remained unchanged, however the positioning of the rear shocks were moved rearwards and the spring rate raised.
With a twist and go transmission, there’s no shifter or clutch to worry about, meaning your levers are left for braking in much the same way as a push bike. Weighing just 130kg wet and equipped with a seat height of just 764mm, it also feels like a motorised BMX when you ride it, too.
This low weight has been achieved in a number of ways, including a new tubular steel chassis, which shaves 2.4kg off the previous bike’s waistline. Lighter eight-spoke rims take over from the previous model’s five-pronged designs and lose a further 0.7kg combined, too. These also wear larger tyres (up from 90/90 x 14 and 100/90 x 14, respectively) which work with the 2mm shorter wheelbase to inspire quick changes of direction in town, ideal for filtering through heavy congestion.
With an ABS-equipped two-piston caliper up front, biting onto a 220mm disc and a 130mm drum on the rear, stopping power is adequate for its size, however the front set-up lacks any kind of feel, halting the bike vaguely and inspiring limited confidence in an experienced rider. However, it’s possible that this gentle set-up has been devised for novices, who are likely to purchase a PCX with a CBT certificate, as an alternative transport solution, rather than a machine for pleasure.
Ten minutes aboard the bike and it’s obvious the rear drum is far more effective and, when combined with the front, it stops quickly and safely, with even the hardest yank on the front end not troubling the ABS. Overzealous grabs of the rear will see the back wheel lock up though, which is brilliant fun, but could catch out an unsuspecting novice quite easily.
Around town, the non-adjustable suspension is perfectly acceptable, absorbing smaller bumps with efficiency – helped further by the well-padded seating. That said, harsher bumps in the tarmac are met with a notable crash from the rear end, which bounces beneath you like a gymnast’s trampette – transferring some of the energy into your lower back for good measure. For the majority of urban riding, it’s totally fine, but hit a speedbump or pothole at pace and you’re definitely going to know about it.
The suspension also begins to unravel when you take the PCX out of its comfort zone and venture into the countryside. With predictable, novice-friendly handling and impressive Michelin City Grip rubber hugging the tarmac, it’s surprisingly good fun.
Unfortunately, it’s all slightly let down by that rear end, which really starts to wallow beneath you as you bank over at speed. Never too far out of its depth, it can actually add to the riding dynamic and inspire some proper jaw-aching cheesy grins in your helmet. That said, I wouldn’t want to push my luck too far with it and – seeing as it’s not actually what the bike is designed for – it would be unfair to criticise it too harshly for such a performance.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Powered by a 125cc twist-and-go single-cylinder engine, don’t expect the Honda PCX 125 to rip your arms off when pulling away from the lights. Don’t assume that it will be too slow for modern traffic, however, as the 12bhp available is more than enough to keep up and stay ahead in and around town, as well as hold its own on faster multi-lane roads.
For 2018, Honda increased the airbox volume by a litre, which was achievable by moving the rear shocks. From here, the location and internals within the intake were revised to improve airflow. Elsewhere, the throttle body diameter was increased by 2mm and the exhaust tweaked with the inclusion of a bigger, three-way cat.
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With peak power now up by 0.4bhp, it’s actually below 35mph where the Honda is most impressive – thanks to an excellent pick-up at the bottom end that allows you to buzz away from a standstill way faster than the surrounding car drivers.
Right the way through to the top of the speedo, the fuelling is excellent and there are no jolts or splutters to be found anywhere. It’s also very quiet, which is handy with tightening restrictions on motorcycle noise in some urban spaces. In fact, at tick-over it is barely audible at all, with the lunch box-sized engine producing a gentle throb through the spongey seat just to remind you it’s on. Oddly, this vibration disappears as soon as you activate the rear brake and is unnoticeable once on the move.
On top of offering enough poke to keep you ahead of the masses, the engine in the PCX is incredibly frugal. After 90 dry miles of giving it a thoroughly good pasting, it had glugged just 3.84 litres (or £4.22) of fuel – equating to an MPG figure of 105.1 and a potential range of 185 miles from its eight-litre tank.
More than enough to cover most people’s weekly travel - with a higher figure likely achievable with solely inner-city use - it’s economical and offers a potentially massive saving on monthly train and bus fares. You try and travel 90 miles for four quid on either of those…
This figure is helped by the addition of stop-start technology. A feature on the bike since it was introduced in 2010, it cuts the engine after three seconds on idle and activates again as soon as you twist the throttle grip. If that’s not your cup of tea, the whole system can be deactivated via a switch on the right ‘bar, however with the engine so quiet and the response so quick, you barely notice it in action anyway.
The Honda PCX 125 top speed is 70mph or thereabouts. It isn't ideal for motorways.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Despite the affordable price tag, the Honda PCX 125 feels incredibly well put together, with a new, flowing set of plastics to boot. With a wide, mini-maxi-scooter front fairing encasing your legs and flowing lines throughout, there are no unwanted panel gaps and the paint is finished with typical Honda excellence, glinting back at you with the sparkle of a thousand metallic flakes.
It also feels like it will stand the test of time, with thick plastic Fisher-Price switch gear reminiscent of the CB500 range and a reassuring click to close the seat and open and shut the front left storage compartment – ideal for carrying fluids on our scorching test day. Our particular test bike had covered just shy of 1000 miles and there were minimal signs of ageing, with no visible signs of corrosion.
This good build quality is reflected in our previous 2010-on Honda PCX125 review too, with many of you sharing your thoughts and awarding strong marks overall, and for reliability. Granted that is for a previous design, however there is nothing to suggest that the ownership experience on this machine will be any different, with this current iteration having already been in production for the best part of two years.
That said, the fuel flap located between the rider’s legs feels flimsy and I would personally like some kind of confirmation that the filler cap is on properly, rather than simply a half twist to reset its position, without any sort of click. These are both picky details though.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Being a 125cc scooter you can ride on L-plates, it’s likely that the PCX will be as cheap to insure as it is to run and purchase - or indeed if you take out a Honda PCX 125 finance deal. That said, being a lightweight, practical steed, popular with city riders, they are at risk of theft, meaning some densely populated areas, like central London, could command a higher premium.
It also means you should play close attention to a bike’s history if buying used; checking to see if it’s previously been pinched, or damaged in anyway. That said, with so many PCXs now sold, sourcing spare parts online shouldn’t be too difficult.
Besides that, as with any new Honda, there is a two-year warranty and customers can enjoy a strong dealer network. Using the firm’s fixed service plans, the first three check-ups could be yours for just £375, too. The first of these services comes at 600 miles and then it’s every 4000 miles, or annually.
On top of this, it’s also priced really well alongside its main rivals; the £3174 Yamaha NMAX 125, £4249 Kawasaki J125 and £2299 Suzuki Address 110 – which although cheaper, offers less performance, storage and weather protection than the PCX. Consequently, the Honda continues to out-sell the rest, with MCIA statistics showing 2840 UK registrations in 2019 and 2333 in 2018 - taking the scooter top spot every time.
It’s not just other scooters that you need to consider here though, with the Honda PCX 125 offering a serious alternative to public transport. Granted, it’s not going to replace a two-hour train ride into London, but for shorter commutes on anything but motorways, it could present a serious saving of both time and money – not to mention inject a serious dose of fun into your daily trip to work.
You get a surprising amount for your money on the PCX 125. Between its grown-up plastics and mid-sized 14in wheels, complete with decent Michelin rubber, there is an updated LCD display, decent screen, stop-start tech and enough under seat storage for your daily office supplies.
Starting up front, the LCD dash holds your speed, fuel gauge, live MPG and trip and is visible in all light conditions, thanks to the gently tinted plastic screen protruding from the top of the front fairing, which shades it from the light and ensures maximum visibility.
On top of this, it also does an excellent job of deflecting the wind, with gentle blasts up to 60mph resulting in next to no buffeting to the rider. What’s more, if you fancy maximising your terminal velocity, you can also tuck right in behind it for a couple of extra mph right at the top end.
The mirrors are excellent, with the vibe-free motor meaning the traffic behind you is almost always clearly visible. Behind them sits a set of upright chromed handlebars, which are again finished nicely and place the rider in a conventional, relaxed position, with plenty of leg room for taller riders to feel comfortable.
Moving backwards, beneath the cushioning riders’ seat is a 28-litre storage area (up one litre from the old model, without widening the bodywork), which clicks open via a switch below the ignition – the seat moving up all the way to the bars for maximum ease of loading. An impressive amount of storage for such a small machine, despite claims of being able to store a full-face helmet, this tester’s Shark Race R Pro did not fit. That said, almost no PCX owners will use a track helmet and the elongated shape and aero spoiler will have hampered its ability to close. Still, it’s disappointing.
Away from the storage, Honda have also taken steps to protect the bike from thieves. Switching off the bike and locking the steering, once the key is removed a metal blanking plate swoops across to protect the ignition barrel.
A simple, yet potentially bike-saving system, it is deactivated using a secondary key located on the back of the plastic housing, which slots into a separate hole next to the ignition barrel. Although useful, it will not make the bike fully theft-proof and we would recommend carrying a sturdy chain and lock. This is especially important on a bike weighing 130kg wet, meaning it could be picked up and chucked into a van by two people in a matter of seconds.
|Engine type||Single-cylinder, liquid cooled SOHC four-stroke|
|Frame type||Tubular steel|
|Fuel capacity||8 litres|
|Front suspension||31mm telescopic fork, non-adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Twin shocks, non-adjustable|
|Front brake||1 x 220mm disc, two-piston caliper, ABS|
|Rear brake||130mm drum|
|Front tyre size||100/80 x 14|
|Rear tyre size||120/70 x 14|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||105.1 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£21|
|Annual service cost||-|
|Used price||£2,600 - £3,300|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||12 bhp|
|Max torque||8.7 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||185 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2010: Model launched – a 125cc four-stroke commuter scooter, complete with stop start technology – the first of its kind in Europe.
- 2014: PCX updated for new bodywork, full LED lighting and a 12V AC adaptor. Honda also claimed greater fuel efficiency of 133.8mpg and over 230 miles of tank range.
- 2016: Honda PCX125 becomes Euro4 compliant, thanks to tweaks to the twist-and-go engine.
- 2018: New frame, new wheels, new tyres and upgraded rear suspension – repositioned with spring rate altered for greater compliance. ABS added to front wheel, plus more peak power from the engine.
There are no other versions of the Honda PCX125 available.
Owners' reviews for the HONDA PCX125 (2018 - 2021)
2 owners have reviewed their HONDA PCX125 (2018 - 2021) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
I am satisfied with the intended purchase, been owning since new now 2 years old+ and 28,xxx km on the odometer
Eventhough mine is without ABS, wish for traction control and ABS but weren't available before
We never get enough of any engine power, aren't we? Actually it is excellent for town use. Wish for more speed on motorway
We want bluetooth connectivity!
PCX is hilarious, wish I'd bought one years ago. It is a cheerful bike, honest about what it does and it does that very well. Not for touring or trackways but other than that brilliant. Had to buy an open face lid as none of my full face lids fit under the seat, but other than that no issues
Is a simple cheap bike so handling bumps at speed is a bit crashy, you definitely feel pot holes. That said have had it two up at 50mph and it is perfectly safe and comfortable, just watch for pot holes as your spine will thank you for avoiding them
Very quiet and gentle, am 6'2" and 15st so getting down behind the screen definitely adds a couple of mph buy achieving 60 mph on most roads is easy, steep hills knock a bit off and down hill it has hit an indicated 73mph!
For a £3k bike it is really well built, built outside Japan but well put together for sure, mine is 18 months and 2,000 old and has had no issues at all
Haven't had it long enough to know about servicing but the fuel economy is nuts. Use it to go 3 miles to the station each day and it was returning 95 miles to the gallon, in lockdown have been using it to go 6 or 7 miles to the shops instead and on these 'longer runs' it is now returning 120 mpg, absolutely ridiculous
Key lock is great, lack of full face lid under the seat is bad. Start stop is pretty pointless but inoffensive. Also like the fact it is a decent size, I looked daft on a suzuki address but look fine on this, the address is just two small for someone my size
Buying experience: Bought from local honda dealer, they were fab, really nice folk, get the impression they sell a lot of scooters to commuters for various reasons