HONDA SH125 i (2020 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Available for under £100 a month
  • CBT friendly
  • New engine for better performance

At a glance

Power: 13 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.5 in / 799 mm)
Weight: Low (295 lbs / 134 kg)

Prices

New £3,459
Used £2,800 - £3,500

Overall rating

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

In the current climate where many commuters are wishing to avoid crowded public transport due to health concerns, it is inconceivable that the Honda SH125 i shouldn’t continue to sell like hotcakes (it was Europe’s best-selling scooter in 2018, shifting nearly 19,000 units).

The ease of use, inbuilt safety assists and storage capacity of this excellent scooter make it ideal for newer riders and at less than £100 a month on PCP or HP it is well within reach of any budget. To be honest, it should be a no brainer for any urban commuter.

Ride quality & brakes

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

Thanks to its 'big' 16-inch wheels the SH125 i is stable at speed and in town it is light and agile with a very tight turning circle, making U-turns a breeze.

If you are over six-feet it feels a touch compact and the accessory screen (£160) is very close to your chin, but the trade-off is lots of weather protection as you look through it. The suspension is a bit basic over harsh bumps but more than adequate for urban use.

The Honda SH125i's big wheels make for great handling

Engine

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

New for 2020, the four-valve eSP+ motor replaces the older model’s two-valve eSP engine (enhanced Smart Power) and makes more power and torque, with the claimed 12.9bhp (up from 11.9bhp) and 8.9ftlb of torque (up from 8.5ftlb) delivered lower in the rev range thanks to a new bigger bore/shorter stroke design.

Idling Stop technology is included (which can be deactivated via a bar-mounted switch) and so is Honda Selectable Torque Control (traction control), which can be deactivated. While the motor does feel a bit sprightlier than before, it’s not a dramatic performance increase and only very loose gravel sees the HSTC activate.

The stop-start system can be deactivated using this switch

On a level road, the SH will hold 65mph with this dropping to the high-50s uphill and increasing to just over 70mph on a downhill stretch, which is acceptable for a scooter. Overall it does all that is asked of it and is smooth, vibe-free and pleasant to use.

Reliability & build quality

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

The Honda SH125 i has been around in some way, shape or form since 2001 and has a proven track record for reliability. Yes, the engine has an all-new four-valve head and altered bore and stroke but this is unlikely to be the cause of any reliability downfalls.

You get a two year warranty included as standard, which is reassuring, as well as two-years European breakdown cover and Honda’s spare parts supply is hardly a concern. Overall, you can buy with total confidence.

We don't curre

Value vs rivals

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

Although not as cheap to buy as some Far Eastern brands' offerings, at £3459 (2020 pricing) the SH125i represents excellent value for money considering its spec list and the fact it is a Honda-branded product (it is also built in Italy, not China).

A static view of the Honda SH125i

A three-year PCP plan sees you paying in the region of £69 a month (under £100 on an HP deal) after a small deposit of a few hundred quid.

Honda claim thanks to the eSP+ motor with Idling Stop you can get between 122 and 129mpg, which is very impressive economy figures, however the reality is it averages 90mpg on open roads with only urban use approaching the claimed figures.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

Considering it is a 'budget' scooter the fact you get proper ABS and not combined brakes like some 125s feature, not to mention Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), Idling Stop, LED lights, a USB charger, LCD display and a Honda Smart Key, which is a keyless ignition system, is very impressive.

In the UK we also get a topbox included in the price, which increases the SH125i’s already extended, and rather enormous, 28 litres of storage – although disappointingly MCN’s Arai didn’t fit under the seat despite Honda claiming a full face lid will.

Our tester's Arai helmet didn't fit under the seat

The only things really missing is any form of connectivity to a smartphone, but that is hardly a glaring oversight, and self-cancelling indicators. A Datatool GPS tracker is free with the bike but there are extra fitting and subscription costs associated.

Pleasingly, a button on the key fob flashes the bike’s indicators, helping you locate it in a packed scooter bay. Honda sell a keyless top box (there is a hidden button on the underside of the luggage rack) but it costs £545 as you need a complete new box and not just a lock change, which is annoying.

Specs

Engine size 125cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4v, SOHC single
Frame type High-tensile tubular steel underbone
Fuel capacity 7 litres
Seat height 799mm
Bike weight 134kg
Front suspension 33mm telescopic forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Dual shocks, 5-stage adjustable spring preload
Front brake 1 x 240mm disc with two-piston caliper. ABS
Rear brake 240mm single disc with single-piston caliper. ABS
Front tyre size 100/80 x 16
Rear tyre size 120/80 x 16

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 125 mpg
Annual road tax £20
Annual service cost -
New price £3,459
Used price £2,800 - £3,500
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 13 bhp
Max torque 8.9 ft-lb
Top speed 65 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 199 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2001: The SH125 is launched in Europe following on from the first SH model, the SH50, which was built in 1984.
  • 2005: Second-generation of SH125i gains fuel-injection.
  • 2013: Honda add the eSP (enhanced Smart Power) motor to the two-valve SH125i.
  • 2017: A new look, LED lights and Smart Key are introduced.
  • 2020: An all-new SH125i comes with a four-valve eSP+ motor, all new chassis and improved looks and storage.

Other versions

There are no other versions of the 125, however a 150 is also available.

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