HONDA SH125 i (2020 - on) Review

Highlights

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

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
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 SH125i 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.

For 2020, the SH 125 has been updated, promising improved performance, greater practicality and Honda Selectable Torque Control as standard. 

Part of Honda’s line-up since 2005, the latest iteration of the L-plate-friendly big-wheeled scoot comes in five versions, ranging from a standard SH without accessories to one complete with a top box, knuckle guards and a windscreen. 

The engine is a Euro5-compliant 124.5cc liquid-cooled four-valve eSP+ engine, which comes equipped with a fuel-saving ‘stop-start’ system, as well as Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), which helps prevent rear wheel slip in poor conditions.

Alongside greater efficiency, the new engine also promises improved performance, with the bike now producing a peak power of 12.3bhp at 8250rpm; a whole 0.4bhp more than the outgoing two-valve model, at 250rpm lower in the revs. Peak torque is also reached at 500rpm lower than the previous model (at 6500rpm) however is down by around 0.1ftlb.

Housing the revised engine is a new tubular steel underbone frame. As well as helping to save 400g, its inclusion has also allowed Honda to gain an additional 10 litres of under seat storage by moving the fuel tank from under the pillion perch to beneath the rider’s feet.

Geometry has also been altered - now 13mm longer at 1.353 meters. The seat height remains the same though, at a manageable 799mm.

Providing stopping power are ABS-equipped disc brakes, with both the front three-piston and rear one-piston calipers biting onto single 240mm discs. The aluminium 16in wheels are also shod with Michelin City Grip tubeless tyres, with the rear shocks also getting five-stage adjustable preload.

Ride quality & brakes

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

Thanks to its 'big' 16-inch wheels the SH 125 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 125 top speed is around 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 SH 125 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.

Our Honda SH 125 i owners' reviews show happy buyers, with the only negative comments about the lack of glovebox and slightly firmer ride than exepected. 

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 SH 125 i 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 SH 125 i’s already extended, and rather enormous, 28 litres of storage – although disappointingly MCN’s Arai didn’t fit it the under seat storage despite Honda claiming a full face helmet 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 £21
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.

Owners' reviews for the HONDA SH125 (2020 - on)

2 owners have reviewed their HONDA SH125 (2020 - 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 SH125 (2020 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
4 out of 5 A great 125 scooter
03 February 2021 by Paul

Year: 2020

Great modern scooter. Very good fuel economy, comfortable and well built. Great storage, but would like to have a front glove box. I would definitely recommend.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5

Smooth engine with good pulling power. Very economical, I’m averaging 115 mpg with a mixture of riding.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Vey well built, with a feel of quality. I’ve so far only travelled 1200 miles, but has been faultless.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

I’ve chosen to service the bike myself. In the 1200 miles travelled, I’ve changed the oil twice. Very easy to do and costs about 15 GBP. I have also changed the final drive oil.

Equipment 4 out of 5

I selected the SH125 because it came as standard with Honda Traction Control, ABS and a too box. I would like to have a front glove box with USB charging. The bike does come with USB charging under the seat.

Buying experience: Purchased new from Fowler’s Honda in Bristol. Very happy with their performance and the cost of the bike. A new Sh125 with optional windscreen and hand guards was 3599 GBP.

4 out of 5 Absolutely reliable, elegant, smooth and nippy.
20 December 2020 by Mike Knowles

Version: Latest version with completely new engine

Year: 2020

Would have given 5/5 but for suspension and accessories

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Brakes are superb but a firm ride over our potholed roads can be uncomfortable at times. Although firmness helps for road holding/steering

Engine 5 out of 5

New engine is smooth and better with low down torque which aids take off and overtakes. I am always getting about 130 mpg under all conditions

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

It's a Honda - enough said!

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Will be dealer serviced for first two years as per warranty. Then self serviced after that. Very simple checkover and oil change.Insurance and road tax minimal

Equipment 4 out of 5

I had it supplied with Honda's screen and hand guards, but screen is far too high for this 5' 9" rider, meaning you look through it rather than over it. I took 5cms off the top and is now just right. Can be ridden at any speed without goggles/visor and a rain spattered screen no longer interferes with clear vision.

Buying experience: Bought from Honda main dealer at book price

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