Honda’s SH125 has been a massive sales success in Europe and with the tweaked 2009 version, looks like it could do well in the UK too.
If you want the best possible economy you’ll do better with a proper 125cc motorcycle with gears instead of a power-sapping auto transmission, but for convenience and easy riding, the SH is as good as it gets.
In its previous incarnation the SH125 has been busy been busy selling more than anything else in Europe, though plenty of Brits will be wondering why: surely with those big 16inch wheels, the SH is something grandma would use to pop down the chemist and get a new supply of leg support bandage?
More fool us for thinking that way, and not because sports bikes used to have 16 inch wheels, but much more simply, because big wheels mean better stability and improved ride quality over the littler ones you get on scooters that our home-grown trendies prefer.
There are other changes for 2009 including a rear disc brake in place of the old drum, a change made as much for cosmetic reasons as any real issues with the outgoing stopper, and style is the motivation behind the rest of the update. Despite its popularity the old SH was criticised for its odd looks, the face in particular, so these has been seriously revised, and it’s been done very effectively too. The visage is more pleasing with better integrated curves, while the rear bodywork has sophisticated, swooping lines that give the SH an air of class.
The engine, transmission and frame are unchanged, but nothing wrong with that as the power pick-up is very smooth, making U-turns and traffic trickling easy, vibration is almost non-existent and performance is pretty strong too.
Honda also tells us the SH has very good emissions figures and economy, although the numbers it supplies don’t mean much so it’s hard to be persuaded. Fuel consumption for example is quoted as 97mpg, but no speed or conditions are given so this is pretty useless really. I did a check myself and managed around 85mpg with a lot of stop-start riding in town and flat out on country roads so that’s a more useful number than Honda’s.
What you do get of course is the jam-busting ability of a scooter, along with Honda reliability and build quality (which on the SH is leagues ahead of most other scooters).