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Video: We ride Honda's CB125R

Published: 21 March 2018

Honda add a sophisticated touch to the sporty naked 125 class.

The CB125R is Honda’s latest venture into the hugely competitive sports naked 125 class and is aimed squarely at new riders who are looking for their first biking thrill.

Replacing the now outgoing fully-faired CBR125R, the upright CB adds a level of sophistication to the genre, offering big-bike looks and components alongside a claimed lightest weight in its class and a near 300-mile tank range.

At the heart of the CB125R lies a peppy liquid-cooled 125cc 2v SOHC single-cylinder engine, producing 13.1bhp. Although lacking the power of its main rivals, it’s more than capable of getting ahead and staying ahead of the urban sprawl. It also has real road presence, thanks to its big-bike styling and full LED light arrangement, including indicators. 

MORE MCN FIRST RIDES

Allowing the bike to stretch its legs, the power delivery feels linear and predictable, pulling comfortably all the way to its 11,000rpm redline and producing a characterful warble, reminiscent of a low capacity trail bike.

This is audible at all times, too - thanks to a deliberately up-turned muffler, which Honda designed to help novice riders operating a motorcycle for the first time. This is further aided by the easy to read and operate LCD dash.

That said, the CB would also make an ideal inner city commuter for experienced riders, too - sharing the same frame and 41mm upside down Showa forks as the larger soon-to-be released CB300R, as well as an appropriately damped non-adjustable rear shock.

Riding along the rain soaked, pothole-laden cobbled streets of Lisbon, Portugal, the ride felt plush and forgiving – ironing out all but the largest of creases with minimal fuss.

As well as being comfortable, it also feels refreshingly nimble, thanks to grippy Dunlop Sportmax GPR-300 rubber and a claimed kerb weight of just 125.8kg – allowing you to scythe through congestion with ease. 

Away from the city centre, the little Honda is also perfectly competent when the going gets twisty, with plenty of ground clearance to inspire healthy lean angles and a mildly aggressive riding position.  

Unfortunately, my time spent with the CB was not without fault and on a few occasions, the bike refused to click from neutral to first gear. The front four-piston radial caliper also feels vague, lacking that initial, confidence inspiring bite that learners desperately need.

Despite these complaints, the CB125R is serious value for money. At £3949, it’s the second cheapest in class (sitting behind the lesser-equipped Suzuki GSX-S125) and boasts a similar spec sheet to the more expensive Aprilia, KTM and Yamaha options. Being a Honda, you also get the added bonus of a strong dealer network.

The facts...

Price: £3949
Engine: 125cc 2v single, liquid-cooled
Frame: Tubular and pressed steel
Seat height: 816mm
Suspension: 41mm telescopic upside down fork and single rear shock, non-adjustable
Front brake: 296mm single disc. Radial four-piston caliper
Colours: White, red, black, matt grey
Available: Start of April
Power: 13.1bhp@10,000rpm
Torque: 7.4ftlb@8000rpm
Kerb weight: 125.8kg
Tank capacity: 10.1 litres

The competition…

Suzuki GSX-S125 - £3699 (£3799 in GP rep paint scheme)
14.8bhp
133kg
Launched last year, the GSX-S is the cheapest and boasts features like a shutter key lock system, for additional security.

Aprilia Tuono 125 - £4599                                                  
14.8bhp
N/A kg
Using the sporty, fully faired four-stroke RS125 as a base, the Tuono enjoys quality touches like upside down forks alongside gorgeous Italian styling.

Yamaha MT-125 - £4299
14.8bhp
140kg
Much like the Honda, this bike sits as the lowest capacity variation of a series of naked machines. Features include 41mm upside down forks and an LCD dash.  

KTM 125 Duke - £4199
14.8bhp
137kg (dry)
The 125 Duke received a much-needed makeover in 2017, gaining a TFT dash, LED lights, a more aggressive look (and much more).

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