Advantages: Easy to Ride, Cheap, Fun, Good on Fuel, Maintenance is Easy/Cheap Parts, Fantastic Learner BIke
Disadvantages: Looks? Small Tyres, Can’t do more than 75mph
Since a young lad, I always dreamed of having a motorbike as many 10 year olds do, I was a major fan. But never then did I think that I would be riding a couple of years later. Even though it isn’t the mean machine I thought I’d have, capable of doing over 150 mph and with a mean purr of the exhaust, the Honda CBR 125R is the first step up the ladder.
Even though it is a small bike with a 125cc engine and 13 bhp (Brake Horse Power), it is not to be underestimated, as it has a lot of heart and personality as I’ve discovered it to be extremely fun to cruise around on with enough power to get a kick out off.
The Honda CBR 125 is ready to be ridden by anyone who’s just passed their CBT (and got the DL196 certificate which states you’re safe on a motorbike) in the UK. I purchased the bike right after finishing my CBT (wasn’t with flying colours I regret to say) and I was nervous about riding it.
My riding school had some Yamaha YBR 125 motorbikes on which I practised on and I was honestly not a fan at all as I struggled to maintain the slightly large and sluggish motorbike. It’s big and heavy, but it doesn’t compensate with power. Bit edgy after my poor experience, I began riding my CBR 2 days later and honestly any nerves I had about motorbike riding disappeared because of the ease the CBR allows you to ride.
It is a small bike, and very light and easy to manoeuvre and has a standard upright seating position so is very comfortable from the start, but the seat has enough slide to allow you to move back for my aerodynamics, although still doesn’t put you in a Super Sports Bike position or the ‘Tank Hugger’.
I own the 2004 CBR which is the first and original CBR 125 with a carburettor engine; newer versions of the CBR from 2008 are Fuel Injected, hence having varied features.
The bike is very standard and is meant to be beginner friendly so won’t have any advanced features that a 600cc Motorbike might have, or a more expensive 125cc motorbike. The clocks display the RPM (Revs Per Minute) and the Speed in MPH on the UK version, even though the clock does up to around 120Mph, I wish anyone luck trying to get it that fast (hahaha). Also a Neutral light is present for the gears and a Fuel and Temperature gauge.
You’ll also find a Choke on the bike which you pull up to enrich the mixture in your engine making it easy to start up in cold weather. The choke is meant to slowly shut off once the engine is warmed up, however I do find this doesn’t happen (might be due to my bike being a bit old and worn), but it is easy to simply push it back down and go as you engine will warm up while you ride. If you forget to shut off the choke the engine will shut off when you pull in the clutch after a few minutes of riding.
The handle bars have the standard indicators, beams On/Off (lights can’t be switched off), and Horn on the left and Throttle on the right. All controls are easy to reach with your thumb, although when wearing larger gloves as I do, I accidently hit the horn on occasion when going for the Beams/Indicators, and get a lot of odd looks from passers and other car drivers.
The fuel tank holds around 7 litres and the bike can FULLY be filled up for around Ј9 (at 1.34p per litre current prices), I get a lot of jealous car owners when they are told this. This will also last me around a week in typical commuting of around 50 miles a week, this being very aggressive and fast riding down A Roads mainly, if you conserve, you can easily get much more out of it.
Also not to show favouritism, but I found Shell fuel to suit the bike far better, especially Shell Optimax, its more expensive, but adds some oomph into the bike.
As mentioned, the seat is quite spacy, you sit in an upright position as you would on a cruiser motorbike, but can slide back closer and be closer to the tank. You also have a pillion seat, this being a small bike you are limited to who you can carry (this being no one if you have a provisional license), I found that people over about 60 kg will do in your suspension quite badly, but lighter passengers (co-incidentally the average girls around the age of 18. this being because I am 18, not cause I am creepy hahaha) won’t put too much tension on the back spring. But as I said, the bike is quite small and may look a bit ridiculous with 2 people on it.
Under the pillion seat you’ll find a small storage area which is unlocked with the ignition key. It’s a small space, will fit a small tool kit in there and some manuals. I keep mine empty and might occasionally put in a small chain lock or as I found out a small takeaway meal will also fit.
Riding the bike is a breeze, very easy to get use too and everything is designed in mind for the beginner. I find it too be a reasonable smooth ride through to about 70mph, anything faster you may find the bike starting to shake a bit as it is being pushed to the ultimate, you will need to slide back and get close to the tank for aerodynamics in this case.
The Gears are manual and the gear shift goes as a standard bike, 1 down and 5 up, so 6 gears altogether, the 6th Gear is however for economy rather than speed, so if you manage to get around 75mph somehow, click into 6th and maintain it. The shift itself can be a bit awkward, but this may be down to my bike being quite old as I find it sticks and can be a bit solid to shift sometimes, but regular maintenance usually sorts any problems like that out.
Turning or more specifically banking can be a bit of a nuisance because of the thin tyres, I feel I am going crazy banking it going around a Roundabout, I wouldn’t suggest it at all when its wet, also having to watch the road for anything such as mud or irregularities, as the tyre doesn’t cover as much surface area. Most minor accidents on 125cc motorbikes are Lowslides where the rider has slipped on something on the road. I’ve done this personally on some rocks going to fast into a turn and hit some gravel and have seen a person on a YBR 125 also slip in wet weather, so don’t risk it with turns!
Overall can be a pleasure to ride, but the small tyres are something to consider as doing tight fast turns may prove a little much.
As I mentioned I have a very used 2004 CBR 125, in fact I think it was one of the first off the line for the UK. Since then the bike has changed quite a bit, especially the 2007 when they redesigned the bike to look more like its bigger brother the CBR1000 Fireblade and also added Fuel Injection rather than the Carburettor, making it even more fuel efficient.
If you can afford it I’d say go for the newer 2007 + versions of the Honda CBR 125, they look nicer and Fuel Injection allows for quicker starts and fewer problems.
The new 2011 CBR 125 has been again redesigned to give it a whole new look, personally I am a fan, but a lot of other disagree.
The Honda CBR 125 is probably one of the cheapest 125cc bikes around and is also extremely popular, so much so that a lot of replica bikes have been produced imitating the look and style, such as the Skyjet, but these are lesser quality bikes and don’t get the well-known Honda reliability (as mentioned below), so it is worth paying that little bit (and it is a little bit), it get the actual Honda CBR 125.
The older versions from 2004 to 2006 will cost around Ј1000 to Ј1600, of course the newer and better condition they are, the more they get. It’s always better to get newer but I wouldn’t go out of your way to get the newest and best as a well maintained old bike is as good or better.
The new 2007 versions featuring Fuel Injection will cost a fair bit more, ranging from around Ј1500 to a brand new on for around Ј2500, they look nicer and are more economic, so I’d say if you can afford it, get it!
===Maintenance, Running Costs Repairs===
Being a whole beginner friendly bike and all it is easy to maintain it. Doing the weekly checks is easy and even more advance takes are a breeze with the Honda CBR 125. As will a bigger and faster bike, or any motorbike all together, you’ve got to oil the chain, check/change oil, replace coolant and insure the engine is working fine for a long and fulfilled life for the bike.
I’d recommend having a small tool kit with a range or screwdrivers and a Sprocket set as a minimum if you plan to do some repairs yourself (and you should to get some know how). Also a Haynes manual is like the bible for any bike owner, so invest Ј10 and get you’re self-one for this bike.
Average monthly running cost will be around Ј50 for the petrol.
It’s recommended you do an oil change every 6 months and only a litre is required, so get the best oil you can and it’ll be about Ј15 will free labour as it is easy to change the oil with the right tools. While changing things, I’d also stick in some fresh brake fluid, about Ј5 per litre, and only a little is required.
Repairs are pretty cheap considering this is a very common bike and parts are cheap to come by, used and new, any bike breaker can supply you with almost anything for the bike and also sort the bike out for you with reasonable labour charges. I’d advice not to go to expensive mechanics at Ј60 an hour as they will overcharge for parts as I found out.
===Problems I’ve Experienced===
Although I am a big fan of this bike, and it is very reliable on the road, I have experience some problems with it I’d like to share. A very common problem with the CBR 125 is the fact that its electrical wiring isn’t the best, in fact it is a very common occurrence for the wiring loom to bounce free and some wiring comes loose causing Lighting issues, essentially the headlamp becomes dim. It can be fixed at a garage quite easily by a decent mechanic.
Also be vary of bargain bikes. I was unfortunate to buy one with numerous owners, due to this, it has had a life before I got it and I am paying for its rehab, so be sure to inspect it before purchasing.
Once again, this bike is very popular and lots of After Market parts are available if you look in the right place. eBay have got a few custom parts floating around and any good bike dealer will be able to supply you parts for the bike you want.
I’ve personally got an Arrow Exhaust on the bike. It makes it sound better (in my opinion) and gives it a few extra BHP (due to running slightly lean). It also looks slightly different and cool; I’ve got a lot of comments from people about it.
Also due to my accident, mentioned above, I’ve fitted some smaller indicators by Oxford available in any good bike shop which look really cool. But if you want to go hard core into modifying the bike with custom fairing and tuning, this bike is very popular and easy to get parts for.
If you are after your first motorbike and are a teenager off medium build, this bike is perfect. Its small but it is a little beast inside, and very fun to ride. Like a lot of bikers say 125cc bikes are very forgiving and this one really is, you can make mistakes and learn on it no problems and little danger of seriously hurting yourself due to the bike being light, easy to manoeuvre and quick to learn on.
You’ll make mistakes you’ll learn for life from and it’s a great intro into becoming a good bike rider for your future CBR 600RR or R6.
I couldn’t recommend this bike enough!
Summary: Once you’ve done 75mph of petrol, you’ll never go back to a car!
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