Cheeky little red from Honda

By Jacqui Madelin

City errands are a cinch, says Jacqui Madelin

Jacqui Madelin found the new Honda CB125 easy on the wallet to run.
Jacqui Madelin found the new Honda CB125 easy on the wallet to run.

It's a cheeky little red, this Honda CB125. I normally prefer a more robust hit from each wrist flick, but it didn't take long to notice hidden depths; a lightness to its delivery that suits the weekday grind when you're not after heavy going; a cheeky persona that matches a weekend at the coast.

And that's what this bike is pitched at, inner-city commuters or students needing a runabout for "quick trips round town, runs to university or day trips to the beach," achieved without spending too much.

Jacqui Madelin tests the new Honda CB125
Jacqui Madelin tests the new Honda CB125

I wasn't game to gate-crash university, but city errands proved a cinch. With only 8kW on tap the CB runs out of breath near the open-road limit, but that five-speed transmission makes the most of it off the line, and it'll easily beat a CVT auto scooter from the lights. It handles like a proper bike, too, flicking about with the verve you expect from something tipping the scales at just 137kg fully fuelled, then slotting in to park almost anywhere there's a gap, using either the centre, or sidestand.

Dodgy neighbourhood? You can close off the key slot via a separate "lock" beside it to prevent someone jimmying the ignition.

Errands further afield are within the CB's reach - it will achieve 100km/h on the flat, and I tackled State Highway 1 aboard it several times.

You wouldn't spend hours in the saddle, but the assertive upwards curve of those bars imparts a comfy riding stance that suited my 1.66m height, and should accommodate reasonably taller riders.

Anyone built like a barn door won't be interested, more because they'd meet weight as well as height issues, after all, there's a limit to what a 124cc air-cooled four-stroke single can handle.

It seems to run on the smell of an oily rag, though. The tank holds 14 litres and it took a while for the needle to move, despite my fondness for full-throttle action at higher revs. Ah yes, that was the trips out to the beach ...

A long, straight, open-road hill would defeat the otherwise willing motor, but changing down and making the most of this bike's agile nature meant it held its own in the traffic heading west, and more than that atop the Waitakeres' Scenic Drive.

Jacqui Madelin tests the new Honda CB125
Jacqui Madelin tests the new Honda CB125

Holding the throttle to the stop in fourth (sorry, Honda guys) and flicking it left-right-left was a barrel of laughs, even when I hit a patch of grit and slid, for the bike's light weight and naturally friendly manners made correcting the brief slip the work of a moment, and we barely slowed before tackling the next bend, the skinny little tyres clinging on, the wheelbase just long enough to prevent the wee bike feeling twitchy, yet short enough to ease all that tipping into bends.

U-turns are a doddle, the single disc front and drum rear brakes worked well and, yes, I enjoyed myself - not least when puttering along the waterfront, able to ride it almost like a little dirt bike over the verges to find that perfect view while eating my ice cream, before puttering round to a friend's hilltop house; no worries about turning this thing around in an awkward space, given its compact size and heft.

Actually I liked it far more than I'd expected.

The real-bike dynamics imparted by this riding position, and the bigger-than-a-scooter 18-inch wheels (cast black, nice) allied to the front forks and swingarm rear suspension all worked well on lumpy back roads, it went anywhere a bigger bike would and many places one wouldn't, and did all that while barely burning fuel.

Forget the 1970s variant, this new to New Zealand CB125 has many of the attributes of a commuter scooter yet it rides like a real bike - albeit a small one - and yet it costs just $2995, including that rear luggage rack and a 12-month, unlimited-kilometre warranty. Bargain.

- NZ Herald

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