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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 £9 (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 £1000 to £1600, 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 £1500 to a brand new on for around £2500, 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 £10 and get you're self-one for this bike.
Average monthly running cost will be around £50 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 £15 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 £5 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 £60 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!
I brought this bike as a starter bike as I had my CBT but no licence. The look of the bike was important for me as I was 30 years old and didnt want to be seen on something that resembeled a scooter which this definatly does not. This bike looks fantastic. My husband also rode this bike and said that it was very quick on the uptake which he was surprised about as he is 16 stone and very tall. The bike is a very quick and is extremely good at handling. The bike itself looks like a much larger spots bike and conceals that fact that it only a 125 very well so you dont feel silly riding it. The gears and brakes were really responsive and I felt in command of the bike at all times. The sadle was very comfortable and the design means that you feel moulded to the bike. The dash disply is very neatly laid out and is simple enough that you can read all the relevant info at speed without the dash being overcrowded or being ruined by the designers looking for style over substance. In the time that I owned this bike I clocked up around 8000 miles and had no work done on it at all. It ran as smoothly the day I sold it as the day i brought it and I was very sorry to see it go. For the money I dont believe that there is a better 125 on the market. lastly the fuel economy on this bike was incredible and I was putting about £15 in a month and traveling about 7 miles into work every day. Cant fault it in this day and age.
This is a great little bike, would make for a great commuter and also very stylish on the road and by far the best point being that the bike seems to be bulletproof the engine is very low maitenance and is extremely reliable. I purchased a 58 model early last year and has not let me down once, clocking nearly 10,000 miles the bike is still running very nicely and although i service it as instructed have not had to carry out any costly repairs or services since. The bikes MPG is unbelievable at times and offers around the 80 mark approximately. With a range of about 120 miles on a tank (at high speed) this bike is probably better suited for urban commuting and due to its size is highly manouvable around busy streets and traffic alike.
The bike also outperforms most bikes in its class because of its sleek style and nicely tuned engine which offers a maximum speed of 80mph (thats a realistic figure which i have achieved) and perhaps higher with a tail wind.
Importantly for a bike of this class it is also new rider friendly with being able to deal with new rider mistakes and can certainly take some abuse being such a reliable motor. The machine was updated in 08 with the fuel injection system but have heard that the earlier bikes (04) onwards are just as reliable and these bikes offer a real alternative to the noisey 2 strokes available which are noisey, unreliable and trying to be something that they are quite clearly not.
I highly recommend this bike on personal experience before making the step up to a larger bike.
The only downside i can see is its size which is perhaps smaller than some of its rivals such as the yamaha yzf 125, most noticeably with the skinnier tyres which may not be to everybodys liking but this fully compensates for great manouvaribility on the road and cornering.
The bike is however rather much cheaper than its rivals in particular the yamaha yzf and the aprilia rs125
The Honda CBR125 range of motorbikes were first released back in 2004. Minor changes have occured over the few years with the most significant being the addition of fuel injection in the 2007 models.
I first bought one of these from a local garage just before I passed my CBT (Compulsary Basic Training). You only need the CBT (if you have a car license) do drive one of these on the road. The CBT lasts for 2 years and you must have L-Plates on display.
I had driven a few bikes on my CBT including a small Kawasaki and a few Honda CG125's. I never liked any of these. They felt heavy, difficult and the brakes were none-existant.
So what a shock when I picked up my CBR125R (2004 model)! This is much, much better!
Firstly, you may have noticed that this bike is small. Very small. I fit on in perfect, but many people would not. It is also very thin which is great for nipping through traffic jams and getting out of peoples way, but not so good for being visible on the road.
Starting the bike requires that you use the choke. Yes, this bike has an automatic choke (you need to put it on, but the bike will slowly pull it off as it gets warm). Even though the choke is supposed to pull itself off, I found it never quite got there, so you need to remember to push it right in when the bike gets warm. Otherwise you are needlessly burning a little too much petrol. The newer fuel injection models shouldn't have a choke.
Then you start the bike with the electric starter. Now, Honda have realised that this is a beginners bike and have tried to make it foolproof. If you try to start the bike with the kickstand down and in gear, nothing happens. Put it in neutral or pull the kickstand up and it will start. A nice simple touch. The headlight and tail-light come on automatically - there is no switch, so you never forget to ride with the lights on.
The gearbox is generally very accurate, though on the odd occasion, I did find it jumped out of gear. I quickly learned that you need to move the gear lever to the full extent to get a 'solid lock' on the gear. The clutch is a breeze and makes the bikes I used on the CBT feel like ancient history. The six gears are quite well set out and you will find that the top speed can be found in 5th gear and not 6th. Top gear can be used for economy driving.
Speaking of economy, it is easy to get 70 to 100 miles per gallon on this bike, depending on how you drive it, though you will tend to get closer to the 70mpg since this does need a bit of throttle to really keep up with traffic. The top speed is reported to be 70mph, some claim otherwise but speedometers are never accurate. My speedo would read around 75mph in normal conditions.
The bike revs nicely around to about 11,000 revs per minute and still feels fairly smooth when doing so.
Brakes are really good. They are disc brakes front and rear and after being on those CG125's, these are lovely to use and don't take much effort on the pedal and lever to come to a sharp stop.
Tyre grip is actuall quite good, even though you do wonder when you look at the small width of the tyres.
Parts are also quite cheap. Servicing is straightforward (though the fuel injection models may not be). This is a four stroke bike and little maintenance is required, unlike the two stroke competition from Aprilia. Their bikes are faster and more sporty, but the Honda is more economical and a little easier to live with day to day.
The bike is very reliable. It didn't start everytime, first time. But I always had the bike running within the first minute. Every time. Once the engine is warm, restarts are very quick (erm, for when you stall. But I never did that much. Not that I am admitting!)
The instruments are clearly and nicely laid out. The standard rev counter and speedo are included but there are also small dials for engine temperature and more usefully and unusually for a small bike, a petrol guage. This doesn't have any lights on it but is very helpful especially to new riders. There is also the indicator lights, high beam light and a light to indicate that you are in neutral gear.
The mirrors are a little odd, being attached to the handlebars they do move around slightly if you are taking a corner. But you quickly get used to them.
Currently the bike is just £15 a year to tax, my insurance was £110 for third party, fire and theft. But then I am on the other side of 25! Petrol is cheap since the MPG is so high. The bike requires very little maintenance and I barely spent anything on it in the last two years.
There is a nice big boot. Well, it's bigger than it looks and you could carry a few tools around in there.
Would I recommend this bike? You bet I would. If you are average or short and light this would be great. It particularly would appeal to a female rider. As a commuter, it is reliable, efficient, cheap, fits through the tiniest of gaps in the traffic and is also good to look at. It isn't a sports bike. But it just over £2500 - a steal.
I read in one sports bike magazine that this little bike actually won a category. It wasn't the fastest or the sexiest, but the best value for money. And it won it by a mile!