QUIKSPIN: Honda CB125E - Cheap, Not Nasty

01 February 2013
Imagine walking into a bike dealership with around $2000 in your jacket and leaving with a new bike and change in your pocket. Well, let me introduce the Honda CB125E.
The bike slots into the Honda range as a budget entry level machine. Obviously it’s cheap as chips, fun to zip around on and easy to use for learner riders. I used the bike as a Sydney commuter, and I’m a little torn as to how critical I can be of a bike priced so well. To start with, the ride position is very comfy and can’t be faulted, and the seat is nice and wide. The bike is also super-light and manoeuvrable, so getting around in traffic and tipping into corners is great. 
Getting up to speed in hasty peak hour traffic can be a bit challenging though. The 125cc air-cooled single doesn’t pack much punch, which will see scooters embarrass you in the traffic light drag race. When surrounded by trucks and buses on Parramatta Rd, I felt a bit vulnerable knowing I didn’t have the power in reserve to give it a squirt and get out of any trouble spots. But once I accepted the fact I wasn’t riding a superbike, I found the CB125E to be a pretty fun machine. I could really ride the thing hard, giving it plenty of revs and, coupled with its nice handling, it’s quite enjoyable. On the freeway, another AMCN staffer managed to squeeze 101km/h out of it, and once run in (our testbike had 1km on the odo when it showed up) it might do a few clicks more. At speed it feels stable and re-assuring. 
The engine will run on the smell of an oily rag. We averaged 2.4L/100km, and the 14L tank keeps the servo visits few and far between. 
When it comes to stopping, the brakes are pretty basic. They require a bit of a squeeze to pull you up, but they do the job. 
Swapping cogs has its good and bad moments. I find the clutch a little grabby, and sometimes the gearbox is a little clunky. But with a bit of practice I found a sweet spot and it was smooth enough. Peg to gear lever room is a bit tight, and on a few occasions I knocked it into neutral instead of going from first to second gear. You could blame my inexperience, but I also accidentally dropped into neutral when going from second to first a few times as well. 
Gauges are basic. There are two large dials, one housing the analogue speedo and the other a completely blank face. I reckon Honda could have at least put a clock or tacho in there, but I guess the cost cutting on such a budget-priced bike has to happen somewhere. There’s a gear-position indicator, which is really useful for new riders, and the blinkers and switches are easy to use, as is the choke which is located next to the left grip. You will need the choke too, as the CB125E doesn’t much like cold mornings. 
It’s not all perfection – but to get a brand new Honda, with a 12-month unlimited kilometre warranty, for less than two-thousand bucks is incredible. While it’s short on grunt, this stepping stone into the world of motorcycling can still be a fun ride.
Configuration Single-cylinder
Cylinder head SOHC, two valves per cylinder
Capacity 124.1cc
Bore/stroke 56.5 x 49.5mm
Compression ratio 9:1
Cooling Air
Fueling 24mm Keihin CV Carburettor
Power Not given
Torque Not given
Type Five-speed
Clutch Wet
Final drive Chain
Frame material Steel
Frame layout Backbone
Rake 29?
Trail 103.6mm
Front: 31mm fork, non-adjustable,
118mm travel
Rear: Monoshock, adjustable preload,
70mm travel
Wheels Aluminium
Front: 18 x 1.6 Rear: 18 x 1.85
Tyres Kenda
Front: 80/100-18 (47P)
Rear: 90/90-18 (51P)
Front: 240mm disc, two-piston caliper
Rear: 130mm drum brake
Weight 137kg (kerb, claimed)
Seat height 767mm
Max width 765mm
Max height 1094mm
Wheelbase 1286mm
Fuel capacity 14L
Fuel consumption 2.4L/100km (tested)
Top speed 101 km/h (est)
Fuel economy
Lack of power
Rough gearbox
Spongey brakes