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A Look At The Honda C125 Cub

View Date - November 2018

By Ren Withnell

When I wur a lad Honda's C90 wuz a fing fer't be laughed at.

Oh how things have changed. The C50, 70 and 90 range of Honda Cubs are the biggest selling vehicle of all time. They are slowly but surely becoming a valuable collector's item. They are gaining cult status due to a handful of adventurous types riding them around the globe. I'm sure there are millions of people in the far east using a beat up and abused Cub for everyday transport who'd be surprised by our western weirdness.

A Honda C90 at a motorcycle show in Manchester
Th'owd chicken chaser. Now the darling of motorcycle shows.

Any good business will spot a niche in the market and the Chinese have been producing C90 copies for a while - Sym's Symba (albeit 125) for example. Not wishing to miss the gravy train Honda decided to update and release an all new C125 in the style of the C90. 

And here it is before me -at this year's 2018 NEC Motorcycle show.

The all new C125 Honda Cub at this year's NEC bike show
It's the new Cub. 

Hmmmm. It's definitely not just a C90 with a 125 engine. Yes it harks to and reflects the traditional Cubs with a modern take on the vintage style? Oh hell I don't know. You see I have no sense of style but I think it looks just fine. Just make your own mind up will you.

I'm asking - would I buy one, would I want to own one?

The first thing I notice is the single seat. 99.99% of the time this is fine - in fact it's a boon. Having the rack (and thus the top box) close behind the rider brings the top box closer to the centre of gravity and improves the handling. It looks sharper too.

However there are rare seldom times where Sharon may just hop onto the back of my own 125. There is in fact a rear seat available to go on the rack and if I look closely there are bolt-holes for the rear pegs. Whether or not these are optional extras I don't know.

Along the swingarm are to covered holes, presumably for rear footrests
Yeah, I reckon that's where the footrests will go if you need 'em.

The next thing are the wheels. No more spokes and rims, we now have cast wheels. Unless you're planning to do an "Ed March" or "Nathan Millward" and do a lot of off-road then these wheels are a good thing. They allow fitment of tubeless tyres - phew. 

Onto the mudguards. These are PROPER real actual genuine will actually guard against mud mudguards. Heck with the addition of a rubber flap at the back of the front guard I don't think there'd ever be a reason to clean your engine. Why oh why oh why can't other everyday functional motorcycles follow this lead? 

This modern Cub has telescopic forks. There was something mechanically simple about the old C90's leading links and it's a shame that's gone. However telescopic forks are a proven and long standing technology so these should be fine. They'll also eliminate the curious front end rising under braking effect from the overly short leading links. 

A disc brake up front - with ABS! You know I hate complexity but ABS is here and here to stay so I'll just have to deal with it. But at least we have a real disc up front. There's a drum at the back. I, well yeah, I don't mind this setup. It works fine on my 125 and again it's a proven system. I just need to work out how ABS works on non hydraulic mechanically operated drum brakes.

The front brake disc, ABS ring and telescopic forks on the C125 Cub
Forks, ABS, hydraulic brake and a disc! All mod-cons.

So then, from what I can see I like it a lot. The thing is I'd have to like it a hell of a lot to actually buy it. Current list price - £3,399 - ouch! The CB125F's (not to be confused with the CBF125) list price is £2,829. Admittedly it doesn't have cool retro style but at £530 cheaper it's a no-brainer. 

I reckon Honda are marketing this at modern hipsters who'll put on a retro open face helmet and pre-aged waxed Barbour jacket and just oooooze style, whatever style is. Honda are not trying to market this to yoofs, they'll buy Chinese because they've got no money. Aging commuters like myself who run bikes into the ground will not shell out for looks. This C125 is a fashion statement.

A carbon look helmet made in a traditional vintage style
A modern vintage lid like this don't come cheap either.

Which is a damn shame because it appears incredibly practical. 

Oh - wait! Yes of course. Honda is double selling. They'll sell first to the trendy people for top dollar. Then when this fad has passed  they can sell spares to hacks like me who'll pick up low mileage pristine examples for a few shillings then run them into the ground. Maybe Honda ain't so thick after all.


We welcome guest posts about all things motorcycling here at Bikes And Travels. Contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Reader's Comments

Stuart said :-
When the first pictures of this came out I was quite interested especially as it was expected to sell for about £2k. As soon as the actual price was announced I lost all interest. Last year I got a new 390 KTM Duke for £3,500 which I think is better value.

I will wait to see what happens to second hand values.
23/12//2018 10:21:17 PM UTC
Steve said :-
Having done some touring on a Honda Wave this year I have got the bug and want one, like you I also think its overpriced and there are much better small bikes available for the money. Just have to wait for a used example when they come on the market next year.
24/12//2018 1:36:46 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
When you compare the KTM390 at 3.5k to the C125 at 3.4k then hell yeah, I never thought I'd see the day a KTM looks comparatively cheap. Just a cursory search suggests the 390's price is still only £3,799.

Touring on a Honda Wave Steve? Sounds excellent where did you get to?
24/12//2018 8:08:06 PM UTC
Borsuk said :-
According to Honda´s spec it only has single channel ABS so that is the front wheel only. Nada on the backski, just make the shoes as ineffectual as possible so you can´t lock up the wheel. :-)
24/12//2018 8:40:53 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Aha! So the ABS only works for the front. Kinda, sorta makes sense - locking the front is lethal locking the rear is "manageable" usually. Cover them rear shoes in 10w-40 and that'll stop 'em locking up. (Note for idiots - don't do this).
24/12//2018 9:49:58 PM UTC
said :-
Hi Ren
Did the NC500 and liked it so much went on to do the Wild Atlantic Way later in the summer. I've got a bigger bike but the small bike just felt a bit like cycling without the pain on the hills.
24/12//2018 10:10:06 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Aaah Steve that sounds idyllic. I occasionally like a bit of a blast on a bike but mostly I like to saunter, to potter around and to relax into the scenery.

I'm looking for a bike that's as easy to relax on as your Honda Wave, as economical as your Wave too. It also needs to carry as much luggage as a Gold Wing, and be as comfortable. Then when the mood arrives I'd like it to go like a Fireblade and handle like a GP racer. Oh - some off-road ability would be good if the roads get a bit rough. Do you know of a bike that fits all these criteria?
26/12//2018 8:18:26 AM UTC
said :-
Hi Ren
If you can ignore the Fireblade bit this almost fits the bill, 75 mpg, front and rear panniers, off road no problem. I'll post a review on your Himalayan page if it gets through the summer tours.


26/12//2018 10:20:51 PM UTC
Upt'North said :-
Nice picture, Said.
Upt'North.
27/12//2018 9:12:53 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yeah that is a good image whoever-you-are.

The Enfield is a cracker and it's on my list of bikes to watch.

I'd love to see your review after your summer tours. Don't post it as a comment on the Himalayan review - write it up and chuck a few pictures in there and email it to me!! I'll publish it as a proper owner's review.
27/12//2018 10:02:24 AM UTC
David Barwick said :-
Hondas introduction of the new Super-Cub 125 brings (suprisingly) the current 125cc range to Ten models (6 bikes + 4 scooters) CB125R CBR125R CB125f MSX125 MONKEY125 C125SUPERCUB FORZA125 SHI125 PCX125 SH125MODE, also there is the 110cc Vision, this is encouraging for small bike lovers, and I suppose its always good to have more choice.

I cant decide whether its pretty or ugly, so am calling it pretty-ugly.

I like almost everything except the wheels, yes tubeless tyres are more practical, but those cast wheels (despite being styled to represent wire spokes) just dont look right.

There is no overview on the Honda UK site, so its hard to understand who the target market is.
However I think the clue is in "Super- Cub" (My old crunchy C90 "Economy" was all about basic cheap reliable transport) where as this new 125 model seems more for the "city executive" who is willing to pay a premium for the retro styling.
It does not make practical sense to buy a new 125cc bike at £3400, based on how it looks, then try to use it all year round (it aint gonna look so pretty-ugly after its first UK Winter!)

Specs. nice (surprisingly) light 107kg (kerb) tiny 3.7L fuel tank (presumably under seat, so no storage there) The single seat, pillion carrier/seat option is a really neat idea, most people (except Ren) dont ride 125cc Two-up.

Ren, did you notice what the exhaust was made of, under that chrome heat shield (could it be stainless?)

I will be very surprised if this bike is a good seller,at least in the Uk however, no doubt Honda will survive, and its refreshing that they are willing bring out something different.

Personally I would buy a used/pre-reg (no VAT) SHI,PCX,CB125F, or WAVE110, and fit a stainless steel exhaust.
(Actually I did buy the new, much improved 2018 PCX model @ £2700 (£2929 list) after asking for a discount at the local honda dealer.)


27/12//2018 10:41:10 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I'll attach an image of the exhaust. It *looks* like it is stainless - at least at the header which is the bit that matters most.

Admittedly the wheel are not the prettiest I've ever seen but to my (sadly lacking in style) eyes they look fine.

Oh I'd forgotten about the 3.7 litre tank. WHY!!!!!! I know I know I know, original designs, people don't need big tanks on little bikes made for city trips. That diddy tank puts me right off though.

How are you finding the PCX? It's a good looking piece of kit, I've not ridden one though.

C125 Super cub exhaust header
27/12//2018 12:47:07 PM UTC
David Barwick said :-
Ren,

Thanks for the exhaust image, IF it is stainless it would certainly add to the appeal and value, as an after-market system would be around £350/400, and a lot louder than a typical std Honda one.

Have seen just now, already a used supercub 125 with only 105 miles (as new) advertised on gumtree @ £2895!

Really loving the new PCX, the revised 2018 model has lots of improvements over the already excellent previous version:

ABS front brake, wider/lighter wheels with Michelin city grip tyres, stiffer duplex frame, longer travel tri-rate rear shocks, more space under seat, engine tweeked for more top-end power and revised cvt range for increased top speed (from 65 to 70mph) all for the same price!
The weak point on the older model (which I have owned) was a jolty rear-end, and some handling lnstability, due I think, to the narrow tyres. The new model is massively improved in this department.

Am getting @ 125mpg real world riding (8L tank)

As an aged 57 non car owner I bought the PCX for shopping (lock helmet under seat,swop for shopping bag, and go) and the odd commute to work (when too windy to cycle) The PCX is the most relaxing ride I have ever had, it is so smooth and quiet, all the weight is low down, it is so simple and easy to ride, your feet have nothing to do, you have a thought and the scoot just does it, so effortless and relaxing that it frees you up to forget the bike and concentrate on your surroundings.

If this all sounds like its very boring, I actually find it great fun, because I am so relaxed on the bike, it is so much more enjoyable at whatever speed.




27/12//2018 6:57:47 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
It does not sound boring to me, it sounds blissful David. I have my moods when I like a good blast and "give it large" but for the most part I want smooth, calm, progressive and safe motorcycling. Anyhow it's your ride and your choice and it seems it makes you happy - so stick with it.
28/12//2018 9:50:32 AM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Having owned a c50 which always started did about 200 to the gallon and was slow as hell it eventually rusted away and failed it's mot. So I upgraded to a 4th hand c70. It was also slow but economic and reliable it didn't stop that well. But someone stole it from the police station car park and wrote it off.

The new one looks pants... the seats rubbish. And the price is ridiculous.

Why change something that just worked yes improve emmisions and brakes but leave the basic design the same how do they justify the price increases. These should be the cheapest most popular bike in Hondas range.

I simply don't understand the strategy. No wonder they won't sell many.

They seem to listen to marketing hype but not the customers so much. That said they have improved the cb500x range with some extras like a gear indicator. But then they don't improved the mudguard or screen which are pants...strange people
31/12//2018 8:14:59 AM UTC
Upt'North said :-
Pete of the Pocket variety, I suspect you are the wrong side of 50, much like myself.
Whilst we might think that's a lot of money, and yes it is for a 125cc step through, the vast majority of buyers will never ask or know the RRP. All most will be interested in is the PCP payment which is probably going to be a good way under £100.00 a month. Just ask someone a little younger than ourselves how much something costs and they will only know, "they an afford it". And if they can't the bank of mum and dad will save the day. I haven't looked at the marketing of this vehicle but it will have the monthly payment listed high in the priorities.
I personally think Honda has got the Cub and Monkey Bike styling pretty much spot on for the new audience which isn't us.
As an aside I used to do a small commute in a previous life on a C50 bog seat. Never did get used to the bike trying to ride over the front wheel on heavy braking. But of course it was a Honda so never failed me and I sold it for more than I ought it for. No monthly payments!
Upt'North.
31/12//2018 10:11:14 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Honda are still making the original Cub for those markets where a small bike is daily transport (often for a whole family) but obviously think there is a Western market for this version.

I well remember my first shot on a C90 which resulted in an involuntary wheelie when I forgot about the fact that the gear lever operated the clutch, wound the throttle wide open while I still had pressure on the gear lever then saw the front wheel soar into the air when I released the gear lever.

Shortly afterwards I bought an S90 for the princely sum of £5 as the clutch wouldn't free. This was easily rectified by running up against a brick wall with the clutch held in.

Ren thinks I look too tall for the Norton - he should have seen me on the S90 (although I was thinner in those days). It was a cracking little bike for around town but was a bit gutless (as well as being tiny).

This wasn't mine of course.....


31/12//2018 11:08:05 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Pete and Up t'North - I think we're on the right side of 50.......
31/12//2018 12:56:44 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Ren - could we have some markup like strikeout, bold etc. But no emojis please we're British.....
31/12//2018 4:48:14 PM UTC
Upt'North said :-
Right side of 50? Maybe, but not after a day in the garden....
Emoji's, god no, there are standards. Or if not there should be.
Upt'North.
31/12//2018 6:49:53 PM UTC
Borsuk said :-
I am on the right side of it, I hope, even though it is fading fast into the distance and it´s mate 60 is hurtling towards me.
1/1//2019 3:06:16 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Three score and ten this year. You youngsters eh?
1/1//2019 4:21:25 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
According to my google analytics most of my readers are like younger than me innit (I is down wiv da kidz). And yet most of the comments are from grumpy old men, sorry, I meant to say vibrant mature gentlemen. Why is it da kidz is so quiet? Mebbe coz they can't read my proper spellin and they is just lookin at dem piccys.
1/1//2019 7:14:05 PM UTC
Glenn said :-
Looks like a tarted up hipsters version of the postie bike.....
https://ct110-postie.com/resources/specs/nbc110/
2/1//2019 12:05:13 PM UTC
Borsuk said :-
Agree with you entirely Glenn, especially the tarted up bit. I wouldn´t have that as a gift. If I won one I would flog it off asap.

It´s the Barbara Cartland of motorbikes.
My brother had a C90 in the early 80´s. I thought it was a great wee bike when I used to use it, took me 30 plus years before I sat on a bike again. It was never a looker, was the motorbike equivalent of a moggy minor. Functional and went on forever. I think the original looks better than the new one.


2/1//2019 11:23:14 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Barbara Cartland of motorbikes you say? I'm gonna have to own one now you've said that Borsuk.
3/1//2019 8:41:52 AM UTC
David Barwick said :-
Here is a review of the new SuperCub 125 on the Bennetts (insurance) bikesocial site:

www.bennetts.co.uk/bikesocial/reviews/bikes/honda/honda-super-cub-c125-2018-review
4/1//2019 5:24:12 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I'm afraid I'd have to say the review is a typical magazine review of most small bikes. "I'm trying desperately hard to find the positives but it's not like the usual post 100bhp machines I'm used to".

I'd love to see what a city commuter thinks who's hacking it through a big smoke 5 days a week in bonkers traffic. The old chap who uses one to go shopping and visit friends in the next county. The young lady on "L" plates getting to grips with life on two wheels. I doubt it was ever designed to be ridden like a sports bike all day long.

He also says "It's low cost motorcycling..." If he spent a month with me then he'd know what low cost motorcycling looks like! Cheers David Barwick.
5/1//2019 7:51:21 AM UTC
Upt'North said :-
Ed, I see what you mean, I've just read the MCN review, gawd knows why?
I quote, sort of, "with four gears it can accelerate to 55 mph"
OK
"And it can cruise at 60mph".
Now, it could be me, it normally is, but how can you cruise at 5 mph more than a vehicle will accelerate to. Is there another rule of physics I've missed, they're starting to add up.
Upt'North.

5/1//2019 6:08:35 PM UTC
Borsuk said :-
I love the comments they always make about the brakes on budget or small bikes requiring a hard pull to bring it up in a hurry. I would blinking well hope so, who wants brakes that are an on/off switch and lock your front wheel at the lightest touch. The mpg is always crap because they thrash them like its a superbike.

5/1//2019 10:01:47 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Semantics Upt'North. It should probably read "it pulls OK to 55 and will achieve 60" but I'm sure you've worked it out. However there are a lot of rules of physics to learn. You'd best hurry up and learn them all because as Scotty told us "Ya canny change the laws of physics Jim"

Yes Borsuk. I can only assume MCN were merciless on the CBF125 as they show "87.5mpg" for the bike I usually return 130-140mpg on. I'm thinking track day to get such consumption? Bear in mind though manufacturer's figures are usually based on a "very best case" scenario. Small light rider, perfectly flat course, constant steady speed, blueprinted engine, helium filled tyres, you get the idea.
6/1//2019 8:00:16 AM UTC
David Barwick said :-
Since 2017, all European manufactures are required to use the WMTC (world motorcycle test cycle) mode for "calculating" fuel economy figures. This test uses a chassis dynomometer (rolling-road) and has no relation to real-world conditions (riding on the road in weather with various rider/luggage weight) Honda uses this system, and are now quoting in KM/L units, rather than MPG. These figures are useful for comparison purposes only.

At least I learnt one thing from the Bennetts review, the Super Cub 125 engine is based on the MSX/Monkey 125,
so could be one of the most (fuel) economical 125s avilable.
6/1//2019 10:51:24 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
As you say, the "testbed" figures are useful for comparison* but not much else. However, there are so many variables in actual road use that comparisons there are all but useless despite the current enthusiasm for them.

*The main problem of course is that it's so easy for the manufacturers to game them by tuning for the test. You always find people complaining about flat spots round about 3,000 rpm. Coincidentally or not this is where much of the emissions testing is done..... My Tiger 955i had such a flat spot and looking at the air/fuel map it was clear why as the mixture was leaned out at that point. Minor tweaking using software (despite my love of ancient machinery, adjusting a few figures in a spreadsheet is easier and quicker than mucking about with jets) gave lovely creamy power delivery all the way from 2,000 rpm to the top end - not that I spent much time there.
6/1//2019 3:51:21 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I wasn't aware of the WMTC David, that's good information. I like the notion of a fixed set of parameters to compare like with like, that makes sense. Of course as Ian says though if economy is important then the manufacturer will tune for the test and not real world riding. As has been clearly demonstrated by a certain Volkswagen recently if the engine is computer controlled and the software is smart hell the bike might even sense it's on the test!

Never-the-less the engine is a proven "good-un" as seen in the Grom. The other advantage is the Grom has grown a huge aftermarket scene as it's been popular in The States. You could fit a turbo tuning kit or big bore, more importantly you can get plenty of spares.

Ian - I do hope your digital tuning did not break any environmental controls! That would be illegal doncha know. Probably.
7/1//2019 7:57:26 AM UTC
Upt'North said :-
Comparing parameters? I don't believe it works.
Genuine feedback from real life driving, yes; computer driven nonsense no.
These companies employ very edumicated persons who can make vehicles lie like a cheap watch.
I/we own two cars and the official combined figures and real figures are:
Official 61mpg Real 62mpg.
Official 56mpg Real 48mpg.
Both vehicles are driven in the same way in the same locations. I'm sure most can relate to these official figures nonsense.
Upt'North.
7/1//2019 9:36:26 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
It's a tough call Upt'North. On the one hand user's reports on mileage depend upon the users. I look at fuelly.com quite often. If, for example, a bike is "sporty" the owners will tend to ride it "sportily". As such the mileage they report may not be representative of that which a careful rider could achieve. It is still though about the best real world representation we could hope for.

Testing has it's merits and faults too. A standardised run on a rolling road has scientifically reproducible results. Of course the particular standardised run may suit a eco-engine and not a sporty engine or the other way around. And as we've said the car's computers can be a little too smart for their own good.

The best we can hope for is to view both user's reported mileages as well as the manufacturer's and/or testing bodies' reports.
7/1//2019 3:28:03 PM UTC

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