Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

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Review of the Honda CG125es - By Stephen Latchford

I bought my my little Honda CG125 es (es stands for electric start) in October 2010 with only 67 miles on the clock and in need of an mot and tax.  The last owner only rode it a few times then fell off and did not want to ride motorcycles again.  He sold it to me for 995 quid losing 500 on it himself.  I noticed the bike would wobble a bit on the centrestand so a quick assesment showed that the stand had been bent in the crash.  The lever that your foot pushes down on was digging into the ground so I bent it back using a long length of tubing an a bit of grunt.  Also a rear indicator had ground through letting water in so I replaced it with a second hand one.  The bars were pointing slightly to the left so again after undoing the yokes a bit of brute force staightened them out.

honda cg125 clocks only showing 67 miles
Latchy's very low milage clocks. Considering the bike's 3 years old, that's rediculous

Three years old and with such low milage on the clock meant it still needed to be run in so I kept it to 40mph....ish.  So after what seemed an eternity in the extreme winter of 2010-11 I made sure to ride it whenever I could, especially to work and back.  Even in such conditions I fell in love with this gem of a bike.

The first thing that decided it for me was the fact that it was going to be cheap to run.  It actually costs me 11 pounds every four weeks in petrol, unbelievable as I was used to spending double that per WEEK in my car.  I could even put 10 quid a week in my ZZR1200 just for commuting. These bike are kind on your wallet ...fact.... everyone should be made to try it out, maybe lots of people would be converted.

So then, the cold start.  Honda could have improved this by giving the carb a cam to raise the revs slightly as you lever the choke on, which by the way isn’t easy with gloves on because you have to hook your finger over the top and round the back of the choke lever.  It’s awkward untill you have memorised the exact position.  Starting it up with all your gear on is the best option so you can ride off right away and warm it up as you ride, otherwise you find that you have to keep starting the engine with full choke on then taking the choke off because it will not run with it on for long.  Sitting on the bike revving it until it is warm enough to run on tickover by itself takes an age.

Reversing the bike out of my garage is an absolute joy compared to the big bikes.  The 125 only needs a 2 point turn as opposed to a 5 point turn and is so light in weight.  This makes it a lot less stressful first thing in the morning not having to worry about bumps and scrapes etc.  The exhaust note is quiet and but reassuring -  pure honda single if you know what I mean and shouldn't get you in trouble with your neighbours as you wake the bike up for the day.

Riding along on the Honda the clocks have the obligatory speedo, fuel guage and a single indicator warning lamp which lights up for left and right indicators.  The fuel guage just does not move down untill you have covered about 70 or 80 miles, it is accurate from then on but these amazing little bikes dont need filling up until you have done at least 200-230 miles.  At about about 11 quid worth of unleaded, this is unbelievable!

The front brake seemed dire at first but after bedding in for a few hundred miles it is now a good stopper, as is the rear drum brake.  In fact better than the rear disc brake on my ZZR.  When its raining the drum brake works as good as it does in dry weather....which is a bonus.
The suspension is great, soft soft soft, and makes for a relaxing ride along with the power delivery which I can only state as adequate for the purpose.  Where these bikes come into their best role is in heavy traffic.  They’re nice and light and nippy enough in low gears to keep up with all cars etc.  Out in more open spaces it buzzes along just great up to 60mph but does slow down up steep hills or hills with a strong headwind.
I have now done 1350 miles on her and have tried it on the motorway, where I clocked 65mph.  She was reluctant to do more than that but the engine is still tight yet and when I stopped at the roundabout the engine definitely smelt like it was cooking.  Ren tells me the tickover from cold, and top speed, will eventually sort itself out as the motor loosens up.

Speaking of Ren, I work 3 days a week with him (well I work he just turns up) and one evening as we were getting on our 125s he suggested that I try a wheely.  I obliged with one from standstill, revving the bike slightly and dumping the clutch.  Well it caught me completely by surprise and launched the front end right up in the air to an almost vertical position.  Being an experienced biker I expertly brought the bike under control (phew a real close call).  Ren by this time was on the deck laughing at me, totally out of control with himself.  I later sent him a text, he replied saying that he couldn't stop laughing in his helmet all the way home.  So there you have it, small bikes can be fun as well!.

This engine has been around since1973 and has been given only a few revisions.  It is still a pushrod engine but now with a 12 volt generator, a starter motor, and an air valve into the exhaust port to aid cleaner exhaust gasses.  I’ve serviced the bike myself, putting semi synthetic oil in the engine but that’s all at this point.  The bike had only covered 500 miles at the time so the spark plug was fine enough and the air filter will not need cleaning yet either.  It is simple and cheap as well, needing owners to buy just 1 litre of oil every 1500 miles or so.  It only requires carefully undoing the drain plug, taking out the wire gauze oil filter, giving it a bit of a clean with a rag, and reversing the procedure and topping up with new oil.

The only addition I have made is to fit a sidestand from a CBR125, the bracket is already there and the stand fits straight on and looks like it has always been a part of the bike.

Would I recommend one of these bikes?  Absolutely, get one now and save money!  Road tax for the year is £15, tyres and chains will last ages, parts for it are cheap and these machines will soon pay for themselves and will hold their value as well.  They are a very sought after machine even when they become older.

black honda cg 125 es looking very clean
Latchy's very clean CG125. He's always in the right blooming place at the right blooming time...

Reader's Comments

Ren - The Editor said :-
Cheers Steve! I just can't believe he picked up a 3 year old bike with only 67 miles on the clock...for under a grand. It's a new bike. It makes me cringe when he turns up on his shiny 125 and parks it next to my tired, dirty and worn out City Fly.

Anyhows, thanks for the review and I welcome anyone else's opinion on the long-lived CG.
1/1/2000 UTC
CG Simeon said :-
Wish I had the new model with the disc brakes. Sick of front brake cable sticking on. My chain keeps on coming off the sprocket things and thats getting on my nerves. I really wish I could get a new bike now.
1/1/2000 UTC
David said :-
Simeon, sounds to me like you need to do some repairs and maintenance on your bike. The chain should never come off the sprockets unless it is absolutely worn out, and the brake cable will need lubricating or possibly replacing. Normally the CG 125 is a very reliable machine.
1/1/2000 UTC
Latchy said :-
Well then, passed the second mot no prob and taxed for another year (now 16 quid), showing 2500 miles on the clock and is actually producing a tiny bit more power.Also starts up sometimes without choke on warmer days so the engine is loosening up nicely. Still an absolute joy to ride. Compared to the car this little bike has cost me about 800 pounds less in fuel.... thanks little Honda, you have very nearly paid for yourself.
1/1/2000 UTC
Latchy said :-
Just clocked 4000 miles on the cg, the front brake has got even better, and the only time the bike has let me down was when the clutch cable snapped in May, this was due to water sitting inside and rotting the inner cable away, also had to strip clean and lube the front brake light switch which stopped working, and then the clutch switch stopped working which meant putting the bike neutral gear to restart after one of its characteristic cough and stalls that it sometimes does, but with a clean and lube all is well again.
All in all still a great little machine serving me well.
1/1/2000 UTC
Latchy said :-
6000 miles on the clock now, and 6 years old. I keep it all well greased in the nooks and crannies so the weather can't get in and must admit the cg still looks good, the zinc is starting to go dull now but there's no rust. Not had any small niggles since the clutch switch.
Next service at 7000 miles , still sounds new and pulls well after my 3 years of ownership.
1/1/2000 UTC
mick heapy said :-
I bought a 2002 CG back in 2006 which had been knocked about a bit but still went very well. Now here we are almost 9 years later and my fantastic little buddy still stats first time every time and never misses a beat.

I have tidied her up a bit over the years and I love this bike more with each year that passes. I've often thought it would be nice to buy a newer model but why? To me the CG125 is a real classic. Pushrod single, a proper little thumper with a massive heart that just keeps on giving.

Everyone should try one and I'm sure they would all agree that these bikes cannot be beaten for economy, reliability and outright FUN!!!

Go get one now before they all disapear.
1/1/2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
You're right Mick, they are getting rarer every day. Latchy, the chap who wrote the review, now has a classic 1970's CG 125 but had no trouble finding parts because the Chinese use a CG125 copy engine in some of their models.

I think this "es" model is the one to go for. Electric start, disc front brake and still that genuine Honda build quality.
1/1/2000 UTC
KevtheRev. said :-
Don't wheelie your CG , it's too much for the little cush drive bushes in the rear wheel which are very tricky to replace . CG Simeon , I think your bushes/circlip groove are worn leading to your problem .
1/1/2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
KevtheRev - you know what I think you're bob on there. I had a CLR125 with a similar bush setup. Nightmare to drill the old bushes out, the sprocket never really sat firmly on the circlip and carrier and the whole thing was a nuisance. Take it easy on the cush drives and if they're worn out there's some serious repairs to be done.
1/1/2000 UTC
said :-

24/6/2018 9:06:17 PM UTC
Attila said :-
I have a CG 125 ES thank /in Budapest

24/6/2018 9:12:01 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
That's a very smart screen on your CG. Thanks Attila
25/6/2018 6:54:25 AM UTC

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