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To Fix Or Not To Fix

Blog Date - 24 November 2016

"...that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler to struggle on with an aging bike or move onwards and upwards"

Nothing lasts forever. From the fleeting existence of a sub-atomic particle in the Large Hadron Collider through to stars and galaxies, all things shall pass. It seems even Honda CBF125s must follow this universal rule too. The question is not if, but when and perhaps how my CBF will come to an end.

The engine still starts on a cold and damp morning with nothing more than a stab at the starter button. It ticks over just fine when it's both cold and hot. Top speed is still around the 65-70 mph mark though I rarely push it up there these days. The brakes work as well as can be expected. The handling is probably not what it once was but still satisfactorily serviceable. 

The old CBF125 and a full load of camping luggageThe old thing ain't what it used to be, but it still does what it always did.

The problem is that I can see and hear it is showing its age. The motor is moody, some days it sounds like a little sewing machine with no hint of the 58,000 miles it has covered then other days it sounds like a cement truck filled with old bricks. I can't explain why it should change. There's rust in places I didn't know could rust. What bothers me is now it is starting to weep a hint of oil out of the cylinder head gasket and the base gasket. That and the state of the header pipe retaining ring.

The leaking cylinder head gasket and rust exhaust retaining ring on the 125The leak ain't bad but the engine is showing it's age.

It's not such a big task to remove the motor and replace the gaskets. Or is it? You see I suspect if I remove the head and inspect it carefully it may need a skimming. If I'm to remove the engine I suspect those rusty crusty exhaust manifold bolts will snap requiring them to be drilled and retapped. I suspect the exhaust retaining ring will crumble requiring replacement - of the whole exhaust as it is one complete piece. Experience tells me there's rarely such a thing as a "simple job" on an high mileage and all weather motorcycle.

There's a lot to be said for leaving things just as they are. The oil leak(s) are minimal, certainly not worth stressing about just yet. The exhaust remains gas tight and the retaining ring should hold for a while longer as long as it's not disturbed. The engine remains efficient and the performance is as low as ever it was which suggests the actual cylinder is still gas tight too. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Ren's CBF with no engine in the frameI've had the motor out before, it's not a hard job. The bike was a lot younger then.

But what to do for the future?

I could get a whole new bike, not brand new but new to me. I've had a cursory look at second hand CBF125s and oh my word they're expensive! Considering they're no longer being produced and "last year's model" a clean, low mileage example costs around £1,700 to £2,200. Brand new end of line ones only cost £2,600 list price, you could probably get one for a little less. There are cheaper ones out there but I fear I would be merely stepping out of the frying pan into the fire, especially as most of them have been learner used and abused.

Even crash damaged salvage repairables are showing up at over £500 for the seriously bent to £1,000 and more for cat-d cosmetic examples. This still could be a good option though. Rather than put a bent bike back on the road I could use the parts from a bent bike to keep mine on the road. This circumnavigates any problems with owning a cat-c or cat-d bike. The downside is all those lovely spares - where would I store them?

I could get another engine. I've seen them as low as £150 (still seems a lot to me) but a good one with some provenance of low mileage is around the £400 mark. In which case I'd be tempted to also purchase a shiny new stainless steel exhaust - they are available for the CBF125 surprisingly. The downside is the rolling chassis and items like the fuel pump, alternator and electrics are still "old". If I could swap the motor out I'd be interested in stripping the old motor just to see what condition it's in at this mileage. I could then rebuild it and hold onto it as another spare.

There's another option, look around for another second hand "not a CBF125" bike. There are plenty of other choices. Kwakker KLX125? Honda CB125F or Wave110i? Yamaha YBR125? Possibly even a Chinese model, the Sinnis Apache is very common so plenty of spares, cheap and looks funky. Perhaps I do need to open my mind. Yet I have gotten to know the CBF intimately and that stands for a lot when you put a lot of miles onto a bike and wish to maintain it yourself. 

Suzuki's Van Van 125 at a motorcycle showVan Van? Funky, chunky and lots of fun.

Of course I'll be plodding along as I am right now but at some point in the future I will be forced into making some kind of a decision. Entropy entropy, they've all got it entropy.

Reader's Comments

Pocketpete said :-
Does any Chinese make do a copy 125 that might slot in that would be an interesting task to retro fit a new engine.
24/11//2016 8:22:38 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Frustratingly no Pocketpete. I suspect only older engine designs are sold to the open market. The CBF motor comes from 09 I think.

It looks rather similar in shape to the old CG engine which the Chinese do make copies of. Might be worth looking at the sizes. I would have to fit a carburetor and CDI which could get complex too.
24/11//2016 10:17:06 PM UTC
Alan said :-
The Honley HD-1 and HD-2 look like clones of the older and latest YBR 125 models to me, so there might be a lot of interchangeability of the parts. The price is reasonable compared to the real thing.
Then again you could always get a Keeway then you and Sharon could have his and hers bikes.

Why do I get the feeling I might not be posting here again. :-)

I was looking at Keeway's myself thinking if Sharon can ride it then I should be able to but got the feeling that she may be a hobbit with long legs whereas I am a dwarf with short ones. I am the same height as SWMBO but she has 3 inches on me on leg size. Not that I am complaining. ;-)

24/11//2016 11:38:17 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yeah Alan the Chinese do seem to make a copy of the YBR motor although the YBR has been around for a long time now.

I have seriously considered the Keeway too. The only real downside with Sharon's RKS is that it's very small. That's great for Sharon being a hobbit. For me, while I can ride the bike just fine it is a little cramped. There's the Keeway TX125, the off road style model. It shares a lot of parts in common with Sharon's and has the room for my average size frame.

All I can tell you about the Keeway is the 760mm seat height (30 inches). I dunno how tall you are Alan but the only thing you can do is sit on one and see what you think.
25/11//2016 9:23:39 AM UTC
Stuart said :-
I had a similar situation earlier with my er5 commuter. The exhaust needed to be replaced as it was starting to blow. A genuine Kawasaki system was about £800, an aftermarket one about £250.

All this on a bike that cost me £600 3 years ago.

It did cross my mind just to buy another complete bike or break the original.

28/11//2016 9:08:51 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Ah the old ER5, good solid beast. For me buying a complete bike for spares isn't the issue, it's where to store the spare bike.
28/11//2016 9:41:31 PM UTC
Wayne said :-
I think there are two ways to look at a bike such as yours Ren
It's covered a million miles seen more bad weather than a highland pony and has more rust than the Titanic on a bad day it sounds like a Cummins Deisel
Which is probably how a buyer would judge it or

It's ultra reliable , you know the bike so well you can even tell when its engine tone changes it's been better looked after than a GP bike and just has a few issues that could be described as patina and has a slight not life threatening oil weep
I would go for the second option ( as long as I wasn't a prospective buyer )
The oil weep may not cause an issue for years ( see any old Triumph ) the headers and bolts are probably going to do as you say and snap at the first hint of a spanner so leave well alone and cross that bridge when you have too
I very often tell people of your blog and what you guys do on 125s instead of the latest 18k multistrada ( most of which go to the local pub on a sunny evening lol ) and look forward to adding " and he's now done 100k on the bloody thing " !

17/12//2016 10:02:19 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Value is a peculiar concept Wayne. A shop would merely view this bike as scrap and any buyer probably the same. Let's face it anything over 10,000 miles these days is considered "last sale before the scrapyard".

I know the bike though. I know what's right and more importantly I know what's wrong. When you're buying someone else's bike you don't know what sort of a mess you're getting yourself into. I already know what sort of a mess I'm already in. And that's worth a lot.

So the value of my bike is perhaps £150 for scrap. But if I were to replace it with a machine I could trust equally I'd need to spend £1,000. So I have a £850 gap between the value to me and the value to the rest of the world. How odd!

Cheers for spreading the word Wayne. When I am king and ruler of the world everyone will be made to ride 125cc motorcycles until such times as they can demonstrate a solid appreciation of good fuel economy, ease of use and how to enjoy themselves. Don't be holding your breath for the 100,000 miles mark. At current usage levels that's still 2 to 3 years away and a whole lot can happen in that time.

I'm aiming for 62,000 miles as that's coming on for 100,000 kilometres.
17/12//2016 10:24:26 AM UTC

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