Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

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My Love Of Cubs

Post Received 1 July 2021

By Rev. Mick!

My love of Cubs (and all their various incarnations) came from an unusual source, a Yamaha DT125! 

Although a Devon boy I went to school in Gloucester when my parents moved for work. Many years later I am living in Bedford doing an MSc. at Cranfield in Milton Keynes. As I was safely away at college the parents went on holiday.

We broke up from college ready for exams and a few beers were had. Next morning I went to my Yamaha DT125 and there it wasn't. I began searching various places I might have left it before a light went on and I had to ring Bedford Constabulary. It was never recovered, the nice policeman reckoned it was either whizzing round concrete cows piloted by a yoof or cut up for parts. Shoot it's now Saturday and exams start Monday.

I passed my bike test in 1976, yes the 70s, a time of 3 day weeks, rolling power cuts, Arthur Scargill, miner's strikes and lots of great reggae. In this uncertain time my father had bought a yellow Honda C70, in case of The Armageddon. A plan was hatched. I would save money for a climbing trip by giving up my digs in Bedford, move to the parent's house in Gloucester and commute to my exams by Honda Cub.

Insurance was changed, they gave me a refund and the payout could be kept when it came for more time away on trip.

During a period of idyllic weather in the early 80's I would commute each day from the base of the Cotswolds outside Gloucester to the Cranfield Institute of Technology outside Milton Keynes. For reasons known only to my young self I strapped on a cassette player and played Dub like The Scientist and King Tubby for myself on the way. What the residents of small Cotswold villages made of this very early in the morning I hate to imagine.

Looking at the route on the map now it would probably be a great ride even today. For my younger self leaving at 04.00 and grooving my way along it was an epiphany and remains so in my memory.

I was only late for one exam which was no fault of the Cub, more due to it's downright pulling power and sex appeal.

It just got to me that you could have that much fun on a small bike and so cheaply.

The years passed, climbing and river trips got more out there. I was in the Himalayas a lot. I rode Enfields high up on the India Tibet border, nice but not Cubs. You could find Cubs everywhere doing the donkey work, all over Asia, Africa and even Jamaica. I am sure I have seen a photo of Peter Tosh on one.

In more recent years I've been flying to Spain, hiring a scooter, slinging over the panniers then off on rock climbing camping trips.

A black scooter with saddle bag by a roundabout in sunny spain

Now many years and many trips later I find myself settled with herself and the daughters in the West of Ireland. When retirement came some of my peers were buying BMWs and other big bikes. I wanted one bike to last me for my trips till I could no longer ride. It had to be a Cub. So I searched for an Innova - the final and logical pinnacle of the Cub. It is the final version, 125, has telescopic forks and a disk brake. These are all needed on the 2020's roads, even out here.

A smart clean silver Honda Innova 125

It was bought from, believe it or not, a Jehovah's Witness missionary living in The Black Valley near Killarney. 15 years old with 9000 km on the clock. 

Since fitted with a rack and top box plus throw over panniers. I get somewhere over 90 miles to the gallon on these roads and my riding. I travel at about 60 kph normally, sometimes on big open stretches 80 kph. On a very still evening on a long gentle down hill 100 kph according to the clock. The telescopic forks mean none of that rising under hard braking. 

I have also changed the heel and toe gear lever for a racing one, as I never used the heel part of the old one.

A race style gear lever, adjustable without the heel section on the Innova

Runs better on the higher octane petrol when I can get it. Oil change easy and 0.7 litres, tappets on a single cylinder not too bad. Have also fitted heavy duty chain and sprocket.

All was set for three big planned trips and then Covid hit, so it is all on hold for a while.

So yes I have to admit to a life long love of the simple Cub. It is not a motorcycle or indeed a scooter, I think the Americans call it an Underbone which I always think has a slightly sexual tone. It will go anywhere, do anything, suffer endless neglect and abuse, but is always ready to go. The Jack Russell of motorcycles.

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Reader's Comments

Bogger said :-
I too share the Cub luuuurve. But never had one when I was kid.

Nope, I was in my forties when I got my first one. I still own three? or maybe four of them? Including the new 125 version. I've also had three Innovas and sold the last one only this year.

They are crap bikes, but in the same breath, utterly brilliant.

06/07/2021 18:18:07 UTC
Rev. Mick! said :-
Hi Bigger,

Fellow Innova lover. Any ideas where I might get some cast wheels to fit an Innova?
06/07/2021 23:07:35 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Thank you for that the most Reverend Mick.
Cubs, you have to love em.
I'm glad Honda have resurrected the 125 version, much better than all this scooter nonsense (sorry Ed, couldn't resist), and I would refer to all cubs as "Step-Thrus". As in Step-thru-Motorcycle.
Rode my first at about 12, I can't remember what cc but in truth I pushed it more than rode it. Then I was almost given a nearly new 50 single seat in the mid 80's which was good for getting the papers on a Saturday morning.
Probably the greatest motorcycle ever made and long may it last. There'll be an electric one along soon.
07/07/2021 09:43:12 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
I believe they are also referred to as "Under-bone". But that sounds a little like what you'd go to see the GP with. As in, "my under-bone ain't half playin up Doc". Plus surely that would also apply to traditional s......s (not sayin that word again), Vespas etc, so cannot be used to define between a motorcyle and one of them other things.
07/07/2021 09:50:41 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
"There'll be an electric one along soon."

Like this one?

Alrhough I'm not sure if it actually exists.
Posted Image
07/07/2021 11:40:16 UTC
KiwiJeff said :-
The stepthrough style is referred to as "underbones" in the Philippines. Honda NZ has started importing this model for farm use in NZ as the style suits people of smaller stature. Getting your leg over a conventional farmbike is difficult for shorties.They have made and sold 1.8 million of these XRMs since 2001 in the Philippines amazing numbers but in most Asian countries motorcycles are the cheapest and most popular form of transport. I had a Honda C90 for a number of years was our only transport for a while. Cant say I have fond memories of riding it two up across Wellington in the rain, wind and dark after picking wife up from late shift at the pub. We got a car as soon as we could afford it!
Posted Image
07/07/2021 13:02:22 UTC
Rev. Mick! said :-
Kiwi Jeff,

Now I would love one of those, just a pity we don't get the agri bikes in Europe you guys get. Unbreakable and unexciting in a low state of tune, just my thing.

Rode a Honda 200 agri bike in South Africa years ago, all steel heavy as hell, with hand guards. Think it was a single.

To be fair would also like to try the an EV Cub, a look into the future. Would be great for flying round the corridors of the Starship Enterprise!
07/07/2021 17:13:27 UTC
Bogger said :-
There are a few Honda Sonics knocking about,CB125rr engine. They look similar to the Innova

07/07/2021 21:16:54 UTC
Billybob said :-
Stick a touring screen on it Rev.Mick. It helped my 2012 Innova hold its speed no end. Not logical really, but true.
11/03/2022 23:28:15 UTC
Rev. Mick! said :-
Screen is now on Billybob. For The Farewell to England tour last year. As you note a definite improvement. Trying to find a better screen for an ‘05 Innova but no body seems to do them for the carb model.

12/03/2022 10:04:34 UTC
Rev. Mick! said :-
Screen is now on Billybob. For The Farewell to England tour last year. As you note a definite improvement. Trying to find a better screen for an ‘05 Innova but no body seems to do them for the carb model.

12/03/2022 10:04:35 UTC
Rev. Mick! said :-

Looks like even the yanks are starting to get the idea.


11/01/2023 11:10:27 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'd like to hope so Rev. Mick! but as the article points out Honda (etc) don't seem to bother importing such great machines to "The West" save for the funky Groms or relatively pricy C125. The Wave 110 I seem to recall was available in the UK but it's no longer listed on Honda.co.uk. Shame.
11/01/2023 16:13:24 UTC

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