The machine today has been the Honda CBR125Ri, the eighth-liter sportsbike designed to keep spirit of Honda sporty motorcycles alive, or as some say the Honda CBR600RR for the beginners of the world and, if you're looking for an easy introduction to the world of sportsbikes, the Honda CBR125Ri is a pretty handy tool.
At a standstill, the Honda CBR125Ri looks so sharp you could cut yourself. Despite being only 125cc, the Honda CBR125Ri has all the split-fairing styling of the older sibling the Honda CBR150R, plus all the knife-sharp creases and edges you could hope for in a modern sportsbike. Looking at the CBR125Ri's suspension, brake system and engine specifications you've got some fairly serious visual clues about the nature of the Honda CBR125Ri.
Nor does it disappoint when you start the engine. That exhaust system sounds better than you'd think possible from a stock machine in these days of exhaust emission bureaucracy, silence-peddling interference; so much that we did thing twice about an aftermarket pipe, at least for a little while.
The Honda CBR124Ri engine is free-revving and willing, even with my 96kg aboard, and I often found myself enjoying the single cylinder's rev-happy nature all the way to the rev-limiter. The Honda CBR125R seemed to thrive on the punishment I dished out, and it's unlikely to have had any after effect on the engine – Honda knows how to build liquid-cooled, four-stroke singles, having has a wealth of experience over the years with the Honda CBR125/150 engine. In addition to being free-revving, the Honda CBR125R engine has a predictable power curve, which is an important consideration when people didn't ride a motorcycle for some time. Beginners to the sportsbike segment will find themselves in the wrong gear from time to time and it's helpful to have an engine that won't bog down so much that you stall or doesn't have enough power to get out of whatever situation you find yourself in. The Honda CBR125R's broad spread of power allows you a certain latitude in this regard which is one of its strong points.
The six-speed gearbox was slick in operation, bar a slight hesitation to engage first, and the ratios are well spaced for keeping the motorcycle on the boil and the speeds up. Other ticks include the clear and easily readable instrumentation, the overall riding position and the sheer size of the machine. What Honda calls a full-size frame, the Honda CBR125R, despite having a seat height of 776mm and a dry weight of a mere 127kg, is more than comfortable for the larger rider, among whose number I count myself. At 196cm, I found the Honda CBR125R easy to ride, both in commuting and for longer distances, as well as comfortable, more so than the CBR600RR, for example.
All in all, the Honda CBR125R is a pretty good scaled-down version of the Honda CBR600RR, provided you accept it for what it is. It's fast enough to beat the traffic, but it won't set any lap records.