Heart racing, sweaty palms and shortness of breath... Now if only the school bell signalling the end of the day would ring to allow commencement of the biggest thrill of the day – riding home on the brand new 2011 Honda CBR125R...
It was a while back when I had my first bike but I still remember the feeling of freedom and achievement riding your own motorised transport for the first time. And the look of envy on the faces of the other children waiting for their parents to pick them up or even worse, the school bus.
Honda knows very well that this entry-level product is where brand loyalty is born and therefore of the utmost importance to impress the owner of the machine as well as luring future customers.
Styling-wise, the little CBR is spot on – mimicking the styling cues found on the bigger CBR600 and CBR1000 Fireblade models. This includes full fairing, headlamp design, stumpy exhaust and slender rear end. The instrument cluster is neat and includes a digital speedometer. To prove my point, several other road users admired the machine and even pulled over for me to pass thinking that it’s a full-on superbike! The riding position is comfortable without putting too much strain on the wrists.
The suspension is the normal telescopic front fork and rear swingarm with mono-shock arrangement without adjustment capability. Combined with an ultra-light frame makes this bike even more manoeuvrable as the dry weight of 137 kg would suggest. Twisties can be tackled with aplomb as well as the rush-hour traffic during a school run.
The biggest step forward in technology on this bike compared with the olden days has to be the brakes. The front 276 mm disc with dual-piston calliper is particularly powerful and progressive. This inspires confidence in the stopping department which might eventually lead to show-off stoppies when parking the bike in the school yard...
The demise of the two-stroke engine in the quest for lower emissions and better fuel consumption has forced Honda to develop this 10 kW, single-piston, fuel-injected, four-stroke engine. Unfortunately, this has taken out the fun factor of the old two strokes where you had to hold on when the “power band” arrived in the rev range. With this four stroke unit the power delivery is extremely linear i.e. boring and nothing really happens (apart from an increase in vibration) before the 11 000 r/min redline is reached.
The owner of this machine should not be surprised if he gets left behind in the after-school Grand Prix by decade-old two-stroke bikes... Top speed is just on the naughty side of the national speed limit (depending on wind direction) and acceleration good enough to keep you in front of the traffic. At least the fuel consumption figure of 2,4 litres/100 km makes up for the power deficiency as well as the fact that the rider doesn’t smell like two-stroke fumes when visiting the fairer sex (priceless?).
In summary, the price of R30 999 would probably stand between many would-be buyers (or their parents) and the CBR125R, but the lucky few owners will be the talk of the town and Honda fans for life.