Why is Honda Bringing Back the ST125 Dax?
What is Honda up to now?by Harry Fisher, on
In the beginning, Honda made its name with the Super Cub, before changing the face of motorcycling with the CB750 of 1969. What followed in the next decades was some of the most inventive engineering in motorcycling and yet, into the 2020s, most of its energies seem to be directed towards resurrecting past ’novelty’ bikes.
Honda Brings Back the Dax - But Why?
There was a time was when Honda would dazzle the motorcycling world with ever more astounding engineering: the CB750 of 1969: the oval-pistoned NR 500cc GP bike and 750cc road bike of the early 1980s; the CBR900RR Fireblade in 1992; the VFR750 of 1986; DCT transmission in 2010 and so on.
Recently, however, Honda has regressed somewhat. While the rest of the motorcycling and automotive world is looking to the future with electric and hybrid-powered bikes, Honda has brought us the diminutive Grom - in effect a modern ’Z’ series Monkey bike - and, now, the ST125 Dax makes a reappearance. Surely, these are retrograde steps?
On one level, the Grom and the Dax are the perfect embodiment of the idea that motorcycling should be, first and foremost, fun. There is something about riding a Grom that just plasters a smile on your face that is hard to remove. But, as a practical personal transport solution, the Grom - and the new Dax - fall short and could realistically be described as novelty bikes.
So, what is Honda up to? Where is the cutting-edge engineering, pushing the boundaries of what is technologically possible? Even the CBR1000RR Fireblade is constantly playing second fiddle to rivals from Yamaha, Kawasaki and Ducati, despite having reinvented the sports bike concept back in ’92.
There can be no doubt that ’retro’ is the hot ticket right now and, yes, Honda’s heritage is small-displacement transport for the masses but that doesn’t necessarily mean we want to revisit those heady early days when the Land of the Rising Sun was, indeed, rising quickly into the motorcycling firmament.
The Grom and the Dax are quirky, certainly, but is this really the best that mighty Honda can do? Even in the burgeoning ’Modern Classic’ scene, Honda was particularly half-hearted with the CB1100 retro model.
Maybe all this is place-holding while Honda’s engineers work on the next piece of technology that will move motorcycling forward as much as the CB750 or CBR900RR Fireblade did. I just wish they’d give us a bit of a heads-up so we have something to look forward to.