Honda produced its CBR125R for one reason, and one reason only; as a trainer bike for new riders who are into, or who want to be into, supersport motorcycles. It’s built to deliver the same eager and agile handling as its larger-displacement siblings, just with a powerplant that meets A1 license requirements. Big-bike style and feel helps train the next generation of would-be fiery-eyed pegdraggers, whether they be destined for that actual “Track Life,” or just want to look like they are. The 125 cc bracket may be the lowest meaningful classification, but it’s also one of the most important as it targets the entry-level market and represents the first real opportunity to instill some brand loyalty. Let’s check out Honda’s littlest CBR today and see what all the Red Riders have going on over there, then we’ll see how it stacks up against one of its domestic competitors.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda CBR125R.

  • 2014 - 2019 Honda CBR125R
  • Year:
    2014- 2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    124 cc
  • Top Speed:
    92 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    3999
  • Price:

Honda CBR125R Design

2014 - 2019 Honda CBR125R Exterior
- image 559436
The CBR125R presents a very race-tastic face to the world, and it fits well not only with the rest of the line but also the rest of the 125 cc A1 supersport field.

The CBR leads the way with a windtunnel-tested visage housing a trio of forward lights behind a clear cover that splits the air for low-resistance penetration. Up top, a short bubble-screen forms a rather small wind pocket for you, but you have to tuck in as far as ever you can to fit into it. That’s alright though, and perfectly in keeping with its mission as a supersport trainer ’cause the new folks gotta’ learn sometime, and sooner is better than later, right?

Clip-on bars do their part to pull you forward and encourage that Superman riding form, as do the jockey-mount rider footpegs, but that comes with a comfort trade off; namely, there ain’t none at lower speeds when you might be tempted to ride in a more upright position to give your neck a break. Granted, the rider’s triangle is rather compact, so if you’re at the bottom of the age/size bracket you’ll find the above to be true. If, however, you’re a bit longer in the tooth or just shop in the “Big & Tall” section, you’ll find that you do have enough room to push off the bars and adopt a more-or-less upright posture.

Below the headlight, the fairing opens into that typical vented sportbike cowl and scoop that comes together at the bottom with a chin fairing that extends into a belly pan to complete the supersport-style bodywork. There’s a small cutout that gives us a tantalizing glimpse of the drivetrain with a peek at the twin-beam frame, but all else is a mystery beneath the paneling. Subframe-mount, fold-up footpegs join a pair of stylish J.C. handles and a lofty pillion pad for your passenger’s security and comfort, what little there is to be had. It should come as no surprise that the CBR125R isn’t exactly set up with passenger comfort in mind: it just isn’t that kind of bike.

The well-shielded, upswept muffler follows the same angle as the inclined subframe for a nice continuity of design, at least when viewed from the right side anyway. All in all, the CBR125R presents a very race-tastic face to the world, and it fits well not only with the rest of the line but also the rest of the 125 cc A1 supersport field.

Honda CBR125R Chassis

2014 - 2019 Honda CBR125R
- image 801462
The tire tread wraps around to almost obliterate the sidewalls so that should tell you all you need to know about the 125R's handling characteristics.

The standing structure is mostly hidden, but we get a glimpse of the twin-spar/wishbone frame at the cowling cutout. Aluminum is the material of choice, and of course, that contributes to the low 302-pound curb weight and incredibly flickable handling the 125R brings to the table.

The 3.4-gallon fuel tank carries its weight up high where you’d expect, but that mass does little to diminish the agile nature of this thing and its unmitigated eagerness in the turns. Yeah, it comes with a slightly squirrely nature, especially in a crosswind and when you have to deal with the pressure waves in front of larger vehicles, but that’s the usual trade off and should come as no surprise.

A single 276 mm disc and twin-pot caliper slow the front wheel with a 220 mm disc and single-piston anchor to slow the rear, all without the benefit of ABS or any sort of pressure-sharing technology. Sure, that effects safety, but this is considered a trainer bike and I’m all for making new riders feel the true feedback and develop the skillset to get along without such electronic fandanglery. There’s plenty of time to allow said skills to atrophy with successive machines.

Symmetrical, 17-inch rims mount a 100/80- and 130/70-hoop on the front and rear, respectively, and the fact that the tread wraps around to almost obliterate the sidewalls should tell you all you need to know about the 125R’s handling characteristics. The steering head angle is uncommonly wide for a sportbike at 35-degrees from the vertical, but the trail numbers are about what you’d expect at 3.54-inches long. Odd or not, it certainly seems to work here.

Right-way-up forks float the front end on fixed values and 4.72-inches of travel, while the rear end rides on 4.9-inches of travel; both typical of the genre, much like the lack of suspension adjustment is for these smallest displacements.

Frame: Pentagonal; steel twin-spar
Suspension, Front: 31 mm telescopic form, 120 mm stroke
Suspension, Rear: Monoshock damper, 126 mm axle travel
Caster Angle: 35°
Trail: 90 mm
Brakes, Front: 276 x 4mm dual hydraulic disc with dual-piston caliper and sintered metal pads
Brakes, Rear: 220 x 4mm hydraulic disc with single-piston caliper and sintered metal pads
Tire, Front: 100/80-17M/C
Tire, Rear: 130/70-17M/C

Honda CBR125R Drivetrain

2014 - 2019 Honda CBR125R
- image 802427
The engine is governed to meet A1 restrictions, but still manages to deliver a thrilling ride.

The beating heart is a liquid-cooled thumper that is tucked away and all but hidden by the body panels. It runs a 58 mm bore with a 47.2 mm stroke for a total displacement of 124.7 cc and compression ratio of 11-to-1 that’ll have you at the champagne pump every time. Make no mistake, this mill is no technological powerhouse by any means. It comes governed down a skosh to meet A1 restrictions and runs a simple valvetrain with a single over-head cam to time the two-valve head.

You can expect 7.6 pound-feet of torque at 8,000 rpm and 13-horsepower at an even 10 grand. Power flows through a vanilla clutch and a six-speed transmission before heading to the rear wheel via the simple-but-tough chain drive. This give the 125R an average estimated top speed of 92 mph, which is plenty fast for interstate work though you can expect the holeshots and top-gear roll-on response to be tepid at best.

Yeah, not a powerplant that is gonna’ set the world on fire, but again, that ain’t its job, and I feel that this mill delivers exactly what we expect, maybe even a little more ’cause that (estimated) top speed is about as fast as I ever ride, and I’m not just saying that ’cause my wife is going to read this.

Engine: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 2-valve SOHC single
Displacement: 124.7 cc
Bore × Stroke: 58 mm x 47.2 mm
Compression Ratio: 11:1
Max. Power Output: 9.8kW @ 10,000 rpm (95/1/EC)
Max. Torque: 10.4 Nm @ 8,000 rpm (95/1/EC)
Carburation: PGM-FI electronic fuel injection
Starter: Electric
Clutch: Wet, multiplate with coil springs
Final Drive: O’-ring sealed chain
Gearbox: 6-speed

Honda CBR125R Pricing

2014 - 2019 Honda CBR125R Exterior
- image 559432
MSRP puts it squarely in the entry-level/very affordable category.

Honda turns loose of the 2019 CBR125R in the G.B. Market for £3,999. You can get it in Asteroid Black Metallic or my personal favorite, the Nitric Orange “Repsol” race livery.

Color: Asteroid Black Metallic, Nitric Orange: Repsol
Price: £3,999

Honda CBR125R Competitors

2019 Yamaha YZF-R125
- image 801483
2014 - 2019 Honda CBR125R
- image 729031
Both fairly evenly matched sport trainers, but Honda gets a win at the checkout counter.

The CBR name evokes a certain image with riders who are familiar with Japanese performance bikes, it’s true, but the same can be said for a handful of others and Yamaha’s YZF family is right at the top of that list. Not only is the Tuning Fork Company a top contender in the supersport segment, but it’s one of Honda’s main domestic foes and it toes the design-line as far as outward appearances are concerned. So today, I’m going to grab Yamaha’s pocket-rocket (no giggity) and see how the CBR holds up against it.

Both rides fit right into that supersport mold with ample body coverage and windtunnel-tested fairings/cowlings while hitting all the same design points as their bigger brothers. Jockey-mount foot controls and short bars define the rider’s triangles on both, with narrow waists and plenty of room for body English, just the thing for the budding racers out there who are yearning to lean free. Yamaha floats the front end on inverted forks that lend some extra stiffness and torsional stability, but they come sans adjustments and so gain only a marginal advantage over Honda’s standard setup to leave both models with some room for improvement. I suppose I should give Yamaha credit for offering an ABS version, but maintain that folks should probably learn to do without before they learn to do with.

Yamaha drives its trainer YZF with a 124.7 cc mill that does outperform the Honda just a bit with 14.8-ponies and 9.1-pounds o’ grunt against 13/7.6, but it’s still a governed engine, and in spite of the greater power figures it actually tops out at 78 mph; well below the claimed top speed of the CBR, and marginal for interstate speeds. Honda scores at the checkout counter with a £3,999 sticker against what is projected to be at least £4,649 for the MY19 YZF-R125.

He Said

“These bikes are a blast to ride. You can wind it up like a top and toss it around in the corners like nobody’s business. Even experienced riders can find something to love about this noob-machine as the handling is spot on with crisp reactions to rider input, but not so much as to make it worrisome to ride, even if you’re just starting out. Protip: take a safe-riding course before you throw a leg over it. The school will likely have something very similar as a trainer, and you can develop a feel for the machine before you sign the paperwork.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “How many times have I said it? It’s so much more fun to ride a slow bike fast than it is to ride a fast bike slow. Twist that baby just as hard as you can and give yourself a really thrilling ride without lining up a caravan of flashing lights behind you. It’s riding balls-to-the-wall that’ll make your commute a fun part of your day.”

Honda CBR125R Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 2-valve SOHC single
Displacement: 124.7 cc
Bore × Stroke: 58 mm x 47.2 mm
Compression Ratio: 11:1
Max. Power Output: 9.8kW @ 10,000 rpm (95/1/EC)
Max. Torque: 10.4 Nm @ 8,000 rpm (95/1/EC)
Carburation: PGM-FI electronic fuel injection
Starter: Electric
Clutch: Wet, multiplate with coil springs
Final Drive: O’-ring sealed chain
Gearbox: 6-speed
Chassis:
Frame type: Pentagonal; steel twin-spar
Suspension, Front: 31 mm telescopic form, 120 mm stroke
Suspension, Rear: Monoshock damper, 126 mm axle travel
Caster Angle: 35°
Trail: 90 mm
Brakes, Front: 276 x 4mm dual hydraulic disc with dual-piston caliper and sintered metal pads
Brakes, Rear: 220 x 4mm hydraulic disc with single-piston caliper and sintered metal pads
Tire, Front: 100/80-17M/C
Tire, Rear: 130/70-17M/C
Dimensions & Capacities:
Dimensions (L×W×H): 1,946 mm x 704 mm x 1,089 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 13 litres (including LCD-indicated reserve)
Ground Clearance : 185 mm
Kerb Weight: 137 kg
Seat Height: 795 mm
Wheelbase: 1310 mm
Instruments and Electrics:
Headlights: 55W/60W (H4 valve)
Details:
Color: Asteroid Black Metallic, Nitric Orange: Repsol
Price: £3,999

Further Reading

Yamaha YZF-R125

2019 Yamaha YZF-R125
- image 801477

See our review of the Yamaha YZF-R125.

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- image 794666

Read more Honda news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: honda.com, yamaha-motor.com

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