The Honda CG 125 motorcycle has been around now for over 35 years, it has gone though many facelifts during that time period, but the basic ingredients are still the same.
Simple, Cheap, Robust, Economic and Reliable.
The Honda CG 125 tick all of those boxes, especially today where high fuel prices mean that something this frugal is not a bad thing, for decades they were the main core of UK riding schools, because they are very robust 125 motorcycles, so if they are good enough for learners to abuse them regularly, they make excellent commuters.
Let us cover the good points of owning one of these Motorcycles.
1 : Insurance
The Insurance for one of these bikes is very low, even if you have little or zero no claims discount, mine was £57 for a year (Feb 2011 - Feb 2012) with Bennets
2 : Fuel Economy
Some riders have claimed economy figures in excess of 120 miles to the gallon, personally I regularly get around 105 - 110 miles to the gallon, this is under normal riding condition, limiting my top speed to 50 - 55 miles per hour, but anything over 100 miles to the gallon is not a bad thing.
3 : Pushrod engine
I am not sure if the newer models still use the pushrod engine, but the 1997 model I own does, and if you are a mechanic you will know exactly what I mean.
A pushrod engines use rods to push the valves open, then the returning spin of the piston closes then in-turn, therefore there is no cam chain, a common problem with many internal combustions engines of today, and often not a cheap part to replace, providing that the spacers at the top of the valve are spaced correctly every 7500 miles (which requires a new seal, but it is not expensive), you should have a solid and reliable little engine, if it has not been trashed to death.
4 : Tyres
Branded tyres are available of these bikes, they are good quality that don't cost the earth, Recently the rear tyre was changed on mine, and cost less than £50, this included balancing.
5 : No frills biking
You have exactly what you need to get from A to B legally and no more, if you are the type of person who believes that some modern technology in transport distracts the drivers / riders from what they are meant to be doing, then this is the bike for you, the simplicity of the bike is often refreshing, because there are very few thing that can go wrong.
6 : Reliability
125 cc motorcycles are often in and out of garages getting repaired, largely because the owners trash the living daylight s out of them or do not perform enough maintenance.
However, if you change the oil every 1200 miles which high grade oil (oil designed for high revving bike engines is best), let it warm up slightly before setting off on a journey and keep your top speed runs to 50 -55 miles per hours, it will just keep running and running.
7 : Ease of repair
There basic design means they are very easy to work on, if you want a bike to learn basic mechanics on , this is it!
8 : Driven chain cover
This simple, but not great looking cover , protects your drive chain from the weather and road dirt, sounds simple but the means you don't need to frequency oil the chain, or clean it very often, it reportedly more than doubles the chain and sprockets lifespan, this I can believe as my set are on around the same setting as when I brought the bike.
Tip : don't adjust the chain on a very cold day, as the swingarm metal has contracted, when it get very hot, the swingarm expands, but not the chain, resulting in running an over tight chain, not good for your engine's gearbox at all.
Note : When Honda removed the chain cover on the newer models, it did not go down too well with many consumers or critics.
Let's cover the not so good points about this bike.
1 : Power.
Or complete lack of it, these pushrod engines develop around 11 horsepower, where as the cam-chain driven 125cc 4 strokes do hit there 15 horsepower legal limit, but if the reduction in maximum power is the main reason for the superior reliability for a 125cc bike, then it is a trade off worth having.
2 : Riding position.
If you want to ride and get over 100 mpg on a regular basis, you will need to learn how the ride the bike crouched down, lying on the fuel tank, you will notice a performance difference when you do this, it is also sometimes necessary if you are riding into a head wind.
3 : Headlamp bulbs.
For some odd reason, my bike has gone though three headlamp bulbs since I have owned it, and these headlamp bulbs are not the easiest to acquire, you can get them easily enough from any bike shop or Halfords, I would highly recommend carrying a spare (it is also what every instructor recommends if your bike only has one headlamp) and the tool to change it.
Tip : The headlamp on the 97 model is 35w/35w, I did try to run a 45w/40w bulb, but the headlamp dimmed if I used the indicators, or braked, so unless you upgrade the remaining bulbs to L.E.D., stick with the normal power output headlamp bulbs.
4 : Kickstart only.
This applies to older models, the electric start is a recent addition to the bike, if you don't like kickstart only bikes, try to acquire a newer model.
5 : Drum brakes.
If you are use to riding motorcycles with Dual disc brakes, then you go back to a dual drum brakes, it is quite a shock how much of a performance difference there is between the two technologies, however Drum are cheaper to replace, they work constantly even in the rain. and they are largely maintenance free, as they are simple cable operated.
Overall this bike has been built and sold for nearly 40 years, for many years it has been the best selling bike in the UK and Ireland, until the CBR 125 came along.
These bikes are simple, cheap, hassle free modes of transport, for those of you whom need a cheap but reliable ride to work and back, there is nothing better.
Maintenance only requires minimal tools, the Haynes Manual for this bike is Excellent, it covers everything in high detail, parts are cheap, even a replacement engine is not that expensive when you consider that the engine includes the gearbox and clutch (I have seen full engines with modest mileage for around £200, including deliverly).
For bikers whom have to watch every penny, this bike is second to none, highly recommended workhorse and legal learner machine.