Monday, 9 July 2018
The first ride on the Honda was on the pillion where vibration through the foot rests belied the immaculate appearance of the bike. It wouldn't bother me if I was up front, I decided. My first bike. I had to pay for everything myself, helped by a summer job. £450 for the Honda to a friend who was buying a bigger bike, with some free instruction thrown in. The first month added only 40 miles to the 9000 on the clock (while I waited for my licence) and the plugs fouled up because I was only pottering around behind the garages, learning the ropes.
My first trip out on a real road, I decided that the Honda was heavy (320lbs!), even in retrospect I find the steering on the heavy side. At that time the Honda developed 16.5hp at 11500rpm, enough to burn up my mate's Honda CB250G5. The restricted 125 ridiculously named Superdream seems more like a nightmare with hardly any power anywhere in the rev range.
I had bought the bike as a commuter, an interlude before I could get my hands on a car licence, and planned to do only 30 or so miles a week. Within two weeks such plans were well shot and I was doing 250 miles a week. Money that was supposed to pay for driving lessons went on petrol and oil changes (once a month at that mileage). It came as a shock to discover that new chain and sprockets were required after 11000 miles were on the clock - the second set! The third chain was needed at 16000 miles, which was a waste as the bike was traded in at 17000 miles.
The front pads were never changed by me or the original owner, which may explain why it was never a brilliant stopper and it seized up once, but could be stripped and rebuilt. The rear tyres lasted 8500 miles and the front 12000 miles. Any half decent tyres will let you ground the footrests, but don’t as they don’t fold up, instead they dig in hard.
Handling was fine, the odd weave, especially on worn tyres, came and went, but nothing too serious. The ponderous steering meant good stability and once used to the weight I could flick the bike through the bends.
Maintenance is simple, with four valves, two sets of points and the camchain (if you read the Honda manual it tells you to use the T1 mark and slacken the locknut, you should use T2) which is left loose if you tension it in the wrong position and makes a swishing noise that means you lose a lot of trade in value - don't ask me how I know.
I met a few other chaps with 125 twins over the months and we tried to get an owners club off the ground. It was a non starter but I did learn that speedos didn’t read the same while bikes were whizzing along next to each other (mine 75mph, the other 85mph). No-one I spoke to seemed to suffer any great problems, although spark plugs need replacing every 3 to 5000 miles. One magazine of that time reported ruining a main bearing but it seems an isolated case.
The problems are going to be exhausts rotting, brake cables, the 6V battery, rusty spokes on the T1 (T2 has Comstars) and slightly warped steel clutch plates, showing up not as clutch slip but as judder just as the clutch is let out when you pull away. When running a CB125T keep a close eye on the oil level as long, hard runs tend to drink it - in 80 miles it’s gone from the full line right past the empty line! I once managed to drop the oil a plug into a drain and spent half an hour up to my elbow in sewage retrieving it.
Even on a mad thrash it still does 65mpg and 80-90mpg can be expected if you keep below 9000rpm which is difficult as this is where all the power is developed. It’s quite a battle to do 50-60mph into a head wind unless you use all the revs all the time. The engine's tough - I once changed down at 60mph and the needle went past the 13000rpm mark and onto the little screw - anyone for 14500rpm?