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Honda CB125e review

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Craig Duff road tests and reviews the $2000 Honda CB125e.

Tell someone you've paid $2000 for a 125cc Honda and they'll assume you've bought a top-end lawn mower. 

The CB125e might share similar displacement — and power — with its grasscutting relatives, but it is a real Honda motorcycle.

At this price, it doesn't have the latest and greatest features. What it does have is a low seat height and a lack of weight that should put it high on the radar of learner riders and inner-city dwellers who might otherwise have settled on a scooter.


With a massive 8kW at its disposal, it goes like a mixmaster on steroids. Still, compared to a similarly-engined scooter, the CB125 is a rocket. The five-speed gearbox beats a continuously variable transmission off the lights every time. That helps with safety as well as the smugness factor — there is no point filtering to the front of the queue if your ride doesn't have the power to out-accelerate the traffic.

At anything up to 80km/h the CB125e's single-cylinder engine is an enthusiastic, if not overly responsive, participant. From 80-100km/h the urge eases off but it will still happily sit on the legal highway limit on anything but a long climb. The simplicity of this engine means there's no need for a tacho — as the acceleration drops off, reach for the next gear. All too soon, you'll run out of them.

The five-speed gearbox is light and didn't miss a cog during Carsguide's time behind the bars. A set of red numbers climb the digital dash display to remind riders what gear they're in.  Novice riders will find it a handy reminder, especially from a standstill where first gear is a must.


A set of pillion pegs and a roomy seat are backed by a smart rear rack with plenty of points to connect straps. As a two-up ride, I'd confine my trips to city streets but it would be perfect for shooting to the market and grabbing a few groceries.

And if the CB doesn't have the toys to earn bragging rights in the carpark, the price will shut most riders up. It more than makes up for the handlebar-mounted choke in place of fuel injection, the drum rear brake and the headlight that just about throws enough light to ride at night at 100km/h.

The tyres are low-cost units but have plenty of dry weather grip. They will move about if you lean the CB125 over on damp roads. Do what the Moto3 riders do and keep the bike upright — there's not a lot of rubber to play with.


A budget buy that is such good value, it's probably going to be smarter to trade it in than to buy new brakes pads and tyres. If my children wanted to ride, I'd buy this bike. It does everything a learner rider can want, at a speed parents can live with.

Honda CB125e
Price: $1990
Warranty: Twelve months/unlimited km
Engine: 124cc air-cooled single-cylinder, 8kW
Transmission: Five-speed, chain-drive
Fuel tank: 14 litres
Kerb weight: 137kg
Seat height: 767mm
Size: 2.03m (L), .76mm (W), 1.1m (H), 1.3m (WB)
Colours: Red, white, blue

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 5 comments

  • Much rather a scooter like a Sym VS 150 has better KW much better storage space particularly under the seat on this model, better weather protection, great front for wind deflection, much better headlights, quality maxis tyres and Twainese build quality. The CB125E wins out on the manual gear box. Scooters are becoming very popular due their pricing and storage options. The Chinese scooters have improved over the past few years and parts are so cheap. I broke a blinker lense on a Chinese scooter and it cost an amazing $5.00 to replace it. Other than that I have had no problems.

    Peter of Sydney Posted on 18 May 2013 1:39am
  • Have owned one since May. Pros - cheap $2500 RA, over 300 ks before hitting reserve, Honda name, light weight, good ergonomics for tall riders ( I am 6’), excellent commuter, ignition security, DIY servicing (after warranty)
    Cons: vibration (watch for bits falling off coming loose), no tach (single pod would have been better), seat comfort, freeway riding (invest in a deflector screen), over 80 kmh gutless, fit and finish not great eg. when putting seat back on must stretch over side covers.., exhaust note not manly..
    Overall for price and purpose it is great, the Honda badge is a plus rather than a chinese brand for trade in time.
    I have been riding for over 25yrs and love small capacity motorbikes and have a collection of old Honda ‘s - a CB125, a H100 2 stroke, a NH125 2 stroke scooter as well as a Kwaka KH100EX 2 stroke.
    The CB125E performs the same as the old CB125, but the old 2 strokers I have are more fun and quicker and better looking.
    Overall CB125E is a good bike for someone on a tight budget or who doesn’t want a scooter, otherwise I would recommended spending a bit more to get extra power and useability.
    Finally - do your own servicing - service $ too high at bike shop

    Reg Oalte of Melbourne Posted on 23 December 2012 9:46am
  • Cessnock NSW if that helps any. I live in Singleton, got prices from here, Maitland and Newcastle, but Cessnock no negotiation told me on road $2450 delivered free to Singleton that afternoon, full tank of fuel. Brilliant!!!! Every other price was over $2700 on road. Thanks for paying for my Kevlar jeans and almost my insurance with what I saved at Cessnock Honda grin

    Hayles of Singleton NSW Posted on 25 October 2012 11:00pm
  • where can i buy this for under $2500 most shops are selling them for $2800 here in Sydney.

    tom of sydney Posted on 10 October 2012 5:37am
  • Having this bike for 6 months, I wonder how to consume the petrol. A full tank lasts forever and the power? It will never let you down. Even the china tyres are good to use. It’s a buy-it, use-it and enjoy-it to the max motorbike for me!

    Eric Goodman of Palmerston NT Australia Posted on 17 August 2012 9:55am
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