We ride: 2011 Honda CBR125/250R

2011-04-24 19:37

CBR gallery.

Honda… you know, that Japanese company that makes motorcycles, cars, jet skis, marine motors, stationary engines and even aeroplanes - have just released a brace of bikes to whet the appetites of a lot of scholars/students (not forgetting the girls!) … so maybe it’s time to take a look at their latest CBR125R and CBR250R just released in South Africa..

It crossed my mind while meeting up with the Honda folk who wanted to showcase their latest two-wheeled wares to the motoring media that surely the Highveld is a daft place to launch a 125cc machine, given the extreme altitude that even saps high-powered cars to the tune of around 16 percent, so what will it do to small capacity motorcycles, I wondered.


Again, I’m not sure if the media person was trying to catch us out but asked: “What does the model designate CB stand for when talking Honda bikes?” One wag reckoned it stood for cool bike… another reckoned the ‘C’ was for basic model in the series, while the ‘B’ stood for sports model.

It’s an interesting question… any Wheels24 readers perhaps have the right answer? How about letting me know… you can comment at the bottom of this article.

Back to the CBR125R - bikes such as these will be most youngsters' first foray into the world of motorcycling and this Honda really does look the bee’s knees, weighing in at a solid but easily manageable 137kg. The 125cc, single overhead cam engine is water-cooled for longevity and mapped to buzz to 10 000rpm.

Factor in electronic fuel-injection and computer-controlled transistorised ignition and the bike is virtually maintenance free - chains and sprockets excepted. These would require attention every 3 000km come servicing time.

The proof is always in the pudding and indifferent weather meant we all wanted to get going on our test drive! If you know the Corlett Drive area of northern Johannesburg then you’ll know something about traffic snarl-ups… but they mattered little to the plucky 125. It always proved lively enough to keep ahead of the traffic, and has substantial disc brakes from and rear that proved sublimely reassuring.

Our first foray on the motorway system saw an easy 110km/h on the speedo … that’s it then. I thought. Oops, two more gears to go! Use the six-speed gearbox wisely and the bike should return 38km/litre - that’s nearly 500km to the tank (13 litres)… parent will love that!

Honda CBR125R

Motor: 125cc, liquid-cooled
Power: 9.8kW at 10 000rpm
Torque: 10.41Nm at 8000rpm
0-100km/h: 12 sec (est)
Top Speed: 125km/h (est)
Tank capacity: 13 litres
Seat height: 795mm
Kerb weight: 136.9kg
Wheelbase: 1310 mm
Brakes: Double disc front, single disc rear
Final drive: O-ring chain
Price: R30 999

While the 125 will most likely find about 88 percent usage from students (the balance commuters, reckons Honda), I’ll wager the significantly bigger CBR250R may well have lots of appeal to dad for the occasional Sunday breakfast run!

While the 125 is priced at R30 999 there’s “only” a R10 000 premium asked for the bigger bike with its quad-valve, dual OHC, water-cooled engine technology. Weighing in at 162kg, this all-new 250 from Honda is the real McCoy - I didn’t want to give it back!


We all know that big-capacity machines are a natural progression from the entry-level stuff but these days, with our busier roads and upward-spiralling fuel costs make ownership of light, ultra-frugal, small capacity bikes the way forward.

I spent a pleasant couple of hours in and out of traffic and on Gauteng’s freeways and I can honestly report that the CB250R was always up to the job of providing superb commuter transport or eating up the kilometres on a cross-country trip.

It’s definitely a full-size motorcycle.

You most likely wouldn’t want to carry a passenger - especially on the Highveld, due to the same reasons mentioned earlier - but the bike’s maneuverability, full fairing and windscreen really do work, meaning the bike can easily be used day in and day out - it’s that user-friendly.


Yes, it’s again supersport-inspired, but here’s the thing: it’s very much sensibly styled. Your wrists won’t want to give up the ghost after 20 minutes and the foot pegs, levers and controls are all in the right places.

The mirrors have been moved from the levers to the front fairing, so giving better rearward vision - not just your elbow. That’s really important.

The build quality of both machines is excellent. Both come from one of Honda’s export factories in Thailand - and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Servicing has been increased to 12 000km intervals with the 250, along with a two-year warranty. Fuel consumption figures should remain outstanding at around 27km/litre and both bikes are shod with substantial 17-inch tyres...

• I have the distinct feeling that some people who might not have a full motorcycle licence may go for the CBR250R and put on the 125cc stickers… they’re available as an aftermarket item apparently, but you didn’t hear that from me!

Honda CBR250R

Motor: 250cc, liquid-cooled
Power: 19.4kW@8500 rpm
Torque: 23.8Nm@7000 rpm
0-100km/h: 10sec (est)
Top Speed: 135km/h (est)
Tank capacity: 13 litres
Seat height: 780mm
Kerb weight: 161kg
Wheelbase: 1369 mm
Brakes: Double disc front, single disc rear
Final drive: O-ring chain
Price: R39 995

  • TP - 2011-04-25 13:33

    Commuter Bike I recon.

  • niels - 2011-04-27 18:36

    Wikipedia says Commuter or Cruising Bike. But the original Supersport bikes (CB400Four. CB 550 K etc) were regarded as sportier bikes and the CB 1100 RC was definitely not a commuter bike.

  • Karmen - 2011-05-02 20:23

    I bought a new CBR125R last month (replaced my Honda e-Storm). Very nice bike. I use it for commuting to work and back, 74km's a day. I got 38km/l so far for the 1st 1100km's. Top speed is 140km/h, not bad for a 125cc. I'm very happy so far. Looks very good also, best looking 125 by far. The 250 is tempting but that means I'll have to go through the whole lisensing mission again and I'm not up for that. 125 is sufficient for me for now. I love the economy, especially with fuel price incresing every month. Thanks Honda, I love my CBR125R.

  • EnzoSF - 2011-10-18 09:27

    Awesome, I have read quite a few reviews of the bike compared to the mini ninja 250cc. although the ninja is 5km/h faster the Honda is quicker off the line and a much better value for money, Getting mine soon!

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