Affordable Honda CBR125R Motorcycle Arrives In Canada: A return to simpler times?
By James Grahame
The modern North American motorcycle market is a strange beast. In many parts of the world, riders start off on affordable 49 cc scooters before graduating to 125cc and 250cc bikes. That's not the case here, where many people start out with a much more powerful and expensive machine. In an effort to make the sport safer and more affordable, Honda recently introduced the sleek little CBR125R in Canada for only $3399 ($3100 US).
This tiny 125cc single-cylinder bike is an anomaly in a market where most beginners are encouraged to purchase bikes with 599cc or larger engines and 49cc scooters are dismissed as toys. However, a 600cc sport bike can be a dangerous creature for even an experienced rider. And those not-so-small bikes are usually bloody expensive.
Engine displacement has gradually increased over the years, and the 250cc - 400cc models that were common in the 1970s are increasingly rare. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, there were quite a few affordable 250cc - 400cc machines on the North American market. These included a number Japanese models, such as the groundbreaking 250cc Honda CB72, which amazed riders in Europe and the USA in the early 1960s by offering big-bike performance in a light and easy to maintain package. Yamaha introduced the versatile 250cc DT-1 Enduro dual-purpose bike in 1968, giving enthusiasts the ability to go off-roading on weekends and commute to work during the week. Alas, as time went by bikes gradually became larger and more expensive, with 1200cc monsters becoming commonplace by the early 2000s.
The result is that the motorcycle industry in North America is struggling to entice new riders into the sport. Hopefully, that will soon change. Honda recently introduced their little CBR125R sport bike in Canada. It's been on the market in Europe since 2004, but there's nothing like it over on this side of the Atlantic.
The best news is that the baby CBR carries a list price of only $3399 Canadian ($3100 US). It includes a liquid-cooled single-cylinder 4-stroke engine, six speed transmission, PGM-FI fuel injection and weighs a mere 262 lbs (119 kg). Of course, the 125cc power-plant has a couple of drawbacks: a top speed of around 125 km/h (80 mph) and a mere 12 HP on tap. This definitely isn't a blindingly fast bike, but it should be cheap to run and inexpensive to insure -- perfect for city commuting and affordable weekend fun. There's still no word when (or if) this little bundle of joy will hit the US market.
Let's hope this is the beginning of a return to smaller and more affordable motorcycles.
Honda CBR125R Entry-level Sport bike [Honda.ca]