Scoop on a lovely Honda twin!
When the new learner laws kicked in those 17-year-olds who wanted to ride a motorcycle suddenly had the rug pulled out from beneath them. The combined malevolence of first the Suzuki X7 and then the Yamaha RD250LC was apparently too much for the government of the day. In a typical knee-jerk reaction to sensationalist headlines, 250cc learner machines were deemed off limits and 125s immediately took their place. If you happened to be 16-and-a-bit when the axe fell, you most certainly felt gutted. However, as is the way of these ill-considered decisions, the manufacturers had their corporate responses loaded, primed and ready to fire. Most countered with feisty stroker singles that were officially restricted to 12bhp but could be persuaded to deliver nearly twice that with various kits you could only officially obtain once you’d (ahem) passed your test. Even Honda had a serious go at twostrokes but flying the flag as they’d always done the core product was four-stroke – the CB125T twin. Honda had a long and extremely well established history with 125cc overhead cam four-strokes; bikes such as the legendary CB92 Benly (see page 26) had helped the company overcome initial customer resistance to twin cylinder tiddlers. And as if to prove there was really no point trying to reinvent the wheel the new CB125T copied the bore and stroke of its fabled ancestor. That aside, the two bikes were technically miles apart. The new machine ran twin carbs, tubular steel frame and a front disc brake. Some models/markets saw the 125T fitted with
conventional spoke wheels while others featured the much vaunted Comstar alloys. Honda was shrewd enough to know when to trade on past successes and for that very reason the CB125T is styled after the larger Super Dreams. Those now 17-year-olds who’d wanted a CB250N could at least have something that looked similar. Despite all of that, sales of the CB125T were never big in the UK. Honda hadn’t made any significant efforts to extract any zing out of the little twin and nor were they offering any performance aids to those who had passed their test and wished to keep the bike. Even worse from Honda’s perspective they’d had to swallow a particularly bitter pill and build two-strokes to compete with their rivals. The CB125T might have looked cute and cosmetically similar to other machines from The Big Aitch but it was effectively marginalised from within. Substantially more Honda MBX & MTX 125s were being sold than CB125TS. To all intents and purposes the baby Super Dream was really just a safe bet aimed at those who would have bought a Honda regardless and really did not want the perceived hassles of a two-stroke. And those that did vote with their money for the CB125T rarely came away disappointed. Sure the ARS, LCS, MBXS and the like would out-drag the four-stroke twin but they were infinitely more likely to wear out oh so much sooner. Just like every other small twin ever made by Honda, if the CB125T was serviced as per the manual then it would just run on and on. Digging around on the web for information there are threads where folk are extolling the virtues of the baby of the Dream family. Several have commented about buying used versions with more than 20,000 miles on the clock; most AR125S never even got there! And tales of CB125TS being ridden flat out all day, every day, seems to be a consistent theme. Arguably the bike was the Captain Sensible of the period’s 125cc learners and none the worse for such a back-handed compliment. Why would you want one today? Well if you were learning your craft back in the day then it’s highly likely you dismissed the Honda out of hand but now we’ve all matured a bit it might very well be worth reappraising. It’s not a rocket ship but that was never its purpose; if that’s what you’re after track down a de-restricted, kitted and tuned RD125LC. If you’ve the space in your garage for a reliable tiddler that will still provide faultless, reliable and dependable service for pennies you could do a lot worse than buy a CB125T.
TOP LEFT: Clocks are so Honda 1980s and ‘rectangular!’