Scoop on a lovely Honda twin!

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CONTENTS - cmm

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!’

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