Honda already has a firm grip on the 125 cc commuter segment with its CB Shine, but the company is in no mood to sit back and relax. To ensure that it attracts young buyers, Honda has introduced the SP 125. Previously, the SP badge was associated with the Shine range. However, this offering in the premium commuter segment has dropped the Shine tag and gained new features to create a product that will appeal to young buyers. We recently test rode the motorcycle, and here are our first impressions.
As mentioned above, Honda aims to attract young buyers with the SP 125 and it has designed the SP 125 accordingly. Thus, you would find sharp styling that is further accentuated by bright graphics. The feature list is equally alluring. The front fascia, for example, features a full LED headlight along with a body-coloured cowl and matching graphics. Small details such as fin-style design next to the headlight further enhance the aesthetics of the SP 125.
The feature list continues to impress as you continue towards the cockpit. The instrument console of the Honda SP 125 packs a full-digital display that offers information such as fuel gauge, speedometer, odometer, gear position indicator, real-time fuel economy, overall fuel efficiency, distance to empty, two trip meters, service due indicator and a clock. An Eco indicator helps indicate the optimum throttle input for maximum fuel economy. The switchgear, too, gets a touch of modern features. The ignition button, for example, is integrated into the engine kill switch. The high and low beam switch on the left side of the switchgear also offers control to the pass function.
The lean, yet muscular looks continue on to the fuel tank, and the shrouds give a beefy look to the overall package. The tank cowl is accompanied by another extension that mimics radiator shroud design. Another panel with a carbon fibre texture sits under the fuel tank. The 3D Honda logo magnifies the premium look of the vehicle.
The side panel continues to pack the same colour and graphics as the fuel tank, while the rear panel features a grey finish to add a contrast to the visuals. The tail section features a styling stoplight. Other key styling features include a dual-tone finish to the exhaust heat shield, split-style pattern to the alloy wheels and the fibre saree guard.
The new SP 125 is available in four colour options – Striking Green, Imperial Red Metallic, Pearl Siren Blue and Matte Axis Grey Metallic.
To sum it up, the Honda SP 125 is indeed an appealing motorcycle, and it should attract a fair amount of young buyers who are looking for a vehicle that looks stylish and is affordable to purchase and maintain. The fit and finish levels are equally commendable, and we did not hear any unpleasant sounds in the form of rattling from the body panels.
On the downside, the skinny (80/100-18) tyre at the back does not do justice to the overall aesthetics of the SP 125, although it is being used for low rolling resistance (resulting in better fuel economy) and affordable price tag.
Engine and Performance
The new Honda SP 125 is the first BS-VI compliant motorcycle from the Indian arm of the Japanese two-wheeler brand. Thus, it comes equipped with a fuel injection system. The 124 cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled motor with Enhanced Smart Power (eSP) produces 10.7 hp of peak power at 7,500 rpm and 10.9 Nm of maximum torque at 6,000 engine revs. The engine is paired with a five-speed transmission that feels smooth and crisp.
In terms of character, the engine makes a good amount of low- and mid-range power. Due to the lack of a tachometer, we would use speed as an indication for the power delivery. The third gear can chug along under 30 km/h, although it starts to pull away cleanly post that mark. The fourth gear is good for anywhere above 40 km/h. The fifth gear is ideal for highway cruising as the motorcycle sits comfortably around 80 km/h mark with very little stress on the engine. A ton on the speedometer is achievable too, although it will take some amount of crouching to reduce the drag. With a 90 kg rider on board, we could clock a maximum speed of 107 km/h. Other key features on the SP 125 include Silent Start with ACG.
We tested the front disc/rear drum brake version of the SP 125, and the feedback was adequate. The braking system feels progressive, although it could have worked even better with some more bite. It should, however, suffice for city use. We did not test the front drum brake version of the motorcycle, and thus we cannot comment on its braking performance. The safety net comprises Combi-brake System (CBS) with equalizer.
The overall performance from Honda's latest offering is solid; it briskly leaves at the green light. The touch of sportiness to the exhaust note is appealing, and we are sure the young buyers will not be disappointed.
Ride and Handling
As aforementioned, the engine packs a pinch of sportiness, although that does not translate into unpleasant vibrations – at least in the low- to mid-range of the rev band. There is some vibration from the footpegs closer to redline. Honda has also used a piston cooling jet that is aimed to reduce friction.
In terms of comfort, the SP 125 packs typical commuter-oriented ergonomics. We test rode the motorcycle for a very short duration, and thus we cannot comment on the long ride comfort levels. That said, we did not suffer from any sore-rear issues during our brief ride.
The suspension setup, which comprises telescopic forks at the front and twin-sided, preload adjustable springs at the back, is on the softer side for plush ride quality, and the SP 125 glides over most of the undulations efficiently. The hunt for a secluded place to photograph the vehicle took us through some broken asphalt, and the SP 125 did not disappoint. To enhance the pillion comfort, the grab rail at the back gets a rubber finish.
As we said in the design part of the review, the SP 125 comes with a skinny rear tyre, and so, do not expect it to go canyon carving. The overall feedback is sufficient just for city use.
The BS-VI Honda SP 125 works well as an overall package. The styling is appealing, while the engine performance, fit and finish and refinement levels are commendable, and it should attract young buyers. Apart from the skinny rear tyre and the lack of initial bite from the front disc brake, we would not change a thing about the SP 125. The drum brake version of the Honda SP 125 is available at INR 72,900*, while the disc variant, which we tested for the first ride report, is priced at INR 77,100*.
The new Honda SP 125 is backed by a three-year warranty as standard, and an additional three years can be purchased as an option. It faces some serious competition from the Bajaj Pulsar 125 that brings the visuals of bigger Pulsar models to a more approachable price point. The baby Pulsar is available in front disc brake version only, and it retails at INR 66,618*. Do note that the price of the Pulsar 125 is for the BS-IV version. The BS-VI version will be costlier.