Friday, 29 April 2011

New bike on the block


Having decided that the Honda CBR 125R was the bike for me I summoned all my courage (and cash) and did the deal. With over 1,000 miles riding behind me I am confident it was the correct decision.

Getting to know the bike has been great fun. For one thing it seems to have greater reserves of cornering power than I have skill or bravery to go looking for its limits. That’s in the dry, anyway, and I’ve so far avoided any seriously wet weather. It also depends on the tyres being correctly inflated – I had a nasty shock at the end of a long journey where the pressure dropped by about 10psi. Nothing bad happened but it was enough to seriously impair my confidence.

That incident happened on the return leg of an epic trip to Manchester. Travelling by a very scenic route the outward journey took five hours and the (slightly) more direct return trip lasted four. It wasn’t the fastest or most comfortable way to do the journey but it did have a sense of adventure. It also proved that the saddle and riding position were perfectly comfortable for hours at a time.

Just one thing stops the CBR from being perfect; the gearbox contains some rather odd ratios. First and second seem very low, with an uncomfortable jump to third. Third, fourth and fifth are about perfect but sixth is way too high. The slightest gradient or headwind will see speed slipping away, and on a small-engined bike that’s something you can ill afford.

It seems like an odd choice, a sporty 125cc bike is unlikely to be pressed into regular long-distance service. Even on my epic adventure I think I only used sixth once or twice, although as the engine has loosened up the high gear has become slightly more useful. Even so, the bike would be even better with slightly lower overall gearing with even closer ratios.

The engine thrives on revs. Having got to know it you wouldn’t describe it as peaky but there is a clear increase in power above 7,000rpm and then it pulls all the way round to the 11,000rpm redline. The delivery doesn’t even seem to tail off when you hit the red paint although my mechanical sympathy kicks in before the rev limiter. As I’ve already mentioned, the engine definitely pulls more strongly at 1,500 miles than it did at 500 and I wonder how much more power could be liberated from this motor if the law didn’t stipulate a maximum power limit for learner riders.

Of course the quest for more power is easily satisfied once I get my full licence by moving to a bigger bike. I’m looking forward to the day when I can make that move but I know I will always remember this little Honda with great affection.

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