Thumb the starter and you will be greeted by Honda’s silent start system which works like a charm. The engine fires up with sheer silence, as if Sherlock Holmes was about to set out on a highly secretive mission. The only way you’ll know that it has come to life is by the mild rumbling of the engine underneath.
The light clutch functions with least effort while the gear shifts are also smooth. However, the transmission system gets a tad clunky after riding it for a while, accompanied by occasional false neutrals. As you get going, the SP 125 shows that it is an adequately peppy machine for the city conditions. Although it takes its own sweet time to build up speeds, the motorcycle has enough low-end grunt to take off a signal briskly and overtake the slow-moving vehicles. Also, the relaxed nature of the engine allows you to trundle at speeds of 35kmph, even in the fifth gear.
While we were expecting the new fuel-injected motor to be more refined, surprisingly, it was not the case. The powerplant feels slightly rough at higher revs. It remains stress-free until 65-70kmph, with minor buzz creeping in beyond that. However, the vibes are limited to footpegs and aren’t bothersome. On the highway, the motorcycle can cruise between 70-80kmph without any strain while the top speed lies a little over 100kmph.
Speaking of ergonomics, swinging a leg over the motorcycle and settling into the seat is a no-fuss affair. That’s courtesy of the 790mm seat height, which has been reduced by 10mm now. Add to this the well-padded seat, centre-set footpegs and pulled back handlebar, and the SP 125 comes across as a fairly comfortable motorcycle. We specifically liked the spacious rider’s seat which facilitates easy movement on the saddle.
Another notable aspect is the SP 125’s kerb weight which is as low as 117kg; around 6kgs lesser than the CB Shine SP. Additionally, its compact dimensions, lightweight diamond frame and grippy tyres translate into an impressive agility. Flicking it through traffic is a piece of cake. The suspension setup absorbs most of the bumps, road joints and potholes with ease. However, going slow over the tall bumps would be a wise decision as the rear suspension tends to rebound with a jolt, throwing the rider off the seat. Meanwhile, the brakes are spot-on for a bike of this segment. The combi-braking system works with aplomb by preventing the wheels from locking for the most part.
The SP 125 belongs to a segment where mileage is an important factor. Although the bike comes with an ARAI-claimed efficiency of 70kmpl, the average mileage indicator consistently displayed figures between 55-60kmpl. However, you can try and extract more mileage by consistently following the eco indicator which glows green when ridden in the right gear for any given speed. Nevertheless, we’ll bring you the real-world mileage of the SP 125 in our road test review.