The Honda SP 125 is the successor to the CB Shine SP 125. Interestingly, the Japanese bike maker has not just updated the engine for BS6 compliance with one or two additional features, but rather it has given the motorcycle a substantial makeover. Given the fact that the CB Shine has consistently stayed in the list of the top five highest selling two-wheelers in India, it is an important product for the brand and a comprehensive update was crucial to keep its desirability intact. Having said that, we spent some time with the new SP 125 to find out if, despite losing the ‘Shine’ moniker, does the motorcycle still shine in the real world?
Honda SP 125: First Ride Review
Besides tweaking the engine and elongating the feature list, Honda also went back to the drawing board and tinkered with the design of the motorcycle. And after gawking at the new SP 125 from all angles, we can say it is one handsome-looking motorcycle. From adding more contours around the headlamp section to fitting beefier tank extensions, Honda has successfully made it look sportier. The story continues at the rear as well, with the underseat panels and the tail lamp being sleeker now.
The SP 125 is not just aesthetically adorable but the overall built quality along with the fit and finish is also impressive. While the controls on the switchgear exude a solid and upmarket feel, the plastic panels across the bodywork also speak of durability. Except for the plastic inserts between the fuel tank and its extensions, which are slightly flimsy, the overall package appears well put together.
Let’s get the unchanged aspects out of the way first. The new SP 125 is built around the same diamond type chassis as its predecessor. It also retains the telescopic forks, hydraulic shock absorbers, 130mm drum brakes and 240mm front disc brake (which is optional). Now, what’s heavily worked upon is the 124cc, air-cooled motor which now features Honda’s PGM-FI fuel-injection technology along with changes to reduce internal friction. These alterations promise lower emissions, improved mileage and better performance.
We have been witnessing a drop in performance in new two-wheelers, following the BS6-bound changes in their engine. Surprisingly, at 10.6bhp and 10.9Nm, the new SP 125 produces marginally more power and torque than the outgoing version.
Now, let’s get down to the modern features of the bike, most of which are segment-first. To start with, it gets a fully digital instrument cluster which packs a plethora of information such as real-time mileage, average mileage, distance to empty, gear position, service reminder, two trip meters and the basic data. Then there’s an engine kill switch which also doubles up as an engine starter button. And those radical-looking headlamp and tail lamp boast of LED lights. Most importantly, in line with Honda’s ‘Quiet Revolution’ theme, the new SP 125 gets a silent starter which uses an ACG starter motor to negate the engine cranking noises.
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.
Honda has priced the new SP 125 at Rs 72,900 (drum) and Rs 77,100 (disc) (both prices are ex-showroom, Delhi). This is a premium of around Rs 7,000 over the CB Shine SP which the price-sensitive buyers of this segment will find quite significant. However, considering the new BS6-compliant FI engine with improved performance, a host of modern features and fresh styling, the price tag is justified and the SP 125 comes across as an overall attractive package.
Photography by Kapil Angane