Honda SP 125 BS6: First Ride Review

Honda SP 125 BS6: First Ride Review

How good is the successor to the popular CB Shine SP 125 which also marks Honda’s BS6 debut

With the government tightening its noose around manufacturers with the stringent BS6 emission norms, Honda has begun rolling out its slew of updates motorcycles. Honda recently launched the first BS6-compliant scooter in the country in the form of Activa 125 which is undoubtedly the most refined and well-built scooter today.

And now Honda has also launched the BS6 equipped iteration of the popular CB Shine SP 125. And to begin with, Honda is calling it SP 125. Now that you’re familiar with the updated convention, let’s find out if the SP 125 goes the Activa 125 way or does it have anything different in store for us.

At first glance

Honda is targeting the young audience with this motorcycle and the styling of the SP 125 reflects that very well. The bike now gets slightly aggressive tank shrouds and bright contrasting colours with graphics that would appeal to this audience; very much like the CB Hornet 160.

Then there’s the new DC LED headlamp, which the company claims offer better illumination and consumes less voltage. We couldn’t test it though so more on that in the proper road test. Next up is the new tail lamp, which uses halogen bulb but looks premium.

The Honda SP 125 packs some segment-first features that include the engine start/stop switch and the integrated headlamp beam and pass switch, both of which are seen only on premium motorcycles.

Adding to the list of features is a fully digital instrument cluster that packs a plethora of information like gear position indicator, real-time fuel economy, average fuel economy, clock, distance to empty and an eco-meter to eke out maximum mileage from each ounce of fuel.

Honda introduced the ACG starter motor with the Activa 125 BS6. The motor doesn’t require the gear meshing, thus making the cranking up the engine a smooth, noiseless process. The SP 125 also employs the same starter and it works just as smoothly.

The company claims the engine efficient by 16 per cent more than the BS4model. Further aiding the fuel efficiency and performance is the off-set cylinder and a piston cooling jet that supplies oil optimally to keep the engine cool. All this sounds good on the paper, but does the bike actually deliver?

From the saddle

Hop on to the roomy seat and you’ll realise that the 790mm seat height makes the bike accessible to all kinds of riders. Adding to that is the tall, wide handlebar, which along with the neutrally set pegs makes up for a rather comfortable motorcycle.

Overall, the bike feels pretty solid, there were some issues that need to be ironed out. The plastics on the tank shroud, for example, felt too cheap and didn’t go well with the rest of the tank. A side stand engine cut off feature, like the one on Activa 125 BS6 would have been a welcome addition as well.

Let’s see how it rides then. Thumb the ACG starter and you won’t even realise that the all-new fuel-injected 124cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled engine is cranked up and ready to put the 10 ponies to work. Shift it to the first cog, which it does with utter smoothness and you’ll be floored by the Honda’s refinement. But should we be really surprised because it wears that Honda badge?

As you build up speed, you realise that the SP 125 is not as refined as you had imagined. Though the bike manages to touch the magical 100kmph mark even with a pillion in tow, the vibrations from the handlebar and even the seat start building up from 65kmph in the fifth cog.

The diamond-type frame is from the older model, but now has some modifications to make it lighter. Adding to that is the telescopic forks at the front and the 5-level adjustable dual shocks which are perfect for the not-so-perfect city roads, or even our highways. The front-end, however, was a bit too light for my liking and the bike leans into corners with the slightest input thanks to its weight of 118kg.

You won’t really go all Marc Marquez on this Honda, but if you do, you wouldn’t be completely disappointed. The bike does hold its line fairly decently in the corners. The 240mm disc at the front and the 130mm drum at the rear works great for this commuter, especially when you bring in the combined braking system in the picture.

Worth the splurge?

The SP 125 definitely looks a promising proposition, offering premium features with the backup of a standard 3-year warranty along with the option of 3-year extension. However, at Rs 77,100 (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the disc variant and Rs 72,900 (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the drum variant, the bike seems pricey but that’s only till the competition (Bajaj Discover 125 and Hero Glamour FI) catches up in the BS6 race. So, if you are on a lookout for a 125 commuter right away that is also future-ready, the SP 125 is the best bet.

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