Underbone motorcycles, known as cubs or kapchais, are ubiquitous on Malaysian roads. Most motorists have a love/hate relationship with kapchais, usually along the lines of loving to hate them.
But it cannot be denied that kapchais serve a useful purpose as lightweight, short distance, urban transportation. Fuel efficient and nimble, kapchais serve thousands of commuters as daily transport in Malaysian towns and cities.
To that end, all the Japanese major offer a range of underbone bikes in various capacities. Typically, most fall into the 100 cc or 125 cc engine range, and the 150 cc machines with manual gearboxes falling under the ‘supercub’ category.
Honda is the most recognisable of the kapchai brand names for non-riders, with almost everyone either having ridden, or knows someone, who has a Honda kapchai. With five products in the cub category, it’s easy to see where Boon Siew Honda (BSH) – Malaysian distributors for Honda motorcycles – has its priorities.
The latest release from BSH is the 2016 Honda Future FI, in the 125 cc class. Designed for the young rider wanting a sporty machine, we put it through the paces in our review.
Cubs are pretty much designed as urban transportation, and the 2016 Honda Future FI is no different. Light and low to the ground, the Future FI is meant to suit a multitude of roles, first among which is short-range trips.
Sporting a 124.9 cc air-cooled, single-cylinder engine with PGM-FI, the Future FI breaks no new ground in that regard, relying on a formula that has been around since your grandfather bought his first kapchai. Producing a claimed 9.27 PS at 7,500 rpm, and 10.02 Nm torque at 5,500 rpm, performance is, shall we say, adequate.
Since its role is primarily for riding in towns and cities, we found the Future FI to be nippy enough to deal with urban traffic. Cycling through the four-speed, centrifugal clutch gearbox, we found a lot that we were familiar with, in terms of riding an underbone bike.
Accelerating through the gears leaving a traffic light, there was enough zip in the engine to leave traffic behind, though not for very long. It is an unfortunate truth that the performance capability of most small cars on the road today will leave smaller motorcycles behind.
So, the key to riding the Future FI is to keep the speed up, and slow down for nothing. Which brings us to the brakes. Now, while we are certainly not expecting Brembo performance from the front and rear version we tested, braking was found to be, well, enough.
With a single rider on board, a moderate squeeze on the front was enough to bring the bike to stop, until we remembered what the weight bias on a kapchai is like. Stomping on the rear brake was then more than adequate to bring the Future FI to a very quick stop, and enough to lock the rear wheel on wet roads.
Tyres on the 17-inch wheels were quite entertaining, and provided enough feedback and grip for city riding. Start attacking corners aggressively though, and the suspension quickly put its hands up in surrender, with an 87-kg rider on board.
The front forks were under-damped, while the rear shock absorbers were overly so, giving a rather bouncy ride through fast corners. It was a bit like trying to herd a drunk sheep wearing green wellys.
But, pay the high speed shenanigans no mind. With a top speed brushing the 127 km/h point – we tried, in a normal riding position, no superman on a seat heroics here – the Future FI is, primarily, designed to be ridden comfortably at about 90 km/h or so.
At this pace, the engine put out the minimum of vibration, and everything was quiet and harmony, even the suspension. Pushing the bike to the limit is not a kind thing to do though, and the Future FI made its discomfort known very quickly with a buzz in the handlebars.
Seated on the Future is very much the standard kapchai seating position, and the seat was padded to minimise vibration, somewhat. While we didn’t take the bike anywhere far, confining our riding to surface streets in and around the city, we didn’t notice anything untoward, except that the padding was a little firm, but presumably would bed-in over time.
Lifting the seat revealed an 18-litre compartment that would swallow a single helmet, or miscellaneous gear. The Future FI’s 5.4-litre fuel tank is located right behind the compartment.
Riding with a full fuel tank didn’t show any appreciable difference to the handling. We didn’t conduct any real fuel consumption testing on the Future FI, simply because in the five days we had the bike, we didn’t empty the tank.
Let’s just say you’ll be filling the tank up for about 130 km of travel, and leave it at that. Which is, in most cases, quite good for an urban bike, calling for a visit to the petrol station once a week or so.
Instrumentation on the Future FI was quite basic, with a speedometer/odometer in the centre of the fascia, and a fuel gauge to the left and gear indicator to the right. Lighting was ok for night riding, but by no means brilliant.
The 2016 Honda Future FI comes in single- and twin-disc brake versions, and three colours – Candy Scintillate Red, Mariana Purple Metallic and Vital Metallic Blue (as tested). Pricing for the Future FI is RM6,072 for the single-disc, and RM6,358 for the double-disc. Prices include GST.
So, who needs the 2016 Honda Future FI? For urban transport, daily trips and short commutes, the Future FI performs admirably well, and the EFI is a plus in ensuring reliability. The bike certainly designed to be convenient and easy to ride.
For a rider looking for a kapchai that has a little more “get-up-and-go” than other offerings in the market, such as the 109 cc Honda EX5 Dream, the Future FI would be a suitable choice. As for the author, well, if he was looking for an easy runabout to do short trips, this would be high on the list.