REVIEW: 2019 Honda C125 Super Cub – retro or no?

REVIEW: 2019 Honda C125 Super Cub – retro or no?

As a styling and market trend in the motorcycle market, retro design seems to be going on a while yet, and one contender for the hipster dollar is the 2019 Honda C125 Super Cub, priced at RM13,999. Yes, we can hear the collective gasps from the back row there, RM14K is a lot of moolah to be asking for a 125 cc urban runabout, or in this case, something more of a collector’s toy.

Here’s the thing, for many Malaysian riders, the motorcycle they first cut their teeth on is a kapchai of some sort and in many cases, that kapchai was Honda’s ubiquitous Cub. This was much the case for the author, whose uncle let him have a go on a Honda C70 back when most of you were running around in shorts.

So, after moving production of the Super Cub to Kumamoto, Japan, Honda decided what the market needed was a 125 cc version of the Super Cub in ASEAN. Which does go a long way to explaining the heart stopping price Honda is asking for the Super Cub since the model we get in Malaysia is brought in CBU.

REVIEW: 2019 Honda C125 Super Cub – retro or no?

But, as we have mentioned in several reviews of this type of motorcycle, retro is as retro does, but is there enough retro to justify the Super Cub’s existence? On the face of it, combining a classic design of a near indestructible motorcycle with modern conveniences seems to be a good idea.

Or is it? In any case, Boon Siew Honda, in their infinite wisdom and refusal to believe rumours the author only reviews superbikes, handed us the key to the C125 Super Cub and said, “we’re half afraid of what you’re going to say about this one.”


REVIEW: 2019 Honda C125 Super Cub – retro or no?

What you get with the C125 on the first approach is a properly nostalgia tinged design straight out of the 50s. Or is it the 60s? Maybe the 70s? Never mind, what this serves to tell you is Honda’s Cub design is timeless and has stood the test of ages.

At the first approach, the C125 is diminutive and we found out the ladies really grooved on the looks, finding it “friendly” and “brings back memories of my childhood/school days/college days”, depending on age of said lady. The Super Cub certainly shows no aggression as far as designs go, and speed is not something that comes to mind when you look at it.

Maybe something like a Pug or Retriever, a friendly sort of animal that likes being tickled on its belly anyway. With the looks out of the way, what the rider gets is a single seat, set 780 mm off the ground, making it easy for any rider to swing a leg over. Definitely, there were days when the Super Cub was in the author’s hands during review, the ease of getting on after a long day of riding full-sized bikes was a relief.

Settling into the nicely padded seat, covered in red faux pleather to offset the Pearl Niltvana Blue chassis and white plastic bodywork, the rider is confronted with a single round dial in the instrument binnacle, inset with a LCD display. Simple is as simple does, and the rider gets a speedometer, fuel gauge, gear indicator, odometer and clock, with the idiot lights arranged in a semi-circle at the bottom.

Power comes from the 125 cc, four-stroke, two-valve, air-cooled mill, producing 9.5 hp at 7,500 rpm and 10.4 Nm at 5,000 rpm. Of note is the rotary four-speed gearbox, familiar to any motorcyclist in South-East Asia which, in this instance, was the sharpest, slickest rotary box we slammed a foot on.

We are used to riding underbone bikes with boxes sloppier than a ten-dollar whore but the unit on the Super Cub was a revelation. A lot of fun was had stepping through the gears, pushing the engine to its top speed of… 95 km/h.

REVIEW: 2019 Honda C125 Super Cub – retro or no?

On a performance basis, the Super Cub C125 does not exactly bring a lot to the table, that we will admit. But, outright performance is not everything, as we soon found out.

The Cub is, at its core, an urban run-about, designed by Soichiro Honda during the post-war years in Japan as a mobility multiplier for the small businessman. That it developed a cult following and is both transport and entertainment for generations of Asian riders is as much a happy accident as it was by intent.

Thus, speed is not the essence for the Super Cub, and it should not be. Did not mean the author didn’t have fun chucking the bike into corners at full throttle, on the ragged edge of sliding out and coming out on the other side with a grin on the face.

This irresponsible hooning of an innocent Super Cub was helped by the improved, modern brake, a 220 mm single disc on the front wheel grabbed by a hydraulic calliper. The rear is a still a drum brake and at certain points during the Super Cub’s tenure with us was much needed to bring things down to safer levels.

Handling is still in basic Cub fashion, with the Super Cub using telescopic forks and twin shock absorbers, non-adjustable for anything. While this does mean taking the Super Cub to the limit can be scary for the slightly heavyweight rider, the author’s young shaver, who weighs 51 kg sopping wet, had enormous fun running around with it.

Engine wise, there was enough get-up-and-go for riding around the city and once in fourth gear, adequate torque to manage most traffic situations unless the road started up an incline. For the cut and thrust of traffic jams, the Super Cub was just about perfect, quick to respond with the short 1.2-metre wheelbase making manoeuvring around stopped cars easy.

REVIEW: 2019 Honda C125 Super Cub – retro or no?

The caveat is, you must ride the Super Cub within its performance envelope and if you do so, you will have enormous fun with it. Ignore this at your own peril because the C125 is not meant to tangle with highway traffic and is best confined to city streets.

Honda Cubs are also known to be frugal with fuel and with the Super Cub, things are no different. From the 3.7-litre tank located under the seat, opened with a push of a button at the bottom of the seat, we managed about 100 kilometres of range, give or take.

In terms of riding conveniences, we liked the keyless start of the Super Cub, a great help when you’re already geared up and realise you left the key in the pocket. However, there was precious little else, no under seat storage or handy hook to hang your teh tarik ikat tepi.

However, there is a reason why the Super Cub C125 exists and that reason has nothing to do with trendy hipster nostalgia rose-tinted glasses trying to be Insta-cool. Honda, as a motorcycle company, has previously shown it has not been afraid to make some bold decisions and the Super Cub is one of those.

As the motorcycle that started the Hamamatsu company on the path to greatness, the Super Cub does deserve a place in the catalogue, even if not many are sold. Realistically, there are many other options in the underbone market that perform better at two thirds the price.

What the Super Cub will get you is a lot of attention especially from the distaff side, as mentioned earlier. Even in traffic, other riders would go past honking and giving a thumbs up.

REVIEW: 2019 Honda C125 Super Cub – retro or no?

So, who needs a Honda Super Cub C125, priced at RM13,999? Yes, that price is a shocker and several members of the public expressed surprise at the amount of money being asked when they enquired about the cost of the Super Cub.

As a modern interpretation of a piece of Honda’s history, it is hard to fault the Super Cub. It is a fun, enjoyable, easy-to-ride machine that will bring joy. As the old advertising tagline goes, “you meet the nicest people on a Honda.”

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Mohan K Ramanujam

Coming with diverse and extensive experience in heavy engineering, Mohan enjoys making anything with wheels go fast, especially motorcycles. His weapon of choice is the Desmoquattro engine, and he has a penchant for anything with a dash of Italian design. Strangely enough, he insists he's a slow rider.

 

Comments

  • Lolwhut? on Aug 02, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    In New Malaysia, cubchais go for RM14,000. Lol!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  • Matchy on Aug 02, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    Retro need the lidi rim la…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2
  • panjang on Aug 02, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    Hmmm….even the original super cub (in great condition) does not command ridiculus pricing.
    Its still fun, easy to ride, reliable, etc…

    To me its just impossible to justify the price tag.
    Collector’s item? Very far from it.

    It will sell though..in very limited number.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
  • KL rider on Aug 02, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Too expensive for kapchai . Nope

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  • Danny Tay on Aug 02, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    very late review. this bike been selling long time already.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • Rule of Law on Aug 02, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Always ride the small cc motorcycle in civilised manners and obey traffic rules and regulation. Do not ever try to promote racing or sport for this motorcycle. You may go up in speed but you will never stop on time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2
    • Richey on Aug 05, 2019 at 9:12 am

      So it is okay if the shenanigans is carried out by riders on higher cc motorcycle?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5
  • No deceiving marketing tricks please on Aug 02, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    What a joke? Seeing test rider in full face helmet and suit up in faux leather throwing the Super Cub in corner mimicking racing bike.
    We don’t see neighbouring countries promoting moped in such a manner, usually they get test riders dress up smartly and rides those moped elegantly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 14
    • redpilled on Aug 05, 2019 at 3:43 am

      So you have a problem with the test rider donning proper riding gear and putting the cub through its paces.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 7
    • Jackson on Mar 09, 2022 at 9:34 am

      Waiting for the day you lose your skin to asphalt in the name of ELEGANCE

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Lawrence Goon on Aug 02, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    Hmm “latest technology in retro styling” sounds perfect. I’m a Honda Cub fan having owned the C70, EX5 100 & Dream 110. This Super Cub 125 looks perfect except for the speedometer that doesn’t quite match the rest of the bike. My main complaint or disagreement is, Honda forgot the main fact about the greatness of its Cub i.e. it was truly an affordable & practical bike for the masses, especially the lower income segment hence over 100million cubs sold worldwide. But not today as i see it, at RM14k it is only for the upper income collector. Tell me, unlike its predesesor, which despatch boy or hawker can afford the C125?? I guess Honda will coyly say that they have the Dream 110 at half the price of this C125. If so, then please do admit the C125 is a collector’s bike not meant to relive the original & affordable Honda Cub!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5
  • Cyrus Tiu on Aug 03, 2019 at 12:14 am

    Is Honda malaysia selling the passenger seat as accessories?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  • Call me by your name on Aug 03, 2019 at 11:34 am

    “ten-dollar whore”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  • MrNiceGuy on Aug 03, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    wake up Boon Siew Honda! it’s time to bring in 2019 CBR150R & CB150R la!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  • Bike or bake on Aug 03, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    RM14k is a rip-off! Prices of Honda bikes launched in the past 1-2 years have been utterly absurd, to say the very least.

    They are now much more expensive vs the other 2 Japanese brands, dangerously threading towards the premium marques like Triumph, et al.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  • svherman on Aug 04, 2019 at 7:41 am

    …”sloppier than a ten dollar whore…”

    THAT’S why you go ATGATT!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  • Honda on Aug 05, 2019 at 9:28 am

    My only contention with the Honda C125 is that Boon Siew Honda skimped out on the ABS while all other countries get theirs C125 with ABS equipped. Greedy bas***ds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0
  • Aikon on Aug 05, 2019 at 10:47 am

    Possible to convert the seat to a full length seat for a passenger too?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  • When will boon siew bring in Adv150?. Too slow to reach here compare to Indonesia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • Below B40 citizen on Aug 18, 2019 at 10:44 am

    this is my dream motorcycle, period.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
 

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