The year 2020 will have a lot in store for the automobile industry in terms of electrification, finding alternative fuels and making the standard IC (internal combustion) engines cleaner for it is that year when India steps into the cleanest form of petrol and diesel-powered mobility. Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India was the very first in the country to launch a BS-VI compliant two-wheeler – the Activa 125 Fi and followed it with the SP125 commuter motorcycle. The SP125 is in a way a successor to the CB Shine but a closer look at the bike and the specification sheets tell us that it is rather an all-new product – the engine is new, the wheelbase has been tweaked, it’s lighter, seat height is friendlier, the design has been upgraded to a peppier one.
The new Honda SP125 is looking quite different compared to its predecessor with sharper tank extensions, new LED headlamp in a new sleek housing, new tail lamp design, a sturdier pillion grab rail, plastic cladding on the saree guard, and an all-digital instrument cluster. Two neat additions on either side of the handlebar are the new engine kill switch and a pass switch which allows easier operation with the index finger instead of the thumb. The two are a lot like switchgear design on big bikes.
The seat height has been brought down by 10 mm so it’ll be easier to handle for a wider number of people and the wheelbase has been stretched by 19 mm which translates to greater stability at straight-line speeds – but does it? More on that to follow.
I would say that the highlight of the new 124cc engine is its refinement. It is stupendously smooth to pick up and to maintain speeds as well – rendering unnecessary vibrations a thing of the past. The new engine has a slightly smaller displacement but makes a tiny bit more of both power and torque perhaps due to a longer stroke and it is now fuel injected as all BS-VI automobiles will be. The previous CB Shine model had a claimed fuel economy of 58 kpl and Honda say that the new SP125 delivers on 16% improved efficiency. We’ll do the math when we do a detailed road test with the SP in some time.
The five-speed gearbox maintains its Japanese ‘click’ and no clunk personality providing for super-smooth gearshifts and there’s no trouble finding neutral either. The SP125 will easily do speeds of over 100 km/h and it remains quite planted and composed at those speeds too. I’ll mention the engine refinement again here because even at speeds of 100 and above, the engine didn’t feel under a lot of stress.
Engine: 124cc four-stroke single-cylinder
Power: 10.7 hp at 7,500 rpm
Torque: 10.9 Nm at 6,000 rpm
Kerb weight: 117 kg (drum), 118 kg (disc)
Seat height: 790 mm
Wheelbase: 1285 mm
Fuel tank capacity: 11 litres
Brakes: 240 mm (disc), 130 mm (drum)
Brakes (rear): 130 mm (drum)
Price (ex-showroom): Rs 72,900 (drum), Rs 77,100 (disc)
Like the BS-VI Activa 125, the Honda SP125 has also been equipped with a silent starter which if I’m honest I thought at first was just a name given to slightly less noisy starter motor. But in truth, there is no starter motor at all and instead, it uses an Alternating Current Generator (ACG) which truly makes for absolutely silent starts.
The one thing most important for commuters is the comfort and the SP125 aces it with a well-cushioned large seat, a soft suspension setup which is identical to the CB Shine, and a comfortable upright stance for the rider. We rode the SP125 disc brake version which would promise much better-stopping power compared to the drum but I would’ve welcomed a teensy bit more bite.
The tyres are the same 80 section as they used to be on the CB Shine. Now, I do agree that skinny tyres allow easier steering, quick acceleration, and better fuel efficiency, but it does feel a bit skittish on the slightest of bends on the road.
Overall, the SP125 is a much-improved package with its trendier styling, a list of new features, butter-smooth engine refinement, and a fuel efficiency figure expected to easily surpass 60 kpl. Besides all this, Honda SP125 is available with a six-year warranty package (three years standard, three years extendable). The price difference between the now-discontinued CB Shine and the new SP125 model is about Rs 7,300 (drum brake versions) and it may sound like a substantial number but then it offers more than just BS-VI compliance and a stronger case for itself against the competition.
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