Honda SH125i

SH125i_21

By Kevin Ash


Pictures: Ula Serra, Francesc Montero, Zep Gori, Félix Romero




The SH125 is Europe`s favourite scooter with more new registrations than any other since its launch in 2001, and for 2009 it`s had a mild makeover designed no doubt to help it hang on to the number one spot. But one of the reasons the Europeans like it is exactly why we in the UK go for Vespas instead: those 16 inch wheels. Scooter-friendly nations such as Italy and Spain are very aware that bigger wheels are better for stability and give a better ride quality, rolling across potholes rather than dropping into them as small-wheeled scooters do. But the Brits still think of big-wheeled scooters in the same way as the old Mobylette their grandmother used to ride - in other words, deeply uncool, and whatever the rationalities, that matters.

 Honda_SH125_04Click on image for galleryThey are missing out. From a purely dynamic viewpoint the SH works very well: it`s sufficiently manoeuvrable to slip through traffic easily but at higher speeds (it`ll top out at about 60mph, 100kph) it doesn`t wobble so much you back off the throttle because things are feeling just too nervous. But you do lose out in one respect with these more generous wheels, as underseat storage is reduced. On the SH you can only fit an open-face helmet beneath the seat, although at least for 2009 the seat itself is 0.4in (10mm) lower, making life easier for shorter riders. Honda says the SH has the lowest seat in the class.

Other changes include a new rear disc brake in place of the original drum, and useful for taller riders like me, an extra 0.8in (20mm) of leg room. The footboard area is completely flat, as before, which is very useful for carrying awkward objects (bags, chickens, etc-), and the styling has been breathed on for a fresher, cleaner look with improved lines.

Much is made too of the low exhaust emissions and good fuel consumption- much, that is, up to the point of supplying real figures. The standard press pack tells us absolutely nothing about these, although Honda UK has promised me some more information about this, which I`ll publish as soon as it arrives. Meanwhile, I did manage to do a fuel consumption check on the launch, where the SH achieved around 85mpg during some hard riding. This is okay for a scooter but it`s not exceptional, and as I`ve mentioned before, you`ll get better economy from a geared motorcycle anyway.

It is becoming increasingly frustrating when scooter manufacturers implore people to buy their products because they`re economical and clean, but then fail to provide us with any evidence that this is so.

Meanwhile, if the brochure experience is annoying, the riding experience is better. The four-stroke engine is smooth and strong and it takes up drive through the automatic transmission predictably and without jerkiness or lurching, so it`s easy to trickle along at walking pace or make U-turns without dabbing at foot at the ground. There`s an overall feeling of high quality too, backed up by all sorts of reliability figures and surveys which place Honda relentlessly at or very near the number one spot. The air of class is helped by the dash including a fuel gauge, clock and engine temperature gauge.

There`s no doubt the SH125i will keep doing well in European markets, and within its small UK niche it`ll stay at the top too. It`s not cheap, but that`s reflected in the design and quality.

Price: £2,465

Available: March 2009

Contact: Honda UK 0845 200 8000; Customer services: 0500 011959, www.honda.co.uk


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shuggiemac
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Joined: 23/11/2008

Out of curiosity - where is the SH125i made?

kevash
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Joined: 05/10/2008

Italy, Honda has a big manufacturing plant there

shuggiemac
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Joined: 23/11/2008

In loose connection to this question - have you heard of any motorcycle plants around the globe going on short working week, or stopping production for a while due to the economic crisis?

kevash
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Joined: 05/10/2008

Harley-Davidson has workers on short time and has been laying off staff, but most of the Europeans seem to be doing okay at the moment. Production figures of the Japanese factories (ie the ones located in Japan) are down significantly, between 20 and 30 per cent so presumably there's short time working in those.

Paulvt1
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Joined: 07/03/2009

Damn! I love the styling of this scoot. I hope Honda do the same with the 300.

kevash
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Joined: 05/10/2008

I'm sure they will, this one's gone down well with a lot of people, and it makes economic sense too to use the same bodywork etc. Next year I reckon...

Teapot
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Joined: 07/11/2010

I hope they've improved the exhaust. The one on my previous Honda 125 scoot failed every few thousand miles (about once a year) and I've heard this was a common problem. Sounded like a design fault to me but Honda are infallable, aren't they?

suprilia
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Joined: 28/11/2010

This was my first machine! I got it to reduce mileage on my car and also fuel costs when fuel became expensive in 2008. It was ideal for all those local errands. I got 87mpg. I even took my test on it, but of course then had to take another test for geared bikes, once I'd become bitten by the bug.

I never understood why the Honda SH had a parking brake, but no side stand. With the scoot up on its centre stand and the rear wheel no longer in contact with the surface, what's the point of a parking brake?