2019 Honda Super Cub C125 ABS Review: Motorcycle For The City
Sixty years and 100 million in sales ago, Honda introduced the Cub line of motorcycles. Now, we have the latest version of the species—the 2019 Honda Super Cub C125 ABS.We tested the Super Cub C125 in the rain and shine on the rugged streets of Los Angeles and the bucolic local beach towns. We can tell you right up front, Honda got it right.
If you are looking for a fun city bike, it will be difficult to do better than the 2019 Honda Super Cub C125 ABS. As long as your plans don’t include going over 50 mph, the Super Cub is ideal for battling urban traffic. It is incredibly light weight, the handlebars are narrow for lane-splitting, it has enough power to keep four-wheelers at bay, and the Super Cub is easy for anyone to ride, even rank novices. It is so much more than the sum of its parts.
The 125cc motor is unintimidating, yet fully capable. Anyone can grab a handful of throttle and not be startled. At the same time, after you’ve filtered your way to the front of the pack at a stoplight, you have the beans to break away from the crowd. It will take some twisting of the throttle, but the power is there. Air-cooled and sporting just two valves, it is a marvel of simplicity with a dash of modernity via the EFI.
The Super Cub’s semi-automatic four-speed transmission is great for learners, and enjoyable for experienced riders. The centrifugal clutch means that there’s no left-hand lever on the handlebar. It is not an auto-shifter like the DCT Hondas. Instead, when you shift, the clutch is automatically disengaged. The clutch also disengages when you let the revs drop to idle. You can stop in gear, and then twist-and-go. As you rev out the motor, select the next cog with the heel/toe shifter. I like using my heel for upshifts, but the shifter is designed to allow toe upshifts.
There is a secret in the gearshifting/clutch operation. On typical centrifugal clutches, it’s an on-or-off situation. Uncommonly, you can modulate the clutch with the heel/toe shifter—something we’ve never seen before. If you shift it quickly, it will clunk. If you deliberatively move the shifter up or down, the clutch engages smoothly and the ride is much more enjoyable. There is a learning curve. However, once you get the hang of it, the smooth shifting method becomes second nature.
While the 125cc motor has decent low-end, you will be shifting it frequently. Third gear seems to be the sweet spot for balancing smoothness and instantly available acceleration. Fourth gear is fairly high, and designed for flat roads or downhills. Any significant hill will require third gear or lower. Happily, the motor revs out impressively—there’s no tach—so each ratio covers a good range of speeds. Should you hit the rev limiter, it kicks in softly.
This isn’t a sport bike that you tear about on in the city. The Honda Super Cub 125 goes quietly about its business—even the final drive chain is enclosed—and other motorists don’t mind when you sneak on through. In fact, the Super Cub is a good-looking motorcycle that puts smiles on the faces of drivers and pedestrians. Be prepared to respond to friendly waves and thumbs-up gestures.
The handling makes city riding easy. With a fairly aggressive 26.5 degrees of rake, a short 49-inch wheelbase, almost impossibly narrow 17-inch tires, and just a 240-pound curb weight, there is nothing stopping you from changing direction on the Super Cub C125. It goes where you point it immediately. If it went much above 50 mph, the handling would be scary. However, in the 40mph and below range, it’s just perfect.
Honda gave the 2019 Super Cub C125 simple suspension that works. There are no adjustments on the suspension—even the spring-preload on the shrouded shocks is set. Honda makes the most of 3.5 inches of travel at both ends with lively damping that allows the Super Cub to recover quickly from bumps. The 17-inch wheels help on potholes, though the IRC tires are low profile. Every once in a while, you get a harsh surprise on lousy roads, though the general feel is quite comfortable.
The ergonomics are non-intimidating with a reasonable seat height under 31 inches. While the seat height is not as low as many cruisers, the light weight of the Super Cub C125 makes up for it. My 32-inch inseam didn’t even notice the seat height. The narrow bars cause the grips to fall naturally to your hands, and the 240-pound weight means you don’t need the leverage of wide bars. Predictably, the pegs are right where you expect them to be. The ergos on the Super Cub have been perfected for 60 years, and it shows.
Braking is gentle, yet powerful enough for the speed and weight of the Super Cub C125. The front disc brake bites softly initially, and then responds to a harder grip. The ABS is front-wheel only, as the rear brake is a rod-actuated drum. Despite the narrow tires, you have to work hard to initiate the front-wheel ABS. Skidding the rear wheel is certainly doable, but it won’t happen unless you’re aggressive. I found myself using the foot brake more than I expected—maybe because my left hand was idle.
The dash is spare, yet compete. The dash tells you at a glance how fast you’re going and what gear you’re in. Beyond that, there’s not much you need to know when riding the Super Cub. Look more closely and you will see a fuel gauge, clock and odometer, plus the expected warning lights that are only visible when needed.
Although the Super Cub C125 is inexpensive, it is finished nicely. There is tasteful Honda badging, LED lighting, and finger-friendly switchgear.
One feature missing from the 2019 Honda Super Cub C125 is storage space. Scooters will be natural competitors for the Super Cub, and scooters win on the ability to transport cargo. You can put some legal papers in a little box on the side, but that is about it. While you might think there’s room under the seat, that is where the one-gallon fuel tank lives. The fairing does a good job of protecting you from the elements, but there are no storage compartments. It would be nice to have a place to put your phone with a USB charging port. Honda does offer a rear rack as an accessory.
The Super Cub C125 is a solo machine in the United States. If you look at the swingarm, you can see the mounting points for passenger pegs. However, that is not a US option. On the plus side, the seat is comfortable for long excursions. We don’t have fuel consumption numbers, but figure around 100 mpg.
Based on past experience, the Super Cub C125 should run forever. This is an incredibly mature design and virtually foolproof. Sure, you might want to change the oil now and then—not that the Super Cub is likely to notice if you don’t. Yes, you should follow Honda’s maintenance interval suggestions. In reality, you are not likely to experience a catastrophe if you don’t.
The 2019 Honda Super Cub C125 ABS is fun, friendly, and practical. This is a perfect motorcycle for zooming around a university, or densely populated urban area. It has genuinely classic styling without feeling dated. It does everything it is supposed to do nearly flawlessly. There are limitations, as there are with any motorcycles, yet the Super Cup 125 makes you forget those boundaries as it puts a smile on your face on almost every ride.