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The Legendary Honda CG125

"Cheap, Indestructible, Economical! Y'Can't Go Wrong with a CG" or Can you?

Its ALWAYS the advice on the forums, to new riders, wondering what bike to get; "Get yourself a CG125. They're Cheap, they're economical, and they're indestructible"

I have to say that they aren't a BAD choice for many riders, and in fact they are a very good choice for an awful lot, and they do offer a pretty good bench-mark by which all others may be judged, BUT!

They often fail to live up to their reputation, and far to often fall victim to it!

NO bike is 'Indestructible'.

All bikes can be destroyed, or rendered beyond economical repair, and they all wear out at some point, and the little CG125 is no exception.

And as for being cheap and economical, that's all very relative.

So in this little feature, I want to have a look at the CG125, and find out a bit about where all the legend has come from to make it the 'Cult' Learner bike it is; see if we can find out just how valid its reputation is, and whether, it really IS the 'BEST' Learner-Legal ever made.

History of the Honda CG125

The CG125 was launched in 1976, about the same time as the CB125Twin, and many other new or updated models, in the wake of Honda suddenly remembering they made motorbikes! (The R&D department had been seconded to try and launch Honda's new Car division with the 'Civic'!)

The CG125 was designed for much the same reason as the CB125 Twin, as a successor to the CB125 'Single'. That had been Honda's 125cc 'Proper' motorbike, but unlike the Cub series of step-thu machines, it had gained a poor reputation for reliability. It was an advanced little machine for its day, and offered a lot of performance for its capacity, but in Europe, that performance wasn't enough to compete against more sporty two-stroke competition, while in Asia, Honda's "Rice-Field", its performance was of little importance, and the market demanded almost maintenance free machines, which the more humble two-strokes better provided.

Loosely based on the existing CB125S, to improve reliability, the CG125 got a new engine, with push-rod valve operation, rather than an overhead cam, and a novel rocker arrangement allowing both inlet and exhaust valves to be opened by a single cam lobe. The arrangement had much less demanding service requirements than the OHC engine, and with the cam in the crank-case, was a LITTLE more tolerant of poor oil and neglect.

Spinning to about 9000rpm and offering about 9bhp, it is a pretty eager and impressive engine, for one using push-rods. And for the Asian market, it did the job intended, and put Honda back on track, with reliable four-stroke bikes, to sell against their competitors two-stroke machines.

However, in Europe it was NOT very popular. The 125 class wasn't particularly popular in Britain, when the 'economy' commuter could as cheaply have the added performance of a 175 or 200cc bike, if they didn't want the added tax and insurance or fuel costs of a full 250, that could be ridden on L-Plates, until the 1982 125 Learner Restrictions.

And after 1982, when learners were limited to 125's, there was a similar divide. Performance conscious buyers wanted as much performance as they could get for their 125cc's, and the little CG's lowly 9bhp just didn't offer it. Meanwhile, the budget conscious commuter, could get the same 9bhp if not more, from a 100cc bike, which conveniently fell into a lower insurance category, and Honda offered two 100cc rivals to the CG125, in the form of the four-stroke, OHC CB100N , which made just as much power as the CG125, and boasted a disc brake, or the two-stroke H100. Then there was the four-stroke OHC CB125TD 'Twin' or the more sportily styled two-stroke MBX125, both in the same insurance bracket as the CG125, and which both offered the full quota of 12.5 learner legal bhp. Consequently, the CG125 was not popular, and few dealers actually had any on display in their show-rooms.

It wasn't until around 1995, that there was any significant interest in the CG125 in the UK, and then it only came about because of changes to the Learner Testing process, where a new clause provided that you HAD to take your full motorcycle test on a machine over 120cc to gain a full licence. If you took your test on a smaller machine, you would only be awarded a 'Lightweight' licence qualifying you to ride bikes up to 125cc! (and still do) That meant that many budget commuters started looking at full 125cc machines instead of 100's, because they couldn't use a 100cc bike to get their full licence, but the more influential buyers of CG125's were Riding Schools.

In the 1980's there were few Schools to teach you how to ride a motorbike, like there were driving schools to teach you how to drive a car. Some motorcycle clubs offered training, and some motorcycle dealers would get a mechanic to perhaps show a new buyer the basics, but it was hit and miss as to whether there might be any training available, or how good it was.

Part of the 1982 Learner Laws, when they introduced the 125cc learner-limit, were designed to remedy this, and the legislation included a 'Part 1' test, conducted off-road, before the full motorcycle test could be taken. This was the precursor to the Compulsory-Basic-Training requirement of the modern provisional licence, and when I was a learner, a bit of a problem, in that there weren't many places you could 'do' your part one, as the job of Testing Part-1 students had been devolved to Riding Schools, which basically didn't exist! Obviously, this saw a boom in the creation of commercial riding schools, and those riding schools bought Learner-Legal motorcycles to train their students on.

Until the mid-90's, the bikes that the Schools bought, were typically mundane commuter machines. Managing a 'fleet' of bikes, they wanted machines that were cheap, rugged, dependable, 'crashable', and importantly, VERY low maintenance. The 100cc two-strokes were perfect for the job. They were cheap. They were pretty rugged, and their maintenance requirements were minimal. Check for damage, check the spark-plug, check the gear-box oil, make sure there's two-stroke oil in the reservoir, and petrol in the tank, and hand it to the newbie!

Four-strokes that required valve clearances checking, and cam-chains adjusted, as well as frequent oil changes, and which didn't much like lying on their side with the sump oil seeping past the piston rings while a newbie struggled to pick it up after an 'off', were less than helpful. While the higher insurance premium is even more of a consideration, if you have three or more bikes to pay for, and have to pay for expensive 'Any-Rider' cover, and are trying to make a living from out of it!

So it wasn't until the Test procedure was revised demanding 125cc bikes for test, that a 125 made more sense. Even so, many schools could still give training on 100cc bikes, but Students couldn't rent them for test. And for a while, some schools still used 100cc two-strokes for training, and kept a 125, often a CB125TD, to hire out for testing, or for the odd student, usually a girl, that couldn't master a kick-start!

However, the mid-90's saw a huge upheaval in the motorcycle insurance industry, where for years, bikes were grouped solely on engine capacity, rather than their value, or performance. Incredibly, in the early 90's, a Yamaha XT600, a 45bhp, 90mph, single cylinder dirt-bike, cost as much to insure each year, as an FZ600, a 75bhp, 140mph, four-cylinder sports-bike, simply because they were the same capacity! More ridiculously, an FZ600 could be 'written off' by an insurance company for something as minor as falling off its side-stand and scratching the fairings, as the plastic on such bikes could often be expensive enough that new parts exceeded the insurance companies 'total-loss' thresh-hold, where a low speed spill on something like an XT600, could result in a bill for no more than a new clutch lever and a pair of handle-bars. These 'disparities' in the performance and costs of bikes in the same capacity groupings lead, in the 90's to a lot of revision in the insurance companies premium calculations, as they realised how much money they were loosing, not getting business from people riding sensible bikes, and paying out huge sums for relatively minor damage to riders of less sensible ones.

That, revision in the insurance market, lead to the disparity between premiums for 125 and 100cc bikes to be re-adjusted, making them a more viable proposition for the budget commuter or riding school.  And of the available 'Sensible' 125cc bikes, the CG125, was the one that could 'best' do what the old 100cc two-strokes could, as the two-strokes were starting to be dropped from model ranges due to increased exhaust emission restrictions. 

It wasn't the ONLY one; Two other common four-stroke commuter/school bikes were the Suzuki GS125 and the Yamaha SR125. The SR being a semi-cruiser style bike, with a low seat height and an electric start, it was often one schools picked for lady students. The GS was a more sophisticated machine than the CG, with an OHC engine, and slightly sharper styling, but a reputation, like the old Honda CB125S for being a little fragile. But, the CG125, was to become, by far the most popular choice for riding schools.

Consequently, many riders first experience of riding was on a CG, and when they asked what would be a 'good' bike for them to choose, they were pointed at the CG they had just ridden. Stimulating the demand and popularity of the model. And with riding schools, keeping their machines, perhaps two or three years, before replacing them, it put plenty of ex-school bikes on the second hand market, which as people knew they were probably well used ex-school bikes, and there were plenty to choose from, made them pretty cheap.

And so started the Cult of the CG. The model may have been launched in 1977, but in the UK at least, it's reputation was not created until the mid 90's and their adoption by Riding schools to meet the 120cc minimum capacity limit for test.

Model Revisions

1976: Honda CG125 launched.

Production commenced in Japan, but the model was always perceived as a developing market model, with the intension of it being produced in 'satellite' factories world wide. One of the first of these was the Factory in Brazil, which commenced CG production for the domestic market before 1980. Production in Japan was gradually phased out throughout the 1980's, and main world-wide production switched to Brazil from 1988. However, CG parts and CG 'Copies' were made under licence in numerous other factories, significantly in Indonesia and Taiwan, though most notably in China from approximately 1996.

Features; chrome mudguards, metal side-panels, twin shock suspension, drum-brakes and air-cooled, four-stroke, push rod, kickstart engine with approximately 9bhp and a top speed or 'around' 65mph. 6v electrics and points ignition are common fare for small bikes of the era, and it had a full compliment of equipment by way of indicators and mirrors, and a speedometer with neutral warning lamp.

CG125 K1, K1/B & K1/C suffix models. The electrics were upgraded from 6 V to 12 V (1985 in UK) on BR/J and BR/J suffix models.

1998: Honda CG125 'W' introduced.

Mainly a 'cosmetic' make-over, the 'W' suffic model was dressed in new plastic body-work. Mainly a cost cutting exercise, plastic parts are cheaper to mould than metal bits are to press and weld, they also have the advantage that they don't dent as easily, and don't rust. Mechanically, the machine was pretty much unchanged. The most significant difference was the adoption of electronic contact-less ignition. This is cheaper than points, and easier to maintain. Its basically maintenance free, but more expensive to sort out if it goes wrong. Kick-start only, remained until 2001, when electric starter was added, to offer 'Duel-Start' models with option of both electric or kick-starting.

2004: Honda CG125 ES Changes

Minor styling changes were made to the plastic bodywork. The kick-starter was dropped, leaving the bike electric start only. The fuel-tank capacity was increased slightly. A hydraulic disc brake replaced the front wheel's drum. and the enclosed drive chain case was dropped in favour of an exposed chain-guard.

In approximately 2001, a Japanese Built 'Nostalgia' model was released for the Japanese market, but sold in small numbers world-wide to people that preferred a genuinely Japanese built bike, and frequently grey-imported to the UK. Model apes the styling of the earlier machines, though I believe that the side panels are plastic, rather than metal, it has a square, rather than round headlamp, and it is the only CG model fitted as standard with a rev-counter.

Learner Legal's Spec Comparison

  Honda CG125 Honda CB125TD Honda CBR125 Yamaha RD125LC Yamaha YBR125 Cagiva Mito
Engine 4-Stroke
Suspension Front: 115mm by 27mm Telescopic Fork

Rear: 80mm by Twin Shock, Swing-Arm

Front: 140mm by 31mm Telescopic Fork

Rear: 95mm by multi-link, rising rate, Mono-shock

Front: 140mm by 31mm Telescopic Fork

Rear: 100mm by multi-link, rising rate, Mono-shock

Front: ???mm by 32mm Telescopic Fork

Rear: ??mm by Cantilever Mono-shock

Front: 120mm by 30mm Telescopic Fork

Rear: 105mm by Twin Shock, Swing-Arm

Front: 120mm by 40mm USD Tele-Fork

Rear: 100mm by multi-link, rising rate, Mono-shock

Wheels Wheel-Base: 1297mm
Front:18-70/100 (2.75)
Rear: 18-90/90
Wheel-Base: 1350mm
Front:18-80/100 (3.00)
Rear: 18-85/100 (3.25)
Wheel-Base: 1294mm
Front: 17-80/90
Rear:  17-100/80
Wheel-Base: 1300mm
Front:18-70/100 (2.75)
Rear: 18-80/100 (3.00)
Wheel-Base: 1290mm
Front:18-70/100 (2.75)
Rear:  18-90/90
Wheel-Base: 1374mm
Front: 17-110/70
Rear:  17-150/60
Brakes Front: (Early Models) Expanding Drum
(Later Models) Disc with Single Piston Floating Calliper

Rear: Expanding Drum

Front: Disc with Twin Piston Floating Calliper

Rear: Expanding Drum

Front: Disc with Twin Piston Floating Calliper

Rear: Disc with Single Piston Floating Calliper 

Front: Disc with Single Piston Floating Calliper

Rear: Expanding Drum 

Front: (Early Models) Expanding Drum
(Later Models) Disc with Single Piston Floating Calliper

Rear: Expanding Drum

Front: Disc with Twin Piston Floating Calliper

Rear: Disc with Single Piston Floating Calliper 

Performance Weight: 115kg
Power: 10.5bhp
Speed: 65mph
Economy: 90-110mpg
Weight: 124kg
Power: 12.5bhp
Speed: 70mph
Economy: 95mpg
Weight: 115kg
Power: 13bhp
Speed: 70mph
Economy: 70-100mpg
Weight: 115kg
Power: 12.5/21bhp
Speed: 72/81mph
Economy: 75/64mpg
(Restricted / De-Restricted)
Weight: 124kg
Power: 10bhp
Speed: 70mph
Economy: 80-100mpg
Weight: 129kg
Power: 14.5/31bhp
Speed: 73/101mph
Economy: 00/34mpg
(Restricted / De-Restricted)

Reputation & Reality!

Pick One Up 'Cheap'

Well 'Cheap' means many things to many people, but I suppose the bottom line is, how much something cost. And for a motorbike, that's not just how much you have to pay for the bike itself, but how much it costs to run it. Running costs on a CG125 are usually VERY good, but on any bike you have; Purchase Price, Insurance, Tax, Annual MOT Test, Maintenance & Servicing, then Fuel.

The CG125 was Dropped from Honda's UK Catalogue, in 2007, so if you are looking to buy one, they will almost all certainly be second hand, and subject to MOT, and second hand prices for CG125's are very strong. The 'Legend' and reputation DOES mean that people are prepared to pay more for a CG125 than other motorcycles in the same class, in similar condition.

MCN's Provided the following quote:-

Brand new, the Honda CG125 it is an expensive motorcycle, especially when you consider how long Honda has been making it, and how cheaply the exact same bike retails in developing markets. Chinese Honda CG125 rivals are 300-500 quid cheaper, but lack Honda's dealer network or warranty back-up.

The last UK bikes had a Show-Room list price of 1,999. Three years on, the price guides suggest 150 - 1,500. Trouble IS, every-one looking for a CG125 is looking for a 'Cheap' one, and there is more demand for bikes in the 300-500 price range than there is in the 800-1500, region, where for the same money you could have a much more sophisticated and stylish 125 Veradaro or sportier NSR, or 'something'.

Its the same for any 125 learner-legal, and especially 'budget' learner-legal. Every-One wants one, but, if they had the money, they wouldn't be looking at them in the first place. It takes around 300 to buy almost ANY 125 that runs, and has some Tax and MOT on it, which you could use on the road. But because of the 'Legend' that you 'Cant go Wrong' with a CG, any in that 300-500 price range are pretty quickly snapped up, and sellers can hold out for the best price, and 'spares or repairs' projects and non runners, that are probably beyond much hope of 'economical repair', often sell for the sort of money that secure a taxed, tested and working machine of another brand or model. Pushing the threshold to get a serviceable CG up the price range.

Worth taking a look at the article 125 - Live Hard, because Learner-Legals DON'T have an easy life, and the older they are, and the more owners they have had, generally the worse state of disrepair they will have got into.

The 'Cost' of a CG125 (or any bike for that matter!) isn't strictly what you pay for it, but what you pay for it, less what you get back when you sell it, plus the cost of any maintenance or repairs you have to do along the way.

MOST Second Hand Learner-Legals are in 'Maintenance-Overdraft' to some degree or other, and when you buy one, you'll soon start adding stuff to a 'jobs-list' you may or may not get round to sorting out. But obviously, higher up the market you buy, shorter that list is likely to be.

Conversely, the lower down the market, bigger that list is likely to be, but, risk with the CG, is this 'Legend' and bikes that are the victim of their own reputation, which are far more in Maintenance Overdraft, than other bikes in the same price range, but worse, the possibly misguided belief, that because its a CG, either 'it doesn't matter', or because its a CG, it's guaranteed to be cheap and easy to sort out.

Bottom line is, that CG125's AREN'T the 'Bargain' that Legend suggests, and 'Cheap' isn't just the price you pay for the bike. Because of the 'Legend', CG125's actually AREN'T that 'Cheap' to buy. They are actually significantly over-priced in the market.

But remember, cost of ownership is not what you pay, but what you pay, less what you get back. And paying a little more for a CG can be worth it, if, when you sell it on, that same strong market, means you get more of your money back. But ONLY if they don't cost you an arm and a leg in the mean-while through maintenance......

They're 'Indestructible'!

OK, so the Legend suggests that CG125's are 'indestructible'. That is patently false. They are far from it. All bikes wear out, and the CG125 is no exception. And crashing one, can kill one as sure as it will any other bike! Yet, people do talk about their 'crash-ability', as though they are the Sherman tank of motorcycling, and you can have a head on collision with a Volvo, pick yourself up, pull the bike out from underneath the Swedish safety-mobile, and ride home, with little more inconvenience than having a puncture! No!

CG125's are pretty tough little bikes. They are simple, rugged, and durable, but that is about all.

Like ANY motorcycle, they need maintenance to keep them in best fettle, and they cant be thrashed and crashed with abandon! Crashing hurts. You REALLY don't want to try it!  BUT, the little CG, IF you fall over on the car-park during CBT, or similar, is LIKELY not to sustain as much damage or as expensive damage as some other bikes might.

The bike does not have a huge amount of expensive cosmetic bodywork surrounding it. So, if you fall over, you aren't going to do hundreds of pounds worth of damage to cosmetic bits that will need replacing or re-painting. It has a couple of indicators, and the normal compliment of gear, clutch and brake levers, and a low speed tumble, or clumsy manoeuvrings, isn't likely to do serious damage. The clutch and brake levers on the handle-bars are the most common parts to get broken, but they are only 5 each or so to replace, while the gear and brake levers are steel, and unlike many bikes, will normally bend straight with a little brute-force over ignorance mechanics!

But yet again, a CG can easily become the victim of its own reputation, and you can only bend levers straight so many times before they become so mangled that they flop about or just fall in two.

And when it comes to maintenance, 'Low-Maintenance' does NOT mean 'no-maintenance'. CG's are a low-tech little bike, with a simple air-cooled, push-rod four-stroke engine, and twin-shock suspension. They don't have many moving parts to wear out or go wrong, but it does have moving parts, and they need looking after.

And parts for CG125's don't have to be cheaper than for any other bike. Chain & sprocket for instance, or tyres.

The tyres for the CG125 are 18", 2.75" front, 3.00" rear, the same or similar size as used on many other commuter bikes. A tyre is a tyre. Just because you want to fit them to a CG, wont make them any cheaper to buy, and there's no magic mechanism on a CG that will make them last any longer.

Similarly with the Chain. Chain is the same gauge as many other lightweight motorcycles. and the sprockets are common to many Honda models. OK, THAT particular nugget does mean that within a few quid, they may be a tad cheaper than for other bikes that don't generate the same volume of sales. But don't count on it, and on a 30 C&S set, it'll only be a couple of quid either way. And again, no reason to believe that just because that chain is on a CG it will last any longer.

What's that? what about the Enclosed Chain-Guard? Yeah! OK. OK, you have caught me out. Well sort of. See, you know about it, which means you'll also know that it keeps some of the muck and crud off the chain, and some of the lubrication on it. But that SORT of relies on the fact that there's some lubrication on it in the first place, AND it relies on the fact that it still gets periodic adjustment.

Trouble is, hiding the chain from view, also means that to many riders, its out of sight and out of mind, so doesn't get adjusted or lubricated until the chain is rattling on the tin! so its swings and roundabouts, gives the little CG a 'chance' to eek a bit more out of the chain, but its no guarantee!

A lot of the CG is like that. The push-rod engine, means that its maintenance requirements are reduced. It doesn't need its oil changed quite as frequently, or its tappets adjusted as often. But it does need these things doing, and if the oil strainer isn't removed and cleaned from time to time, it is as likely to break-down or seize as any other bike. Trouble is, with longer between service intervals, its more likely to get put off or forgotten about, and again that reputation works against it, and many believe that because its a CG, it'll be 'all-right'!

Meanwhile, it still has telescopic forks and swing arm rear suspension, and steering bearings, and they are all conventional arrangements and demand as much attention as on any other bike. Changing the fork oil, or greasing and adjusting the steering bearings, cleaning, greasing the brakes, and adjusting the shoes, adjusting and oiling all the cables, is JUST as necessary on a CG as any other machine.

And parts will be needed just as regularly, and fork seals or swing arm bushes, or shock absorbers, brake shoes or clutch plates, are just as expensive for a CG125 as any other commuter bike, give or take.

And ONE particular quirk of the CG125 Legend is that a LOT of parts actually AREN'T as cheap or available second hand, as for other bikes. Because of the relative value of the CG125, and the fact that even scrap ones can fetch fairly respectable prices, not many bikes get broken for spares when they wont pass an MOT.

And while there may be a very 'active' market for second hand CG parts, due to the popularity of the model, that swings both ways too. Popularity also means that there are a lot more people wanting those bits.

The idea that old bikes can be kept on the road using second hand spares, is one that's not always practical to begin with. Bikes wear out, and the parts that you need to replace worn out ones, are often likely to be just as worn out on another bike. In fact if it was scrapped, probably likely to be more worn than what you have!

Its very hit and miss, whether bits you need can be procured second hand. On a Honda, the number of little bikes they made, and the amount of 'standard' components that they all share, its possible you can get bits off another model, that's less popular. But that's even more hit and miss!

And the bottom line is if YOU need a part and are looking for one second hand, because the new one is too expensive, chances are there's a dozen other people in exactly the same situation.

A lot of parts to repair crash-damage are available second hands, taken from bikes that are broken, when owner neglect sees the engine seized, and they cant find a cheap replacement. Conversely, engines from crashed bikes come up to replace the ones seized by negligent oil-changes. BUT such stuff that is desirable, is rarely 'cheap', as there are far too many people chasing those parts than people selling them, and its simple supply and demand.

And the fact that people trade second hand CG bits, is also testimony to the fact that they AREN'T as indestructible as the legend suggests, or NONE of them would ever get into the scrap-yard to be broken up for parts, would they?

Which is a warning against the notion of buying towards the bottom end of the market, with the idea that a CG can be easily and cheaply 'fixed up'. The harsh reality is often that that is simply NOT the case.

When ANY bike falls into that 'Fixer-Upper' category, its because its beyond reasonable economical repair, and JUST because its a CG doesn't make it any more repairable, or any more economical. And far too many botched beyond belief CG's are bought for far more than they are realistically worth, by people that think that they can botch them even further back into service!

If you trawl the Forums, a disproportionate number of work-shop questions are generated by CG owners. This is in part because they are a Learner-Bike, owned by Learner-Owners, but also because being an 'Economy' commuter, so many are convinced that they can save more money still DIY servicing them, and an awful lot make a big mess of it, or find that when they have bought a bike that's a bit 'tatty' that just needs a little maintenance to bring it back up to scratch, they start discovering ALL the botches committed by former owners, and have a much bigger job on their hands than they ever imagined.

BUT, an AWFUL lot of Message Board please are because they have bought the bike, convinced they cant go wrong with it, believing ALL the exaggeration of the legend, and not done a thing to look after the bike, then wonder why they loose drive, as they have never checked the chain and sprockets, and they have all worn completely away, or the engine has seized because they never checked the oil!

Cheap to insure.....

This bit of the legend is actually fairly true. Insurance prices are very volatile, they go up and down all the time, and actual prices depend on many many things, from the value and age of the bike, to the riders age and post-code, and where they are going to keep it, how many miles they are going to do a year, and where those miles will take them.

Insurance prices in the 125 category, tends to be a little over inflated to begin with. The risks are skewed against the insurance companies, so they reflect that added risk in the insurance premiums. Some of the reasons for that are obvious, main one being that most 125's are ridden by Learners.

Just by dint of that, you expect inexperienced riders to be more likely to crash. The class also attracts far more very young, immature and irresponsible riders, that coupled with inexperience are even more likely to crash.

Then you have the fact that light-weight motorcycles are fairly easy to steal. Strong lad can lift one over a four foot fence if he tries, two can carry one off pretty easily. Something that a heavier bike, like a Harley they'd probably struggle with! They are also small and easy to ride, being a learner bike, making them a favourite for underage joy-riders, who probably couldn't even lift a Gold-Wing off its side-stand, let alone figure out how to get at the wring to hot-wire it! and of course we come back to the owners, who are inexperienced riders, and probably not that clued up about motorcycle security. And, as daily transport, far more live outside and are left parked in the street.

Depending on personal circumstances though, a CG is one of the more easily insured bikes in its class. Its a know standard in the Insurance company data-bases, and they know its a 'sensible' bike, and that its only got 9bhp and isn't easy to tune, so its not too high a risk, compared to some other bikes, and because its common, its also a known quantity, so they don't have to load it too heavily for any area of uncertainty.

It may, depending on circumstance not be THE cheapest bike to insure, but it tends to be one of the cheaper ones.

Good on fuel

This bit of the legend is rather exaggerated, or can be. The CG is a little bike, with a low power output. And MPG is pretty much inversely proportional to speed. Faster you go, worse the fuel consumption gets.

Legend suggests that the CG is 'good' for 100mpg. And many people do get figures in that region. But so do riders of many other 125's. And its entirely dependent on how the bike is ridden.

Keeping speeds down, bimbling about town in 30mph speed limits, making good progress, a CG can top the 100mpg mark by a good margin. 120, 130, even 150mpg is achievable. But, up the speeds to National Speed Limit roads, and try holding 60mph for any length of time, and that poor tortured little engine is working well outside its comfort zone, and the penalty is very bad fuel consumption.

Trailing newbie's on CG's during road-training, where the newbie's were thrashing up and down the gears, because, well, they were newbie's, and trying to do the speed limits on the roads outside town, I was getting better mpg out of my 750, which has a book MPG of about 50! A Newbie thrashed CG, in a poor state of tune, can return fuel consumption figures that are pretty dire, around the 60mph mark, or worse.

Typically they should return around 80ish, which is pretty reasonable, and about 20 or 30 more to the gallon, nearly double what you'd get out of a sports 125, BUT within the 'class' its not amazingly better than anything else out there, and thrashed to keep up with other bikes, its consumption can actually be worse.


So, at the end of the day, they are still a good little bike, and for many people a very good way to get into biking, or just to get to and from work. They CAN be a very good way to get 'cheap' transport.

But, if you have been steered towards a CG125 because you are a new and inexperienced rider, and recommendation suggests that 'You Cant Go Wrong' with a CG, well, of what's out there, a CG is often one of the better choices, but they don't always entirely live up to the exaggerations of their reputation.

CG125's ARE a great Learner-Bike, and a very competent commuter. If you are a teen-ager, on a a pocket-money budget, a CG can be a very useful little tool. The low insurance grouping diminishing at least one hurdle to getting on the road. Its generally good durability and low maintenance demands after that, mean it stands a better chance of being reliable and actually getting you places than other bikes in the class, but its low performance will be frustrating. If you thrash it everywhere, and try and keep up with mates on more sporty machines, then its reliability and fuel economy will take a hammering. Only saving grace is, it wont take SUCH a hammering as your mates more sporty machines!

For a more mature and less exuberant owner, a lot of the virtues that make a CG a useful bike for a teen-ager still hold. The big advantage it has on an insurance premium for a 17 year-old though, probably wont be as enormous. Main attraction to an over 25, will probably be the potential for 100mpg motoring and free parking, And the potential to buy one that will pay for itself in fuel savings over using the car to get to work.

On that score, well, in the CG's comfort zone, which is really urban streets with 40mph speed limits, CG will return 'decent' fuel economy, and should, if in decent nick, return the hoped for 90+mpg. But if you have many country roads or duel-carriageways to contend with at National-Speed-Limit (60mph), it will be at the limit of its capabilities, and it wont be returning such wonderful mpg, and being rather light and bouncy, it wont be the most pleasant experience. And at typical commuter mileage of 100miles a week, two and from work 10 miles away, you may only have to fill it up once a fortnight or so, but against a 45mpg car, you'd only be saving 6 a week or so. Over a 30mpg car, you might save a tenner, but even that's only  500 a year, and if you have to take the cost of tax and insurance out of that, and the price of CBT and tests to get a licence, it could take a long while for a CG125 to pay for itself.

As a stepping stone to a big-bike, a training tool to a full-licence, a CG can work very, very well. Intensive training courses, like DAS are not the best way to learn to ride. Cramming information, most of it wont make much sense or have any real relevance, may get you a licence, but then leaves you out on your own to start learning, probably on a big-bike, when most of what you were taught has been forgotten in the log-jam of information over-load.

Learning by doing, is much better way to learn, and here the 'apprenticeship' of time served on a 125 is valuable. But, going it alone, after CBT, and hoping practice alone will be enough, often isn't ideal. Best way to learn is to mix having your own bike and formal training, in small bite-sized lessons, a week or so apart, giving your instructor a chance to work on just a small bit of technique at a time, and plenty of opportunity to practice it on your own between lessons. In that way, you can learn to ride and go from CBT to full licence in around three months quite comfortably, and be a pretty competent all round rider at the end of it.

On that kind of time-scale, a CG offers very good value for money. An 'Intensive' training course may cost you 500-1000 including bike hire on a 125, more if you do DAS on a big-bike. Buying a CG of your own, and using it for your CBT and training, can justify its cost, against hiring a school-bike, and give you the bike to practice on in between times, and get to and from work or college.

But, how pleasurable or how frustrating your experience is likely to be, seriously hinges on the condition of the bike you get, whether its a CG or any other motorcycle. And while the CG has a LOT of very good qualities, 125's live a hard life, and suffer badly in the hands of new, inexperienced riders, and from poor maintenance and bodged repairs in their hands.

So the 'Legend' of the CG125 needs to be taken with a big pinch of salt, and a significant level of cynicism, rather than optimistic naivety, and you REALLY need to avoid machines that are the victim of their own reputation.

They are a good bike, and a bench-mark for weighing up the merits of the alternatives. They are a relatively safe bet, but they aren't guaranteed not to let you down or not cost you serious money if they go wrong, but with a LITTLE bit of common sense, and a little care and attention, and they can serve you very well, and prove very good value for money motorcycling.

My advice, though, If you are looking for a second hand CG125, because you don't know too much about bikes, or their maintenance, and want to play it safe; find the extra money to buy towards the top of the market, where the machine is more likely to be in better shape.

It may be more expensive in the short term, when you are looking at a LOT of pretty big expenditures, to get everything you need or want to get on the road, by way of a paying for your licence, buying a helmet, some riding gear, paying for a CBT course, and then training and tests, on top of insurance and the bike, BUT none of that is any good to you if the bike is laid up with a carburettor fault or something you cant fix or afford to get fixed, and in the long term, its likely to cost you less in maintenance and repairing other peoples bodged repair. While buying a more expensive bike, when your done with it, you'll have a more valuable bike to sell on, so needn't work out any more expensive over-all.

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