Does the new Honda SP 125 pack enough punch to justify a price hike over its predecessor?
Ever since the transition to the BS-VI norms was mandated, manufacturers have been hinting at a 10-15% hike in the prices of their vehicles. Although a similar increase in price will be experienced across all classes of vehicles, the biggest fallout is likely to be in the highly price-sensitive commuter two-wheeler segment.
Now, to account for the increased prices, manufacturers are adding a few new features here and there, but what remains to be seen is whether consumers will accept this strategy as a justifiable increase.
The latest 125cc offering from Honda – the SP 125 – tells a similar story. The bike is effectively the BS-VI iteration of the popular Shine SP. This disc brake variant, with CBS, now demands ₹77,100 – a whopping ₹12,450 over the model it replaces. To justify the increased price, Honda has packed the SP 125 with fuel injection, a silent start/stop feature, and more. But does all this justify the price that the SP 125 now demands?
Aside from the name, the SP 125 also gets an all-new design. The front fascia looks somewhat inspired by the Unicorn 160, the fuel tank has been reshaped and now comes with tank extensions, and the taillight has been redesigned.
In profile, you’ll notice the newly designed alloy wheels and gloss silver panels under the seat. The colour options and graphics are also a lot sportier. In comparison to the Shine SP, the SP 125 looks beefier and more premium.
And while it has assumed a sportier avatar, it hasn’t lost its comfort quotient. Ergonomics and riding posture feel familiar – the forward-set foot pegs, the upright riding posture, and the tall handlebar, all make riding the SP 125 very comfortable indeed. The 705mm seat length is amply spacious for both the rider and the pillion.
In terms of dimensions, the SP 125 is longer, wider, and taller than the Shine SP. At 1,285mm, the wheelbase, too, is marginally longer than before. Despite the increase in size, the SP 125 is 5kgs lighter than the Shine SP.
Honda has replaced the old semi-digital instrument cluster with an all-digital unit. The screen is easily legible even under harsh sunlight and provides more information than some more expensive motorcycles.
Aside from the speedometer, odometer, and two trip metres, the instrument cluster also displays fuel efficiency – real-time and average – gear positions, distance to empty, service indication, and time.
Cleaner & more efficient
While a lot of updated BS-VI two-wheelers out there have seen a marginal dip in power or torque figures, the SP 125 exhibits a marginal increase in power. And that’s mainly because it features an all-new 124cc single-cylinder fuel-injected motor.
The SP 125 now develops 10.7bhp – an increase of half a bhp over the Shine SP. Torque rating has increased too, from the previous 10.3Nm to 10.9Nm. The transmission, however, remains the same 5-speed unit. Slotting it in the right gear can sometimes be a fidgety affair, especially when you want to slot it in neutral at a traffic signal.
Thumb the starter, and the engine comes to a rather serene start. Performance is impressive right from the get-go, especially for a motorcycle of this class. It’s only when the digital speedo goes past the 80km/h mark that it starts to flatten. The engine, for the most part, is refined. Sure, beyond 70km/h you’ll feel some vibrations through the foot pegs, but that’s acceptable considering that it’s a 125cc commuter.
The gear ratios are tightly packed, which makes it extremely easy to ride in the city. The bike easily holds speeds of about 30km/h in fifth gear without any knocking whatsoever. This should also aid in extracting better fuel efficiency figures.
Honda claims that the SP 125 can go 70 kilometres on a litre of fuel, which makes it 16% more fuel-efficient than the Shine SP. Aside from the gearing, Honda tells us that the low rolling resistance rear tyre has also helped in improving its efficiency.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
Although the engine and the design are new, underneath lies the same old Shine SP. The bike is still based on the same diamond-type frame, with telescopic forks up front and dual springs at the back. Honda has clearly followed the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philosophy.
The Shine SP always, well, shone quite bright when it came to ride quality, and the SP 125 continues to do so as well. Its soft suspension setup does make it a bit nervous around corners, but, let’s face it, it’s a commuter, and what it really needs more than outright handling is to be easily manoeuvrable. Being lighter than its predecessor, the SP 125 feels tremendously flickable, which should make finding your way in-and-out of traffic quite easy.
Braking duties too continue to be performed by a 240mm disc at the front and a 120mm drum setup at the rear. Of course, given the new safety norms, CBS comes as standard on the SP 125. Stopping power is good, but you need to tug the lever hard for the brakes to perform hastily, especially when you have a pillion on board.
The ₹77,100 price tag of the SP 125 can be a bit of a shocker at first. Of course, it includes the incremental cost of the shift to BS-VI, and that’s just something that we’ll have to live with it. The SP 125 also seems overpriced mainly because its competitors have still not been updated.
But, considering everything that the SP 125 offers over the Shine SP, the additional price seems justified. It now has fuel injection, marginally more power & torque than before, silent start-stop, and fully digital instrumentation. It even looks and feels a lot more premium than before. All-in-all, the SP 125 feels like a worthy successor to the Shine SP – one that will surely take the 125cc game forward.
- Honda SP125
Engine: 124cc / single-cylinder / fuel-injected
Power: 10.7bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 10.9Nm @ 6,000rpm
Price: ₹77,100 lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-Factor: The SP125 ‘shines’ where it matters the most, in efficiency, ride quality and manoeuvrability.