As you might recall Christopher and I have spent large parts of the summer touring in Wales, England and Scotland, he on his Honda CG 125 and I on my Kawasaki 650 Versys. While the Versys was originally bought to enable me to take Christopher pillion around Madrid, where we lived at the time, and bring all and everything I could possibly want to take while touring to a WIMA rally somewhere in Europe, the CG was purchased with one sole purpose – to be a learner bike. Christopher has now started his direct access training and is on to a big bike at the traffic school so the CG needed to be brought back up to Stoke from Weymouth. Christopher, who has had a hard time travelling around on the under-powered little bike in wind and storm, thought there was a lesson to learn for me and challenged me to take the bike up. I’m not known from backing down to a challenge and I gladly accepted. The journey measured approximately 340km on small roads and I would have to carry a large packroll on the back. For the record, I must add that I am taller than Christopher and I have neverending problems finding a bike with a good leg position due to my nerve problems. In addition, he never carried more than a small light roll on the bike during our holidays, while I carried the rest of our camping gear and luggage, and we never clocked more than 200km in a full day. Also, as Sweden does the rider’s training differently, I have never been on a bike this small apart from short rides to the shop and back on his CG. I started off on a Kawasaki Z550 then moved on to various Ducati Monsters (600, 620, 695) before my Versys.
Therefore, this WAS indeed a challenge and it was with excitement I set out from Weymouth. It was a drizzly day and it felt like I never saw any daylight to speak of during the entire day, but I had an amazing time pushing Koneko (yes, that is the name of the CG) all I could, thinking that I have never gone flat out on a bike before (ha ha, true story!). Although, overtaking was admittedly a challenge and I had to plan for it to build up speed and then put my chin down on the tank bag… bit since the bike is so weak I only had to overtake twice during the whole day 🙂 This not including the traffic jam where it ran like a weasel between the cars, so there are pros and cons.
As for carrying luggage I’m surprised to conclude that I never noticed the packroll while riding, and that it actually takes luggage better than what my Ducati Monsters did – on the Monster the roll always tugged on my bum, while here there was plenty of room on the saddle to move around. The only slight problem was that the roll made it harder to put the bike on the central stand since it was difficult to grip the handle on the side with the straps. Adding to this, that during the whole journey I had no problems whatsoever with my legs, not from vibrations or the leg angle – I was surprised how comfortable overall the bike is and very well an option for travelling (it is cheap as chips to run as well). As the kilometres passed by, I was getting more and more fond of this little kitten (for those who don’t know Japanese – koneko means kitten).
The problems started when the light went, with the waning daylight it became obvious how bad the headlight beam is, although on full beam it is no more than a parking light really. This meant not only that I sometimes had problems seeing where I was going but also that it took longer for other vehicles to see me. I had a few cars pulling out in front of me early in the evening which nearly made me pull over and stay in a hotel for the night. However, I decided to press on but acting like I was invisible. As it got darker, I think others could spot me better but I got constantly dazzled by cars before they flicked their lights, and I had to pull over on a regular basis to let cars pass since I had no chance keeping up the speed of rush hour traffic in the dark. The salty grease on my visor made it difficult to see and I realized that I’ve actually never ridden in salty conditions before, don’t think they use road salt in Spain… Continuous visor wiping was necessary and I am really pleased I wore my rain trousers, they are normally flourescent – but now they are black up to the knee from road grease.
To conclude my reflections, I must say that the Honda CG 125 is a surprisingly comfortable bike, good seat and overall good comfort for a small old bike. Although, it is a bit on the weak side, I managed to push it up to nearly the national speed limit at times and the overall it handles well. The lack of front suspension gives a lot of feedback (a possible way of describing bumpy rattling 🙂 ) and since the bike is small and has no windscreen you do get a lot of thrill from the modest speed. I could definitely consider travelling on it again, I did 7.5 hours yesterday, which is a long day in the saddle and I was fine afterwards – although happy to receive a glass of chilled wine in a warm house.
There is a lot to be said about small bikes and their advantages and I’ll post more about this later, including my review of the Motorcycle Live in Birmingham, but now I have to get ready – I’m taking Koneko to a Winter meet outside Manchester, and I want to get there before it gets dark!
And please, if YOU have any thoughts and comments of the choice of bike, large or small – you’re welcome to post them below!