Honda Hunter Cub CT-125 First Impressions

Honda CT125 Hunter Cub

Some news indeed. I have recently taken ownership of a 2024 Honda Hunter Cub (CT-125) in Turmeric Yellow, as Honda calls it.

Firstly, no, I have not sold the Tracer, but now has a stable mate. I have a stable. I am now a multiple bike owner for the first time in my life.

I’ve had the Tracer for 7 years and honestly it does pretty much everything I need in a motorbike and nothing else in that format has really caught my eye, but there’s a couple of things I want to do more of, and which there are better options for:

  • Simple around town errand running. It’s fun to do on the Tracer, but it isn’t that fuel efficient in stop-go traffic. It’s not what it likes doing.
  • Getting a little more off-road onto gravel and broken up roads – I’ve done it on the Tracer, but between the tyres and its size and weight, it’s not always fun, but it’s something I’d like to spend a bit more time on.

Like the Tracer, the Hunter Cub is tremendous fun but it’s a different kind of fun for sure.

What is a Hunter Cub?

The Hunter Cub (or the Trail 125 as it’s known in other markets) is a member of the storied Honda Cub line, which tracks its lineage back to the late 1950s. The Hunter Cub comes from a few years later when a mid-west US dealer was selling a mass of Cubs by replacing some parts and tyres and selling them as farm bikes. The rest is history.

I’ve wanted to own a Cub for a long, long time, and there are plenty of options to go at. There are the 50cc varieties, and nowadays multiple 100cc+ versions – the Super Cub and the Cross Cub both appealed, but I’ve long liked the Hunter’s stripped down, more rugged design – though the Cross Cub isn’t far behind and is cheaper.

Here in Japan, in early 2024, there isn’t much of a price difference between used Hunter Cubs and new ones – 10-15% on the road. I spent quite a few months checking places out as I planned to buy used to stay under budget, but then one day wandering through GooBikes, I found a local dealer selling some on the road below MSRP, and below many used bike prices, so I went down to confirm, and walked out with my yellow CT-125. The red is by far the more popular colour, but having seen the yellow in person, I liked it, and it’s nice an visible, which is no bad thing on a smaller bike!

These are first impressions as I’ve put about 200Km on the clock (break-in is apparently 500Km for this bike).

That Transmission

It’s semi automatic, so no clutch lever, 4 gears, but the fun part is that neutral is at the top, and you kick down into 1,2,3,4. You can then either toe it up, or kick the heel lever to go up. That took some learning.

The chap in the shop mentioned that more experienced riders tended to take about 20Km to get used to it, especially coming down, which was my experience too. He also mentioned the engine braking in 2nd and 1st is quite aggressive – as I found out. However, as you’d expect, it becomes second nature pretty quickly, and you realise there’s more scope and feel for that foot shifter than there is on a manually clutched bike, so it’s sometimes worth being smoother and gentler than one might usually be.

Regular petrol

More of a personal one this. In Japan, petrol (gasoline) comes in two main flavours, regular and high octane. My Tracer drinks the latter. The Cub wants the former. Just have to remember that on those early morning refills.

It has a fuel gauge too, with six segments on the LCD display, so I need to learn its quirks and what exactly each of those segments represent. We’ve all had gauges which took a long old time to hit half, but then that second half seemed to disappear pretty quickly. Specs claim ~ 60Km/litre, but I’m heavier than most, so we’ll see how I get on.

Odo has a decimal point!

OK, this one is really minor, but for the first couple of days I kept double checking. The odometre for trips has a decimal point. That’s to be expected for a 125cc I think, but coming from a larger bike, I wasn’t expecting the extra digit.

On the subject of the instrument panel, it’s not bad. Not so easy to see some details in direct sunlight, but the useful things like speed and neutral aren’t bad. It also seems very far away compared to the dash on larger bikes. Not an issue, but not having it in lower peripheral vision means you really have look down for it. There’s no gear indicator, but since it’s semi-automatic and so virtually impossible to stall, going by feel and a light for neutral is pretty much all you need.

Installing USB was easy

For a number of reasons I wanted a USB charger, and quite a few scooters come with them. The Hunter Cub doesn’t but the mod is cheap (~3,500yen) and installation took less than 10mins including tea sipping. The wiring harness in the front light has been designed via a plug system to have things daisy-chained off it, and it’s a short run for the socket to a built-in mounting point near the ignition. Simple.

I understand that the battery is a little awkward to wire to, so it seems many utility mods can go on that daisy chain.

Mounts and ‘mods’.

A couple of notes; not negatives, but notes nonetheless. There’s no helmet lock. You can add one, and I suspect I will since it’s one of things you don’t think about until it’s not there.

The Ram mount for holding my navigation smartphone sits nicely on the handlebar without too much trouble, so that can be re-used between the two bikes. I was thinking about getting an additional bar across the handlebar for more space, but right now I’ve dropped that plan.

Finally, and perhaps most obviously given that huge platform on the back of the bike, I’m going to put a box on the back. This version house some basic mounting screws, so I’ll make a plate and just bolt on a sturdy cargo box for now, and keep it cheap – no need for a Givi style case.

Around Town

As hoped and expected, it’s been great around town – so light, tiny turning circle, and can pop through gaps in traffic, it’s great. Of course I have to be aware it doesn’t take off like the Tracer, so turning at junctions I need to give myself that little bit more time.

Oddly, I was also offered theft insurance for it, which I’ve never had before here in Japan, and the shop highly recommended keeping it locked, which is easily done. I also got a non-descript cover as I’ve always done for my bikes since that is something of a deterrent as well.

So there we are. I’m excited to put some more distance on it, and I’m seriously thinking about doing the coast to coast this year on it, as I know quite a few people have managed it, so that’s the next goal.