Honda MSX125 in Detail
Manufactured in Thailand the MSX125 is small enough to be supremely manageable yet also has a fully-fledged feel thanks to some standard sized motorcycle parts. It is part mini-bike, part motorcycle with involving performance matched to confident handling and styling that combines a sense of fun with a tough, urban edge. For 2016, a thorough-going redesign gave the MSX125 an even sharper new attitude with more of a ‘mini-streetfighter’ feel from its new design lines, compact underslung exhaust and stacked LED headlight.
The MSX125’s well-proven and efficient 125cc fuel-injected engine provides smooth torque and power delivery, and also features a motorcycle-style four-speed gearbox and clutch. For 2017, the engine also complies with the stringent new EURO4 regulations, under which the allowable limits for exhaust tailpipe pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrous oxide, are approximately half of those for EURO3.
Complementing the powerplant is a compact chassis that features a sturdy steel frame, inverted front fork, monoshock rear suspension, hydraulic disc brakes front and rear and lightweight 12-inch wheels sporting wide, low profile tyres.
Four patents were applied for through the original development of the MSX125, focused around the split structure tank cover and frame, proof of just how seriously this bike is taken by Honda. Small it may be, but it in terms of worldwide sales, brand awareness and owner satisfaction, its impact has been large.
CHASSIS AND STYLING
Priorities for the MSX125’s chassis were threefold: it needed to provide the base for a practical bike that new riders could use – and park – with ease in an urban environment. But it also needed to be just as useable and enjoyable out of town, and also readily accept a pillion.
The comprehensive redesign for 2016 gave the MSX125 a sharper new attitude with more of a ‘mini-streetfighter’ feel. The fuel tank and side panels integrate cleanly to give an edgy outlook; up front a unique, stacked LED headlight gives the MSX125 a distinctive, ultra-modern face. The compact, upswept tail unit (with LED taillight), higher pillion seat and short, under-slung exhaust complete the unique MSX look.
A steel mono-backbone frame has been employed. Its rigid, square-section tube joins the headstock directly to the swingarm pivot plates and every other part in effect hangs visibly from the frame, greatly contributing to the MSX125’s minimalist look. Specifically tuned vertical/horizontal rigidity and flex in the swingarm pivot and engine hanger plates provides the perfect balance of comfort and confidence.
The frame structure has also enabled efficient storage of PGM-FI-related components and electrical parts inside the tank cover without reducing fuel capacity (5.5 litres). Wheelbase is a snug 1200mm, with rake and trail of 25? and 81mm and kerb weight of 101.7kg. The MSX125 has a low 765mm seat height making it very manageable; its size also ensures that motor home owners are sure to find it easy to load/unload, transport and use.
Another aim for the MSX125 was to provide ‘beyond class’ suspension quality. The 31mm USD fork – a first for Honda on a 125cc motorcycle – reduces unsprung weight and thanks to the pistons’ greater pressure-bearing area (compared to a standard telescopic fork) offers improved damping feel throughout the stroke. The top and bottom yokes are full-sized, further enhancing handling and rider feel while a lightweight and robust single rear shock operates a simple and tough H-shape, 50mm x 25mm steel box section swingarm.
Fundamental to the MSX125’s form and function are its 12-inch cast aluminium wheels, which feature wide 2.5-inch rims. ‘Y’ shaped spokes not only look great they also save weight and the front 120/70-12 and 130/70-12 rear tyres also inject a different dynamic, both in terms of looks and performance. Hydraulic dual piston front and single piston rear brake calipers work front 220mm and rear 190mm discs. For 2017, the front brake has an ABS function added.
Easy to read for its compact size the LCD digital dash delivers all the information the rider needs – speedometer, twin trip meters, fuel gauge and clock. Resetting the trip meters and clock, or alternation between odometer and trip meter is via switches either side of the display.
The MSX125’s 125cc two-valve air-cooled engine is based on one of Honda’s most well-proven power units; known for its fuel efficiency, ease of use and longevity. Further development of the engine for the MSX125 has resulted in improved fuel economy; the engine uses low-friction technology such as an offset cylinder and a roller-rocker arm for the valve gear. Reducing crank inertia has also resulted in improved throttle feel and a smooth power delivery.
Imparting a motorcycle feel to the MSX125, the four-speed gearbox is managed via manual clutch and offers smooth and consistent gear changes. The 15T gearbox sprocket, 34T final drive sprocket and 12-inch wheels deliver lively around-town response plus the ability to travel slowly in a high gear – perfect for threading easily through tight traffic.
Sophisticated PGM-FI guarantees highly efficient combustion, and works in conjunction with both air intake and exhaust to deliver an involving experience at the throttle. The air intake connecting tube and funnel is divided in two, allowing its length to be optimised for consistent torque delivery at low and mid rpm. A large, 3-litre airbox and panel-type, wet paper filter provide reliable and quiet airflow; the filter itself has a life of 9941m. A new, short, under-slung exhaust pipe was fitted for the 2016 model.
All in all the MSX125’s engine packs a perfect blend of punchy roll-on performance with useful, accessible and fun all-round ability. The effort put into reducing internal friction and increasing intake and exhaust efficiency has also produced a highly economical unit.