Honda’s Rome-based R&D center has once again dropped some sweet concept models at EICMA. Just like the CB4 Interceptor concept that it displayed in Milan last year, Honda is flexing its design muscles and tempting enthusiasts with a glimpse into the future. This version of the future is seemingly inspired by Husqvarna, Ikea, Lego and slick Scandinavian design in general. Also, maybe Tron. Scratch that. They’re like a vision of the future from some 1980s sci-fi flick—or Maniac on Netflix.
Wherever their inspiration comes from, we think they look great. Honda clearly isn’t letting Husqvarna have all the fun.
The CB125M and CB125X are designed by project leader Valerio Aiello and his team, and are based around the CB125R platform. According to Honda, the 125cc segment has grown 25 percent in Europe in 2018, so it makes sense that Honda is further testing the small-displacement waters.
The CB125M is a motard-inspired machine that looks like an absolute blast (in part due to those slick tires). The front end is reminiscent of Deus Ex Machina’s Hondo Grattan Ducati Scrambler, which gives it a fresh face.
The CB125X is an ADV machine that has a design language that departs from the rugged Dakar-inspired looks of typical ADVs, instead opting for clean lines and urban good looks.
It’s easy to shrug off these models as mere design exercises. Okay, they are mere design exercises. But what’s most fascinating about them is that they suggest the modularity of model platforms. There’s nothing new in recycling parts to use in various models (see: Honda CRF250L and CBR250R, Honda Grom and Honda Monkey, etc.) but this feels different. You can give two different bikes the same engine and the same frame and end up with two different products for two different consumers looking for two vastly different experiences.
Maybe more than that, it shows that manufacturers have finally learned to not ignore the small-displacement categories. For years, it seemed like most of the small-displacement machines out there were uninspiring bikes built to a price point with little regard for the end user. In a deeply competitive marketplace, there’s no room for half-assing it anymore. And there’s nothing saying a bevy of 125cc machines can’t look as cool as their 1,000cc siblings. Even broke college kids on beginner bikes want to feel cool on their motorcycles and have some pride of ownership.
Also, who the heck is this Aiello guy? He’s killing it. Can he be allowed to design the, ahem, rumored Honda V-4, please? You are working on that, right Honda? With winglets and 250 hp?
Until then, these 125cc cool-kid bikes will make do.