Versus

Versus: Honda CBF125 vs Yamaha YBR125

Budget-priced, good-looking Jap commuter or, erm, budget-priced, good-looking Jap commuter? We have the answer

THEY'RE the two best-selling ‘naked’ bikes in the country according to motorcycle industry data. That means a lot of people make the choice between them. And it’s not an easy one.

They both do exactly the same job. They’re both from Japanese manufacturers renowned for quality and reliability. They offer almost identical performance levels. They cost almost the same.

You might feel like tossing a coin. Don’t. Read this. 

Reasons to buy CBF125

Reasons to buy YBR125

  • It might be the only vehicle you need, fit to take you to work or Timbuktu, and it only costs £2,600.
  • It might be the only vehicle you need, fit to take you to work or Timbuktu, and it only costs £2,499.
  • It's a Honda, usually a reassurance of quality.
  • It's a Yamaha, usually a reassurance of quality.
  • It's got a fairing.
  • It's got a rack as standard. 
  • There's space for a disc lock under the pillion seat.
  • The seat is a single unit, a more comfortable arrangement for a pillion than the CBF125's, which places them on a separate perch. This is a commuter, not a sports bike after all. The drawback is a lack of underseat storage. 
  • It’s a smart-looking bike, with nicely sculpted faring, belly-pan and tail unit
  • In answer to the CBF's styling, Yamaha put plastic cowls on the YBR’s tank and gave it new paint. It looks more like a proper mini naked bike but, like the Honda, now won’t take a magnetic tank bag.

Price: £2,600 OTR
Capacity: 124.7cc
Power: 11.2hp
Weight: 128kg kerb
Seat height: 792mm

Price:  £2,499 OTR
Capacity: 124cc
Power:  10hp
Weight:  125kg kerb
Seat height: 780mm

Our choice: YBR125

There really isn’t much to separate these two. Both are clearly built to a tight budget and known to suffer corrosion at the first exposure to salt, particularly on those cheap exhausts.

But it’s the CBF which seems to disappoint the most up close. While the styling creates a superficial impression of quality, the bodywork is horribly flimsy in places. Take that side panel by the seat. Push it into place without the utmost care and a grommet will snap off from the tiniest misalignment.

Despite it’s extra claimed 1bhp, the CBF is not discernibly faster than the Yamaha. And with all Honda’s claims of 134mpg, you’ll be lucky to get more than 100mpg in real-life use, about the same as you can expect from the YBR.

We think a rack is more useful than a fairing on a bike that only goes about 65mph, and it makes up for the YBR’s lack of under-seat storage.

Although the CBF might have nicer styling details, these are working machines, and it’s their ability to do the job on which they should be judged. So save yourself £100. The YBR has it.