1512 DT final


(speedo and a few warning lights) to the

modern shaped indicators. They have

conventional front forks, single back

shock, square tube swing arm and trail

type tyres suitable for road and off road

work. In times gone by they would have

been called “Street scramblers” and it’s

a pity this term has fallen into disuse

because it describes them perfectly.

We decided to use them to go the Nite-X

event, and rode them from Benoni to

Randburg using as much off-road track

as possible, and when we had to find a

road, it would be either a dirt road or a

secondary one. With this objective in mind

we set off after having put R50 (just on 4

litres) worth of 93 octane into each tank.

Four and a half hours later we arrived at

Bikers Warehouse on Malibongwe Drive

in Randburg, a trip which usually takes

about 45 minutes in reasonable traffic

along the freeway!

Frustrating? Nah!

This was probably the most enjoyable four

and a half hours we have spent on a little

bike in a long time, simply because we

made the time. Firstly we haven’t tried to

get to Randburg from the East Rand on

dirt for years, and it proved to be quite a

challenge. Our long forgotten route, which

we could once use from Fourways to

Springs without using the tar at all is now

long gone. Vast tracts of once open area

are now closed housing estates, squatter

camps, gated suburbia or shopping

malls. It seems it won’t be too long before

Midrand becomes the ever expanding glue

joining Johannesburg and Pretoria into a

huge traffic besieged megatropolis! Quite

sad in many ways really.

Despite the ballooning of people’s living

space North and Eastwards, we still

found lots of back roads and country

pathways to meander our way westwards

toward Randburg.

The two little Hondas took everything into

their purring stride…they proved to be

willing and more than able to effortlessly

negotiate everything we threw at them.

And happily look for more. Firstly there

is nothing to tell the difference between

the two other than the XR 150 and XR

125 badges on the tank shroud. Even the

engines are difficult to tell apart. Once

on the move there is very little difference

either, except that the 150 has slightly

more power, which is only noticeable

on pull-off or up a steep incline. On the

road the 125 is able to close the initial

gap the bigger bike can pull by using the

slipstream effect. Once alongside the 150

they purr along together like a pair of

contented thoroughbreds.

One of the very nice aspects of riding

these bikes is that they are so quiet and

smooth…everyone likes them, and we

found ourselves chatting happily with

everyone we came across on our ride,

from two trail riders on their MX bikes to

a cyclist we shared a trail with for a while,

and even with people in cars we pulled

up alongside when we had to use and

ordinary road.

Even though they can by no means

be called fast, we never once found

ourselves in a situation where we felt

bored or irritated with having to ride at

speeds much slower than we usually

do. Of course they would be totally out

of place touring on the open road, but

then again this is subjective, and a group

of 16year olds on Honda XR125’s would

probably have the time of their lives

riding to Durban during a school holiday.

What’s more these bikes would make the

trip without missing a beat.

Why are they so good? Well for a start

Honda have been making these particular

models for a long time, and through

evolution an already sound design has

been updated and honed to be the best

small capacity dual purpose bike Honda

can possibly market at, what these days

is a very, very reasonable price. They

are bullet proof mechanically, they have

more comfortable saddles than almost

any other off road bike ever made, and

this includes some very expensive dual

purpose tourers.

They have front and rear disc brakes that

work well, their ergonomics suited anyone

from a small adolescent or a slender lady

to a very big and tall friend who took one

up a steep rocky hill. On the open freeway

during our return trip from Randburg we

rode them non-stop, in the dark, where

they also didn’t miss a beat, chasing their

headlight beams at a steady 100km/h.

What’s more, even after this frantic

freeway flogging, we didn’t switch onto

reserve, and in almost 150 km’s didn’t use

up the initial R100 we put in at the start.

Although the XR150l seems to be getting

the nod from most riders, the XR125l

still has a quality that the other hasn’t,

incredible fuel economy. We have a mate

who owns both and he says: “A 125 is a

125 and a 150 is a 150. I can squeeze as

much as 45 kilometers to a liter (eco run)

from the XR 125L. While normal riding

gets me anywhere between 36-40 km/l.

The XR150L yields 32-35 kilometers per

liter. Still not bad for a dual-purpose goanywhere


So looking back on our Saturday adventure

on these two little Honda’s we came to the

conclusion that for about the same money

as a really good overhaul of a state of the

art race replica off road bike you could

have a bike which is wonderful fun off road

and a great commuter on the tar.

For a schoolboy restricted to a 125, the

XR 125 would do everything it needs to,

and as a first motorcycle would provide a

lifetime of memories no subsequent bike

would ever be able to match.

These bikes from Honda Wing East Rand

Mall in Boksburg: (011) 826-4444

76 DECEMBER 2015

1512 DT Honda XR.indd 76 2015/11/21 8:43 AM


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