Most new riders take the Direct Access route into motorcycling.
Helen Weighill opted instead to hang L-plates on a Honda
CBR125RR. That was in May 2005. She passed her test 17 months
later but is still riding the little four-stroke and on 1 December 2006
the mileage stood at 34,888.
My first bike was a Honda Vision NH80 scooter. Motorcycles have
always been part of the Weighill family and my parents bought me that for
my 21st birthday. The Vision and I were together four years and although we had our problems – it ate spark plugs, broke a crank and got itself stolen – another Honda was top of my wanted list when it came to
buying a replacement.
The CBR125RR entered my life in May 2005. I bought it from A1 Honda in Stamford. The OTR price of £2700 included heated handlebar grips, a Scottoiler and heavy duty Oxford lock and chain. It seemed just what I was looking for, but making the switch from ‘twist and go’ scooter to six-speed motorcycle was a mix of delight and despair. I loved my new buy but there were days when I wondered if I would ever get the hang of clutchgear- throttle coordination or a feeling for the far superior brakes. It took about two weeks before it all fell into place.
Since then it has remained my sole form of transport. I don’t drive a car and although I passed my motorcycle test nearly two years ago I have never felt the need to rush out and buy something bigger. That said, my dad and I have been working on the refurbishment of a 22-year-old ‘Babyblade’ CBR400. That is going to be my next steppingstone and I fancy giving road racing a go too, but I have no plans to part with my 125 just yet.
That so few other riders now see the advantages of starting out on a 125 really surprises me. On a visit to a race meeting at Cadwell Park I didn’t see any other 125s or a single machine with L-plates.
When I put the Honda in for its first MoT a few months back, the tester could not believe the mileage, but living in rural Lincolnshire it soon mounts up. I ride all year round and in just about all weathers, bar gale force winds and snow – I am not a masochist!
During my first two years with this bike I was travelling a daily 44-mile round trip to work, sometimes six days a week. I now do a 30-mile round trip to college each day and it’s fantastically fuel-efficient. Would you believe 94.5mpg – a good reason in itself for not trading up to something bigger. I’ve also stuck with the original IRC make of tyres because wear rate is excellent and they give good handling. In addition to my commuting, the Honda has taken me on the 150-mile return journey to the metal and rock music Download Festival held annually at Donington Park. That’s a Friday to Sunday event and I rode there and back each day. I certainly don’t let the fact it’s a 125 put me off making longer journeys because it accelerates well, has no problem keeping up with the traffic, is comfortable, reliable and sips fuel. Even though the suspension is non-adjustable (I’m a lightweight rider and it barely moves when I sit on it) the comfort on long journeys and winding roads is great. There is no annoying vibration through the bars or pegs. On those occasions it does start ‘grumbling’ I know the spark plug needs changing. This early warning sign is also accompanied by a slight loss of power and crops up at intervals of about 5000 miles.
Although it’s a sports-style machine the riding position is not akin to ‘a monkey copulating with a football’. Backache has never been a problem