REVIEW: HONDA VARADERO 125

With elegant new styling and the top performance in Europe’s competitive 125cc beginner’s class, the new 2007 XL125V Varadero 125 dominates the street with luxurious full-sized comfort, distinctive good looks and the dependable power of a newly fuel-injected V-twin engine to carry two with ease. Offering spacious proportions and comfortable seating one associates with larger motorcycles, and a unique Adventure Sports style that turns heads and exudes the confidence to tackle any road one might want to travel, the new Varadero 125 has been tailor-made to deliver sporty, full-bodied riding enjoyment in a versatile, beautifully executed motorcycle designed for everyone.


The Varadero 125 first debuted on the European motorcycle market in 2001 powered by a quiet and reliable 4-stroke V-twin engine as an exciting alternative to the raft of beginners’ bikes and 2-stroke screamers that dominated the class at the time. Its sleek, full-sized Adventure Sports styling also offered larger, more comfortable proportions than ever before seen on a 125. All this and more has attracted a large following of riders taken with the Varadero 125’s distinctive style and full-bodied proportions.

Pumping out impressive power and strong acceleration, and tuned to deliver the maximum power permissible in its class, the Varadero 125’s slim and powerful liquid-cooled V-twin engine has now been further improved with the smoother, more precise control of new electronic fuel injection. This new system also achieves lower emissions and fuel consumption for greater compatibility with the times and the environment.

Appealing not only to young novice riders, the Varadero 125 has proven to be especially popular among older, more affluent and experienced riders who can clearly see that its superior value and inherent quality of construction easily justify its higher price compared to other offerings in the 125cc class. Likewise, its excellent versatility and easy riding capability have greatly contributed to its widespread popularity.The perfect choice for a wide range of riding needs, from top-class basic transport to thrifty and reliable commuting and even delightful week-ends worth of light touring for one or two, the Varadero 125 now reasserts its place at the top of the 125cc class with sleeker style, smoother performance and sophisticated panache.

 

Development Concept

Initially based in concept and looks on its namesake, the XL1000V Varadero, the Varadero 125 provides many of the appealing features of larger-displacement machines while maintaining the light handling and brisk operation one normally associates with the 125cc class. Its main design concept dictated a large front fairing that provides protection against the elements while projecting a modern look of speed and agility unlike anything ever seen before in its class. This concept also called for a large fuel tank that could ensure long days of riding enjoyment from its highly efficient and ultra-reliable 4-stroke V-twin engine for nearly a week’s worth of normal commuting, or approximately 400km of riding between fill-ups.

For its new second generation, the Varadero 125’s development team focused on fashioning an even more attractive form that emphasises its ample size and proportions while including a new PGM-FI fuel injection system combined with Honda’s most advanced HECS3 low-emissions system for top performance combined with clean emissions and the highest possible fuel economy.
In formulating the dynamic look of the new Varadero 125, its design team turned to proud image of medieval knights, or ‘chevalier’ suits of armour for a more powerful expression of elegance, strength and quality that could give the new machine even more credibility as a mid-sized motorcycle, rather than just another little beginners’ bike. It was also important that this new look should augment the Varadero 125’s well-established attractions of light and swift handling, strong, dependable performance for its class and a go-anywhere versatility that gives its rider the confident assurance that this bike can venture off the paved highway and the beaten path whenever the urge or need arises.

The new Varadero 125 consolidates all these desires into a well-integrated and balanced design that is certain to offer even greater appeal to not only new license holders with an eye for a bike that really stands out from the crowd, but also seasoned riders who can appreciate its ample comfort, perky performance, easy handling and unbeatable economy. Like its predecessor, the new Varadero 125 sets the pace in the 125cc class with performance, panache and a wide range of all-day riding pleasure that is difficult to match, yet easy to enjoy.

 

Styling

Standing out proudly from every other motorcycle in its class, the 2007 Varadero 125’s elegant and distinctive new half-fairing features sleeker, more sinuously integrated lines that emphasise the intrepid look of an experienced world traveller. A new concept in its class from the very start, the Varadero 125 combines ample size and impressive styling that isn’t humbled standing side-by-side with a larger displacement machine.

Sleeker and Sportier Aerodynamic Fairing
Giving the Varadero 125’s distinctive bodywork a more curvaceous and sleekly integrated design was a main priority in its development. Exuding elegant quality of design coupled with a dynamic sense of agility, the Varadero’s new fairing features a lighter and sportier image with a slimmer and lighter-looking front cowl that is both more aerodynamic in look and more cleanly integrated into its overall form.
Though the Varadero 125’s new front cowl appears to be more compact than its earlier iteration, wind protection has been increased and its taller and wider range of protection plays a more effective role in deflecting wind and even light rain away from the rider for superb long-term riding comfort for even taller riders. As before, a vent system flows air in under the windscreen to helps deflect the rush of wind up and around the rider by raising the air pressure within the cockpit area.

New Design Dual Headlights
The fairing’s dual headlights have also been changed, and provide a sleeker, more aggressive look while brilliantly illuminating the road ahead. Large, clear-lens front indicators have also been integrated into the new fairing’s design, and attractively accentuate the new cowl’s more dynamic form. Smoothly integrated into the tapering lines of the Varadero 125’s tail is a newly designed, one-piece combination light featuring form-fitted clear-lens indicators surrounding a large central brake light that provides an attention-getting rearward display.
Even the Varadero 125’s rear-view mirrors have been updated in design, and these new, more sturdy and stylish units are now mounted directly to the upper surfaces of the fairing instead of on the handlebars for a more high-quality look of intrepid on-road style.

Deluxe Version Also Available
The new Varadero 125 will also be made available in a more Deluxe version that features a high-quality two-tone seat, an attractive moulded emblem attached to the upper surface of its front cowl, and more ornate silvery rims around its instrument panel dials, for a proud look of quality and prestige.

Colouring Concept

The new 2007 Varadero 125 will hit the streets in four attractive new colour variations, leading off with a highly polished metallic silver that calls to mind the suits of armour worn by the medieval knights of old. In a deep, colourfully reflective pearlescent black, the Varadero 125 seems to prowl the streets looking for adventure and excitement. A bright metallic red gives the Varadero 125 and a warm light metallic brown exudes a more up-market suburban sophistication that should enjoy wide appeal.
Other changes in colouring include a new black-painted swingarm that calls to mind the Varadero 125’s inherent strength of character, and brighter new metallic silver three-spoke wheels that complement their wide-bodied tyres with a shimmering sheen.

 

  • Chevalier Silver Metallic
  • Pearl Concours Black
  • Bloom Red Metallic
  • Crown Beige Metallic

Engine

The Varadero 125 is powered by the same compact liquid-cooled V-twin engine it was first introduced with, which produces the strongest performance in its class. Featuring a slim configuration and an attractive design as viewed from the side, this impressive V-twin also provides the central visual focal point for the Varadero’s striking, full-bodied design. Its time-tested 4-stroke configuration ensures superb reliability and excellent fuel economy, which is complemented by the Varadero’s large fuel tank to provide long days of riding enjoyment between full-ups. By design, its 90° V-twin cylinder angle combines with a primary balancer to cancel out most annoying vibration for a smooth and comfortable ride at all speeds. Liquid-cooled for assured operating stability and long-term durability, its exterior design still features the finned cylinders of a classic air-cooled engine that gives a strong impression of size and strength, as well as an intrepid look of far-ranging Adventure Sport capability.

New Fuel Injection System
For its new second generation, the Varadero 125 has been fitted with Honda’s famed PGM-FI fuel injection system with a compact and highly effective Idle Air Control Valve (IACV) for optimal starting ease and performance in virtually all riding conditions from warm seaside to high mountains. Response is smooth, sure and steady, providing incomparable riding ease for anyone from expert to beginner. This lightweight new fuel injection system also ensures exceptional fuel economy and ultra-low exhaust emissions. Its advanced HECS3 oxygen-sensing clean emissions system features new twin catalyser elements built into the exhaust system to ensure easy compliance with strict EURO-3 exhaust emissions regulations while maintaining top performance.


Smooth-Shifting 5-Speed Transmission
The Varadero 125’s rugged 5-speed transmission accentuates the engine’s strong feel of low-to-midrange acceleration with a low overall ratio for quicker starts and livelier performance throughout the engine’s wide rev range. Its light-pull clutch and smooth-shifting gearbox offer easy-operating appeal to novices and experts alike.

High-Mounted Off-Road-Type Exhaust System
The Varadero 125’s sleek new ‘Adventure Sports’ look is further emphasised by its attractive, high-mounted 2-into-1 canister-style exhaust system. This large-capacity system puts out an impressive V-twin sound and features a built-in heat shield for enhanced protection against the heat of the exhaust.

 

Chassis

Pioneering a new direction in style and rider ergonomics for its class, the Varadero provides a more imposing sense of full-bodied size than seen in most of the motorcycles in the 125cc class. With proportions more on par with larger midrange motorcycles, the Varadero provide a comfortable upright riding position and a higher eye position for a broader view of the road ahead. Its tubular steel double-cradle frame is designed for extra rigidity that gives assured riding confidence and control.

Responsive Suspension Systems
The Varadero 125’s compliant front and rear suspension systems provide precise, responsive handling and a comfortable ride whether zipping across town or chasing up lonely trails in the distant hills. Its rigid and responsive 35mm front fork offers neutral steering control and a plush 132mm of long-travel axle stroke to soak up big bumps along the way.
Supported by a smoothly responsive monoshock rear suspension, the chassis’ box-section steel tube swingarm offers superb rigidity and precise wheel tracking, as well as 150mm of smoothly damped wheel travel for a comfortable ride for one or two. Also, its relatively long wheelbase contributes to its responsive handling and confident control at higher speeds.

Sportbike-Look Wheels and Brakes
The Varadero 125’s attractive hollow-section, three-spoke cast aluminium wheels are mounted with an impressive-looking set of wide-carcass 100/90–18 front and 130/80–17 rear on-road tyres like those featured on larger machines. Their semi-knobbly treads provide precise cornering and easy control at all speeds, along with competent and confident handling when venturing off the tarmac onto less travelled trails.

The Varadero 125 is also fitted with excellent front and rear disc brakes. Its large-diameter 276mm drilled front rotor is stopped by a compact dual-piston brake calliper for responsive braking control, while a lightweight single-piston calliper grips the 220mm rear disc for a high-performance combination of stopping power.

Equipment

High-Visibility Integrated Instrument Panel
The Varadero 125’s fully integrated instrument panel features large, fully electronic speedometer and tachometer dials for easy viewing. Between them, a high-visibility LCD panel includes odometer/dual trip meter and clock displays. The panel also features an easy-to-read analogue coolant temperature gauge. The Deluxe version of the new Varadero 125 also features silver-coloured rings around the instrument dials for a more high-tech feel.

Hidden Carrying Capacity

The Varadero 125’s comfortable locking seat opens to reveal a large storage space under the forward rider’s section that provides ample room for carrying gloves, tool kit and other riding essentials. A special mount for carrying a U-lock is also provided under the pillion portion of the seat.

Spacious Rear Carrier

Featuring rugged reinforced cast resin construction, the large, sleekly designed rear carrier mounted on the Varadero 125 offers ample carrying capacity and four convenient tie-down hooks to secure even larger loads with ease. This full-sized carrier also features contoured pillion passenger hand grips moulded into its rails that resist extremes in temperature to provide a more comfortable hand hold in extreme weather conditions.

Easy Maintenance
The Varadero 125’s left side cover detaches to provide easy access to such internals as the fuse box, and high-output maintenance-free battery.

Optional Equipment

The new 2007 Varadero 125 will also be released with a wide range of useful and convenient optionally available parts and equipment that increase its range of enjoyment—and security. These include:

  • A large-capacity 45-litre top box designed to easily mount on the rear carrier with a key-operated, quick-detach locking mount. The box also features a large, comfortable moulded-in handle for exceptional carrying ease.
  • A set of electrically heated handlebar grips that greatly enhance riding comfort on cold days. The grips feature a convenient control switch that permits the grip temperature to be easily adjusted.
  • A sturdy, spring-loaded centrestand that mounts to the frame to offer easier maintenance and more stable parking in some locations.
  • An aggressive-looking aluminium cross bar that attaches to the handlebars to provide a more pronounced off-road look.
  • A large, moulded resin engine undercowl that protects the engine cases against grime and potential damage from objects tossed up by the front wheel.
  • A strong, easy-to-use U-lock that conveniently mounts in the carrier provided under the seat to provide extra protection against theft.
  • A form-fitting, waterproof motorcycle cover that protects the Varadero 125 from rain, wind and prying eyes.

Technical Specifications

Engine  
Type Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 4-valve SOHC 90° V-twin
Displacement 125cm3
Bore x Stroke 42 x 45mm
Compression Ratio 11.8: 1
Max. Power Output 10.6kW/11,000min-1 (95/1/EC)
Max. Torque 10Nm/8,500min-1 (95/1/EC)
Idling Speed 1,500min-1
Oil Capacity 1.5litres
Fuel System  
Carburation PGM-FI electronic fuel injection
Throttle Bore 30mm
Aircleaner Dry, cartridge-type paper filter
Fuel Tank Capacity 16.8litres (including 2.7-litre LED-indicated reserve)
Electrical System  
Ignition System Fully transistorised with electronic advance
Ignition Timing 12° BTDC (idle) ~ 46° BTDC (11,000min-1)
Sparkplug Type CR8EH-9 (NGK); U24FER9 (ND)
Starter Electric
Battery Capacity 12V/6AH
ACG Output 320W
Headlight 12V, 35W x 1 (low)/35W x 1 (high)
Drivetrain  
Clutch Wet, multiplate with coil springs
Clutch Operation Mechanical; cable-actuated
Transmission Type 5-speed
Primary Reduction 3.722 (67/18)
Gear Ratios 1 3.083 (37/12)
2 1.933 (29/15)
3 1.428 (30/21)
4 1.173 (27/23)
5 1.000 (25/25)
Final Reduction 3.142 (44/14)
Final Drive O-ring sealed chain
Frame  
Type Double-cradle; steel tube
Chassis  
Dimensions (LxWxH) 2,150 x 833 x 1,250mm
Wheelbase 1,450mm
Caster Angle 28°
Trail 97mm
Turning Radius 2.34m
Seat Height 800mm
Ground Clearance 190mm
Dry Weight 152kg
Kerb Weight 169.1kg (F: 80.3kg; R: 88.8kg)
Max. Carrying Capacity 180kg
Loaded Weight 349.1kg (F: 165.8kg; R: 183.3kg)
Suspension  
Type Front 35mm telescopic fork, 132mm axle travel
Rear Monoshock swingarm with adjustable spring preload, 150mm axle travel
Wheels  
Type Front Hollow-section triple-spoke cast aluminium
Rear Hollow-section triple-spoke cast aluminium
Rim Size Front 18M/C x MT2.15
Rear 17M/C x MT2.75
Tyre Size Front 100/90-18M/C (56P)
Rear 130/80-17M/C (65P)
Tyre Pressure Front 200kPa
Rear 200kPa
Brakes  
Type Front 276 x 4mm hydraulic disc with dual-piston calliper
Rear 220 x 4mm hydraulic disc with single-piston calliper
All specifications are provisional and subject to change without notice.

 

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