Author: Oli Rushby Posted: 24 Jun 2015
Small bikes and scooters have always been economical; it’s one of their biggest attractions. Why spend £30 a week in fuel driving to work when you can spend £7, and have much more fun, on a small motorcycle or scooter?
With modern technology, manufacturers are now claiming some incredible MPG figures. Take Honda’s CB125F and Suzuki’s new Address 110 scooter, which are both claimed to do 145 miles per gallon according to the Japanese giants behind them. With the average price of a litre of unleaded at 117.26p, those 145 miles would cost you just £5.33.
But how do manufacturers calculate these claimed MPG figures? It’s likely they’d do it on a simulated rolling road in a controlled factory environment, perhaps even with robots as opposed to riders.That doesn’t mean they are ‘cheating’ or being dishonest; they are looking for the absolute maximum figures. Of course, this may not translate to the real life use of the vehicle and some claimed MPG figures are way out when tested on the road.Despite this, both Honda and Suzuki are very confident that the CB125F and Address 110 are at least able to get close to the claimed MPG figures, so we thought we’d put them to the test.
The Isle of Man TT course is the ultimate test for both man and machine. Well, it is when the roads are closed. When they’re open, the 37.73 mile circuit is made up of roads which could easily reflect an every-day commute or ride. There’s start-stop, traffic-filled town riding, there are tight and twisty, almost B-road like sections and the fast, flowing, flat-out section at the top of the mountain. It certainly reflects the different ways in which you’re likely to ride your bike, so what better place for a real-life MPG test?
The rules were simple: we’d meet at the fuel station at St Ninian’s crossroads to fill our bikes to the brim. We’d then head off down Bray Hill and complete a full, 37.73 mile lap of the course, riding sensibly and sticking to the speed limits. After the lap, we’d meet back up at the same fuel station to see how much we’d used. Little did we care that we stuck out like a sore thumb heading round the Mountain course in the middle of TT week on a bright yellow CB125F and an Address 110 scooter amidst the hundreds of sports bike riders who’d also got up at 6am to do a lap. While neither the CB125F nor Address 110 has the performance you’d like around the TT course, you can still appreciate it and it’s still a lot of fun. Even on a 10.4bhp CB125F at 30mph, I still found I was trying to put myself in the boots of John McGuinness heading down Bray Hill.
Ok, we were a little slow out on the open roads but we weren’t there for a lap time. We were there to ride as we would on a normal day-to-day journey, and in that respect the bikes were sound.
The CB125F is a great laugh on the 50/60mph roads and through the slower, town sections it’s incredibly easy to ride. The power delivery is smooth and for a bike of its size it doesn’t feel too underpowered either, even with my 14 stone weight on top! From the off, I had a lot of confidence in the bike – which let’s face it, is essential when riding around the mountain course during TT week. Out on the unrestricted mountain road the CB125F struggled a bit, especially on the way up! I tried to slip into fifth gear a couple of times but it felt so lifeless after a couple of seconds I’d be back in fourth, absolutely pinned as I continued the climb towards the Bungalow. On the way down, it was a completely different story! I saw 78mph indicated before I had to brake for the traffic lights at the Creg-ny-Baa.
The Address 110 was a lot of fun too, although it felt slightly out of its comfort zone heading out of the towns and villages. The tiny wheels and skinny tyres don’t quite give you as much confidence in the corners at speed, especially when the wind picks up but it’s not really made for the open country roads. That being said, the 113cc four-stroke motor gives a fair amount of power. You’re not going to be doing any overtaking but you can happily run at 60mph, pushing 70 and even more in the right conditions.
As with the CBF, the Address was somewhat sluggish up the hills but if you kept it pinned, which you could for 80% of the course, it got you up eventually. Again, with gravity on side, it was great coming down the mountain. After the full 37.73 miles, the fuel gauge still read ‘Full’ on the CB125F. The Address 110’s had gone down a bit but the tank only holds 5.2 litres! We filled the bikes up at separate pumps and worked out the MPG based on how much fuel we’d used.
The Address 110 returned 107.5 MPG, which is understandable given that it was ridden with the throttle pretty much pinned for most of the course. During the previous week, the Address had been used for one of our writer's daily commutes and never dropped below 120 MPG, so it had clearly struggled out of its comfort zone. Nevertheless, 107 MPG is still very economical, with the 37.73 miles costing just £1.67.
Slightly more in its natural environment, the CB125F returned an incredible 127.78 MPG, despite having had the throttled pinned open in fourth gear across the entire mountain section. Had I ridden it more carefully, there is no doubt it could have been into the 130s and therefore not far off Honda’s claimed 145 MPG. On the CBF, the 37.73 miles cost just £1.43.
Both the CB125F and Address 110 proved to be very economical over the mountain course, even when ridden slightly harder out on the open road. Of course, the more sensible you are when riding the better MPG you will return, but at least you’re safe in the knowledge that even if you rag it a bit, it’s not exactly going to break the bank.