Given the advances made by startup brands like Energica and Zero — and, while we’re at it, the retro experts at Harley-Davidson — the “Big Four” Japanese motorcycle manufacturers seem to be moving towards electrification at a glacial pace. That could be changing soon, however, if new patent drawings filed by Honda are any indication. And what they show is a bike that seems very nearly production-ready!
The bike shown above is the “learner level” Honda CB125R. New for the 2020 model year, it’s an entry-level bike offered in many parts of the world that, by all accounts, is well-built, well-finished, and well-suited to the task of shuttling new riders to and from work, home, and school. With low curb weight, decently responsive 125cc engine, and a top speed of around 60 (ish) MPH, too, it’s exactly what you’d expect a 125-class bike to be. Keep all that in mind, because the upcoming electric Honda seems to be based heavily on the CB125R.
In profile, the upcoming Honda electric motorcycle looks an awful lot like the CB125R. In profile, the new motorcycle seems to make use of the space in the frame that currently houses the existing vertically-mounted single-cylinder engine and fuel tank for battery storage. Like Harley did with its LiveWire, Honda seems to have the electric motor mounted low in the frame, about where the CB125R’s crankcase and transmission lie, with a similarly-located sprocket shown in another patent illustration (below) sending power to the rear wheel through a chain-drive. Again, just like the 2020 CB125R.
One interesting aspect of the patent filing seems to address a common criticism of the CB125R’s current design as an ICE-powered bike — namely, the “shoulder vents” found on either side of the headlight. On the current line of CB bikes, these vents are non-functional. According to these filings, however, Honda will use those vents to circulate cooling air around the battery pack.
Granted, patent drawings don’t always resemble the finished product and any or all of this could be a ruse to freak out the Yamaha and Kawasaki guys, but it really isn’t like Honda to put something on a bike purely for aesthetic reasons. I mean, not since the mid-1990s Magna cruiser made its debut with fake chrome “cooling fins” on the engine, anyway. If that’s really what those vents are for, though, then it means that Honda has been planning on releasing an electrified version of its CB since at least 2019, when the first of the modern CB line of bikes (the CB1000R) hit the market … and THAT sort of long-game thinking does seem more like Honda, doesn’t it?
Watch this video from Visor Down below to get a sense of what the CB125R is like, then let us know what you think of the bike’s suitability as an electric motorcycle platform in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
All You Need To Know About The New Honda CB125R 2021
Images: Honda, via Visor Down.