The “CT” series bikes from Honda have a long and storied history, honestly calling the bikes legendary is not an overstatement. The current Honda marketing refers to the Trail 125 as “the world’s favorite motorcycle,” and I kind of think they are right.
Starting in the early 60s’, Honda has sold millions of Trail bikes in versions ranging from 50cc to 250cc. Often marketed towards outdoors enthusiasts, the CTs were rapidly launched into endless utilitarian roles thanks to the stout step-through frame, cargo loading abilities, and durable fuel-sipping engine. Used by hunters, farmers, postal delivery drivers, couriers, and so many others globally, the CTs are a familiar sight to many.
With Honda returning the Trail 125 to the American market as part of the latest Honda line-up, but sadly not the Canadian, I will highlight just why this little Swiss Army Knife of a bike is brilliant for new riders.
Our Take: Why You Should Buy a Trail 125
Let me start with the most endearing element about the Trail 125 in my opinion, anyone can easily hop on and ride it! It has that scooter-esque sort of approachability, combined with a clutchless transmission and step-through frame the whole vibe makes you want to take a seat.
The Trail 125 is fitted with a bulletproof 124.9cc fuel-injected, air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine, matched to a 4-speed semi-automatic gearbox. Making about 8 hp, the Trail gets around easily with only 259 lbs to push including a full tank of fuel.
Honda has thoughtfully added only the items needed to enhance safety, reliability, and usefulness. Standard front wheels ABS braking, a small skid plate, crash bars, kick start, and a flat secure load platform that screams mount an apple box here.
If you have always wanted a small useful run-about kind of bike, this Honda mini-moto is an amazing choice. Take it to the store or take it out in the woods, the Trail 125 will keep you smiling doing whatever task you choose to throw at it.
Bottom line: The Honda Trail 125 is globally popular for a very good reason, it is an outstanding little bike. Incredibly easy to ride, the Trail 125 has stayed true to its original DNA and will simply take anything you wish to throw at it. More than capable around the city streets, riding the Trail 125 is a breeze. Out in the country, this Honda will get you up trails without a problem. Just a fun, capable bike that new riders and old riders can appreciate.
Reasons to buy the Trail 125:
It is a smile-inducing classic.
It will take you almost anywhere you wish to go.
Tough but only 259lbs.
Great ergonomics and comfortable riding position.
Very useful workhorse thanks to the platform.
Fuel efficient at over 100mpg.
Electric start and ABS front brake.
Reasons not to buy the Trail 125:
Not meant for speeds about 50mph.
If you are wanting something faster than the Maple Leafs winning a Stanley Cup.
Honda’s first foray into off-road motorcycling was an immediate success, hailed by Cycle World magazine with the recommendation that readers go “Trail Fiftying.” The model evolved through numerous upgrades and revisions, eventually becoming the popular CT brand. Over the course of nearly three decades, well over 725,000 units from the CT series were sold in the U.S.
First Generation (1961) CA100T Trail 50
The first Uhl-inspired production Trail 50 transmitted its 49cc overhead-valve engine’s 5 horsepower through a three-speed semiautomatic transmission. Knobby tires were mounted on full-size, 17-inch wheels, and the original Honda 50’s leg shield and front fender were removed for better off-road utility. The front suspension retained the Honda 50’s then-modern, leading-link design. A double rear sprocket permitted changes to the overall gearing, a nod to the Trail 50’s off-road suitability. A single saddle was positioned ahead of a large chrome utility rack, which could be replaced by an optional passenger seat. A skid plate was provided to protect the low-slung engine. The street-legal headlight and taillight enhanced the bike’s dual-sport capabilities. The retail price was $275.
The model evolved over the next couple of years, getting updates like a 5cc larger engine, a thicker seat, and an upswept muffler, and it soon earned the nickname “Hunter Cub” in some markets.
Second Generation (1964) CT200 Trail 90
In 1964, the CT200 Trail 90 was introduced, powered by a larger, air-cooled 87cc engine and a new four-speed semi-automatic transmission with a centrifugal clutch. It included a purposeful front fender with mudguard, and the high-mounted intake and exhaust protected the engine from ingesting water in stream crossings.
Two years later the name was changed to the CT90 Trail 90, with numerous upgrades. An all-new 89cc engine with a lightweight, aluminum-alloy head used a reliable chain-driven, overhead camshaft. The dual-rear-sprocket arrangement was replaced by a selectable reduction gear in the transmission, a feature Honda called “Posi-Torque” that effectively gave the CT90 an eight-speed gearbox—ideal for crawling over all types of terrain—with the flip of a lever on the transmission case. Dry weight was a feathery 179 pounds, and it was claimed to produce 7 horsepower at 8,500 rpm.
A compliant, telescopic fork was introduced in 1969, and one year later a foldable, swivel-lock handlebar was added, simplifying transport in a van, pickup, or trailer. Turn signals were added in 1974, making the Trail 90 completely legal for street riding in all 50 states whenever desired.
Third Generation (1981) CT110
For the 1981 model year, the CT110 was introduced, with an engine displacing 105cc, providing more usable power. The low-slung engine was guarded on each side by steel bars, protecting it from rocks, tree stumps, and tip-overs. By this time—20 years after its first introduction—the popular CT series had developed an envious reputation not only among hunters, campers, and fishermen for its off-road practicality but also among farmers and ranchers as a capable, reliable, and economical agricultural vehicle. In fact, Herb now refers to models in the CT series as “the original ATVs.”
Fourth Generation (2021) CT125 Trail 125 ABS
In 2019, Honda unveiled the CT125 concept bike at the Tokyo Motor Show, where its throwback design made it a huge hit. Honda has enjoyed success with similarly nostalgic miniMOTO models including the Monkey and Super Cub, so the confirmation of a production Trail 125 for the 2021 model year is perhaps not surprising. Based on the Super Cub, but with updates to make it more off-road-capable, this model seems likely to be popular with customers in the U.S., the country that played such an important role in the models that the Trail 125 honors.
Owner Reviews of the Honda Trail 125
Press & Magazines
2021 Honda Trail 125 ABS | First Ride Review
“To say that riding the Trail 125 is “easy” simply doesn’t do it justice — M class license tests don’t stand a chance against it. Powering the Trail is a 125cc single-cylinder engine equipped with a 4-speed semiautomatic transmission and centrifugal clutch. Fire it up with the electric or kick starter, give the heel-toe shifter a tap into gear, twist the grip, and let the big dog eat! Arooo! Power delivery is as welcoming as can be and it has enough pep to playfully zip around in traffic.”
“This bike will have its critics, as each one does, but I think Honda pretty much nailed the look. The perforated heat guard over the pipe doesn’t quite match the slotted motif of the old bike, and of course, there are remnants of emissions technology poking out here and there. In general, though, it’s just as handsome in person as it is in photos. Heck, there’s even a kick starter. I also appreciate that it’s substantial. This Trail 125 doesn’t feel plasticky or thin. It feels more like you could roll it end over end down a rocky hillside, then simply dust it off and keep riding.”
– Revzilla – Zack Courts – Nov 20, 2020
2021 Honda Trail 125 First Ride Review: No Roads Required
“With ‘trail’ in its name, it’s no wonder the new 125 is at home in the dirt. On the asphalt, it’s easy to find the pint-sized Honda’s limitations, but off-road, it helps you find yours. As the new entry in the 125cc range, the Trail adds some rugged utility alongside the Grom’s hooligan presence, the Super Cub’s sophisticated reputation, and the Monkey’s fun-in-the-sun vibe. Everyone from food delivery riders to outdoorsmen can make use of the tail rack and go-anywhere attitude.”
– Rideapart.com – Dustin Wheelen – Nov 2020
What Owners Like
How easy it is to ride.
The go-anywhere do-anything attitude of the bike.
Reliability – It’s a Honda, what else can I say? They just never seem to break.
Fuel efficiency & range – getting up to 140 mpg is bonkers.
What Owners Complain About
No option for a passenger, other countries get one.
Some still wish it was lighter.
The Bottom Line
In our world of newer, faster, cheaper, it is nice to see Honda staying with something tried and true. I will say it again, the little Trail 125 is a legend for a reason, it’s just so capable.
Honda has sold over 725,000 CT series bikes in the USA alone since the 60s because everyone from teens to grandparents can get on and go without even a hesitation. The Trail 125 just nails the look, and it absolutely fits in from an urban coffee shop to a country farmers market. The places this bike is fun and useful are endless.
For a new rider wanting something fun and off-beat, the Trail 125 is a runaway winner. Hop on and go, you can thank me later.
Honda Trail 125 Competitors
If you’re looking at a Trail 125, you may also want to check out the Yamaha TW200.
Honda Trail 125 Specifications
The important specs are listed below. See the Wikipedia page for more detailed specifications.