2019 Honda Super Cub Review: First Ride

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

You're gonna start meeting the nicest people again

It was only seconds after hopping aboard the 2019 Honda C125 Super Cub that laughter started to erupt. Despite rainy weather and cool temperatures, we journos couldn’t help but smile on the new Super Cub, and we hadn’t even left the parking lot of 4077 Pico Blvd – the site of the original American Honda HQ. This is the effect the Super Cub has on people; even those whose job it is to test ride every motorcycle under the sun. It’s cute, it’s inviting, and it’s just fun. If you can’t have a laugh on it, you’re dead inside. In a world where digital media is stealing away everyone’s attention (including yours since you’re reading this), maybe the Honda Super Cub can reinvigorate motorcycling in America just as it did 57 years ago when the original Honda Super Cub (called the Honda 50 here in the States) arrived on these shores.

2019 Honda Super Cub

Editor Score: 87.0%
Engine 18.0/20
Suspension/Handling 13.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.0/10
Brakes 8.5/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.0/10
Appearance/Quality 9.0/10
Desirability 7.0/10
Value 9.0/10
Overall Score87/100

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Super Cub is the most significant model in Honda’s history – two wheels or four. Sure, today we automatically think of Honda as the giant in both the motorcycling and automotive worlds, but the company might have been a blip in history if it weren’t for the success of the Super Cub. Take yourself back to 1959. American Honda was established in September that year, hardly anyone knew the brand, and certainly nobody thought a little scooter from one of the countries that lost the war would ever sell. Through a series of calculated marketing and advertising risks, however, attention surrounding the little scoots picked up. At the end of 1962, the legendary “You Meet The Nicest People On A Honda” ad campaign debuted, and sales of the Super Cub in 1963 skyrocketed, cementing Honda’s place on the motorcycle landscape. The Super Cub’s production hasn’t stopped, and in October 2017 the one hundred millionth model rolled off the floor, making it the best selling motor vehicle in history.

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In celebration of American Honda’s 60th birthday, the time was right to finally bring the Super Cub back to America and give it a facelift, and the all-new 2019 version is a perfect example of new meeting old. Or is that old meeting new? Whatever. The design concept for the new model was simple: Copy the old one.

This is where it all started for American Honda, with the first seven employees sharing an office at 4077 Pico Blvd. Fun fact: The building is still around today and operates as an acupuncture facility… and a marijuana dispensary. But I digress…

You can see that straight away. The bottom of the S-shape silhouette starts at the (metal) rear fender, then works its way towards the foot controls, then swoops up to protect the legs, where the top of the S pokes out over the front fender. It’s timeless and classic, just like the Pearl Niltava Blue color scheme, which is the same combination of blues and red Honda used on the original Super Cub back in 1958. Everything else – new and modern.

Original 1958 Super Cub
New 2019 Super Cub. Probably took you a few stares to tell the difference, right?

We start, of course, with the engine. Like the Grom and Monkey, the Super Cub uses the same fuel-injected 125cc Single as its #MINImoto cousins (because carburetors should stay in the past). Nothing’s changed about it from a performance standpoint, but the SC stays true to the original in its use of a semi-automatic centrifugal clutch, meaning your foot does all the shifting (there’s no clutch lever), leaving your left hand free to wave at passersby as you roll on by. Just remember: neutral is all the way down and the other four gears are a toe-click upward. In case you forget which gear you’re in, a handy gear position indicator is front and center on the dash display, just under the equally handy fuel gauge. Speaking of which, Honda says you can expect “over 100 miles” from the 1-gallon tank.

Despite Honda’s claims, the little 125 sure felt a little peppier than the Grom in my opinion. Internal gearing was changed slightly to deal with the centrifugal clutch, but also because of the 17-inch wheels the SC rides on instead of the 12-inchers the Grom and Monkey use. Typically, it’s good to ride as if nobody sees you, but ironically enough with the Cub, you will be seen. Baby boomers can’t help but feel nostalgic when they see you, and it’s a good bet one will roll down their window and strike a conversation with you at a red light about how they used to have one. At least that was our experience. Half a century on and the “Nicest People” ad campaign still rings true.

The best part about the Super Cub is how it allows you to slow down and soak up the sights and sounds.

If you’re not feeling particularly talkative, the Super Cub can scoot away from city traffic easy enough, and shifting couldn’t be easier – just click up or click down, you can’t stall this thing. A heel-toe shifter means you can use whichever part of your foot you want. In a straight line, I saw the analog speedo tickle 60 mph. Downhill, easily more. And if you’re in California at least, you can scooch between cars no problem.

While it may not sound like much of a difference, a five-inch gap in wheel size makes the ride quality much smoother for the Super Cub. Little road imperfections that would jolt the Grom, the Cub rolls over with grace. The telescopic fork and twin shocks are sprung on the soft side, but the 3.9 in. and 3.3 in. of travel give a comfortable ride in all but the harshest of roads. Fuel injection was the first obvious nod to modernity, but a single 220mm disc with a two-piston caliper is a less obvious second. Front ABS comes standard (and yes, that’s the third nod to modernity). For those nostalgic types, the rear brake is still a drum.

Super Cub’in is best enjoyed with friends.

Riding the Super Cub, it’s hard not to get caught up in the nostalgia of it all and place yourself back in a simpler time. It’s so easy to ride, you find yourself paying more attention to the world around you, enjoying the sights and sounds. If you live in a big city, it could be a good alternative to a car or motorcycle to run your errands or commute to work, except for a few things. While I understand the fact the new Super Cub stays true to the original, it’s woefully lacking in storage compartments. A single side cover is the only thing that opens, and it’s only big enough to swallow a wallet and DMV paperwork. The one accessory Honda America offers is a rack behind the seat. It helps, but if it were mine, I’d go period correct and jury rig a milk crate to the back so I could moonlight as an Uber Eats delivery person. It’d have to be removable, however, because, despite the fact you meet the nicest people on a Honda, if you want to give one a ride, the Super Cub is only a single seater. Adding a pillion seat and pegs would suffice for me, but I imagine there’s already someone in a developing part of the world fabbing up a long banana seat to carry their extended family. And maybe their dog.

A quick spin on a 1983 Honda C70 elicits the same joyful emotions as the new Super Cub, except the 3-speed trans means you feel like a moving target on the road and the drum front brake gives you an instant appreciation for discs!

For $3599 the Super Cub is over 1400% more expensive than the $250 the original sold for in 1962 (the first year they were offered in the States), but in today’s money, it’s still an easy load off the wallet. Boomers who want to relive their past will surely gravitate towards it, as will anyone looking for cheap/reliable transportation that’s easy to ride, easy to own, and will simply put a smile on your face. Then there’s someone like me who could use one to run around town on. Personally, I see this market being really small Stateside. Honda probably does too, but since it’s a global model, I have no doubt it’ll be a strong seller around the world – I mean, 100-million models sold, and counting, speaks for itself.

2019 Honda Super Cub

+ Highs

  • Look how cute it is!
  • Couldn’t get any easier to ride than this.
  • 100+ mpg

– Sighs

  • Not much storage
  • Only a single-seater
  • Centerstand only

2019 Honda C125 Super Cub Specifications

Type124.9cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Valve TrainSOHC; two-valve
Bore x Stroke52.4mm x 57.9mm
Compression Ratio9.3:1
InductionPGM-FI w/ 24mm bore, automatic enrichment
IgnitionFull transistorized
TransmissionManual; four speeds
ClutchSemiautomatic centrifugal
Final DriveChain final drive; 14T/36T
Front Suspension26mm hydraulic telescopic inverted fork; 3.9 inches travel
Rear SuspensionTwin shocks; 3.3 inches travel
Front BrakesHydraulic; single 220mm disc w/ two-piston caliper; ABS
Rear BrakesMechanical leading trailing; single 110mm drum
Front Tire70/90-17
Rear Tire80/90-17
Rake (Caster Angle)26.5°
Trail2.8 inches
Length75.2 inches
Width28.3 inches
Height39.4 inches
Ground Clearance5.4 inches
Seat Height30.7 inches
Wheelbase48.9 inches
Fuel Capacity1 gallon
ColorsPearl Niltava Blue
Curb Weight240 lbs. (claimed)
Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at Motorcycle.com in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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3 of 86 comments
  • Kirk Harrington Kirk Harrington on Feb 23, 2019

    A guy at a local Honda dealer said a CRF250L throttle body bolts right into place on a Grom and he only added a slip on to add to the sound. Managed to get far better acceleration and a top speed of 70mph out of it. Get a hold of a test unit and see if he's right, Troy. If that larger throttle body is the difference of 5mph for us n the least but allows for a bit more brisk off the line acceleration then maybe in South Florida's lifeless roads this would be a perfectly fine commuter tool for US1.

  • Jeff gravitt Jeff gravitt on Mar 04, 2019

    I know many will disagree, and I won't argue, but it's horses for courses. Here in the US, a 125cc street bike is a pretty hard sell. (A Grom is a play bike, not the same thing, even though it does go on the street). For myself, I'd want it to be able to cruise a 55 mph highway comfortably, for extended distances, and that would likely require at *least* a 150cc and more likely a 160cc or 175cc capacity. I'm not missing the "point" of this bike, I know it's meant mainly for around-town riding, it's a "world" platform and Honda probably isn't counting too much on American sales, but making it a little more useful wouldn't hurt sales one bit. I know, they have the PCX 150 for that mission statement, but that's a scooter, with no ties to the nostalgia the Cub engenders.

    • Tony Tony on May 10, 2019

      Many would argue that the Monkey is also a 'play bike' too; and understandably so!