Since the arrival of the original SH50 in 1984, the enduring popularity of Honda’s SH scooter series has earned it the status of a brand within a brand, relied upon by people all over Europe as an integral part of their daily lives. During that time, the SH family has constantly grown and evolved, with sales totaling over a million units since its introduction. The first four-stroke SH125, launched in 2001, found instant success thanks to excellent engine performance and fuel economy plus nimble, sure-footed handling and reassuring stability – from its 16-inch wheels – on rougher roads.
The 2005 SH125i debuted PGM-FI fuel injection, and the 2013 model, featuring an all-new frame, Honda’s next generation ultra-efficient engine and underseat storage for a full-face helmet, has built strongly on the SH history of sales success, being the top selling 125cc scooter in Europe in the first half of 2013. The SH remains without doubt the benchmark urban scooter.
Joining the family for 2014 is the SH Mode 125. A smart scooter in every sense, it offers a unique combination of premium and chic on-trend style, easy and secure use, and low running costs.
The SH Mode 125 is designed from the outset around some key baselines. Firstly, a comfortable and upright riding position plus compact body style and low seat height. Ease of use – wheeling it around, getting on and off, and operation were also important considerations.
And as a model aimed, in the main, at the fashion-conscious young rider it had to look good, both when parked and when being ridden; to that end, numerous sketches were made early in the development process both with and without rider.
All-round utility and accessibility is provided by plenty of useful storage space, compliant suspension and a comfortable ride. Standard fitment Combined Braking System (CBS) ensures confident stopping for the less experienced rider while the SH Mode’s 125cc engine – tuned for easy control at low-to-mid rpm – serves up gentle and usable acceleration with outstanding fuel economy and reliability.
KIYOTAKA FUJIHARA, Large Project Leader Cub and Scooter series: “As SH Mode 125 Project Leader of Development, it would give me the greatest joy if this new idea from Honda – with fashionable styling, outstanding running performance and excellent utility – turns out to be a friendly and helpful partner in the daily lives of a broad spectrum of customers around the world.”
One aim was clear from the outset of the SH Mode 125 project: develop a body layout and riding position that would be very easy for a wide range of people to ride and enjoy. Handlebar height is 990mm with a low seat height of 765mm, creating a naturally upright and relaxed riding posture and great all-round visibility.
The SH Mode 125’s compact, round-shape design outlines an elegant and crisp silhouette, arranging curvaceous surfaces for an intimate – yet solid – feel. Two-tone body parts create a light and textured ambience while adjustable inner fenders installed around the rear tyre add depth and functionality. A full-face size helmet can be stored under the seat, which opens and closes via a centralised combination lock in the main switch area. A large folding hook is installed in the front leg shield, boosting carrying capacity.
Enhancing the SH Mode 125’s distinctive ‘face’ is a headlight framed by a simple chrome ring – and other chrome details abound throughout – adding desirability and class. The turn signals, built into the front top cover combines with a luminous V-shaped blue-tinged running light creating refined character and high visibility. A compact tail light lens, attached via chrome mount, further highlights the SH Mode 125’s style.
Special attention was paid to the shape of the inner leg shield relative to the rider’s kneecap when getting on; the width at the front of the floor has also been expanded creating a virtually flat environment for maximum freedom.
The dash is laid out so important information is instantly easy to read. A large, dial-style central speedometer is surrounded by Idling Stop indicator and turn signal warning light. A fuel gauge is located to the left and the odometer, trip meter and clock are housed in a central LCD display; buttons control information displayed.
The main stand has also been carefully sited at just the right contact area on the ground for the rider’s foot, making it easier to use. In addition, a side stand is equipped as standard. Passengers are not forgotten. They have a comfortable space plus folding footplates and grab rails integrated into the large die-cast aluminium rack.
The SH Mode 125 will be available in three colours
- Fabulous Pink
- Pearl Jasmine White
- Poseidon Black Metallic
The SH Mode 125’s high-tensile tubular steel underbone frame uses a central truss section tying the main frame and rear subframe neatly together. The telescopic forks feature 89mm travel, the rear suspension – with 5-stage adjustable spring preload – has 75mm travel. Rake is set at 27° with 68mm trail and wheelbase of 1,305mm. Overall dimensions are compact: (LxWxH) of 1930mm x 665mm x 1105mm, with 145mm ground clearance. Combined with a kerb weight of 116kg, this creates an outstandingly agile and user-friendly city scooter.
A 46° handlebar turning angle left and right achieves a 1.9m turning circle – similar to a scooter with a 14-inch, rather than 16-inch front wheel. This makes it much easier to turn the SH Mode 125 around in tight spaces. A mechanism within the front brake caliper also reduces pad pressure against the disc, resulting in a lighter effort needed to push the scooter with minimal drag resistance in motion.
The 16-inch 10-spoke cast-aluminum front wheel mounts an 80/90-16 tyre, the 14-inch rear wheel a 100/90-14. The front 220mm hydraulic disc brake links to a rear 130mm drum via CBS, ensuring smooth and evenly distributed braking force at all times, including hard and emergency stops.
At the start of development Honda engineers took the SH125i engine and set about tailoring it specifically for the SH Mode 125. Their aim was to produce a well-balanced and easy-to-use power delivery – with flat, linear torque from zero rpm – perfect for urban environments and riders with diverse riding experience and expectations.
Ultimate wallet-friendly fuel efficiency and minimal environmental impact were also important factors. Compression ratio is 11:1, bore and stroke is 52.4mm x 57.9mm and power output of 8.4kW @ 8,500rpm is complemented by torque of 12Nm @ 5,000rpm. With Idling Stop engaged fuel consumption is 141.2mpg and a range of 170 miles is possible from the 5.5L fuel tank.
The basic architecture of the liquid-cooled four-stroke SOHC 2-valve engine – with eSP (enhanced Smart Power) – is built around a host of low-friction technologies all working together to minimise fuel consumption and maximise output. An offset cylinder reduces friction caused by contact between piston and bore efficiently transmitting combustion energy to the crankshaft.
A ‘spiny’ cast-iron sleeve – with tiny surface extensions – keeps in check any distortion of the inner bore diameter. This design lowers tension in the piston ring, reducing friction. A shell-type needle bearing is used for the rocker arm shaft while small and light rollers work in conjunction with cam profile and valve spring load.
A compact high-efficiency radiator – integrated into the exterior of the right-side crankcase – employs a small, light fan reducing frictional losses and lowering drag. Rolling resistance within the transmission unit is reduced by the use of three low-friction main bearings, all designed to deal with the loads they individually receive. The drive pulley features a fin design that lowers air resistance and the follower pulley reduces pressure on the drive belt, cutting transmission losses.
The electronically controlled brushless ACG starter is an integrated component mounted directly on the end of the crankshaft, serving as starter motor and alternator. It spins the engine directly eliminating any noise from gear engagement or meshing.
Idling Stop is operated via a switch on the right handlebar. When enabled it automatically stops the engine running after three seconds at idle and re-starts the instant the throttle grip is twisted. It’s seamless, thanks to a swing-back system that returns the crank to its position before air intake, and a decompression mechanism that negates cranking resistance from compression.
The PGM-FI fuel injection system’s ECU controls throttle butterfly opening versus engine speed and also calculates outside air temperature, coolant temperature and other engine management data to optimise the balance of fuel metered with ignition timing.
The SH Mode 125 is equipped with a three-way catalyser sited at the back of the exhaust pipe within the muffler. This location provides an ideal balance between performance and fuel efficiency with improved exhaust purification and reduced CO, HC and NOx output. To achieve such efficiency the O2 lambda sensor detects oxygen concentration in the exhaust and PGM-FI supplies the engine with the optimal fuel/air ratio.
Sound absorption within the muffler has been improved through the use of glass wool on all of the inner wall surfaces. By placing a denser layer of glass wool between the outer cover and inner body a high-grade timbre of ‘shell sound’ is generated with lower vibration of the outer cover. The result is much less exhaust noise – a benefit for the rider and surrounding pedestrians.