Honda XR125L Duster

Honda's new XR125L is a work-bike through and through. We put this new farm bike through its paces...

  • Excellent low gearing
  • Compliant suspension
  • Superior handling
  • Simple controls and electric start
  • Large fuel tank for long-range riding

Replacing the reliable NXR125, the XR calls on its trail bike heritage with a quiet, smooth-running and responsive single cylinder four-stroke powerplant that delivers excellent hill-climbing torque.

Sure, at a mere 125cc the bike could do with a bit more oomph – the engine delivers 8.3kW or under 11bhp – but the rugged and reliable air-cooled engine is tuned for low-to-midrange performance, rather than out and out top speed.

With 7.2 percent more power and 6.9 percent more torque coupled with that low ratio rear sprocket, it’s just the sort of power delivery you need for shepherding the herd down from the back paddocks, and the five-speed box should ensure fast transition round the farm.

A drilled 240mm disc up front and a 110mm drum at the back take care of stopping duties, while the long-travel suspension eats up the nastiest of terrain.

Performance and handling

The XR’s seat is only 825mm high and with super pliant suspension even a short-arse will be able to get both feet on the ground. Plastic bodywork helps keep the weight down to 119.8kg.

An electric starter combines with maintenance-free digital electronic ignition to ensure quick and easy starts. And the sealed battery means the electrics stay nice and dry. As do the front forks, fitted with fork boots. Mud protecting suspension gators and mud flaps as standard also means less maintenance and no more muddy leggings.

Built on a rugged, semi-double-cradle steel tube frame the XR125L offers optimal strength, rigidity and light weight for quick, assured handling over virtually any of the countries rugged farm conditions. The large, 12-litre fuel tank allied to the XR125L’s fuel economy offers real long range riding and is good for up to 300kms.

Other bits and bobs that come standard with the XR are the rear carrier for transporting light loads, chunky off-road rubber, and handle bar protectors.

So how does it handle? Very well, I’d have to admit. It’s ridiculously easy to navigate down steep hilly sections and will tootle along at walking pace without the need to feather the clutch. Chop through the gears and the bike’s got a nice turn of speed, changing direction quickly without a great deal of rear wheel spin.

Only really two gripes with this bike. One, the choke is tucked right under the seat on the left, behind the fuel cock, quite tricky to get to. Also the bike only comes with one kick stand, on the left. Would be better to have one each side, as its competitors do.

But on the plus side is the electric start, something missing on both the Yammy AG100 and Suzuki TF125.

Overall I’d rate the XR125L Duster right up there with the competition; it does the job of an all-round farm hack brilliantly. Great fuelling, nice suspension and superb low-speed handling makes for a good little package at a pretty bloody good price. Yes the top-end could do with a few more horses but in reality, the bike has enough grunt for what its makers have intended it for – the Kiwi farmer who needs a reliable, well-built, go-anywhere two-wheeler.


Engine Four-stroke, single cylinder, air-cooled OHC
Displacement 124.1cc
Ignition CDI, electric start
Transmission Five-speed
Dimensions (LxWxH) 2100x820x1126mm
Seat height 825mm
Ground clearance 243mm
Wheelbase 1361mm
Fuel capacity 12 litres
Front suspension Telescopic fork/180mm
Rear suspension Single shock/150mm
Front brakes Disc 240mm
Rear brakes Drum
Dry weight 119.8kg
Farm kit Front & rear knobbly tyres, Handlebar protectors, low ratio sprockets and chain, fork boots, mud flap

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