After a 41-year absence from Honda’s European line-up – the new Dax joins the Monkey and MSX125 Grom in Honda’s mini-bike line-up.
Authentic, robust and offering simple riding pleasure, it features a pressed steel frame, 31mm USD forks, 12-inch wheels and air-cooled SOHC two-valve engine with four-speed gearbox and centrifugal clutch.
Full LED lighting, compact negative LCD display and pillion grab rail complete the full specification list.
Honda’s pocketful of mini motorcycles has struck a chord with young and old riders alike. The reimagined Monkey 125 tugs at heart strings that remember the golden 1970s while providing thoroughly modern, compact and funky urban transport for riders of any age.
The MSX125 Grom serves up customisable style for Generation Y but also as perfect paddock transport in the worlds of car and bike racing.
For 2023 a new bike joins the fold. The ST125 Dax fully owns the genuine authenticity of the 1969 original but brings thoroughly 21st century performance from chassis, engine and ergonomics.
The most recent version of the Dax was produced from 1995 to 2003 for the Japanese market.
The more recent European success of its siblings has hastened its return.
Nostalgia will play a part in the Dax’s appeal to riders now in middle age – riders who may have owned a Dax in their youth and are pleased to see it return. Equally, retro is important to younger owners.
A certain style sets some machines apart and the Dax has just that in abundance thanks to the form of its iconic T-shaped frame.
Which is also how the bike got its name – extending from under the seat to the handlebars, and sitting atop the small 12” wheels, the look is reminiscent of the universally-adored Dachshund. Or Sausage Dog, to give it its everyday English name.
Dax keeps it simple. A steel frame provides strength and houses the fuel tank while 31mm USD forks, twin rear shocks and 12-inch wheels with chunky tyres provide light steering and good suspension performance.
Braking is via hydraulic discs front and rear with ABS control.
Robust and fuel efficient, the 124cc SOHC two-valve engine’s power is linear in delivery with smooth torque.
A centrifugal clutch manages shifting between the four ratios so there’s no need for a handlebar-mounted clutch lever.
It offers twist-and-go simplicity with the added entertainment of changes via a traditional left-foot gear lever.
All lighting is LED and a circular LCD display shows what the rider needs to know. The pillion gets a chromed grab rail, too.
The Dax will be available in Pearl Nebula Red or Pearl Cadet Grey.
While the Dax is small, its proportions provide enough room to be comfortable for two adults to ride.
The styling really is the frame; everything is attached to, or held within it, giving the Dax its unmistakable retro look.
As do all the other parts; the thick dual seat – seat height is just 775mm – chrome high-set handlebars and the 1970s dirt bike-inspired upswept muffler with drilled, slotted and chromed heat shield.
The frame’s mid-section wears a black stripe with Dax picked out in quirky font, right next to the classic Honda Wing logo that marks its special heritage.
A chromed mudguard leads and sits below the circular headlight.
To add extra charm to the light, signature round LEDs are used and the front indicators/position lights sit snugly in between low and high beams.
The compact instrument display is a round, negative LCD while the rear taillight and indicators take their cues from the headlight and are also LED.
There’s a chrome grabrail for the passenger while a cover seals the drive chain away from weather and loose clothing.
The iconic T-shaped frame design houses the fuel tank, is authentic in aesthetic detail and constructed in pressed-steel with modern engineering know-how. Wet weight is just 107kg.
31mm USD forks provide supple suspension response and combined with the wide upswept handlebar, easy steering.
Twin rear shocks are tuned for smooth compliance, even with a pillion. Blacked-out 12-inch rims (from the super-cool MSX125 Grom) wear fat, balloon-like tyres; a 120mm wide front and 130mm rear. They add sure-footed grip allied to nimble agility.
Single-channel ABS manages braking force. Hydraulic front and rear calipers grip 220/190mm diameter discs respectively.
The Dax’s 124cc air-cooled engine features a SOHC two-valve cylinder head, with relatively long stroke and high compression; bore is set at 50mm, stroke at 63.1mm with compression ratio of 10.0:1. Peak power of 6.9kW arrives @ 7,000rpm, with peak torque of 10.8Nm @ 5,000rpm.
The engine’s strong performance means that even two-up a 90km/h cruising speed is achievable, with smart acceleration from low speed – just what’s needed for lively around-town amusement.
A single catalyser is all that’s necessary; thanks to precise ECU settings and the engine’s combustion efficiency, EURO5 compliance is achieved.
In keeping with the laid-back, easy to ride feel the gearbox is a 4-speed unit (with neutral at the bottom) operated via centrifugal clutch, without the need for a clutch lever.
At standstill the rider simply selects the gear required with the left-hand foot lever and, as the throttle is opened, the clutch operates automatically and does so through each ratio change, up or down.
Fuel economy gives the Dax a range of approx 149miles from the 3.8L fuel tank.
Pictured: The Dax – Picture: Honda Motor Europe Ltd