Introduced in 1975, the Honda CG125 was designed to survive the harsh conditions of developing countries, where maintenance intervals could be infrequent and dirt roads the norm. Instead of the overhead cam (OHC) top end from the CB, the CG utilized overhead valves with pushrods — much more reliable with minimal servicing — and the bike developed a reputation for bulletproof reliability.
“The Honda CG 125 was launched way back in 1975 and served as the ultimate commuter bike for over 30 years.” —MCN
In 1985, production for the European market moved to Brazil, where the bike remains a common sight on the streets. Brazil is also home to one of our favorite workshops, Cramento Motorcycles, founded in 2015 by architect and urban planner Augusto Borghetti Chinelatto, who works with his friend Matheus Borghetti on “unique and exclusive” projects. Last we saw the pair, they’d customized a Suzuki DR650 scrambler. Now they’re back with something smaller, though no less stunning.
The 1998 CG125 you see here is owned by a friend and long-time fan of the shop:
“One day we scheduled for him to visit the workshop and he was simply delighted with what could be done in a small cylinder capacity — so delighted that during the visit, he showed us photos of a motorcycle he’d had since he was 12 years old and asked if it was possible customize it.”
Only after accepting the challenge did Augusto and Matheus realize the bike hadn’t run in more than five years, and had been parked outside all that time! That meant a full restoration was in order. Once they got the bike back in action, they had to address the ergonomics, as the owner is 6’3″ — quite the height for a 125cc motorcycle!
The Cramento crew managed to fit a pair of 4.00 x 18 trials tires, which required modifying the swingarm and fitting a new triple tree — but gave the bike three inches of added height. They machined a pair of lowered foot pegs to make room for the rider’s long legs, and modified the subframe to allow for a pillion rider while keeping the bike in proportion to the new tank.
One of the other signature elements is the exhaust system, which appears to end right at the rear shock mount:
“Well, it doesn’t end, the gases exit from the bottom, in a hidden exit. To avoid any problem with heat, we use a black thermal wrap and a metal shield on the muffler.”
Below, we get the full story on this lovely little machine from Augusto himself.
Honda CG125 Custom: In the Builder’s Words
Here’s the story of this remarkable little one. The client resides in the same city we are located in and we exchange messages on Instagram. One day we scheduled for him to visit the workshop and he was simply delighted with what could be done in a small cylinder capacity — so delighted that during the visit, he showed us photos of a motorcycle he’d had since he was 12 years old and asked if it was possible customize it.
We accepted the challenge and went to get the bike. What we didn’t know was that the bike had been parked for five years outside the house, stopped for lack of maintenance. Well, there begins the long journey of restoration (because nothing worked on the bike) and customization.
The client showed us references and commented that he would like a motorcycle with a retro look, but with an elegant touch. As usual at Cramento, we like to have creative freedom and we proposed to do what he wanted, but with our vision. The Honda CG is an old acquaintance in our garage — after all, that’s where it all started, so we’re already familiar with the bike’s chassis.
Our style is already known, to be as minimalist and timeless as possible. An important point is that the customer is very tall, over 6′ 3″, so the first task was to find a way to lift the bike off the ground. For this we used a pair of trial tires 4.00 x 18 from Technic (Brazilian company new in the market), which provided us with a gain of about 3.0 inches. But it wasn’t all flowers for us to install such large tires on such a small bike — the work was huge.
At the rear, we modified the swingarm to have more space for the tires. At the front, after weeks of testing numerous triple tree clamps from other bikes, we reached the perfect fit. But for that we had to machine the original triple tree clamp to remove the steering stem and resolder it on the donor that came from a motorcycle from another brand (which is a secret 🤫) in addition to manufacturing the axle and new spacers.
Another important point was that we lowered the foot pegs to have more legroom, so we created a set of foot pegs from scratch that received a beautiful machined aluminum cover.
To complement the look of the front foot pegs, we manufactured the rear ones, along with the brake and gear pedals, with a simpler and more minimalist look, which also received applications in machined aluminum.
Having solved the bike’s ergonomics, we opted for a fuel tank with more rounded and smooth lines to keep the retro look.
As the customer would like to have the option of taking along a passenger, we shortened subframe until it was possible to fit two people, but without losing proportion in relation to the tank. As we always look for a clean look and permeability in the frame, we hid the battery and all electrical parts under the seat.
The wheels and suspension are original, with just a rework on the front suspension to make it a little more rigid and adapt to the rider’s weight. As for the rear suspension, to fine-tune the posture of the bike, it was necessary to manufacture a chock for the shock absorber and with that lift the rear of the bike.
The wheels were disassembled and painted, the hubs were replaced with new ones, and the spokes were replaced with a new 4mm set, which adds strength and complements the look.
A part that deserves special attention is the exhaust system — perhaps it is the item that spurs the most surprise and questions. From the beginning of the bike’s history, those who know the Honda CG know that the exhaust is on the “wrong” side of the bike. It took a lot of work to make the system work properly. The set was all handmade with a pipe that slightly increases in diameter in relation to the end of the exhaust.
Another point that raises questions is how the exhaust ends directly on the rear shock. Well, it doesn’t end, the gases exit from the bottom, in a hidden exit. To avoid any problem with heat, we use a black thermal wrap and a metal shield on the muffler.
The bike is registered in blue, and as we had no intention of changing the color, we developed a special blue lacquer to refer to the paint that was used in the past.
To complement the look, good old gloss black on the frame and wheels and opalescent silver on the engine and hubs to refer to the original paintwork. The seat received a beautiful blue suede coating, which I particularly think changed the level of the bike.
Other interesting parts are the handmade fenders, made especially for the bike, and the turn signal supports that appear to be floating.
The handlebar switches, which came from a 70’s Honda, were painted and modified to work with the bike. I hope you like it as we like it!