Introduced in 1976, the Honda CG125 was derived from the CB125 for developing markets, where preventative maintenance could be infrequent at best. The overhead cam (OHC) top end on the CB was known to wear out camshaft bearings if oil changes were skipped, so Honda went with overhead valves and pushrods to make the CG more reliable with less servicing, as well as a fully enclosed chain. It’s a testament to the bike’s toughness that it remains in production to this day — 45 years and still going strong!
In the Brazilian market, Honda also launched the ML125 (“Modelo Luxo”), which was basically a CG125 with some luxury / aesthetic upgrades. As these bikes are produced in Brazil, there are a lot of them on the roads there. Recently we heard from our friend Augusto Borghetti Chinelatto, an architect and urban planner who founded Cramento Motorcycles, working with his friend Matheus Borghetti on “unique and exclusive” projects. Last we saw the pair, they’d customized a beautiful blue CG125.
Now they’re back with this 1985 CG/ML125 that manages to harness the workshop’s signature style while looking quite different in detail from their previous builds. In their first conversation with the customer, he expressed three main desires for the direction of the build:
“He would like a bike with a retro look, straight lines, and a modern feel.”
What’s more, he had a specific tank in mind that he’d like to use — one large enough that it served as the launch point for the build:
“It was a big challenge, because the tank he chose is quite big, so all proportions were based on it. Our style is already known, to be as minimalist and timeless as possible and in this project we are looking for a 90’s look.”
In addition, the owner is a taller rider, so the bike had to be modified to fit him. Fortunately, Augusto and Matheus had come up with just such a solution for their previous CG build, which includes lengthening the swingarm and sidestand, lowering the pegs, fitting different forks/tires, stiffening the suspension, and more.
Overall, this is one of the sleekest, most minimalist 125cc customs we’ve seen. Below, Augusto gives us the full story on the build.
Honda 125 Custom: In the Builder’s Words…
The customer of this bike is an old acquaintance of ours. In one of our Instagram conversations, he showed us this little CG ML he was looking to buy. The only question he asked us was, “Can you guys turn this old CG into something unique?” Well, the answer is in the photos!
In our first conversation he showed us references and commented that he would like a bike with a retro look, straight lines, and a modern feel. One of his requests, if not the only one, is that he would like to use a specific tank, so the project was born from the tank. It was a big challenge, because the tank he chose is quite big, so all proportions were based on it. Our style is already known, to be as minimalist and timeless as possible and in this project we are looking for a 90’s look.
An important point is that the client is very tall, so we used the same recipe applied to the blue CG (the one we presented to you months ago). Our recipe consists of: a pair of 4.00 x 18 trial tires, modifying and lengthening the swingarm to make more space for the tires, changing the triple tree clamp, manufacturing the axle and new spacers, lengthening the sidestand and lowering the footpegs to have more legroom.
To give it a more elegant and clean touch, we like to use machined aluminum parts, which are on the footpegs and gear pedals.
As the customer wanted a solo saddle, we shortened the B-frame based on the size of the tank, so as not to lose proportion. 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 set of wheels and suspension is original, with just a rework on the front suspension to make it a little more rigid and better adapted to the rider’s weight. On the rear suspension, to adjust the posture of the bike, it was necessary to manufacture a chock to lift the shock absorber and the whole rear of the bike.
The first drafts for the graphics recalled the 90s, with bands and a touch of color. In conversation with the client, he opted for something more discreet, so we kept the original gray color and worked with black and white. The black band at the bottom of the tank not only maintains the race look and lowers the bike visually, but also helps to disguise the size of the tank.
Other interesting pieces are the fenders, which were handmade in sheet metal especially for this motorcycle, the turn signal supports, the LED signal light built into the frame, the digital speedometer, the seat seam, the mirrors that we manufactured from scratch, and of course the classic square headlight (CIBIÉ).
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
Honda CG ML 125 cc, 1985.
• Why was this bike built?
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Straight lines, 90s, modern feel.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Incredible, the bike is very comfortable and easy to ride. Having a smile on your face is inevitable.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
In construction, an item that we were really proud of was the look we got for the fenders. As a whole, taking the customer’s idea and putting our vision, he just loved it.