Motorcycles Big Things, Small Packages: The Honda Dax is BackAfter a four decade hiatus, the wiener dog of motorcycles is ready to make a comeback.
- Words Gary J Boulanger
To begin, Dax is short for dachshund, the long-bodied and muscular hound-type dog breed with short stubby legs on which this cute (and powerful) Honda 125 is based. Introduced in 1969 in both 50 and 70cc options, (known as the Dax in Japan and Europe, and the Trail 70 in Canada and the US) the farm-friendly and camping pit bike was an instant hit due to its one-size-fits-all-levels-of-fun stature and ease of use.
The ST90 Mighty Dax of 1972 morphed into a scrambler with more punch, keeping its high pipe and handlebars but switching to spokes and a center stand.
The following year’s CY50 saw a reduction in power, adopting into a pure campsite machine with balloon tires, dropped front fender and stepped seat like full-sized motorcycles of the era.
By 1981, with European sales dropping and a burgeoning motocross market growing in the United States, the Honda Dax was on its last short, little legs. Like all good two-wheeled treasures, the Dax ran its course with consumers.
The instantly popular Honda Grom–introduced as the MSX125 in Europe and East Asia–won Motorcycle USA’s “Motorcycle of the Year” prize for 2014. Honda also brought back the popular Monkey (Z50) in 2018, kicking open the door for a small bike revolution.
Today, the 2023 ST125 Dax–boasting a four-speed gearbox and centrifugal clutch–is bringing that vintage charm back to market on the heels of the success of its Monkey and Grom cousins.
The ST125 Dax retains the familiar high mini-ape handlebars, T-shaped pressed steel mainframe (dachshund), upswept exhaust and room for two giggling adults. Seat height is a palatable 30.5 inches to complement the ST125’s upright and relaxed riding position.
How’s this for modern technology? An air-cooled, 124cc engine producing 6.9kw peak power with 10.8Nm of torque with a realistic, two-up cruising speed of 56 mph. Twin shocks and a 31mm USD front fork provide stability and control. That centrifugal clutch we mentioned earlier means no clutch lever required: twist the throttle and steer. Shifting through all four gears is via the foot lever, but the system does all the work so you can enjoy your rolling experience.
Don’t be quick to dismiss this as a throwback machine: updated accouterments include hydraulic front and rear calipers with single-channel ABS, full LED lighting with a simple and compact circular negative LCD instrument display, and blacked-out 12-inch five-spoke wheels might match the other Japanese bike in your garage.
The only downer about this upper is who can get one; the Honda ST125 Dax is only available in Europe…for now at least.Learn More