The Haynes is here – a review

Well well well, a few months have flown by, and the blog has been left a little neglected. So what better way to resurrect things than with the news that Haynes have released a service and repair manual for our beloved CBF125!

Let’s take a closer look…

For those readers who are new to the world of vehicle maintenance and servicing, Haynes manuals offer step-by-step instructions for every conceivable task that involves maintaining or repairing the vehicle in question. These books are aimed at the owners of those vehicles, rather than garages and workshops, and because of that, the reader is taken through each step of a task with the help of photographs and detailed “hand holding” explanations. No prior knowledge is assumed or expected. There are also sections of these manuals dedicated to giving guidance in assembling your first tool kit, with further information and techniques on using those tools properly. The procedure of writing a Haynes manual involves them buying a vehicle and completely stripping down and rebuilding it by themselves, with reference to the oficial service manual. All photographs are Haynes’ own.

Time for a breakdown of the CBF125 Haynes manual…

The book is written by Phil Mather, who also wrote the YBR125 Haynes manual, which I also own. It has a retail price of £24.99 (but you can find it a lot cheaper than that!) and comes in hardback format, which is great, considering the environment it’ll be living in – a dirty garage, often being handled roughly. Some Haynes manuals are paperback, so we’re rather lucky! Some chapters are in full colour, whilst most are not. It would have been nice to have full colour photographs throughout the book, but that would have undoubtedly put the cost up considerably. Let’s also consider that the official service manual from Honda has no colour sections at all, but costs more than twice the price! With that in mind, I think we can let that slide…

Upon opening the cover, we’re greeted with an introductory section that’s presented in full colour. It takes us through a history of Honda’s motorcycle development, right from the early days of the Cub, through various important developments over the decades, right to the present day. Honestly, this reads more like a marketing campaign than anything else, but it does provide a little background to the company itself. We’re then shown some initial information about the CBF125 itself, including a brief description of the differences between the versions (a tachometer was added in 2011). We are also given some technical specifications, including various dimensions and information about the engine and chassis, with information on where to find various identification numbers throughout the bike. Finally, there’s a page devoted to safe working practices and then we have the pre-ride checks all listed, which include checking/topping up engine oil and brake fluid and tyre maintenance/checks. All well presented and explained.

Chapter 1 takes us through routine maintenance and servicing tasks, as specified by Honda themselves. It’s here that we’re introduced to the ‘spanner’ rating system of difficulty – each procedure in the book is preceeded with a number of spanner pictures that denote how difficult the task is likely to be, with one spanner being easy, and five spanners being very difficult, suited only to professional mechanics or experts. You’ll be glad to know that nothing here exceeds three spanners worth of difficulty. This chapter is now in black and white. Procedures are well outlined, mainly with emphasis on checking things rather than making repairs – we’re directed to the other chapters should those needs arise. Cross referencing is used extensively throughout Haynes manuals and you will often find yourself flicking back and forth between chapters. This can be irritating but I can’t see any other way of dealing with it. Interestingly, we’re given a few extra servicing tasks that Honda don’t specify – fork oil changes, battery checking, swingarm pivot lubrication and steering head bearings lubrication. There is no specified mileage or time to do these things, but personally, I would start thinking about them after 15’000 miles. It’s good that the author hasn’t just re-written the service manual, but has also put thought into improving things.

I should now mention that the start of each chapter lists a table of contents (in alphabetical order, with each section having its own number) and relevant specifications for those tasks being dealt with, including measurements and torque settings for various fasteners that will be encountered. You’ll find yourself flicking back to these initial pages quite often!

Chapter 2 brings us on to dealing with the engine, clutch and transmission. We’re taken through the steps of stripping the engine down completely, checking every component and putting it all back together again. The clutch and transmission are of course part of the engine unit, so they’re also dealt with here. Difficulty ratings are understandably much higher in this chapter!

On to chapter 3… which is only a few pages long, covering the ignition system – so that’s the spark plug and mechanism that controls it. We’re shown how to check ignition timing and inspect the ignition coil here, as well as performing general checks on the system as a whole.

Chapter 4 is very interesting, and deals with a subject that frightens a lot of people – the Engine Management System. We’re talking fuel injection here, and all the periphery that comes with it, including the ECU itself and all the sensors and components that drive it. This section is extremely useful – for example, we have no idea what a particular fault with the fuelling system would be in terms of an ‘error code’ that’s blinked to us on the orange instrument cluster management light. We need to look up these codes or we have no clue what they mean. Unlike more mechanical things that can be visually checked and repaired, all we have with fuel injection is a black box of tricks and some electronic sensors to deal with. A world apart from traditional mechanics. Because of my background with electronics, computers and all things technical, I find this subject extremely interesting. We’re given all the information needed to accurately diagnose problems with the system, including a table of fault codes that correspond to the number of flashes counted by the orange light on the instrument cluster. At least we can narrow down the cause of a problem, even if we can’t fix it – it’ll save valuable labour time if a professional knows where to look in the first place! We’re guided in painstaking detail in diagnosing every component within this system, from sensors to the fuel injector, to the ECU itself.

Then it’s time to be bought back down to good old nuts and bolts with chapter 5, covering the frame and suspension. Here we talk about things like removing the stands, overhauling the front forks and replacing steering head bearings.

Brakes, wheels and final drive (chain/sprockets!) are next in chapter 6. This is an extremely useful section as these components are often dealt with in a routine service. Everything is, as always, very detailed, going as far as completely stripping the brake calliper and master cylinder, changing a chain and sprockets and coping with the various other innards of the rear wheel, such as the drum brake and cush drive.

Chapter 7 takes us through the bodywork – something often taken for granted. But it’s still nonetheless useful to know the correct procedure of removing seats, fairings etc in order to avoid damaging them. They can be rather expensive, and believe it or not, there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of going about it, and hidden bits and pieces that often get in the way, causing a lot of frustration.

Now we reach the last chapter on the CBF125 itself – chapter 8, the electrical system. If you need to overhaul the starter motor, or diagnose a lighting issue, this is the place to go. We’re also given some preliminary information regarding test equipment and its correct usage. That’s the great thing about Haynes – these manuals assume no prior knowledge and really start things off at the bottom. Even if you’re a seasoned veteran, it’s well worth thoroughly reading through these introductory sections as you may well find some nuggets of wisdom that you may never have been aware of. At the end of this chapter is a full colour wiring diagram, which also takes into account the tachometer on 2011+ models (or the MB variant, if I’m being precise!). This is not the same as the wiring diagram in Honda’s service manual – it’s a completely new re-draw and it’s a lot better. For one thing, Honda’s one is NOT in colour, and believe me, this makes ALL the difference!

So now we move back into a full colour reference section that’s actually an excellent starting point for anyone who is new to this game. Really basic things such as tool selection and usage are covered here, as well as some general engineering practices and concepts. Going back to black-and-white pages, the subject of security is discussed and the various options available to us are evaluated. We have a section that covers various oils and fluids we’ll encounter during our work, some conversion tables for dealing with various numbers, then MOT information (relevant in the United Kingdom), storage considerations, fault finding (troubleshooting) tips, a glossary of technical terms and a full index.

Finally, on the very last page, we have a full colour chart of spark plug conditions. This is invaluable as a comparison to our own plugs – the colour and condition of a spark plug can tell us so much about the state of an engine and any faults that may be developing. These photographs are enlarged and very clear, with a small explanation under each one.

So there we have it – if you own this bike, you owe it to yourself to own this manual too. Even if you don’t plan to do the work yourself, the information will provide a much useful insight into the workings of the bike. It may also help you narrow down the cause of various problems so you can give the professionals something to start with. This could save you a lot of money in labour costs, as their time won’t have to be spent trying to hunt down the issue. If you do choose to do your own servicing, this book will pay for itself! Of course, depending on your skill level, the information presented will also give you an idea of whether or not you’d be capable of carrying out a particular procedure.

Knowledge is power!


12 thoughts on “The Haynes is here – a review

  1. Hi,
    I also bought this manual, very interesting indeed, but I haven’t found one information : the 2011 model have an additional tachometer, but nowhere in this manual you can find if the ECU is different, and the wiring loom also. The wiring diagram suggets that just one wire has been ADDED, but maybe the ECU was ready to accept this modification, and the wiring loom also. Do you have informations about that ?

    • Hi Manu,

      Yes the ECUs are different in the M9/MA and MB models – and that difference is that the pin which feeds the tachometer via a green/yellow wire is dead on the M9/MA ECU. That’s it as far as I know. The ECU can’t really be disassembled – it’s completely sealed. You can swap out the ECU for a new one that has the connection and also swap the instrument cluster for one with the tachometer. I have no idea what goes down that green/yellow wire, but would guess it’s just the same as the ignition pulse (which triggers the coil into dumping the spark). The only way to find out is to splice into the black/white wire coming from the ECU connector and connect it to the green/yellow wire that feeds the input to the tachometer. I am purely guessing here and have no idea if it’ll work.

      • HI,
        I´m owner of MA version of this bike, and will try to rebuild it on MB version, now I have MB dashboard and ECU, but in MA wirring loom is missing green/yellow wire. Could you tell me which pin on ECU is connect to this green/yellow wire in MB version?

      • Mico,

        did you already try to get the tacho to work?



  2. Probably not the best thread to reply to but f**k it. Just ordered a CBF125 and I can’t wait to get back on two wheels again. (I’m 21 and had a moped at 16 so very little experience)
    I have to say this blog has definatly influenced my decision (although cost and insurance also played a MAJOR factor).
    I’ve read through this blog a lot whilst tryin to make a decision, so any tips for when i ride her out of the forecourt?

  3. Just taken delivery of my CBF125. Unfortunately had to ride straight to work (a mere 5 miles from showroom) so no time for a ‘get-to-know-you’ cruise.
    However those 5 miles… So much fun. Looking forward to spending some miles on this bike.

  4. Good article. Couple of quick questions re maintenance for you… When you’re changing your chain and sprockets, do you replace both together as a set, or do you work purely on condition and replace individually as required?
    One other thing… do you use chains with the split-link clip type joining link, or rivetted joining link? I posted this question on a bike forum ages ago and loads of people (mainly with bigger capacity bikes) were saying that was a no-no, split links were dangerous and to go for rivetted only. Other guys including at my work reckon split-link clips are perfectly fine, particularly for small capacity machines. What do you think?

    • Always swap C&S as a set. My personal feeling is that split links are fine, even with bigger bikes, but I have found myself on the last 2 occasions putting in a rivetted link on my 1000. I swapped the C&S on my lads CBF125 and put in a split link. main thing is to put it on the right way round 🙂

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