Honda digs into its mini-bike past to revive the ST125 Dax
Honda’s mini-bike fleet has welcomed a third member alongside the Monkey 125 and the MSX125 Grom. The 2023 ST125 Dax is a modern-day tribute to a 1970s classic that was based on the Super Cub engine and named after a similarly short-statured dog breed.
Perhaps not everybody knows what a Dachshund is, but most can probably identify it by its popular name, the Sausage Dog. With its distinctive long torso and short legs, this breed inspired Honda in 1969 to give its ST50 mini-bike the name Dax.
Designed initially as an export model for Europe and North America, the Dax remained in production in Japan at least until 1981, then made a return only for the Japanese market in 1995 and dropped off the radar in 2003. Throughout this time it was offered almost exclusively with a 50-cc Super Cub engine, except for the occasional special model, such as the 1972 ST90 Mighty Dax with the 89-cc motor and large 14-inch wheels.
In 2018 Honda decided to update the Asian-only C125 Super Cub to euro-specs and gave it a new lease on life with global perspective, escorted by a brand new Monkey 125 which was no longer a mini-bike, but rather a mid-sized motorcycle, similar in physical dimensions to the MSX125 Grom. The success of the Grom and Monkey duo has apparently prompted Honda to dig into its vaults and resurrect another familiar model.
The 2023 ST125 Dax is not based on the same platform as the aforementioned Honda mini-bikes, as evident by its exclusive main feature – a new pressed steel sheet chassis. Keeping with the Dax tradition, it is in fact a T-shaped monocoque design that acts as bodywork, incorporates the 3.8-liter (1-gal) fuel tank and supports every other part of the bike as well.
The 124-cc air-cooled single comes straight from the Super Cub and is quite different to the engine in the Grom and Monkey. The bottom part is a redesigned unit originally stemming from the Japanese C110 cub, coupled with the Grom’s cylinder, so the Dax channels its 9.3 hp towards the back wheel via a semi-automatic, four-speed, rotary gearbox. Its top speed is specced at 90 km/h (56 mph), practically the same as the other two Honda mini-bikes.
The new Dax sports a short wheelbase of just 1,020 mm (40.2 in), sits the rider at a very friendly height of 775 mm (30.5 in) and weighs 107 kg (235.9 lb) all fueled up and ready for the road. It rolls on 12-inch wheels and stops with two disc brakes, supported by a single-channel ABS system.
The anti-blocking system applies only to the front disc brake, probably because it also comes from the C125 Super Cub, which uses a drum brake at the rear, so can only support a single-channel kit.
The rest of the Dax’s equipment is made of several parts from the Monkey, like the round headlight, LCD instruments and inverted forks, while at the rear Honda opted for a pair of shocks with a little more travel – 120 mm (4.7 in) compared to the Monkey’s 102 mm (4 in).
The 2023 ST125 Dax will be produced in Thailand by Thai Honda Manufacturing Co. Ltd., just like the C125 Super Cub, and is scheduled for a formal unveiling at the Osaka Motorcycle Show in Japan on March 15.
Hopefully at the Osaka show Honda will reveal some information on production times and availability. While it has been officially announced as a European model, Honda’s USA and Canada websites have yet to include the new Dax.
Product page: Honda ST125 Dax