Bajaj Discover 125M vs Honda CB Shine: 125cc Comparison Review

Armed with best-in-class efficiency and low price tag, the Bajaj Discover 125M is here to challenge Honda CB Shine -the 125cc segment dominator.


Bajaj Discover 125M vs Honda CB Shine

While enthusiasts may brush aside commuter bikes for lack of oomph and sex appeal, these simple machines are the prime reason for making India the world’s largest motorcycle market. No small feat this. While Hero MotoCorp rules the 100cc space with its Splendor and Passion range, the 125cc segment is clearly dominated by Honda CB Shine. The other force to reckon with in the commuter segment is Bajaj’s Discover series.


This Pune-based company has been constantly introducing one iteration of the Discover after another to strengthen its foothold in the segment. It might confuse some, but Bajaj assures that this is to satisfy different needs of different buyers. To put it simply, the Discover range is split in three versions – ‘ST’ is the sporty top-variant packed with features, ‘T’ with conventional twin-rear-shocks is a practical compromise in between, while ‘M’ is the base variant tuned to maximise fuel efficiency, is based on a completely different platform and comes with a tempting price tag.


Bajaj, so far, had the mono-shock equipped Discover 125ST and the Discover 125T in its range of modern 125cc Discovers; the latter with its gas charged twin coil over damper suspension is for those who still haven’t come to terms with mono-shock. Now, we are introduced to yet another Discover, the cheapest 125 in its range, the new Bajaj Discover 125M. (Read the 125M review).


Bajaj Discover 125M vs Honda CB Shine static picture


After reviewing the new bike recently, we have now brought it face-to-face with the segment champion – the Honda CB Shine. Since fuel efficiency is the single largest deciding factor in this segment, the Bajaj Discover 125M, termed as the most efficient Discover 125, makes a strong case for itself. So, let’s get astride and find out where the new Bajaj stands against the segment benchmark Honda CB Shine.

Buyers in this segment are usually not too fussy about design, as long as the bike is fairly pleasing to the eye. Here the Honda takes the non-controversial and understated approach. While Bajaj adds some spice and style to this otherwise visually sombre segment. The 125M retains the edgy family DNA and is unmistakably a Discover even at a glance. It gets the familiar crescent-shaped headlight, integrated pilot lamps and a bikini fairing. The well sculpted fuel tank comes with snazzy decals which flow back to the smart tail-lamp. Surprisingly, the ergonomics isn’t as well sorted as we would have expected from Bajaj, and the bike feels cramped. The front footrests are large and high, with not enough distance between the seat and the handlebar. Moreover, the handlebar itself is unusually narrow and adds to make the rider feeling constricted.


The Honda Shine on the other hand has a sleek fuel tank with nice knee recesses to grip, and its well-positioned handlebar completes the ergonomic package in favour of commuters with liberal girth. The Shine is also longer, wider and taller than the 125M and seems better engineered than the Discover 125M. Sadly, the Honda hasn’t been given a thorough makeover in years and loses out on smart styling and pizzazz that the Bajaj offers.


Bajaj Discover 125M and Honda CB Shine riding picture


At the heart of the Discover 125M lies a spirited 124.6cc, 4-valve unit which it borrows from the 125ST and 125T. The motor is capable of producing 11.5PS which is about 1PS more than the Honda, but the performance isn’t something you’ll write home about. Rev it closer to redline and the engine becomes noisy and probes you to shift up. What gives the Bajaj an upper hand is its good pull throughout the rev range in all four-gears. This makes the rev happy 125M more fun to ride.


The Honda CB Shine is powered by a 124.7cc OPTIMAX engine, which is Honda speak for optimised fuel efficiency and maximised performance. It’s a fairly smooth motor with adequate bottom-end power. But even at city commuting speed of 60kmph it gives out strong vibrations. And the short-geared four-speed transmission doesn’t help matters much. The Shine has handlebar weights but they too fail to dampen the vibes.

This is the only place where the Honda CB Shine loses out in terms of comfort. Overall it is an ultra-comfy commuter which is light and extremely nimble. The short gearing which is a vice on the highway, seems apt for city commuting. The bike is also pretty agile and can cut through traffic like a breeze. The Honda runs on better MRF tubeless tyres, compared to the regular EuroGrip ones on the Discover 125M, and at the same time it is equipped with a larger 240mm front disc brake which gives the Honda better stopping power. These make the rider feel more secure on the road. The 125M comes with more modern box-type swingarm (as opposed to the tubular ones on the Shine) and has advanced gas-charged rear shock-absorbers, and the ride quality is quite good at low-speed. However, due to the soft suspension setup the Bajaj Discover 125M does not feel as surefooted as the Shine at high speed or while corning. The Honda has enough feedback coming in from the well setup suspension and chassis, to encourage one to go faster. Even with a pillion the Honda CB Shine can handle potholes and other road undulation with more poise.

Honda CB Shine riding picture

Finally, the deciding factor in this segment is fuel efficiency. Though Bajaj claims to return a 75kmpl under test conditions, in real would it would be around 65kmpl which is very impressive. The Honda CB Shine claims to offer 65kmpl and has proven to stretch a litre of petrol to close to 60kmpl. There is a difference, but it isn’t enough to be a trump card for the 125M. The Bajaj Discover 125M is a peppy, youthful bike which is aggressively priced at Rs 50,499 (ex-showroom Delhi) which is Rs 3,500 less than the Honda. It sure is a tempting deal, but the Honda CB Shine still feels better engineered, more calm, composed and comfortable, making it a better overall offering.