So, in February I was at a shop in Bangkok looking at Honda Wave 125's.
I've had a bit of a crush on Honda Waves since living over that way. My bike history in Thailand started with a rental Honda Dream 125cc. The 125 version was pretty rare and only usually seen up north for some odd reason. I remember the owner giving me 2 locks for it as they were sought after among local thieves. I had actually never ridden anything other than my highschool era SJ50 and a rental twist and go a month prior in Vietnam. A couple of days before renting the Dream 125 I had gone with another foreigner on the back of their bike to check out a local job and when we got there another person needed a ride. The girl who owned the bike didn't want to ride 3 up. I noticed her bike had no clutch lever - I asked if it had gears and she said yeah - told me how to use them and I jumped on; with 2 grown adults squished behind me; stabbed it into first gear and rolled straight into the thick of Thai traffic. I was gentle with the throttle at first as because I hadn't ridden the bike before. The weight of us 3 and the lack of momentum caused us to start swaying left and right through a intersection as we left the first traffic light. After 500 metres I had it figured out and the 250kg's of human on this poor wee mechanical horse were hurtling along at 60KPH.
Anyway, back to my first bike there - the previous experience and our apartment location made me instantly decide to get a rental bike - with 'gears'. After a run through I took it for a hoon and it became my daily rider while I was in Chiang Mai.
Here she is in all her glory:
BIKE: Honda Dream 125cc
SET UP: 125cc, 4 Stroke. 4 Gears, no clutch lever.
FUN FACT: Still available brand new to this day in Cambodia - they're the main bike of choice for towing the little chariot Tuk Tuks common through out their country.
I only spent a month riding this thing around before I finally realised I wasn't getting work in that city and I had to make a hasty decision which involved leaving. I was gutted - I'd fallen in love with the city and this bike was a big part of that. Having freedom when you're so far from home and unable to really organise regular, cheap and precise public transport due to a language barrier; this thing opened up my world and changed what could have been an intimidating and isolating one into a period of growth and awesomeness.
It was the first time I had really 'gotten' 2 wheels. Yeah, it might have been a piddly little 125 family wagon but the feelings it bought were something I hadn't experienced before. It was this bike that started to form the beginning of a new obsession in my life.
Before long I'd found work south of Bangkok and the recruitment agency we had been in touch with sorted out a rental bike for the tiny province I was now in. I hunted everywhere but no locals rented their bikes - it was buy or nothing. Eventually the agency bought a couple of bikes and offered I rent one. I had no say in what they were. But I obliged as I had been stuck in a tiny shoebox apartment for a month already.
BIKE: Honda Click 110cc
SET UP: 110cc, 4 Stroke, CVT twist and go. (14" wheels)
FUN FACT: Underseat storage and a massive footwell mad these popular for locals. You can still buy them new - the latest model is a 125cc fuel injected bike with idle stop.
This thing was a pile of shit. The odometer was at 0km but the thing was flogged out. It couldn't idle no matter what you did, the transmission was jerky and shuddered constantly and it felt like it flexed badly over each bump. I told the agency and they offered to swap it with the other one they bought - I gladly accepted their offer.
For the second time in a week I had a new bike:
BIKE: Honda Airblade 110cc
SET UP: 110cc, 4 Stroke, CVT twist and go. (14" wheels)
FUN FACT: Same running gear as the last bike but with a underbone chassis and no footwell - the Click outsold these easily and once the PCX150 came out the airblade disappeared from shops.
The Airblade was only half as shit as the click. But it was good enough, it would shudder severely on take off. I took it to a few mechanics and they just said it's normal. No one wanted to open the transmission on it and figure it out. Back then I had no idea it would probably just be flat rollers and a shoddy clutch. Despite having 0km on the odometer I figured out pretty quickly it was older. Under the seat was a service sticker saying 40,000 KM so it had done at least that and probably more. In hindsight I got completely ripped off renting this bike. I found out later on the agency had been charging too much. They charged as if they were new, but about 2.5 months of rental charges would have bought the bike. I was super clueless in my first year living abroad and just accepted that people were always acting in my best interests for a long time. I soon realised people wouldn't hesitate to make a few extra $$$ here or there if they could. I had this for almost a year before I moved to Bangkok.
So now I lived in Bangkok. I'd made friends with a Scottish fella who had a few bikes. He lent me one to use till I could buy one myself a few months later.
This was my new hoon:
BIKE: Honda PCX150
SET UP: 150cc CVT Twist and Go
FUN FACTS: First year of the 150's, my friend had been on a waiting list and got one of the first in Bangkok, got it stripped and repainted, stretched slightly, added those weird rims and one of the only 'legal' exhausts available in the country (most mods are band)
I rode this to and from work for 3 months. It was an hour each way. Somewhere along the line I lost the plate for it and Thai bureaucracy meant it took 6 months to get issued with another one. This was the first 'modified' small bike I'd ridden and despite looking back on it and not enjoying the style what so ever it planted a seed that grew. The exhaust was semi loud and deep, you could hear it coming from a mile away.
Eventually I decided on my own bike and got this:
BIKE: Honda Zoomer - X
SET UP: 110cc Twist and go
FUN FACTS: Successor of the Honda Ruckus/Zoomer 50. Similar open under seat storage area that hinged sideways.
I bought this second hand from a fella in Bangkok with about 7,000km on the clock. It served me well. I bought a leo vince exhaust for it, lowered it slightly and rode it every day. At one point I added a plastic chrome cooling fan because shiny. One day when riding home I head a massive THWACK - but the bike kept going and I couldn't see any issues so I kept riding. 30 minutes later by the time I got home the heat warning light was flashing on the speedo. 2 days later I finally figured out the aftermarket cooling fan had disintegrated and it had melted itself to the barrel of the engine. I went and bought a few tools, wedged the melted plastic off the engine with a screw driver; re installed the stock one and learned my lesson about checking the quality of aftermarket parts and not just spending money because 'looks good'. I had fun owning this but also had RAGRETS about not having bought a Honda Wave with gears as it would have been way better suited to my commute.
While owning this thing as a daily I started to become obsessed with the classic scene in Thailand. I'd seen a few posts from the UK where people had started building "Street Cubs" - which were wide wheeled custom Cubs. I learned they had gotten their styling cues from a niche scene in Malaysia. Thailand generally went with a chrome gets ya home attitude when modifying Cubs more than adding wide wheels and stripping back other parts.
I eventually found a local fella that would build me a "Custom Cub" with a 100cc engine for about 30,000 baht. I paid a deposit, waited a while and eventually I owned this thing:
BIKE: Honda C70 Deluxe frame
SET UP: 100cc Honda Dream (EX5) Motor - 4 speed, no clutch lever.
FUN FACTS: I chose the colour, wheel style and colour, opted for the twin speedo set up and then just waited.
This was awesome. I went and visited the fella who had made them a couple of months before I got my own. I was keen to be involved but they were built too far away from home. So I just waited and got it. Once it arrived I was chuffed. It ran first kick and was super loud! The original exhaust had been gutted of any baffling and it roared down the streets. Whether people liked it or not they were all turning their heads to see what the heck was making such a racket. The build quality was OK. Everything was there. But little things like the paint coming off around the fuel cap and the number plate mount falling off straight away or the indicators just disintegrating was normal. I made a video of me walking around it and starting it which for some reason has racked up 500,000+ views on YouTube. It's quite a shitty video. But I guess it was released at the right time just as these started to become quite popular again.
Owning this cemented the need for a 4 speed daily. So I made a deal with the Cub guy and he sourced a Honda Dream for me - I was able to swap the Zoomer - X for it.
BIKE: 1990 Honda Dream 100
SET UP: 100cc, 4 Stroke, 4 Speed (no clutch lever)
FUN FACTS: This model was the immediate successor of the Honda Super Cub in Asia. Made from around 1986 onwards - they had a 100cc engine which Lifan eventually used as a blueprint for their horizontal engines.
I had seen a few cool looking Honda Dreams around the show and started to fall for their 80's wit and charm. The squareness combined with easily available parts made it the perfect choice. I got black rims again, I got the disc brake front end added after as they only came out with drum brakes. I eventually got a kids seat added to it and I just rode the thing everywhere. It looked great and ran well but the motor was a slightly refreshed lump with 70,000+ kms on the block. It hauled me around for the remainder of my time in Thailand. After coming home I donated it to my daughters great uncle and to this day he can be seen rolling down to the local market on his BRIDE seat and neon stickered Honda Dream.
Anyway; on this most recent trip I had found a few shops selling slightly used 2-3 year old bikes. I was obsessed with the Honda Wave 125i model produced between 2012-2017 as it had a fuel injected 125cc motor, a massive under seat storage area that can fit a full face helmet plus a decent sized tank. It's the ultimate Small Bike Daily for me.
Leaving the last shop, I opened my phone to a message from @Willdat? - it was a link to Trademe. Get fucked, a 2015 Honda Wave 125i for sale in NZ - the only one I'd ever seen. Just as I was leaving a shop and had been chatting about organising importation for one - the exact goal was right in front of my eyes and already in the right country. A few phone calls, emails and a quick look from @Shakotom and she was mine:
BIKE: Honda Wave 125i
SET UP: 125cc, Fuel injected, 4 speed (no clutch lever) - same motor as Super Cub C125 - similar to Grom and Monkey 125.
FUN FACTS: I own this. Nice.
After Thomas had viewed it I sent the money through immediately. I wasn't even due home for a week. Upon landing in NZ I went and visited the beast in person a long with a great scheduled AKL visit from the great @Raizer and it was picked up - ready to come to NZ.
When Thomas had viewed it - It had 1650km on the clock, next to no oil in the engine and it had been sitting for years. Imported by a fella who gave up half way through the process. I took the gamble and got it anyway. When else would I ever get an opportunity like this?
I was so confident I'd pick it up that I bought a few parts for it in Thailand - I hadn't actually paid for the bike yet but the only shop I knew of with parts on the shelf was near my hotel and we were leaving shortly so I bought a full plastic kit for it, a new front basket and some maintenance items. The next day I got confirmation about the bike and paid for it.
With the lockdown approaching and compliance not yet sorted I bought the thing home to play with.
First things first I changed the shocks - I'd picked some 280mm shock up in Vietnam before I even knew this Wave existed. So I gave them a go:
Then I started to change the plastics over. They are made by a company in Bangkok - stock style with rad colours. Here's the backside of the Honda plastic tail:
And here's the aftermarket one:
Here's the fuel pump set up in the top of the tank; quite cool turning the key on your small bike and hearing it whizz into life:
The ECU is hidden under the seat - if you take the seat bin out it's sitting right there. These can be 'tuned' quite heavily which is cool.
Theres the ECU at the top of the frame, below the fuel tank:
I swapped the stock IRC tyres for Shinko SR898's.
I've used 70/90-17 front and 90/80-17 rear. It's different to the usual Thai spec super skinny rims and tyres, we'll see if I end up changing the wheels or not later when the world is a bit more open again, the centre stand sits quite low to the ground now the rear is lowered too. But I love the colour; the bike looks so much better now!
Here's one chuffed fella:
So thats my story of how I got a Honda Wave. It took 7 years but I finally got there.
I plan on dailying this bike for a long time. So there won't be many extra nangs added to the bike aside from an exhaust. Thai fellas are chucking 6Xmm pistons in their engines and doing sub 7 second 1/8th miles but I'm keen to keep this thing as reliable as possible.
Thanks if you got this far.
If you scrolled all the way here because this was way too long, here's a summary: I bought a bike I always wanted but didn't get for no particular reason. OS GC's made it possible.