1994 Honda CR125 Two Stroke Restoration - Motocross Action Magazine

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We found a deal on a unique 1994 Honda CR125 and decided to invest our time and money into it. The bike didn’t run, and it looked in bad shape, but we saw potential. The engine looked intact. The frame had been oddly chromed but was straight and crack-free. The owner wanted $600. We gladly gave him the money, because we thought it was a 1994 Honda CR125 project started off great. We had the idea of replicating the flo-neon pink and yellow colors of the historic Works Connection logo from back in 1989. The frame was in good shape structurally, but the chrome finish wasn’t. Our first thought was to strip it and paint it white, but we know the best polisher in town at All American Polishing. We let them do the dirty work on the chrome, and it came back in pristine shape. Even if the chrome finish turned out well, the hardcore MXA test riders thought it was gaudy and desperate-looking. We eventually convinced them that the flo colors would accent the chrome tubing. Boy were we wrong! We tossed out the outdated 1994 Showa forks for a set of 2008 CRF450 forks. We had Race Tech re-valve the stock shock and update the Showa forks to work in unison. Of course, the 2008 CRF450 forks didn’t fit in the 1994 CR125 triple clamps. Applied Racing CNC machined us a custom set of triple clamps to accept our fork-updated triple clamps. Since the clamps had to be built from scratch, we had Applied drill out the front fender bolt holes to accept a 2016 CRF450 front fender because we liked the this stage, everything was going okay—not great, but not beyond the realm of the typical resto-mod of a 26-year-old motocross bike. It turns out that the hardest part of building any 26-year-old motocross bikes is finding parts for it. Honda stopped making 1994 CR125 replacement parts two decades ago. Why do they stop making parts for bikes that are still being used? Three reasons: (1) They couldn’t be expected to foresee a day when anyone would want to ride an almost three-decades-old dirt bike; (2) Back in 1994, the dealers had lots of CR125 parts on their shelves and didn’t have the space to keep stockpiling parts year after year for both new and old models; (3) Honda is in the business of selling new bikes, and they can’t stop the next year’s production line to run off parts for an old the FMF bolt-on power mated to the Tom Morgan-tuned engine, our CR125 sounded crisp on the stand. It looked great on the track when the first MXA test rider started to spin laps on it. We swear that we could see a big smile on his face behind his 6D helmet. That is until the bike rolled to a silent stop. The engine had lost compression. Our maiden voyage only lasted 15 minutes. We tore the engine down and didn’t find anything suspect, just a badly damaged cylinder and involved with the project was stumped, frustrated and embarrassed. We were breaking the bank with this build. There were test riders who wanted to shelve the project because it was taking up too much time for what there was to gain. We were missing time we looked at each piece with a magnifying glass. We knew the engine was getting hot and we had some expensive aluminum paperweights to prove it, but why? We checked the rebuilt Myler’s radiators, water hoses, water pump, radiator cap and impeller, but everything was in good working order. Finally, by accident, we flipped the cylinder over and saw something odd in the water jacket. There was a plug stuck way down inside that was blocking the coolant from circulating through the engine. The engine was blown up when we got it, but why the prior owner had plugged up a water passage was a for punishment, we rebuilt the CR125 engine for a third time. The third time is a charm, right? This time the bike ran great. For a change, the MXA test riders came back from their assigned duties, saying how surprised they were with how much fun it was to ride. It handled well, ran crisply, and the suspension, chassis and ergos were just what we expected. It didn’t erase all the flaws and foibles of a stock 1994 Honda CR125, but it ran better than a ‘94 Honda—at least after the first two every failure there is something valuable to gain. We missed something that cost us a boatload of time and money. And, we learned that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


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