$2,000 Two-Stroke Revival: 2003 Honda CR125 3

Whether you just want a fun, cheap second bike or you are trying to get into motocross on a budget, this is one way to do it.

 

Yeah, sure, we all love budget busting mega bike builds with everything coated and blinged and polished, with ti this and carbon that. But, for probably 99% of us, those are far beyond our budget. Plus, for someone looking at getting a second bike, maybe their first two-stroke, or someone that is completely new to the sport, even a brand new motocross bike at eight grand plus is stretch. That's where this bike fits in. This build, including purchasing the used 2003 Honda CR125, comes in at just over two grand - $2,075. No, it is not going to win any bike beauty contests, and no, it isn't going to be a ripper. But, yes, it will be a safe, fun, easy to work on, learning-tool of a bike that has a smile-to-dollar ratio that is unbeatable. 

Bike Cost: $900

This whole project started because one of our testers wanted to get a bike for his wife to ride as a step-up from a clapped-out TT-R125. He wanted to get a full-size bike, but, since she is just over 100 lbs and of novice riding ability, getting a bike with a lot of power was not important. What was important was getting a bike without gnarly mechanical or frame/chassis issues. He found a 2003 Honda CR125 that ran, but not well. A few reasons he pulled the trigger on this particular bike were, one, the chassis and motor where in good condition, and, as a long time Honda owner, he knew that he could reuse some of the parts laying around in his garage. 

This is definitely something to think about when starting a project like this. If you’ve had KTMs or Kawis or Yamahas in the past, you’ll most likely have extra parts laying around. If you are buying a bike to work on and build up, stick with a brand you know and have some parts for. To be honest, the 2003 Honda CR125 was not a good bike even when it was brand new. It didn’t do well in any of the shootouts. But, that’s really not the point of this build. 

Eric Gorr: $500

Replate Cylinder/Port/Fix Head/Wiseco Piston

As mentioned before, the bike was running, but not in great shape. On its second shake down ride at Cahuilla (in deep sand with a big rider on it) the motor seized. The reason wasn’t entirely obvious but the motor was sent to Eric Gorr for a bore (to 134cc) replate, port, a fix for the head, and a new Wiseco piston. Even if you get motor work done at a big name race shop, some send out the cylinders to a third party for work, and Eric is one of those third parties. But his place also does work directly so you can save some money by just going to him. 

OEM Crank: $200

This wasn’t entirely necessary but with cylinder damage, there could be bits and pieces in the bottom end, and since our tester was going to open that up to make sure, he went on Ebay and found an OEM Honda crank.

Pro X: $170

Brake Pads/Chain/Sprocket

For safety reasons, it should be common sense to buy these things new. And even though the pads still had life in them, they were covered in oil so needed to be replaced. 

Seat Cover: $10

The bike’s cover was aftermarket and roached with blown out seams. Facebook marketplace to the rescue! A stock Honda seat cover was found for just ten bucks. 

Tires and Tubes: $125

We understand that not everyone is connected to a large riding community or have generous friends, but the front tire was a donation from another riding buddy who just didn’t like that particular tread pattern. The rear was bought on-sale online for $75, as were the heavy-duty tubes ($50 for the pair).

Bars and Grips: Free

The bars where takeoffs from another bike, as were the clamps. And the grips where just laying around in the garage. Again, even if you don’t have a garage full of take-offs, perhaps some of your riding buddies do and all it would take to get some parts that they just didn’t like might be some In-and-Out or a six-pack of adult beverages. 

Pipe: Free

The bike came with a Pro Circuit pipe that was about halfway flattened. Most people would chuck it in the bin and buy a new one. But not on a budget! Our tester used an exhaust plug safety wired into one end of the pipe, heated the dented area up to glowing red-hot with a torch, and then pumped in about 50-60 PSI to push the dent back out. Worked like a charm. 

Repack/Grease All Bearings: Free

Well, technically this cost whatever the small amount of grease that you use. Plus it cost you time. But, this one major thing that makes any bike, no matter how old, feel AND ride better. 

Carburetor: $100

Petcock O-ring/Jets/Carb O-rings/Gaskets

To be honest, our guy lost track of exactly out much all of this cost so he rounded up, a lot. This was probably closer to $40-$50 when he bought just the pieces he needed. He also thoroughly cleaned the carb and all the jets which is free, costing just another chunk of time. 

Clutch Perch: $20

Another Ebay treasure. The perch that he got was actually for a CRF450R, prior to the hot-start days, which works just fine on this bike. Here is where some research and knowledge can help you save some money. When something is broke, our gut reaction to replace it with stock, or aftermarket. Yet our guy has pretty extensive knowledge of Honda’s and figured that these parts are interchangeable. 

Viscid Graphics: $40

Yep, that’s it. Just for shroud graphics (not the swingarm stickers) Viscid will print these up for you. That’s cheaper than what you can find from China on Amazon and Viscid is local here in SoCal. 

Extras: Free

The last few things were a little McGiver-y and just typical maintenance items that didn’t cost any money. The rubber connector for the pipe/silencer was damaged so it was replaced with a section of rubber hose laying around the garage. The throttle and clutch cables were cleaned and lubed. The throttle housing was taken apart, cleaned, and rebuilt. And, while the tubes and tires were off the rims, a little penetrating lube was applied to the spoke nipples from the inside of the rim to get the spokes freed up so they could be torqued properly. 

Overall

At the end of the day, going from having no bike in the garage to having a safe, fun, CR125 motocross bike to ride is a total win. Again, the smile-to-dollar ratio is sky-high. If you want to do something like this yourself, there are a few main takeaways. One, be patient and do your research - a lot of parts fit a wide range of models and parts are always popping up on Ebay or Facebook. Two, focus on the parts of the bike you will feel, not what looks cool. Refreshing the throttle, clutch, cables, bars, grips, seat - basically the points of contact with the bike - are what make a bike feel good, not anodized aluminum. And three, remember that the point of a bike like this is really to have fun and learn a bit in the process, not go out and set the fastest lap times of your life. 

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