- BY SPENCER OWENS
In 2017, my Dad Tim and younger brother Mason found a beat up 2001 CR125cc on craigslist. It really was no-brainer to decide to purchase the bike with the intention of fixing it up and making it a project bike. So the purchase was made and it was brought to our shop to sit next to our 2018 Suzuki RMZ250 and my 2011 Kawasaki KXF250. After a few months of having the 2001 CR125 and adding parts here and there, my brother lost interest in the project build and began to bug me for a trade. He wanted my 2011 KXF. Right off the bat, I declined. What was I going to do with a bike that could barely run? After a few days and a quick trip to the 2018 Two-Stroke World Championships, I realized that it’s not about what the CR125’s current state was, it was about what it could be. So, I shook hands with my brother, signed the trade agreement on a small paper napkin, and the CR125 was mine. From that point on my mission was to bring new life to a 17-year-old motorcycle.
The next weekend I decided to take some time to see what the CR125 really needed. After talking with my dad to see what had already been done, taking some notes, drawing up some designs, and making my “To Do” list, it was time to get started. The first thing I looked at was the plastics. My plan was to put 2006 style CR style plastic on the 2001 model but, after looking online for any sort of help or direction, all I kept reading was “it can’t be done”. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t believe things “can’t” be done. It’s a matter of finding the right combination of things so, I had to look at it from a different point of view and make some adjustments.
In order to put my bike goals to the test, I needed to replace the airbox and tank to the 2006 versions. Once the old parts came off, the new airbox and tank mounted right up to the frame. Putting on the new plastic, however, was a bit tough at first. I needed some brackets to secure the plastic so I went to my local Home Depot and picked up a ½” wide x ⅛” thick aluminum bar stock, and made brackets for each side of the frame. After drilling two holes (one for the shroud, the other for the frame the plastic fit perfectly. From there, all I needed was the parts to make it run.
One of the biggest problems was the suspension. It was leaking everywhere when we brought it home, and it had no compression or comfort whatsoever. After researching and talking to with my dad I realized I needed help. One of the perks of working in the industry is knowing the right people so, I contacted my friends over at FACTORY CONNECTION to see if they could help me out. They rebuilt the entire 2001 KYB spring system for me so I was able to check that off my list.
Next up, was the motor work. No matter how much I tried or looked on YouTube for direction, I just couldn’t dial the jetting in. Over social media, I ran across a company called LECTRON Fuel Systems. This company makes a great carb with no jetting required so I picked one up, and mounted it. From there, I wanted to make the bike a little more powerful. I’m a taller guy ringing in around 6”0, so I felt the 125cc’s might not be enough. Luckily, the guys at LA SLEEVE were kind enough to provide a big bore 134cc kit from Wiseco, and this gave the 17 year old bike a little more bottom end power. Once I got the big things taken care of, everything else just fell into place. We used a “Fuel Star” valve kit, “FMF” exhaust, Samco Hoses, ARC Levers, All Balls Racing clutch, brake cables and swing arm bearings, MIKA Metals Bars, SuperSprox Sprocket, and ODI Grips, Boyesen Rad Valves and clutch covers, IMS Pegs, Hammerhead rear shifter, Moto Tape frame tape, and a fresh set of Dunlop MX33 Tires. The mechanics of the bike were all coming together but I had some personal touches I really wanted my 2001 CR134cc to have. One of those touches was black rims. Excel was kind enough to send me an set. I used my local wheel professionals, Faster USA, and they added their own personal touch to the build by using a cerakote coating to the original 2001 hubs (nice touch, huh?). After all the parts were assembled to the frame, it was the moment of truth, would the bike even start? Sure enough, after two kicks, she purred like a newborn kitten on steroids. There is really something very exciting and special to see all the hard work pay off. It was a big project and a lot of learning…it is a moment I will never forget! What was left…the exterior design.
I opened up my Instagram one day and see that Polisport Plastics has released a re-style kit for CR125’s. This kit will make the older bikes look similar to a 2017-2019 Honda 4-stroke model. I knew I had to get my hands on one so I made some calls, and I was lucky enough to get the very first kit to ever land in the USA. Online, it says the kit fits a 2002-2006. But with the help of the brackets I previously constructed for the 06 plastic, it mounted right up and added an element to the bike that I am completely in love with. Last but not least, my good friend Will Bartsch over at “Bartsch Designs” provided us with graphics for the plastic and to finish up the bike’s exterior I had the seat cover fabricated by SDG. As I look back to the beginning of this crazy journey, I am so glad I made the trade with my brother and gave new life to a perfectly good motorcycle. Now, he keeps bugging me to trade him back but I just look at him, smile and say, “Not happening, bud.”