Classic Steel

GP Classic Steel #6 – 1979 Honda CR125R Elsinore

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Comments (17)
  1. Since you are so against every change Honda made in ’79 I would more than willing to take the bike shown in your pictures and go kick some ass on all of those other superior makes you mentioned just like I did in ’79. Your correct in spending money to get the suspension dialed in but that motor made for one fast bike. And as far as dependability, I raced desert also and it was those other bikes with all of the DNF’s next to their names. Please let me know where I can pick my new bike up.

      1. Utah. If you still have one of these things I am still interested . I would also be interested in the ‘79 250. (Gained a few pounds since ‘79😀) Of all of the different bikes and makes ive bought over the years the ‘79 cr is probably my favorite.

    1. I bought one new in 81 and it was a great little bike. We raced on what I would call a smaller MX track near St. Louis, MO. I ruled on the 125cr and loved the large front tire. I did need to replace it years later with a ChinShing 23, but that 7 years in, well after its day. I also put Kayaba F air shocks on the rear, after wearing the stock units out, which came from the D&G aftermarket kit. I wish I would have bought the swing arm, too, because of current resale value. My motor ran extremely well and pulled many a 250 to the first turn, but I could launch that rocket.

  2. I too had a ’79 CR125R. Yep, air forks for the front, Replaced the rear shocks. Polished and ported the motor. In my neck of the woods I won the 125, 250 and open classes on the CR125R. Never had a chain problem – EVER. Not bad for such a lacklustre bike. It may not have had all the goodies straight out of the box, but if you are racing and you race a box stock bike, you’ll always be at the back of the pack. Once polished, this bike hauled ass.

    1. You seem to be taking this quite personally, but let me make it clear, this is not my opinion of this particular bike. I was 9 years old in 1979 and did not own a ’79 CR125R. When I write these articles, I am relying on the tests and shootouts done at the time. I have a collection of several thousand classic MX magazines and I research every article quite thoroughly before writing them. No matter what bike I write about, there is always someone who had one and had no issues. I am glad you had good success with yours, but apparently, that was not the case for many others.

  3. Yep, I had one too. Coming from a 77 Honda 125 this bike was as advertised by Honda a complete revelation (even before it had a few things done). We did convert it to 21″ front wheel which did need a small frame adjustment to keep the geometry good, so I would agree with all you say about that. This article from start to finish puts the bike down, if you were a club level rider and you bought one of theses your results instantly improved. Not the best bike out there that year but a huge improvement on previous Honda’s. They were the most modern looking and eye catching bike in 1979 .

    1. The bike was good looking an I certainly thought they were cool at the time. I did own the ’78 CR250R Elsinore but never the ’79 CR125R. I am relying completely on the magazine tests of the time as to its performance and they were pretty hard on it in 1979. No matter what I write, someone will take exception with it because they liked it better than the editors at MXA or Dirt Bike. Opinions are of course subjective and I am sure plenty of people loved thier ’79 CR125Rs at the time. You have to take any test with a grain of salt because they are based on the opinions of humans.

  4. Yea, I read all those same magazines back when the new Red Rockets came out. The “Rs” were praised as being almost works bikes. They RAVED about the one-foot of travel. Along comes Fox and Simmons……..hey, now there’s something else to write about ……now the Honda’s are crap. What a change six week brings, huh?

    Don’t “first year” models often have some trouble? Anyway, it was still Honda quality that made everything else look shabby, very.

    You write,
    “…the CR had a decent, if not awe inspiring, spread of power.”
    Next sentence you write,
    “…the little CR was the runt of the litter.”
    So, which is it? Actually, as I recall, the magazines thought the motor was awesome. Like nothing else that had avey been in the 125 class before.

    I think it was about 90% rider. I think a lot of guys won trophy’s on CR’s. I think the guys that did could do so on a 26″ front tire, or a 23 or a 21. etc. I think magazines just like to blab. I think the internet is…well….

    So Tony, why are we razzn you? Please read and reread this article. Holy cats! No bike could be THAT bad, could it? Thanks for the beautiful pictures.

    1. I have not read this article in about 6 years but I am slowly going through and cleaning many of them up. My writing has improved with practice and this is one of the first ones I wrote and there could, of course, be grammatical and writing errors certainly. I think that early on I took some amount to relish in piling on bikes that the magazines skewered and perhaps I leaned into that a bit too much. As I am going through and editing and redoing the older ones I am dialing that back a bit in an effort to be fairer in my prose. That said, however, the sentiments shared in the article are not mine and are based 100% on the opinions of the testers of the time in the original articles which I still have and always use for references for my articles. I never claim to be some oracle that is 100% correct, but I do my best to tell the story of each machine in an entertaining and informative way based on the best information I can obtain.

    2. Oh and one more thing. Of course, motocross is 90% rider. It has always been about the rider by a huge margin, but if all I did was say everything was great and said the performance of the bike was irrelevent than that would not make for very interesting reading.

  5. Opinions are like certain body parts. I just wanted to thank you for publishing these synopsis on old MX bikes. My first motocrosser was a 74 Elsinore 250. I live in the past a lot, so you provide a way to travel back. Sometimes I wish I could just stay there.

  6. I had a 74 125 elsinore when I was 15 years old. Bought it used. Then bought the 79 new out of the crate in 79.
    I loved the 74, and the 79 was totally different ride.
    They were both great rides, and I miss both those bikes, they bring back a lot of good memories. I agree with Joe, I wish I could go back, even for a short time. It was an awesome time
    Great bikes.
    Im 60 now and in the process of restoring a 1974 honda 250 mt. Its as close as im gonna get to the cr

    Ride on

  7. I bought a 79 used in 82 let me tell ya that was the first 125 that had any semblance of midrange power all the other ones were rev to the moon time bombs. If you knew how to plant the front wheel in turns that was a badass bike. That bike with a 19 inch rear would have been more accepted. You’re wrong about the tire selection you had Chang shin and Yokohama back then with tires. Back then racers actually used cheng shins. That bike was slso the first 125 that I didn’t regularly blow up. In 78 that bike was awesome because Honda ran the 74 style al the way up to 78 and loyal red riders were ready for a makeover.

  8. I bought my first real bike and it was the 79 cr.
    From mini bike to this bike was awesome.
    Bought off an older guy who broke his arm while riding it said the powerband kicked in and that was it.
    I had no Idea what that was but found out fast and I loved that bike.
    That’s all I knew.
    Keeping rpm’s up and that bike was a screamer
    I grew up in MA and just mastered the handling of that bike on any terrain.
    I was 14yo then now I’m 56 and would love to take one for a ride again.
    To me that bike was like old blue to Ralphy in Christmas story

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