It took a while, it was a lot of money but we’re done!
Photos by LeBig
Well finally, #Project89 is done! I have chronicled the other two project bike builds, the ’88 YZ250 HERE and the ’90 KX 250 HERE and both times before I started those two bikes, I was looking for an 1989 Honda. I don’t know what it is about that year but I always wanted to build one. I owned a ’90 and that didn’t appeal to me and everyone does ‘87’s so it was either an ’88 CR250 or an “89 CR 125 or 250 for me. That was ideal. Honda went dark red for only two years (’88 and ’89) and only the ’88 250 had the low-boy pipe look that I desired.
Everyone has a different reason why they picked their project bike and I think in the end you have to respect that choice right? The ’90 Kawasaki was also on the bucket list for me because they were so damm cool when they came out. The ’88 YZ, well that wasn’t on my list but a guy in Alaska offered it to me for free if I paid the shipping (thanks Ollie!) so I went for it.
Now I did step by step for the other bikes and figured that was old news so let me just present the completed machine here with one “before” shot for you to look at.
Ok, so I’ve done three of these now and we have a cool idea for this bike down the road but for now, I think I’m done with project bike builds. Like, I’ve had enough you know?
It’s funny, as the bikes have gone along they’ve gotten progressively harder and more expensive. Despite being far and away the choice for vintage racing, Honda’s got the worst availability for NOS parts out of the three I did. This Honda was stored near the ocean so it was pretty rough with rust and broken/crappy bolts. The power valve was worn so badly and no parts were available for it that it took three eBay purchases to make one system. Well, three purchases AND Spencer at the JGR shop to fix one arm up and take the slack out of it after the purchased ones were too hammered to use. The transmission? Yeah, it was shot and that was another purchase. Clutch? Inner, outer, pressure plate- all blown out. The other two bikes didn’t need any of the above outside of an exhaust flap for the KIPS on the Kawasaki.
|The original machine picked up six months ago. Nick McCabe photo|
The frame? Cracked and a broken exhaust pipe bolt meant a trip to a welder and I figured I’d get the paint blasted off the swingarm at the same time via soda blast. I got the frame back with hack welds and a jacked up exhaust tab along with a swingarm that was pitted like crazy because they “ran out of baking soda”.
So that was more running around along with getting the brake calipers and ATAC chambers beat down black paint blown off.
The bike had an ’88 rear wheel on it which meant a new disc on the back as well and that was a whole other ordeal that I’d rather not talk about.
To be fair, some of the issues, costs I had were my own doing. After all, I didn’t HAVE TO decide to put on WP USD’s from a 2001 KTM on it did I? I didn’t HAVE TO spend the crazy amount of money on the “Honda Racing” covers from England or the handful of Ti bolts did I?
Ok, enough whining by me. I will say that I think this is the coolest looking project bike I’ve done so far and the trickest as far as what’s inside the bike. Let’s take a look at the final project yeah?
|I mean there are certain things you HAVE to do when you’re building up a late 80’s, 90’s CR bike and that’s put the Honda HRC wing shroud sticker on there right? These came with the Camel Supercross logo underneath but I clipped those right off. The Technosel seat cover is something I went with on the ’88 YZ and I love the look of them so it was no-brainer to put it on this bike with a stock foam from GUTS Racing.
|Race Tech is now offering engine services for two and four stroke machines and after touring their shop around Anaheim, I can attest that they’re not fooling around. They took my beat-down looking cylinder and head, soda blasted it all nice and then cleaned up the ports and head. I didn’t want to go nuts with cutting the head, making it a full race bike that needs race gas but a small port job, I’m down with that. And if I had a two-stroke of any kind, I would always have a V-Force reed block on them. They really work and I have no connections there, I’ve paid full price for each one I’ve put in.
|The folks at Talon hooked me up with hubs for this bike and DUBYA USA built the wheel set around those for me. The color of the hubs was something I thought about with gold and red kicked around by me. In the end, black was the choice and I’m stoked with the choice. Red is too modern of a look and gold wouldn’t have matched the rim color and besides, that’s too much gold anyways.
|Besides all the machining work that the Honda guys did for me on the clamps, the Emig customs came with a deep-set allen bolt on them that seemed to make the bolts from Home Depot or something. I remembered that for about 20 years the Kawasaki factory clamps sort of used that deep allen as well so I got the Kawasaki guys to hook me up with old Ti bolts. Problem was, the bolt head outer diameter was too big so back to the Honda machine shop where Lars took the lathe to them to fit inside the clamps.
|And also to not complicate things because the forks are off a 2001 KTM, I had to get the front hub for KTM and an entire Magura front brake system for a KTM. All eBay purchases. So this bike is 85% Honda, 15% KTM.
|What the real gnarly vintage bike builders want is the old school PC silencers with the tip that could cut you. I don’t care that much so a newer style end cap is fine with me.
|Sweet straight blade Ti bolts for the rad shrouds from the guys in England along with the drilled out washer on the bottom.
|For sure a 125cc dirt bike does not need a 280mm oversize disc on it to stop but because the front end is a 2001 KTM, MotoStuff had this oversize disc for it. Yeah it’s overkill but it looks sweet right?
|This most frustrating to build, the most money spent but the coolest one I think!
SPECS 1989 CR 125
Cylinder: Race Tech
Head: Race Tech
Pipe: Pro Circuit
Silencer: Pro Circuit
Connecting Rod: Hot Rods
Carb: Keihin PWK/SUDCO
Clutch Plates: Stock
Clutch Inner Basket/Outer Basket/Pressure Plate: Hinson
Gasket Kit: Athena
Front Fork: WP 48mm SXS/Race Tech
Rear Shock: KYB/Race Tech
Triple Clamp: Emig Racing (Custom)
Wheel Hub/Rim: Talon/EXCEL Gold
Tires: Michelin StarCross 5 Medium
Front Disc: Moto Stuff Blade KTM Oversize 280mm
Rear Disc: Sunstar
Front/Rear Brake Lines: Moto stuff
Rear Sprocket: Pro Taper 52T
Front Sprocket: Pro Taper 14T
Brake Pads: Pro Taper RS
Chain: Pro Taper Gold Series
Footpegs: 2005 Yamaha YZ250
Linkage/Swingarm/Steering Head Bearings: Pivot Works
Handlebars: Pro Taper 7/8 SE
Throttle Tube: Pro Circuit
Clutch Perch: Works Connection Elite Perch
Grips: Pro Taper Single Density Half Waffle
Front Master Cylinder: 2001 KTM with Works Connection cover
Seat: GUTS Racing Foam
Graphics: Roost MX
Filter: Twin Air/BTOSports.com
Honda OEM Parts: BabbittsOnline.com