The forged aluminum 1981 Honda CR250 shift lever was spectacular in its days. It was also the most expensive shift lever at the time.

Motocross history is filled with examples of creative ideas that were heralded as groundbreaking, but, because of the rapid rate of change in development, sank into the swamp of forgotten technology. Although some ideas are best left abandoned, others were truly innovative (if not ultimately successful). MXA loves to reveal motocross’ tech trivia. Do you remember this idea? The 1981 Honda shift lever.

The 1981 Honda CR250 did not live up to its pre-release hype. Not only did it have the stupidest front number plate in motocross history, but the frame broke, the clutch slipped, the head pipe hung below the frame, and the transmission popped out of third gear constantly. Even worse, it weighed over 240 pounds, overheated at every race, had an air filter that couldn’t keep dirt out and looked like a movie prop from “Star Wars.”

A rubber tube was inserted into the back of the shift lever via  tapered hole, while the end hook into the shift tip through a keyhole slot. The rubber tube replaced the standard-issue metal spring.

But, rarely noticed in 1981 was the most creative shift lever ever made. It looked like a normal shift lever until you flipped it over. It had a hollowed-out tunnel on the backside that housed a conical rubber bungee. The rubber cone ran from a tapered hole in the back of the lever up to the shift tip‚ where it attached to a notch on the folding tip. Instead of using a spring to allow the shift tip to fold, the 1981 CR250’s folding shift tip was sprung by an elastic piece of rubber. Most 1981 Honda CR125/250/450 owners never knew it was there, but it was a thing of beauty.

The rubber tube was easily replace if it broke, but for vintage 1981 Honda CR125/CR250 owners, the injection-molded rubber tube is almost impossible to find and ridiculously expensive if you do find one.

This is the typical failure point. The rubber tube snapped in half and let the shifter tip to flop around.


1981 honda cr250forged shift leverforgotten motocross techmotocrossmxa