ON THE RECORD: COMPLETE TEST OF THE 2005 HONDA CR125
If you were like us, you were getting nervous that Honda was dumping their two-strokes for 2005. When the CRF250 and CRF450 were released in July, Honda didn’t even have a photo of the 2005 CR two-strokes to show. Even worse, they weren’t even mentioned. To their credit, every time we asked about the two-strokes, Honda assured us that they were coming, but that they would be late. There are only two possible explanations for why the CR125 and CR250 would be delayed:
(2) The CRs were undergoing serious remodeling and Honda’s engineers needed more time to finalize all of the changes. This isn’t uncommon (the Suzuki RM-Z450 four-stroke was pushed back four months for fine tuning).
What was the real reason? In our opinion, it was a little of both. First, it’s no secret that the market place is a four-stroke world right now. So, Honda held up the two-strokes to focus on the four-strokes. Second, Honda did put serious effort into fixing the flaws that have held the CR125 and CR250 back. The redesign probably needed more time–which is why the 2005 CR125 and CR250 got back-burnered.
Q: IS THE 2005 CR125 FASTER THAN THE 2004 CR125?
A: What isn’t? Last year’s 2004 CR125 was slow. The engine package wasn’t competitive with any other 125 in the class. Worse, it wasn’t even close to being competitive with all the 250Fs on the track.
Is the 2005 CR125 better? Yes. The 2005 CR125 is much faster than the 2004 model. In fact, it’s now competitive with the rest of the 125s. As for the 250Fs, let’s not get too greedy.
Q: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE ON THE 2005 CR125 ENGINE?
A: Remember that high-tech electronically-con trolled power valve that Honda ballyhooed on the 2004 CR125? It’s long gone. Honda returned to a more traditional, governor-actuated, four-ball power valve. If you think this is a technological retreat, you’ve been watching too much G4TechTV.
None of the MXA wrecking crew are weeping over the loss of the electric power valve. In truth we are hoping they will go mechanical on the CR250 next year. The old-school power valve is an improvement.
Q: WHAT ELSE WAS CHANGED ON THE CR125 POWERPLANT?
(10) Radiator core depth was increased from 24mm to 28mm.
Q: WHAT DID THEY ACHIEVE WITH ALL THOSE CHANGES?
Q: WHAT DID THE MXA TEST RIDERS THINK AFTER THE FIRST RIDE?
A: They didn’t like the CR125. Why not? Bad gearing. We’ve been battling this problem for years. Manufacturers, especially Honda, love to equip their bikes with tall gearing. Why? They want the bikes to pull as long as possible in every gear. On a trail, in the hands of a National Pro or while play racing, this is okay. But, for racing you need to have close gear ratios that offer the maximum power focused into the correct places.
Q: WHAT DOES THE 2005 CR125 RUN LIKE?
A: Previous CR125s had a very narrow powerband (mostly in the middle). The new CR125 has lots of middle and plenty of top. The ‘05 CR125 pulls strong, but you’ll have to use a little clutch to get the bike into the meat of its powerband.
Q: WHAT ABOUT THE STOCK JETTING?
Q: HOW GOOD IS THE CR125 SUSPENSION?
A: Very good. When the tech specs first came out for the 2005 CR125, they claimed that Honda would be making a fork change. The specs lied. The ‘05 CR125 has the exact same suspension that it had in 2004. That’s not a bad thing in our book. We loved the suspension last year and we love it again this year. Don’t get us wrong, we would’ve preferred to see the 2005 CR125 sporting the new 48mm Kayaba forks that grace the 2005 YZ125, but by standing pat they didn’t risk taking a step backwards on the settings.
Forks: We left them alone. They come standard with 0.44 kg/mm forks springs and good valving. Set the compression on 14 out and the rebound on 10 out.
Shock: Just like the forks, Honda didn’t mess with a good thing. The spring rate is 4.7 kg/mm. Our best setting was with the low-speed compression on 10 out, the high-speed compression at 2 turns out and the rebound on 12 out.
We set the sag at 100mm, although you could run it as low as 105mm if you feel the bike is riding high in the rear.
Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?
(5) Tires: We commend Honda for ditching their fascination with the old Dunlop 495/695 combo, but the new Dunlop 742/756 combination is a little unbalanced. We’d like to see them switch to either a 739 or 756 front tire.
Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE?
(4) Components: Nothing is built like a Honda. The frame is great, the clutch flawless, the front brake awe inspiring, the swingarm a piece of art and the hubs light beyond belief.
(5) Ergonomics: You just feel good sitting in the CR125. The Renthal handlebars are in the right spot as are the footpegs.
Q: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK?
A: In a surprising turnaround, every MXA test rider liked the 2005 CR125. It is a very capable 125cc tiddler. Best of all, it has all the charms that Honda is famous for (reliability, handling, quality and suspension). If you’re looking for a two-stroke that will last forever and be competitive, but not omnipotent, give the CR125 a look.