LIFE AND TIMES OF THE CR125
“Honda will never build a two-stroke motorcycle.” Soichiro Honda made that statement in the late ’60s
and meant it. He had built his company on the four-stroke
design and was doing quite well with it. Yet, a few years
later, Honda released a two-stroke that changed the world.
The 1974 CR125M was produced in greater numbers than
any motocross bike ever built. It introduced a generation
of riders to racing and, more than any other single motorcycle, was responsible for the dirt bike boom that followed.
It’s impossible to overstate the impact of that one motorcycle on the sport we know today.
Mr. Honda’s turnaround on the subject of two-strokes
was the result of two factors. First, he was pathologically
competitive. He loved racing and couldn’t stomach the
idea of losing—on the track or in sales. Second, there was
a group of young engineers at the company that believed
in the two-stroke design and had a secret development
program that was hidden from management. When they
summoned the courage to present the project to the president, he begrudgingly approved. But he warned them, “If
you insist on building a two-stroke, it better be the best in
The right bike
at the right time
The first 125 Elsinore. This RC125 was raced in 1972 by Taichi
Yoshimura in the All-Japan Motocross Championship. You can
read more about it on www.mxworksbike.com.