I’m not sure I can pin down the day or event that coaxed me into thinking that a lighter bike with less power was the way to go but somehow that combination has stuck in my head. Months ago I started hunting for an RM125 to build into a tight woods weapon. It might not be too big of an ordeal for most to build a better tool out of an existing tool but for logical reasons I’ve been questioning the legitimacy of my efforts. It’s a little expensive and a little risky but so far the potential rewards have outweighed the potential pitfalls. Or at least that what I’ve been telling myself.
Anyway, I’m committed now. I bought a 2005 RM125 from a 16-year old kid in northern Illinois. He had financed it and was asking way more than it was worth so we had a lengthy negotiating process but I finally got him to where I could deal with handing the cash over. Ends up the thing had hardly been ridden – the stock tires were relatively fresh, the air filter and oil had never been freshened and the chain had that shipping wax goop on it from the factory. He has owned it for neary 2 years but rarely rode it. I was elated, then I tore it apart.
It took me months to find a decent bike. I had called and quizzed 10 different sellers and scoured Craigslist for bikes that were 500 miles from my home. Most were junk. Most were young kids that were selling there 2-strokes in hopes of buying a 250F. Some adults that were selling acted like they had the last 125 on the planet and wouldn’t budge on the price. I suppose there is some reasoning to this in that Japanese 125s are no longer sold new from dealers and MX race organizations are welcoming back the 125 class (they are in demand). I’m glad I found what I was looking for.
During the time I was hunting for a bike I did some research into what the bump from 125ccs to 144 was going to cost – time and dollars. Ends up there’s a world-renowned 2-stroke tuner just 20 minutes from my house so he was the first I quizzed. I learned a ton during a fact seeking visit to his shop long before I had bought a bike. The porting changes are relatively simple to execute but knowing what to do is best done by an expert. And finding 144 pistons is a challenge and expensive but I found a source on-line.
Back to my orginial thinking. I love my RM250. It makes managable power and has power to spare. It turns like its an extension of me and thanks to Factory Connection, it soakes up every bit of the trail with aplomb. But I come from the bicycle world where lightweight is king. On paper a stock RM125 weighs 25lbs less than a 250. The ride-ready weights I got from my 250 and 125 differed by 17lbs (ride-ready is all fluids except gas). Seventeen pounds is nothing to sneer at – image having to carry that weight around for 3 hours and you understand what I’m getting to. Now I need to get that 144 to sing and we’ll be in business.
So after months of looking for a bike and doing research, I found a bike and tore it apart. I actually only rode it to the end of my street and back as a 125 before I disassembled it and started sending parts all over the country to be modified. In fact, I can only remember ever having ridden a 125 two other times in all my moto days. I’m optimistic that the larger 144 displacement will make enough power to keep me moving in the right direction but I still have my doubts. At least if my project fails to meet my expectations it will be easy to sell.
The last parts I had to special order will arrive by mail tomorrow. I can assemble the engine tomorrow night. I’ve gone through the rest of the bike already so I should be able to button it up and make noise pretty soon.
I’m hoping to get some indoor time on it this weekend at the Sandbox riding arena near Minneapolis. I’ve never ridden there. I’ll take my 250 just in case there are issues with Project 144. Fingers crossed it kicks butt.