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>Project RM125

More than anything else this project is about fulfilling an ambition. When I was a kid I desperately wanted a motocross bike. Unfortunately it wasn't to be, and while the farmer's kids rode around fields on knackered old bikes I was stuck with a raleigh racing bike.

So here I am 25 years on with a little bit more money and the ability to realise my dream...Sadly I'm not going to be the world champion anymore (not that I ever would have been, given any amount of childhood indulgence) but I sure as hell can pretend. Life is about fulfilling ambitions and reaching goals, now that I've missed my chance to play guitar in Led Zep or play for Manchester City I can console myself with boring the in-laws with details of two-stroke crank rebuilding.

First, get a Bike...

As with all successful projects, the secret is to do your research and have a plan before you start. My research involved trying to remember what were cool bikes way back in the seventies, not easy when your memory is as bad as mine. Having scoured through old mags, vintage MX websites and drooled over pictures in the excellent VMX mag the conclusion was that in the mid seventies the bikes to have were Honda Elsinores/CRs...so we set off for the Classic Offroad Show with the firm intention of grabbing a honda with our £300 cash budget. Our overall objective was to keep the cost under a grand, so we didn't want to blow it all at once. One of the beauties of restoring MX bikes is that they are pretty simple, so you don't need to have a huge budget for expensive chrome bits and electrics etc.

So having set of for a Honda, how did we end up with a Suzuki RM125? Well the short answer is that the Honda's were beyond our budget. Vintage MX is competitive and everyone wants the best bikes so the Hondas on sale ranged from £700 to £3000 (yikes). So we found our RM nestling in a corner looking pretty complete and with a seller who was willing to drop the price to £200 from £250 and threw in a spare engine (although this wasn't an RM engine, it made us feel better). OK, so our plan has taken a small diversion, but surely we can't go wrong with a suzuki?

The bike was in one piece, although badly repainted and rusting pretty much everywhere. One thing we failed to notice was that the cylinder head had been removed at some point and not bolted back in place, this had let water into the crankcase and had corroded all the bearings in the crank...anyway, this is getting ahead of ourselves, we didn't find this out for quite a while. We had quite a bit of stuff to choose from at the show with our limited budget. These included some nice Bultaco Pursangs, more RM's, a few montessa and bultaco trials bikes. If we'd upped our budget we could have got more exotic stuff from Husqvarna or KTM. Most of the old British stuff was very expensive (and not really my era..). So the RM was haggled over (I think the guy just wanted to go home, as he'd sold all his other stuff) and we agreed a price of £200 plus a TS185 engine (don't ask why).

Having purchased the bike we wheeled it back to the car and stripped the forks so we could get it in the car, in the process we lent the bike over and loads of water poured out of the crankcase, the first sign that all might not be well. Anyway, when we got home and had time to reflect on our purchase, we still felt a glow of satisfaction and excitement about embarking on the project...

and here's the plan...
1 Get a Bike...
2 Strip It
3 Clean it
4 Paint it
5 Seat
6 Engine
7 Frame and Suspension
8 Test it
9 Race it
The costs so far...
the goal...
oh, she's a beauty...all furry alloy and rusty nuts. Can we fix it? Well if we can't fix something this simple, god help us with a modern, watercooled, powervalved bike.
What we learnt this time...  
When buying an old crock you really do need to be objective (we weren't) and try to assess what is needed and what the likely costs are going to be. These bike, even when restored, aren't going to be worth huge amounts so you need to make sure that most of the stuff you need is present and can be restored or that the stuff is still available at reasonable prices.