My newest motorcycle purchase, a 2003 KX125. To preface I must say I'm instantly in love. I had been searching for a dirt bike for quite some time now, and when I saw this bike pop up after many hours of scouring craigslist I had to respond. What's kind of ironic is my first street bike was a 2003 Ninja 250 with green and black color scheme and my first dirt bike is a 2003 KX125 green and black...
Craigslist can always be a hit or miss ordeal, and it's always best to do your homework before even contacting someone. After awhile of searching on craigslist you develop a sense of which listings are ones worth your while. My first rule is to avoid postings that are in all CAPS, ones with crummy cell phones pics, and if I see a motorcycle, whether it be a street bike or dirt bike that has stickers plastered all over it, I tend to steer clear of. Not that stickers can't be taken off, but owners who have the "Look at these sweet Metal Mulisha stickers bro." are people I don't like to do business with. One last thing is look at is the background, was the photo taken in a driveway? A garage? If a garage was it a cluttered mess? Or maybe you could make out a work bench and well organized shelving. These people, more often then not, are more organized and stick to maintenance intervals recommended by the manual. Now these are just recommendations, not every craigslist ad is created equal, but you can get a sense if the price is too good to be true it usually is.
For anyone in my position of; you've ridden a street bike for a few year's and like me you are looking to get back into dirt riding or maybe you never have ridden anything off road, I would look at finding a 125 two stroke. The big four Japanese manufactures have all given up on the old 2 stroke engine, and only Yamaha has been keeping the tradition alive, but after this year will be switching over to all 4 stroke machines. Of course KTM will still be providing 2 strokes, but who knows for how long. I don't want to get into a 4 vs 2 stroke debate because there's a lot of opinions and if you do a google search the topic, there's plenty of debate of which is better. To each their own i say! In my situation, a 125 two stroke was going to be cheaper to buy and maintain, which was a big factor for my limited budget and I just wasn't sure how much riding I would be able to do. I've always liked the idea of a 2 stroke bike, after watching old MotoGP races with the 500cc two stroke bikes, and the amount power they make for the size and weight is pretty remarkable.
There's a helpful graphic of 2 stroke vs 4 strokes at the bottom of the page.
Growing up for family events we would drive out to my Uncle's ranch just on the outskirts of Petaluma, and while out there i would always look forward to riding dirt bikes. It never occurred to me at that age to ask my parents to buy me one, but when we went out to visit it's all i ever wanted to do. So growing up i learned how to ride on a little yamaha 80 and my cousins DRZ125. As i got older I got my first street bike and didn't really look back at dirt. I knew i wanted a dirt bike someday but a street bike was my first priority as I had friends that rode and the shear speed and freedom that having a street bike gives you. All I had to do was walk out my front door to ride a street bike, if I bought a dirt bike I would have to drive 45min to go ride it! Which seemed more daunting for some reason. Fast forward to now, I've had my F4i for almost 3 years now and have enjoyed it immensely, I've gone up and down the northern coast and all the way down to Laguna Seca to enjoy my first live MotoGP event. But now there was a itch riding on the street couldn't scratch, something about getting back out in the dirt was much more appealing now, and not getting run over by cross traffic would be nice… So that left me with two options, track day or dirt bike.
As a rider I have practiced to improve my skills and expand my tool set of abilities, not only for the joy of learning, but to help decrease the risk of everyday street riding. Every so often I still go to the old Jr. High blacktop to practice my figure 8's and hard braking. I knew to take my skills to the next step was to go track riding on my street bike, but there was this lingering desire to get back into dirt. Something about sliding the rear and feeling out of control was always appealing on a dirt bike, but that feeling was much less appealing on a street bike. I also realized that a lot of the skills I took for granted on a street bike were from when I was a kid riding in the dirt. So I decided if I could find the right bike I would get back into riding in the wet and dirty, or I would save my money for a track day and leather suit. I'm still hoping to do that, but I ending up going to the dirt and I'm loving it. I'm far more fortunate than most people in the fact that part of my family owns quite a few acres of sweeping fields, rolling hills, and some of the best views in the county. So I pretty much have to take advantage of that!
I found the bike about 20 minutes north of where I live, I knew as soon as i saw it, it was the bike for me. It had all the nice little bits, like a FMF pipe, ASV levers with bark busters and stock plastics in great shape. It was well taken care of, 1 owner, and the only thing it really needed was to be ridden. I was lucky to find it for $1,200 but i was even more fortunate that the guy i bought it from was super nice. I had a similar experience when I bought my F4i, sometimes you just know when you see the bike and meet the person. It can be hard to separate your excitement to buy something you want and your judgement of the situation, but for me if I have any lingering doubt in the back of my mind I walk away. Two out of the three motorcycles I've gone to look at from craigslist I've bought, the first F4i I looked at I walked away from. I attribute that ratio to searching for the right ad at the right price, to asking the right questions via email and saving myself the time of even looking in the first place.
So I bought the bike on the spot, made sure to feel the pipe to see if it was warm, it wasn't, bike started first kick, then the previous owner help me load it into my truck and I was on my way. The first day of riding was just getting use to the bike. The clutch, brakes, power, were all new to me, and most of all the way you have to change your style to ride a dirt bike. It's a lot more of keeping your upper body straight while bending the bike beneath you, unlike how you would ride a street bike at speed. After the first day of riding I was positive I had made the right decision, and by the the time I went to ride for a second time I started to get my confidence up and was sliding the rear around, getting the front to loft into the air.
After getting use to riding in the dirt again, it was time to explore. Riding the bike is fun, but my next favorite thing is exploring the property. This time of year it's very green and makes me feel like i'm riding in Scotland. It also gets very cold in the morning, but during the day the temperature hovers in the mid to low 50's so it's definitely tolerable on a sunny or overcast day.
More updates to come, and a full review of the KX125. Also now that I have a new ride, it's time to get some gear. Helmet, Goggles, and Boots with review sooner rather then later i hope and hopefully some video using the GoPro.
Here's that great infographic of 2 stroke motors vs 4 stroke motors, enjoy.