Buck 25 Challenge - More Than Spare Change

Photos by Karel Kramer // From the March 2007 issue of Dirt Rider Magazine

If you wanted to get into motocross for the first time, or wanted to revisit the roots of the sport on a budget, how would you go about it? If you have a regular job (and regular bills), that question probably comes up a lot. Well, we think we found an answer.

It's strange to think that just a few years back the entry fee into motocross was fairly cheap. True, it wasn't like signing up for a season of soccer league, but it didn't run close to $10,000 for a first-timer's bike, either. Eighth-liter bikes, or Buck 25s, were the traditional gateway bike into our sport, and this is still true.

First, they're inexpensive. Not only in initial cost but also in maintenance bills throughout multiple seasons of riding and racing. In fact, top-end kits for 125s are still so reasonable and easy to install that it's like working on a toy compared to toiling with the complex, and sometimes costly, high-wearing four-strokes of today. Second, they are the single finest motocross learning tools on the face of the earth. If you learn to go fast on a 125, your MX skill set will be on a higher level than those jumping directly to bigger, more powerful bikes. Last, these bikes are an immense amount of fun to ride.

If you truly want to get into motocross or off-road riding but don't think you can afford it, look toward the increasingly crowded market of used 125cc two-strokes. There's a lot of good riding and ear-to-ear grins to be had for a fraction of the cost of buying new. That's why four of us DR staffers dropped down our own cold hard cash for used bikes. But which one of us could make the most competitive bike while still staying cheap? Well, read on and find out who won the Buck 25 shootout.

Flexible Fun: 2002 Honda CR125R

By Chris Denison

When I first found my Buck 25, it was sitting in a dusty, desolate corner of Fay Myers Motorcycle World near my parents' home in Denver, Colorado. Walking past, I noticed a large puddle under one of the 125's fork legs-the little Honda was crying! As a steady stream of oil rolled from its Dumbo-size eyes and down the fork tube, I was filled with great compassion. Nobody wanted this bike, and it was obviously very sad. Needless to say, I found a salesman and bought the CR on the spot.

Buying used from a dealer can be risky. In this case, I ended up with a decent, four-year-old machine, though it was well used and massively crashed. I gassed her up, rode a 70-mile trail ride and then started the rebuilding process. The previous owner must have been a freestyler, as evidenced by the damaged bar, clamps, controls, subframe, plastic and gnar-gnar Fleshgear graphics. I replaced these, along with the beat tires and brake pads. The motor looked clean, but the bike sounded like it had pennies in the exhaust-an A piston in the B cylinder turned out to be the culprit. After one day of absolutely trashing Jimmy's garage, I had the engine whipped into shape. The pipe, silencer, clutch, sprockets and chain were all in great condition and just needed a bath, but the suspension was nothing short of hideous. I popped for a revalve from RG3 to help get some comfort back. Some corners were cut along the way: I installed a used handlebar and a salvaged throttle assembly and glued dollar bills onto number plates at midnight the night before our test. Still, I was darn proud when I finally finished the project.

When the little Honda hit the track, it was everything I had hoped for: tight-feeling, versatile and somewhat stylish. The motor doesn't feel like a race engine, but it's more than adequate for a fun day of recreational riding, and with a bit of maintenance I am sure that the top end can last another four years. Thanks to the aluminum frame and modern plastic, my new ride doesn't feel or look like a dinosaur, either. My ace in the hole with the Honda lies in the spark arrestor; as opposed to the other Buck 25s, my ride is just as prepared to trail-ride as it is to moto! I had RG3 aim for this when doing the revalve, hence the all-around suspension settings. Roughly $1800 of parts and modifications may seem like a hefty investment, but I was able to transform an abused, dilapidated crash victim into a crisp, ride-ready machine that makes both of us smile every time the little motor turns over. No two ways about it, this Buck 25 is a keeper.

SPECIFICATIONS

Cosmetics

  • One Industries Snow Camo kit (includes fenders, shrouds, graphics and seat cover): $179.95

  • One Industries right-side number plate: $38.60

  • One Industries left-side number plate: $37.98

Engine

  • ProX piston kit (includes piston, rings, wrist pins and circlips): $93.94

  • Uni air filter: $26.95

Chassis

  • RG3 front fork revalve (including labor and fluid): $207.50

  • RG3 shock revalve (including labor and fluid): $202.50

  • RG3 20mm-offset upper and lower triple clamps with stem, bearing and seal: $599.85

  • Innova Urban Camo rear tire: $104.96

  • Innova Urban Camo front tire: $97.46

Controls

  • Works Connection Elite clutch perch: $139.95

  • Sunline MX Tacki Full-Waffle grip kit: $16.95

  • Stock Honda rear brake pads: $39.16

  • Stock Honda front brake pads: $39.16

Salvage

  • Used KTM 450 SX-F oversize handlebar

  • Factory Effex Honda CRF450R front number-plate background

  • Used throttle assembly

Totals

  • Base: $1553.50 (Includes $1370.50 selling price, $129.50 documentation fee, $43.50 tax and $10 delivery charges)

  • Total modifications and repairs: $1824.91

  • Grand total: $3378.41

Opinions

I'm really glad Chris participated in this story. First, it gives me free rein to ruthlessly make fun of him, and second, I knew his bike would be different. While I totally kicked his butt in the shootout, he pulled through pretty well with his Honda. First, his bike is one of the coolest looking with his FMX-inspired One graphics and hip-looking camo tires. Also, his number-plate creativity was great. On the track, Chris' CR felt light and stable, but the bike felt tweaked out a little in the turns and chop. Somehow, he received a 20mm-offset triple clamp, which, in my opinion, ruined the turning. These bikes corner pretty awesomely stock. Another downer was that his bike had zero bottom-end. Once you babied it into the midrange, it came alive and was fine, but the bottom was no bueno. Traction issues also sort of surprised me as the silly camo tires basically slid wherever they wanted. This bike was awesome in the air, though, as it had the lightest feel and was the most fun to flick around.

-Jesse Ziegler/5'10"/175 lb/Intermediate

I thought Chris had the best-looking bike out of all these-well, that is, except for my '86 YZ. I found the power to be just OK, but it had a smooth-feeling rev to it. I think I could have really liked the motor with the proper gearing. The bar and clamps were way too high for my riding style. I rated Chris' bike second.

-Joe McKimmy/5'8"/145 lb/Intermediate

Having Chris by your side at test day is like having your own personal Travis Pastrana around. The kid jumps like a fool, looks smooth and relaxed on a bike and does everything else on the edge, but somehow you can't help liking what he's doing. I thought his bike looked cool. I especially liked his sidepanel treatment. But his bike's engine was a real dog off the bottom-no low-end. Come out of a corner down in rpm and the bike wouldn't move. I'm not a 125 pilot, and this bike pointed that out to me better than any of the others. At least the ergos felt great. Really, though, the worst part about Chris' bike was suffering through all of his dumb jokes about the camouflage tires: "Hey, who took the tires off my bike? I don't see 'em." Not funny. And really not funny when you have to hear him wheel the bike around to everyone else and repeat the same lame jokes. I hate those tires.

-Pete Peterson/5'10"/150 lb/Vet Novice

Millennium Falcon: 2000 Yamaha YZ125

By Jesse Ziegler

I'd like to start my Buck 25 story by bragging that I won. My bike ruled the ride day and was named the overall champion. Now, my coworkers will undoubtedly start the mudslinging with accusations of cheater parts and insider trading. But they're just jealous because I won. Check out my story to find out how I did it.

Sometimes the thing you're looking for screams from the heavens and slams its talons of potential into your dumbfounded mug. That's how I found my "Millennium Falcon," a 2000 Yamaha YZ125. I searched the internet and free classifieds quite a bit, but word of mouth was ultimately the best tool I used in my shopping experience. Luckily, I found a friend interested in selling an old bike, and we eventually agreed on a purchase price of $1200. True, the little blue bugger was a bit sad inside the storage unit I saved it from, but even after I started disassembling the complex pile of random-sized bolts, I still felt confident I had found a good deal.

The previous owners (I was at least the third) had taken decent care of the bike's powerplant as it started right up. The bike did spit a ton of smoke and dripped oil out of the nonsealing exhaust flange, but I wrote them off as the signs of a tired bike waking up. Even though it ran OK, the bike was pigpen filthy. I'm almost sure it was ridden, then stored outside in the rain, then ridden again, then put under a tarp until I picked it up. It was teardown and cleanup time, and I jumped in deep with a trip to the car wash. A couple of days later, the bike lay in about 832 pieces on the floor of the Dirt Rider shop-that's when the work started.

Almost immediately, I sent the tired, sticky and squishy stock suspension to Pro Circuit for a revalve and service. I'm pushing 175 pounds, so I knew an upgrade was in order. Next, I tore into the top end, thoroughly cleaned the gummed-up power valve and installed a new Wiseco piston and gasket kit as well as a new V-Force reed cage. Wiseco also sent out a forged clutch basket and new plates for the bike, as the entire stock clutch system was abused and grooved. Bearing inspection found them surprisingly clean and decently lubed, so I just greased where necessary and bolted my YZ back together, complete with a custom-engraved set of TriStar triple clamps. To finish her off, I ordered up a set of Factory Effex graphics (applied over the restored stock plastic thanks to PC Racing's Plastic Renew) and DX1 preprinted number plates. Once I installed the new Pro Circuit pipe and silencer, I had a sweet-looking, nice-running champ of a bike in the shop. And once it hit the track it really shined.

As soon as I did some warm-up laps, I knew the shootout was over. My bike was awesome, and after a clip change to the carb needle (leaning it out one position), it was damn near perfect, with a bit on bottom, a ton of midrange and good overrev. But the suspension stole the show for sure. The Pro Circuit Kayaba rebuild was the best investment in the bike. Now that I've used it, it'd be hard to go back to stock on any bike. The bike turns on a dime, soaks up big landings and basically puts a perma-grin on my face every time I ride it. Mission accomplished. Did I mention that I won?

SPECIFICATIONS

Cosmetics

  • Factory Effex graphics: $64.95

  • Factory Effex DX1 preprinted numbers: $69.95

  • Factory Effex All-Grip seat cover: $49.95

  • Factory Effex custom hub stickers: $19.95 (when ordered with backgrounds)

  • PC Racing Plastic Renew: $20.95

Engine

  • Wiseco top end kit: (including head, base and power-valve gaskets; piston; ring; wrist pin; and wrist-pin bearing): $150.77

  • Wiseco forged clutch basket: $230

  • Wiseco replacement clutch plates (8 fiber and 7 steel): $133.93

  • V-Force reed cage: $148

  • Yamaha carb venting hose (2 at $7.87 ea.): $15.74

  • Yamaha clutch cover gasket: $4.47

  • Pro Circuit Works Platinum pipe: $229.95

  • Pro Circuit R304 Shorty silencer: $119.95

  • NGK Iridium spark plug: $6.95

  • Twin Air Bio Preoiled air filter: $28.95

Chassis

  • Pro Circuit fork revalve: $179.95

  • Pro Circuit shock revalve: $149.95

  • Pro Circuit Anodized parts kit: $119.95

  • TriStar triple clamps (with custom engraving): $535

  • Dunlop D952 rear tire: $92.15

  • Dunlop D756 front tire: $97.13

  • SBS sintered front brake pads: $32.95

  • SBS sintered rear brake pads: $32.95

Controls

  • Moose Racing Flex handlebar: $64.95

  • Applied Racing clutch perch: $29.95

  • Pro Grip 790 triple-density grips: $15.50

  • EVS grip doughnuts: $2.95

  • Cycra Stealth hand guards: $34.95

Other

  • Stock Yamaha kickstarter: $94.74

  • Kickstarter bolt and washer: $4

Salvage Parts

  • Used blue rear fender (from John Cobb's old plastic): Free!

Totals

  • Base: $1200 (purchase price)

  • Total modifications and repairs: $2781.53

  • Grand total: $3981.53

Opinions

As I'm sure you've already read, Jesse's bike is the hands-down favorite of our Buck 25 build. Yippee, hooray. Rather than telling you how much it rules, though, I figure that I should pass along some information that Jesse may not be too willing to divulge: To begin with, his friggin' kickstarter fell off on the day of the test. I'll bet you didn't see that on his parts list! Since we know at least one important bolt was loose, who knows what other crucial components have been neglected? Second, he actually purchased this bike from a professional mechanic friend who probably took great care of it. And what about that awesome suspension? It's actually some sort of million-dollar factory kit. Joe's bike doesn't hold a candle to something like that! However, Jesse's Yamaha was declared the winner, and I am willing to stick with that decision. We failed to tell him, though, that the Buck 25 shootout champion gets to buy dinner at Rocco's Pizza. What a sucker!

-Chris Denison/5'10"/155 lb/Intermediate

I rated Jesse's bike the best, but he is a big, fat cheater who spent too much cash for the bike and the high-end suspension. The motor could have used a little more bottom-end, but it seemed pretty smooth throughout the rest of the range. The Millennium Falcon cornered great, and the suspension performed as you would expect for $900 or whatever "Cheater" Jesse got it for.

-Joe McKimmy/5'8"/145 lb/Intermediate

Jesse's 125 had only two problems: The suspension was too stiff on landings (the bike was set up for a rider faster and heavier than I am) and the bar was adjusted so far forward only an orangutan could have felt comfortable on it. Jesse seemed to like the ergo setup. Hmmm. Give me an 8mm wrench to adjust the bar back to human standards, a screwdriver to take out some clicks of compression and this bike will prove the point of this test-you can get into the sport relatively cheaply. Jesse's bike was awesome. The power was great, the handling (other than on jump landings) was solid and secure, and everything felt like it was all part of one design. This bike felt almost as good as the '07 YZ125 we brought out for comparison-and I love that '07.

-Pete Peterson/5'10"/150 lb/Vet Novice

The Beast: 1986 Yamaha YZ125

By Joe McKimmy

When this story idea came across the table, I knew I wanted to be in. But as with everything else around here, time gets squashed in a hurry once we look at our workload for the month. However, I kept my eyes open for the bike I wanted to purchase just in case. I was looking for a 1987 YZ125 for two reasons: I thought it would be fairly cheap to purchase and I was a big fan of Damon Bradshaw back in the day. The only problems were I didn't see anything that low budget and there really wasn't that many to choose from on the internet. So after basically giving up on the story and whining that I would not be participating, our assistant art director, Lauron "Captain" Kirk, spoke up and said he knew of an '87 YZ125 I could buy. Just like that, I was back in. After making a quick phone call to his brother, we found out the bike happened to be an '86 YZ. Oh well, it's not the same year as Bradshaw's, but it could still be a look-alike.

I was chomping at the bit to get a real look at her. I bugged Captain to let me check out the bike as soon as possible. He kept delaying for some reason, and I couldn't quite figure out why. I finally managed to convince him to take me on a three-hour drive to the bike's location, and it was then when I found out why he was stalling so much. The bike was a pile! We looked the bike over, pointing out all the things wrong, and I managed to convince myself that it was only a 125 two-stroke, so how hard could it be to get this thing back to ridable condition? I shouldn't have asked.

I talked him down to an acceptable price (with threats of a bigger workload and utter office hell) of $300 and took the bike home and got started on it immediately. It was then that I realized how bad the bike really was. The bike had a cracked frame, smashed radiators, the wrong plastic, different footpegs and many other issues. These were just the problems I noticed while the bike was still assembled, and it didn't get much better the deeper I dug. I thought to myself, How could I have made such a bad purchase? I've had used bikes in the past and have had good success with them. It must have been the excitement of the story that pushed me into my mistake. I was so thrilled to be building a Bradshaw replica-looking bike that would get ink that I forgot the important rules when purchasing a used bike. I realized this is how it feels when you buy a bike for the first time. You get so caught up in the excitement of having a bike that you are willing to grab the first thing that comes your way.

So in the end, I wish I would have taken a little more time and did a little better research and looked at a few other bikes before purchasing this beater. Instead, I spent a lot more hours just getting the bike back to a ridable condition than actually riding it.

SPECIFICATIONS

Cosmetics

  • Front fender: $31.78

  • Rear fender: $31.78

  • Side plates: $108.27

  • Cycra number plate: $69.95

  • Clark gas tank: $170

Engine

  • Cometic gaskets: $26.75

  • Niks ProX piston kit: $79.95

  • Myler's radiator repair: $85

  • Motion Pro bolt kit: $59.90

  • Twin Air air filter: $26.95

Chassis

  • Plastic chain guide: $26.69

  • Pro Pilot fork seals: $32.42

  • Pivot Works swingarm bearings: $69.95

  • Pivot Works front-wheel bearings: $19.95

  • Moose Racing Bull Moose footpegs: $59.95

  • Sprocket Specialists sprockets: $69.98

  • RK X50 O-ring chain: $89.99

Controls

  • Terrycable throttle cable: $30

Salvage

  • Used ProTaper bar

  • Older grips

  • Jimmy's used front-brake line

  • Used Cycra hand guards

  • Terrycable mini gasser throttle body

  • Jimmy's used top triple clamp

  • Partially used One Industries graphic kit

  • Used ASV levers

Totals

  • Base: $300

  • Total modifications and repairs: $1089.26

  • Grand total: $1389.26

Opinions

I may be young, but I still appreciate things that are old, mullet haircuts, Twisted Sister singles and '80s motorcycles included. Actually, as a mid-'80s-born model myself, I probably shouldn't classify Joe's bike as old. But I do. And it is. However, it is also more fun to ride than I ever imagined. Being slow, undersuspended and little may be a disadvantage on some tracks, but the tables turn as your perspective changes. Start looking at a triple jump as a series of rollers and a machine like this really begins to shine. The controls felt awesome, and my curious infatuation with riding the bike can be likened to that of watching two elephants engaged in some serious coitus: You want to turn away, but you just can't. After riding the retro YZ, I can see how a tame rider could have a really, really good time aboard a bike like this. It just goes to show that you should never discount something just because it's old, I mean, from the '80s.

-Chris Denison/5'10"/155 lb/Intermediate

I didn't think anyone could get a bike cleaner than Cobb's, but I was wrong: This takes clean to a new level because he started with such a pile! Joe wins the ambitious award as well as the coolest-helmet award (see above) with his Damon Bradshaw-themed Buck 25. I like the way his bike looked, but I loved the way it smoked, bounced around on the track and putted along. When I rode it I thought it might have been the most comfortable MX bike on the planet. It was like racing a beach cruiser in the Tour de France. Cool and comfy, but slow. And don't, under any circumstances, jump it. I'm not sure how the motocross heroes of the past did it on these things-those riders were amazing. Joe didn't go into this to win; he went in to show that age doesn't matter when it comes to bikes-you can still enjoy a day at a track on a dinosaur. Plus, they make great parts bikes as I had to rob his kickstarter after mine fell off and disappeared. It bolted right on! See, though old and slow, Joe's bike did serve a purpose.

-Jesse Ziegler/5'10"/175 lb/Intermediate

Joe's old 125 sure looks pretty, doesn't it? Joe was brave to take on such an old bike for this project, and the morning of the test, his bike really stood out. It stood out most of the day, too, because it was propped on a pedestal (OK, a bike stand), not being ridden. Granted, the problem was that the bike's kickstarter had been scavenged by Jesse, but the bike would have been ignored anyway. The thing was jetted so rich I started to worry John's smoker was going to have a lean-seize. I bump-started this turkey and barely made it across the pits. One lap was all I dared as the '86's gutless nature was like dragging the rear brake off every jump (and I barely jumped it). The engine was banging like the bottom-end was about to go-but that was only because the bottom-end was about to go! After experiencing Art Director Joe McKimmy's handiwork, I'm grateful the magazine is put together with a computer, not a set of T-handles. Hey, Joe, you built a beautiful boat anchor.

-Pete Peterson/5'10"/150 lb/Vet Novice

Showroom Shine: 2000 Yamaha YZ125

By John Cobb

There I was, checking my e-mails when a message from DR staffer Jesse Ziegler jumped out at me. Its subject: Buck 25. It was an invitation for editors, ad salespeople, publishers and VPs to build economical 125s for an interoffice shootout. Being that I'm the only VP in Primedia's Motorcycle Group, I felt that this was a challenge directed at me to produce a competitive entry in the contest. I love a dare.

It has been a while since I've ridden a dirt bike. When I was 14, I saved up for and bought a Suzuki RX75 without telling my parents. After sneaking it in and out of our shed for over a month, I got busted by my mom and had to resell the bike to my neighbors (from whom I'd originally bought it). Because I'd dented the tank, I had to take a $50 hit-and I'd only had the thing for a month! Not good for a kid mowing lawns all summer. My father, realizing I had a passion for motorcycles, came to my rescue two years later when he discreetly helped me buy a 1991 YZ125. This is a secret we've kept from Mom until now. I guess the cat's out of the bag.

As a result, that old Yamaha weighed heavily on my decision to go blue for this story. Wanting to get the holeshot on my fellow cast of characters, I hopped online and scanned eBay, Recycler.com and Craigslist. Within 48 hours, I found a bike down in Newport Beach: an '00 YZ125 listed at $2000. My goal was to look for a bike that was relatively stock, without any hard-ridden race miles on it. And that's what this was. The little YZ was being sold by Scott, a guy who'd purchased it for his ex-girlfriend. The bike had lain fairly dormant over the last six years and seemed like the perfect starting point for me and my limited mechanical abilities.

I chipped old Scotty down to $1800 (though the businessman in me would've liked to shave off another $200), and I paid the man 18 Benjamins on the spot. Since I'm no used-bike expert and I needed someone to pick it up for me, I got Jimmy Lewis to meet me for the purchase. Now, while I trust Jimmy's judgment and know he's an excellent assessor of motorcycles, I was somewhat skeptical considering he was also a potential competitor. Anyone who has ever been with Jimmy on a track, around the office or even in a McDonald's line knows he's highly competitive. I really wanted to make sure he wasn't going to sabotage my effort by letting me hook up a hound.

He didn't: The bike was solid, and Jimmy bowed out of the competition. So I quickly turned to DR's staff of industry experts to get my project rolling. First, publisher Sean Finley gave me some advice on items he thought would improve my bike. Looking at the pictures I'd taken, we determined it needed relatively minor replacement parts. I then turned to Mike Candreia, who heads up our motorcycle shop, to be my wrench-in-arms in my attempt at Buck 25 victory. We quickly went through the bike and found we needed a new exhaust and a rebuild for the carburetor, plus a fresh final-drive system. Also on the list went a new rear tire, all-new plastic, a new bar, a clutch perch and lever, a clutch basket and new brake lines. Plus, of course, a cool graphics kit. Gotta style it up for the troops, after all.

We rapidly assembled the list of needed products and pieces and went to work. Initially, I wanted the theme to be old-school retro and was going for the look of an '81 YZ, but we weren't able to find any yellow plastic. So our plan then was to get the bike as close to an '07 showroom-fresh stocker as we could. And even if I do say so myself, we did!

SPECIFICATIONS

Cosmetics

  • Powersports Grafx custom graphics: $199.95 (using standard art, your choice of industry sponsor logos, no set up for standard art)

  • Powersports Grafx custom number backgrounds: $59.95

  • Acerbis YZ125 '01-'02 YZ Blue (15758082) plastic kit: $129.95

Engine

  • Niks ProX L.A. Sleeve piston kit: $94.64

  • FMF Fatty pipe: $165.59

  • FMF PowerCore 2 Shorty silencer: $83.99

  • Moose Racing carb kit: $23.95

  • Boyesen Pro Series reeds: $59.49

  • Barnett clutch basket: $273.90

  • Clutch plates/fibers/springs: $145.53

  • Ventline Carb vent hose ($1 per ft): $5

  • NGK Iridium spark plug: $6.95

  • No-Toil Pre-Oiled Fast 3 Filter air filter: $19.95

Chassis

  • ProTaper S.E. handlebar (low or high): $64.99

  • ProTaper MX half-waffle grips: $9.99

  • Bridgestone rear tire: $96.95

  • RK chain: $93.31

  • Vortex 3246 front sprocket (520 chain pitch): $21.95

Controls

  • Sunline YZ125/250 alloy shifter: $29.95

  • Sunline Ti rotator clamp: $24.95

  • Sunline RC forged perch: $99.95

Total

  • Base: $1800

  • Total modifications and repairs: $1710.88

  • Grand total: $3510.88

Opinions

I had a really hard time riding this bike with any confidence. It was poorly jetted, and I couldn't really find the sweet spot on the powerband. The suspension made me feel as if I was riding really high on the seat. Normally, I like the feeling of being over the bar more than most guys do, but John's YZ felt a little extreme. I also didn't care for the chosen bar bend; it had a little too much sweep, which made me very uncomfortable cornering the thing. Graphics were decent and the bike was clean, but I rated this bike last.

-Joe McKimmy/5'8"/145 lb/Intermediate

Cobb's bike is KISS simple, and I'm definitely not one to argue with that. He started with something in good condition and kept the parts list to a minimum in order to build a solid bike. The YZ was a blast to ride, but it came up wildly short on two key points: suspension and jetting. Both are pretty easily fixed with a little work and testing, though I gave up trying as soon as the sun went down on our test. My other major complaint was the amount of polishing the Yamaha received before our ride: I seriously think it may have been dipped in Armor All! On the whole, I am impressed with the find that John dug up, and I think that his Buck 25 shows that with a little research and the right amount of minor modifications, you can easily find yourself sitting atop a solid used machine. Although once there, you may slide straight off the back of the seat, but that is a different story in itself!

-Chris Denison/5'10"/155 lb/Intermediate

This bike looked slick. Unfortunately, it was slick. Someone oiled down this thing like it was entering a bodybuilding contest instead of a motocross race. This thing was the counterargument to a gripper seat-and that argument sucks. Regarding the engine: I know the thing was jetted a little rich, but it also felt geared too high. I think it was just slow to rev compared with better 125s (sorry, John). The fork was sprung too stiffly for me and seemed to be riding too high. The other DR testers thought they were hanging down. It's sad that in all their hours of testing they can't judge a bike better than I can in one of my first tests. Oh yeah, the brakes didn't work. I'm sure the discs look great in the photos-all waxed and polished-but this bike was clearly built by the guy who wasn't planning to show up on ride day. John, I know you outrank me, but I have to be honest. I'll have my desk packed up by the end of the day.

-Pete Peterson/5'10"/150 lb/Vet Novice

Official Judge Pete Peterson Declares The Winner

My decision, like the winning bike's builder, is a no-brainer-Jesse's bike. It didn't feel old in any way (it wasn't really that old). It also didn't feel cheap in any way. This bike is as competitive as any 125 out there. Yeah, I know, 250F... 125s are dead... Blah, blah, blah... But I've been out with these DR guys on a few tests now, and they were never as excited as they were that day, screaming around on these 125s. These small, light, responsive bikes are just so ridiculously fun it completely changes the atmosphere of the day. This felt like a day at summer camp instead of a hard day of testing race equipment. Riding a nice-running 125 is pure joy. The most fun bang for your buck costs just a quarter more-it's a buck twenty-five.