Steve Lamson's Personal Honda CR Shootout

Steve Lamson sets his sights on 2004 Supercross and Motocross seasons aboard a Honda in the 125 Class. But on which bike, the CR125 or the CRF250? "I'm excited and motivated to do well next season," Steve says as he suits up for his day of testing on the Honda CR125, and the CRF250. "I'm putting out a huge effort to have the right equipment this next year, and for me, that means I'll be back on a Honda. I just bought a new motorhome, I'm training like crazy, and I'm getting together some great sponsors.The CR125 missed the delivery date to be included in the shootout with the other 125s at Dirt Rider. Now that they are both available, Dirt Rider offered Steve to come out and put some laps on the two bikes. Steve admits, "I've heard good things about the CRF, but I really wanted to put the two bikes head to head and see for myself."We choose Gorman, California, as our track for Steve's ride. We thought that Gorman was a safe enough distance from the fire-storms of Southern California that we wouldn't have smoke. Well, the weather changed and Gorman went from safe, to rained out. Special thanks to Joe Sutter for stepping up and offering his private track to us for the day. This change of plans proved to be just right, and the sky cleared for some perfect conditions. Steve really liked the variety of motocross and offroad style that this track has to offer. "This track is great because of the variety, I can really see what each bike will be good at," Steve says, in-between rides.Russ Rohrer for Dirt Rider: How does the 125 meet your expectations?Steve Lamson: The 125 is really much improved since I last rode one. I really like the light feeling. Occasionally, I wasn't totally confident with the forks at high speeds, they were just a little soft for me. They are probably fine for the average rider. I'm amazed at how different these bikes are from eachother. I mean chassis, rake, trail, it seems like everything. The bikes are so different, and I had fun on both of them.DR: Do you like the engine breaking effect of 4 strokes?SL: I don't mind it. It takes just a little getting used to. I won't have a problem with that, I just blip the throttle a little bit in the air and the attitude of the bike can be comfortable. I have it easy in that area, because I think Honda has the least engine breaking effect compared to other moto four strokes.DR: What can you say about handling? Do both bikes turn well?SL: Yes, they both do. I find that with the acceleration style of the four stroke, you can be on the gas easier, and without as much clutch. That means that you won't be taking anything away from your best acceleration out of a turn. So, because of that technique, the four stroke in effect, turns better. You are on the gas earlier, and you can start the tracking around the turn, with the best solid traction from less clutch action.DR: What don't you like about the 250?SL: There's not much I didn't like about the 250. One drawback is that there are not a lot of performance parts available for these bikes, because they are so new.DR: What stands out as really attractive about the 250?SL: It started easy, as long as I was in neutral. The torque is so great. It is really easy to ride. This 4 stroke motor is a definite advantage for me in this class. I didn't have to get set up for things on approach, and get the revs just right. I could mix up my lines and have some forgiveness for variations. That is really important in Supercross, to have options in line choice.DR: Who do you think the 125 will appeal to?SL: Well, really anybody that likes that 2 stroke snap, but I think most riders will like the 250. If you don't like the engine braking, you might want the 2 stroke. I still think the 125 is competitive in '04.DR: Did you come to this test with plans already made for a ride in 2004?SL: My original plans were to go with a 250 four stroke for the 2004 season, but I really enjoyed putting these bikes head to head. I just wanted to see for myself. I am going to stick with my plans and ride the CRF250. It is a really fun bike to ride. I think the advantage is clear, and that is what I'm looking for.