Bender Built’s Polynesian-inspired Play Bike…
There’s little on two wheels as smile-inducing as a two-stroke dirt bike. In fact, with the motocross world shifted to four-strokes, more and more riders are picking up old-school premix motocrossers and customizing them into play bikes. One such builder is Erik Bender (@bender_built), who spent nearly a decade racing motocross and continues to add dirt bikes to his stable.
Recently, Erik decided to do up an ’02 Honda CR125R for a build-off:
“It was a custom project for a bike build competition [Broke To Built], and I haven’t owned a 125 since 2003 and wanted to make a sweet play bike.”
The CR125 makes a great choice for such machine. While it was tough for any 125 to beat the Y2K-era YZ125 on the track, the CR was a rider favorite with a new aluminum frame (model year 2000), Kayaba bladder forks, and even an optional 20″ OEM front wheel. Then there was the midrange and top end power:
“We can guarantee everyone who rides the 2001 CR125 will come back with a smile on their face, thanks to the exciting power delivery.” –MXA
Erik decided on a theme that would pay tribute to his late father, harking back to a cherished childhood memory:
“I went with a Hawaiian theme with a Polynesian-inspired Gecko graphic in honor of my late father who would take me out after dark in Hawaii to try and catch geckos that would be hunting bugs around exterior light sources.”
Erik designed the graphics himself, and he says this was his first build where every last nut, bolt, gasket, and seal was gone through. The entire frame was vapor-blasted and the casting marks removed from all aluminum parts. On the performance front, the motor has been punched out to 140cc with a high-performance head designed for leaded race gas, while Darrin Mees of M9 Suspension helped on the suspension front.
Erik estimates the bike makes around 38 hp and weighs just 200 pounds.
“Down low it feels like a 125, but up top it’s wicked and strong.”
Honda “CR140” Motocrosser: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Rode my first bike when I was about 8 years old and been hooked ever since. Raced MX for about 10 years and when I was able to buy my first house I made sure it had a shop so I could build rad dirt bikes and add to my collection.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
2002 Honda CR125R.
• Why was this bike built?
It was a custom project for a bike build competition, and I haven’t owned a 125 since 2003 and wanted to make a sweet play bike.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
I went with a Hawaiian theme with a Polynesian-inspired Gecko graphic in honor of my late father who would take me out after dark in Hawaii to try and catch geckos that would be hunting bugs around exterior light sources.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Everything inside and out was cleaned and polished, cylinder was bored to 140cc with a head to work with only 100+ octane leaded race gas. Vapor blasted the frame and removed all casting marks from the brakes, clamps, and engine.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
The Mai Tai 125.
• Any idea of horsepower, weight, and/or performance numbers?
Probably around 38 Horsepower, 200 lbs.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Down low it feels like a 125, but up top it’s wicked and strong.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I learned Illustrator so I could design the graphics myself, and it was first true rebuild where every inch was taken apart, from the transmission gears to the crank and suspension.