Two-Wheel Tuesday: Honda CL125S – A New Addition To The Garage

IMG_0198_web Last week I bought a Honda CL125S, the same model as the first motorcycle model I ever owned. The CL125 was the faux-scrambler version of the long-lived CB125 street bike. It was only made two years, 1973 and 1974. Other than the very cool looking high pipe and the bits and brackets that accommodate it, the CL is almost identical to a CB of the same year. But that comparatively rare exhaust makes all the difference to me. I bought my first one on July 31, 1980, from a kid I worked with at the local hardware store. I had just turned 17. I paid $275 for it, as I recall, including a beat-up open-face helmet. It was actually a ’73 in Hawaiian Blue, but the tank was so rusty inside that I needed a new one. The local Honda dealer had a ’74 Candy Ruby Red tank in stock, so I bought that and mine then looked just like this one (only with flat-black spraybombed side covers to hide the original blue). I traded it in the next spring on a new (left-over) ’79 Triumph T140E Bonneville. And I don’t think I’ve seen a CL125S in the flesh since. When I saw this one on the local Liste de Craig, I just had to go see it. It looked fairly nice in the ad (don’t they always), but up close it turned out to be decidedly sad and worn. Fortunately, it’s pretty much all there, and what’s there is original. Thankfully, it hasn’t been hacked into a dirt bike or a hipster-fé racer. It runs and drives, but only just. The exhaust leaks at the head, the cables and muffler are shot, the brakes are misadjusted, the carb is gunked up, the speedo is broken and the tank dented in several places and is rusty inside…I’m not kidding myself, there’s a lot of stuff wrong here. I paid $750 for it, which wasn’t exactly a bargain, but I kept thinking to myself, when am I going to find one again, and who says it won’t be in worse condition. Also, the seller was a college student who was trying to raise enough money for a bigger, newer bike, so I had a hard time putting the screws to him regarding price. I can mentally write off part of the cost as charity. I am not sure when I will get around to working on it, but my intention is to keep it original (KC has an active VJMC chapter, so I might get in touch with them). No matter how it plays out, just sitting on it brought back a flood of memories of riding back and forth to high school and cruising the Dairy Queen parking lot on Friday nights. Just that is worth a good chunk of the purchase price. It’s amazing how much bigger I remember this bike being. Back then I thought of this as a full-sized motorcycle. Now it feels pretty toy-like. No wonder that Bonnie felt so intimidating.

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