An impressive 125cc two-stroke motorcycle with a little bit more user-friendliness: the Husqvarna CR 125 receives its much awaited update so that it would make an even greater impression on the track for 2008.
Designed especially for riders who have never rode a full-size dirt bike before, the Husqvarna CR 125 was already a great teacher and now that he has stepped up, there’s nothing to stop it from becoming a much desired motorbike.
Engine refinements consist into a completely new block featuring five transfer ports for better grunt at any rpm range, inlet and exhaust ports, as well as to the exhaust valves for better sealing. Lining up to its bigger four-stroke relatives, the CR 125 also enters the scene being fitted with 45mm Marzocchi forks and Sacks shock absorber.
First introduced in 2002 as Husqvarna’s smallest motocross bike, the CR 125 was actually not so far from the product that we’re reviewing today. Of course, the color combination was Blue and Yellow, but the mechanical part is the one that launched it properly. The engine was a carbureted 124.8cc two-stroke, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder unit that came to life with the help of a kick starter. Gearbox featured six speeds. The rear brake disc was only 220mm in diameter and there were no fancy Marzocchi or Sachs suspensions on it. The bike was indeed easier: (only 197.3 pounds) and the gas tank was bigger (2.25 gallons), so the weight issue was sorted out from the beginning.
2004 model year didn’t bring anything, but the red/yellow/blue color scheme.
For 2005, the colors were yet again different (only yellow and blue), but the bike came fitted with a C.D.I. electronic, with adjustable advance, and so becoming an upgraded piece of engineering.
2006 stands as the year of changes for the CR 125 as the bike came with a radical new styling, complemented by the red and white color scheme. The gas tank and side panels were reminding of the Husky four-stroke bikes, and that was the whole idea. This is also the year when the 38mm Mikuni TMX carburetor was introduced, as well as the wet, multiplate clutch. More engine performance always requires manufacturers to better deal with the new figures and in 2006 Husqvarna did it with the addition of the new Marzocchi forks, Ohlins rear shock and a 240mm rear disc brake.
Getting closer and closer to the actual product that cheers us today, is the 2007 version which came with a modified crankshaft and combustion chamber, modified to reduce engine inertia and increase rideability. The exhaust system was completely changed in order to be suitable for the addition of the V Force three-reed valve. Of course, performance was the main goal and that is what the maker achieved.
2008 KTM 125 SX
The closest thing you’ll find to the subject of this review is the KTM 125 SX. This bike combines, just like the Husky, lightness with agility and manages to be one of the favorite motocross bikes that don’t arrive from Japan. Don’t get me wrong, the CR 125 can be easily compared with any of the Japanese competitors (Honda CR125R, Yamaha YZ125, Suzuki RM125), but its direct and fierce opponent is coming from Austria.
Fitted with a 124.8cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, two-stroke fitted with power valve, kickstarter and being mated to a six-speed gearbox, the KTM 125 SX manages to give the Husqvarna CR 125 a very hard time.
A bit lighter (200.2 lbs), the KTM looks like a damn good choice, but when a potential customer reads about the BREMBO brakes which equip the CR 125 it tends to go with the second option, leaving the Orange motocrosser in hand of those who can only go with KTM.
Marketed for $5,498, the KTM 125 SX doesn’t lose ground when it comes to its price, proving even more suitable for this off-road battle.
2008 Husqvarna CR 125
I could describe the new Husky as being nicely styled, well putted together and attractive, but it is also very aggressive and that beats them all by far. The knitted front number plate gives a first clue of what you’ll experience in its saddle, as well as the high mounted white fenders.
A combination of Red, White, and Black, this motocrosser looks like its going to power you to the highest culms of success, because, as you will see later on this review, the mechanics are as impressive as the looks.
The red side panels are slim and narrow, showing that the maker intended to individualize its racer on the track and it not only succeeds with that, but with the black rims, mudguards, fork, number plate, handlebars, seat and gas tank.
Impressive work has done Husqvarna with this model because it stands as a true representation of how two-stroke dirt bikes really are: powerful and torquey.
Kick start it and hit first gear and you’re in for one impressive ride down the motocross track, the environment for which it was built. I recently got a feel of the CR 125 and I must say that the engine improvements are definitely noticeable. The power is more tractable and feels like never ending, although it is just a 125cc powerplant.
It is perfectly suitable for fast take offs in first or second gear, and the engine revs high so that the solution to a rider’s challenge would be a twisted throttle. Even with the 170 pound of biker on its back, the Husky proved it can easily gain speed and prepare itself for the jumps waiting up front.
Easy to maneuver and versatile, the bike can be leaded on the perfect trace of the curve with great ease and a skilled rider would easily earn more and more points as its time around the track significantly shortens. It is all a matter of getting used to until the results are suitable for a closed course competition, but usually, the kind of rider that finds its way on it will feel well at home considering the fact that the beginner’s bikes on which he “made its hand” are all two-smokers.
I faced a very light and powerful bike and the fun possibilities on such models are never ending. The Husky made no exception. It performs excellent on the bumps and tight corners are its middle name. And it is all due to the Marzocchi forks and Sachs rear shock, equipment which never disappointed ever since it can be found on this model. I even dared to take it on the rocks for a couple of hours and there I noticed that the fork’s bottoming resistance is very good while the rear end feels well in control. But that was just a second proof because the landings on the motocross track had already shown what a fine tuned bike I was riding.
Also off the road, I managed to see what the six-speed gearbox is capable of, especially its final gear. It has the great effect of maintaining the strong pull which on top of the fifth gear of a gearbox mated to such a small engine, would feel a little weak. Not in this case; the power is there to be used and the sixth gear also contributes to a higher top speed (always a good thing when it comes to competition bikes of any kind).
What I most appreciate at this bike (apart from the impressive engine which made me feel like I was back in my childhood riding the noise machines that put the first bricks on the base of my riding days) is the braking equipment. BREMBO systems are fitted on the Husqvarna models and feature 260mm front and 240mm rear disc brakes on which the two, respective one brake calipers action. Grab a handful of the brake lever and you will feel the need to take it ease because the grippy Pirelli tire could guarantee a muddy face. Does it even matter considering the fun you’ll have riding the thing? I don’t think so!
It is cheaper than its competition, but not by far. Marketed for a suggested retail price of $5,399 (almost $100 less than the KTM 125 SX), the Husky CR 125 definitely makes a good impression, considering the fact that this year, its bag of goodies corresponded perfectly to where this manufacturer plan on taking this bike.
On the podium, that is! It is very easy to underestimate a Husky at a first impression, but if you carefully read the specs page and, even more, swing a leg over one you will never think the same again not only about this model, but about all the other bikes in the respective lineup.