• CHARLES LYTLE

REVIVING A STEEL FRAMED YZ 125


It was a typical Thursday at MXRevival LLC. The week was coming to a close and as always, I was trying to figure out where the heck I was going to ride that weekend!

My cell phone buzzed in my pocket so I quickly reached for my phone. It was my buddy Rob via Facebook, who writes some of the funniest and most random posts on my wall. Today was no different. The post read something like “Hey MX, find this kid a YZ 125!” Rob had tagged another local rider on the post, who would end up being the recipient of this build. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Initially the post made me laugh. The last post Rob threw on my wall requested something to the effect of “Hey MX, I need a (enter super rare/ random component here) for a (enter a bike that only three people have ever owned here) and it has to be FLAWLESS!”

My first thought was “Man, anyone can just go buy a damn YZ 125! Must be hundreds of them on Craigslist??”

And that’s when it happened…… Brandon and I, the rider Rob tagged in his Facebook post, got to talking seriously about costs associated with building him a 125 two stroke. We drew up the framework of the deal, settled on a budget and I quickly got to work. I had a vision already for a bike build, and hoped dearly it would materialize. The bike was to be sourced and built in our shop in Idaho, and lastly delivered to Brandon in California on my next trip….. er, uhh, hmmm, excuse to ride what I like to call “Ed Prep” at gorgeous Zaca Station MX Park in Los Olivos, CA.

As luck would have it, I found a very lightly used 2004 YZ 125 close to our shop in Kuna, ID. After seeing the bike in person, I was quite pleased with the overall condition. Two major pluses for me on this build were: A) Steel frame. There’s something very rad about taking a bike people have all but forgotten about and breathing new life into it. B) 2004 YZ’s came equipped with the most modern forks for that generation frame. The 48mm found on these bikes mere much better in stock trim than previous years that offered the 46mm Open Bath KYB’s.

I struck a deal with the seller and loaded her up! This thing was officially happening! I rushed home, eager to unload the bike and start throwing wrenches at it. (Getting a visual?)

Within the first hour the bike was down to bare frame. All I had left to do was knock the bearing races out of the steering tube and swingarm. I had lined up a local powder coater for all three pieces. Main frame, sub-frame, and swingarm. Although it’s been done before, there’s just something incredible about matte black finish. We couldn’t resist, and so black it was.

With phase one out of the way, it was time to spend Brandon’s hard earned money! I quickly loaded up a shopping cart on RMATVMC. Everything from new wheels, tires, to fork seals, oils, and a fresh top end were thrown in the cart as well. Lastly, the key components to the build. 2017 style plastics found on the YZ two strokes of today. We were bringing this bad boy into the modern era.

Since the frame was off at powdercoat and I’d spent just about all of Brandon’s bike fund money, it was time to start freshening up the engine and other components. We offer full soda blasting services for MX components in-house and Brandon’s engine, shock, linkage and triple clamps needed a good blasting.

A few days had passed and parts orders started rolling in. Is there a better feeling than getting large shipments of dirt bike parts? Can you say “Christmas in June”? It wasn’t long after when I received the call to pick up the frame. The boys at Allegiant Powder Coating in Nampa, ID did an amazing job on our frame! The prep was key, and I did not have to clean out a single boogered-up thread on any of our three pieces. It was beautifully done, and I couldn’t have been happier with it.

With all of the most important pieces back in the shop, I was able to begin reconstruction. I started with pressing in new bearings and races into the frame and swingarm followed by mock-up with the new airbox. I could already tell something very, very cool was coming together. After measuring ring gap clearance and installing a fresh Wiseco piston, the engine was bolted back together and dropped into the frame. The next step was to install the front triples and rebuilt forks. I chose a Pivot Works fork rebuild kit as I’ve found them to have great consistency in the last 4 or 5 fork rebuilds.

Next, Tusk Impact wheels, Tusk wave rotors (270mm oversized floater up front), Renthal rear sprocket, and wheel hardware kits were installed. Sticky Bridgestone X20’s accompanied the new wheels. These wheels look trick and don’t break the bank. I’d been using them personally on my YZ250 with great results so it was a no brainer to buy them again! We chose the black rim, black spoke, with white hub set. I love the pop and contrast of these wheels and they were instrumental in breaking up the black throughout the bike.

This thing was ever closer to roosting a Bay Area rider near you! I was only a seat cover, graphics, footpegs, and an ECU away from burning a lil’ Castor 927 mixed with fresh 101 octane fuel! Can you smell it?

MotoPro handled the graphics which were cut with absolute precision and printed in an insanely cool colorway. Motoseat seat cover tied it all together, and lastly an FMF Fatty/ Shorty combo was selected.

Here we go, the moment of truth…. With some fresh fuel and a few stabs of the ol’ kicker and she was at last, ALIVE and angry! To be contd.....


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