Photos and Words by Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
For just about any motorcycle enthusiast or motocross rider, there's a significant other that is most likely tagging along on the riding missions on a regular basis. Why not get them out on the track? Exactly, why not!? Being that I'm the photo editor of TransWorld Motocross, my girlfriend Isabel is inadvertently around dirt bikes 24/7 whether or not she wants to be. She's been mentioning going out on a dirt bike since we have been dating, but quite honestly she's never ridden a motorcycle to begin with and all of our test bikes are on the more advanced/larger end of the spectrum. That's when the gears started turning and I realized if I have a girlfriend interested in riding, there's probably a boatload of others in the same position. It was time to get Isabel out on a dirt bike and see what happens!
The Bike: There are a lot of details to work out, the first one being the bike to choose. There are a lot of videos you can watch of people running into fences and mailboxes on their first try – we didn’t want that. There was no way she was hopping on one of our 250F four-strokes, and also no way she would start off on a 125cc two-stroke. Another factor is that a lot of girls aren't quite as tall and touching the ground while learning is something that's important to be able to do. A quick call to Honda to pitch the idea to their 2 Wheel Off- Road Media Coordinator Jason Abbott, and we were in business. He brought up the Honda CRF125F, a four-speed manual clutch four-stroke that may be the most user-friendly beginner bike available. It also has electric start, but in order to ride it she had to kick start it, obviously! All of the key elements of what I was looking for were found on this machine. It has a clutch, gears, and she wasn't going to whiskey throttle this thing and hurt herself. It was a go, and over to Honda I went to pick it up.Specs
2017 Honda CRF125F
Price: Starting at $2,999
Destination Charge: $150.00
Engine Type: 124.9cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore And Stroke: 52.4mm x 57.9mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Valve Train: SOHC; two-valve
Induction: 20mm piston-valve carburetor
Final Drive: 13T/46T
Front Suspension: 31mm telescopic fork; 5.5 inches of travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link® single-shock; 4.5 inches of travel
Front Brake: 220mm hydraulic disc
Rear Brake: Drum
Front Tire: 70/100-17
Rear Tire: 90/100-14
Rake: 25°30′ (Caster Angle)
Trail: 81mm (3.2 inches)
Wheelbase: 48.0 inches
Seat Height: 28.9 inches
Curb Weight: 192 pounds (Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel-ready to ride)
Fuel Capacity: 1.1 gallons, including 0.2-gallon reserve
Ground Clearance: 8.5 Inches
Emissions: Meets current California Air Resource Board (CARB) and EPA off-road emissions standards.
Available Colors: Red
Model Id: CRF125F
Warranty: Six Months transferable limited warranty; extended warranty available with a Honda Protection Plan.
Gear Selection: For anyone who is getting into riding, there are endless options and gear companies that offer outstanding lines of all price ranges. For Isabel, we decided to reach out to Thor MX as they had a pretty rad line of women's gear that she scoped out online. After placing an order for pants, jersey, gloves, socks, knee guards, and a helmet she was well on her way to having the bear necessities needed to hit the track. To protect her precious little feet we ordered a pair of Alpinestars Stella Tech 3 boots in all black. When we managed to get her name and number transferred on the back it was the final "factory" touch needed to set her up for success. Why number 2? "That was my number back when I was a kid playing soccer!" No, it wasn't for McGrath…but he'd love to think so. The king obviously approved the number choice when he happened to see her at the track. Below are the details and prices of what we sourced:
Thor Women's Pulse Facet White/Magenta Jersey – $24
Thor Women's Pulse Facet White/Magenta Pant – $75
Thor Women's Void Facet Pink Gloves: $15
Thor Moto Knit Sock Aktiv – $17.95
Thor Sector Knee Guards, Black – $13.95
Thor Sector Level Matte Black/White Helmet – $109.95
Alpinestars Stella Tech3 Boots -Black – $219.95
SPY Klutch MX Goggle – $75
The Process: One key part of this entire process was the fact that Isabel had already learned how to drive a manual transmission car when she was a teenager. This would prove to be an enormous help once she was ready to let the clutch out, but that was some time away. First it was a lesson on turning the fuel on at the petcock, and using the choke of the carburetor when starting it is needed. With all things set up and ready to go I mentioned, "First you need to start it!" She was adamant on using the kick starter but knew she could be on easy start it with the push of a button (ah…electric start.) A few (3-50) tries later the mighty Honda CRF125 roared to life and her smile and face of accomplishment was a sure sign it was time to put it into gear and do the damn thing. "You should PROBABLY put on your helmet!" I mentioned, as the small bore machine was idling beneath her. Minutes later (and GoPro cameras recording) it was time to apply the tips I had given her on her first manual clutch start.
It was almost immediate that she decided to gradually let out the clutch and off she went. It was almost too easy –she didn't stall it! A quick "Whoa!" later and she was off, and even turned around and came back around! Pulling in the clutch to stop and report back, she straight up aced the intro to riding first clutch engagement with flying colors.
Now here's where we give some praise to this little Honda. The bike was extremely user friendly, and granted she did do an excellent job of gradually letting the clutch out the thing was so mellow powered that the fear of a loop out was almost non-existent. The combination of her previous clutch knowledge matched to the user-friendly platform of the CRF125 made for an insanely easy first go at this. Now she wanted to go around the entire track…
Another solid start and off she went – kind of far away, actually. I officially felt like a mini dad at our TWMX Race Series when they are ready to run and save their small child after they tipped over. Now obviously this is my girlfriend, but you get the reference. And no, I wasn't screaming "GO FASTERRRRR!!" I was actually a little scared she would wad this thing somehow. A minute later she cruises back around the loop and yells, "I got into second!!" with a laugh. She slowed to a stop and in fact was in second gear. Damn, she’s a natural! Another hour or so of this with a few jaunts on the bumps that were soon to be jumps and it was 100% a successful lesson on how to ride. She didn't even use the protective knee guards or Thor helmet that we got for safety…score!
Let's face it, being a motocross rider you're always looking for that day of riding at the track under the sun. When your significant other wants to join and learn why you love it you should give it a shot –she may just be a natural. Will we see Isabel lining up for Anaheim in January 2018? Maybe not, but she's hooked on riding and has been asking about the next day out at the track since our first outing. Ain’t that something! Convince your girlfriend or wife to want to go to the track? That is what we call winning, friends! Thanks for reading, now get out there and get someone riding!
Press play below and watch how the whole day went down…
For more girls on bikes, check out BABES IN THE DIRT!
Special thanks to: