Trials? Guilty as charged..

The 1970’s is often looked back on as THE boom time in motorcycling and with good reason. Sales worldwide were so strong that manufacturer R&D staff were given pretty much a free hand to explore new sales avenues – for the Japanese one of these explorations was trials machinery.

Unlike European manufacturers such as Montesa and Bultaco, who created machines for the dedicated trials enthusiast, the Japanese focused on a mass-market approach needing to sell in the thousands rather than hundreds to make gearing up to produce worthwhile.

One of the standout bikes of this type was the much-loved Honda TL125. Based around the single-cylinder, four-stroke, air-cooled, two-valve motor of the SL125 (with slightly lowered compression), the TL put trials on the radar of legions of riders who might never had considered such a style of machine.

The TL was not entirely a plaything though and a team of three Japanese riders entered the Scottish Six Day Trial in 1973 plus the machine was refined by no less a star than Irishman, Sammy Miller who is reckoned to be one of the most talented trials professionals the sport has ever witnessed. In fact, Miller took the humble TL to the next level in serious competition with his “Hi-Boy” chassis kits coupled with his 150cc conversions.

The TL125 series ran from late 1972 until 1988 but it’s the early year bikes with their tiny silver fuel tanks complete with red or blue triangular graphics that are most sought after. Sadly, many of the road parts (including speedometers and handlebar switches) often parted company never to be seen again. When buying a TL look for sound or repairable bodywork and the all-important triangular muffler first.

As long as the engine is not a wreck you will be OK as they are durable with mountains of new and remanufactured parts available from the CMS parts web site. Fixing a TL up might be a challenge but the rewards will certainly justify the expense and CMS can help turn what might seem a trial into a positive outcome…

issued: Friday, January 06, 2023
updated: Wednesday, January 11, 2023

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