Some weeks ago, we brought you the first part of Project Pantra(pik), a Honda TMX custom project built on a budget. With a set amount, the goal was to acquire a TMX 125 and customize it to look like a café racer. Any stock parts removed will be sold to have additional budget for more parts.
We left off with the rules of the build and the first batch of parts being ordered. This time, we bring you the second part of this series where we fit the parts and its café racer look begins to take shape.
As parts began to trickle in from Shopee suppliers, I started the installation. As you will see, I built the bike in stages. Each stage is basically a build day. Having only a small area to work in and with only my small collection of hand tools, I really had to plan ahead and do things as methodically as I am able.
First order of business is to change the “lowering butterfly,” better known as the top triple clamp. The one installed on the bike was really poor quality and I didn’t feel safe with it on. So, I ordered a better quality piece.
Since I was making this change, it was time to fix the stance of the bike. Previously, the front end was lowered 100mm, which is way too much. Not only does this affect the ride height, but more importantly, it also changes the handling. For the way I intend to ride this bike, (as fast as I can) having an unstable front end is not something I would like to have. So, I fixed that and kept the front lowered by only 25mm.
While I was at it, I replaced the stock rear view mirrors with a pair of shorter ones. I already had these from a previous bike. I despise big mirrors on bikes and prefer not having them at all. Sadly, it’s not legal so these short stalk versions will have to do.
Got a couple more parts to install: a drag style handlebar, and LED taillight. Normally, on a cafe racer, clip-on bars are more of the norm, but I wanted to be a little different. A flat handlebar still lowers the steering enough for an aggressive posture but not too much to cause back problems.
The tailight is another item that drastically changes the look of the TMX 125. The standard tailight, while being industrial in quality, was just too big. Installation was straightforward and the wiring was easy enough to understand.
Now it was time to dig deeper and get a little more into the bike. Wiring had to be deciphered and traced so I could install 1) the headlight, 2) relocate the voltage regulator and 3) relocate the ignition switch.
On older motorcycles, most of the wiring terminates at the headlight and is kept in its housing. It’s a convenient location as it is easily accessible by simply undoing two bolts to remove the headlight lens.
Thankfully, Honda has given a generous amount of extra wiring for the ignition switch. I was able to easily relocate this to the right side of the frame, just underneath the tank. All it took was a bracket which I made with a short piece of aluminum flat bar.
Out back, it was time to remove the heavy bracketry that holds the indicators and voltage regulator. By doing this, the regulator will need to be relocated as the seat I plan on installing is much shorter. Having removed the brackets, it doesn’t have a place to sit. I was able to find some room in the battery compartment for the mean time.
While all this was going on, my son decided that it was time to de-brand the bike and took it upon himself to painstakingly remove the stickers from the tank and side covers.
It was also time to install the much smaller indicators in the rear. These little units are very bright and complement the style of the tailight.
While back there, I also replaced the shock absorbers with units that have a black coil spring. Aesthetically, these shocks look so much better and fit the overall theme.
As you can see, the bike is beginning to look quite different with just with a handful of changes.
For day 4, I took out the chain guard for a cleaner and more open look.
In the front, gone are the big indicator lights. I wired the built-in LED indicators from the headlight. Also, I installed fork boots which really add to the overall appearance.
Fitted is the new cafe racer seat, much, much shorter than the previous stock seat and really changes the look of the TMX 125. This single change has had the biggest effect of all.
Let the hacking begin! You will notice that the rear subframe protrudes past the seat. This further illustrates how much shorter this seat is compared to the original unit. I would reach for an angle grinder or a reciprocating saw to easily make simple cuts needed for this project. Sadly, these tools were not in my tool box. What I did have were a pair of tin snips and a hacksaw.
Also, the tachometer I ordered finally arrived. It was time to figure out how to install it. Wiring was straight forward with only 4 wires-- positive, negative, positive (park light) and tach signal-- all of which I already mapped out previously.
To mount the tach, I cut a couple of aluminum flat bars to size and bolted them to the existing speedo bracket. The other ends simply bolt on to the tachometer.
Cutting through mild steel with a hacksaw is tough. But cutting stainless steel, well, that was another story. Simply put, I cut a front fender and a rear fender and I went through 3 hacksaw blades! To say that stainless steel is a much harder material is an understatement. Sadly, my cuts were not straight and quite jagged. So I contacted my brother who runs a workshop (YMD Turbo Specialist) and asked for help to clean up my work.
One of the best resources for information are Facebook Groups. In my case, I joined the TMX 125 Alpha Modified and TMX 125 Motorcycle Club of the Philippines. I was able to find someone looking for 17 inch wheels and was willing to swap their stock 18 inch wheels and tires. This was perfect as I wanted stock wheels and tires. A few messages and a day later, the swap was made.
I also found out that the stators in the TMX 125 have a habit of going bad. So to keep track and be able to catch this before things get bad, I ordered a voltage meter. It’s currently mounted on the handlebar, just left of center. The OCD in me will most likely find a way to mount this in the center. But for now, it is alright where it is located.
The other part that came in was a headlight mounting bracket. The one that came with the headlight was meant for much larger forks and I could not get them to work. I reused the stock stainless steel headlight mount. Depending on your viewing angle, the stock ones actually look pretty good. But from the side, they just hold the headlight higher than I would like without a way to adjust this. That’s why I had to order another bracket.
Back to those jagged and crooked cuts on my fenders. I enlisted the help of my brother who has a workshop with the proper tools and technicians. This was also the perfect time to get my exhaust silencer spot welded on to the muffler. This way, I don’t have to worry about it flying out at 9000 rpm.
I had the technician smooth out my cuts with an angle grinder. The result was exactly what I was trying to achieve. More proof that having the right tools for a job is essential. I also had him slot the holes I drilled so I could lower the front fender.
The finish line is close with just a few more details to deal with. I needed to sort out the jetting of the carburetor because of the free flowing exhaust system. After doing a spark plug reading, I could see that this engine could use a main jet several sizes bigger. After several trials, I settled on a 92 main jet, 40 pilot jet with 1.75 turns out on the idle mixture screw. This resulted in quicker acceleration and I could more easily reach 9,000 rpm in top gear.
While I was at it, I figured it would be a good time to improve the intake side as well. I dissected the air filter element and installed it with just the mesh core. I wasn’t too worried since I kept the air box.This will allow it to handle bigger particles. Speaking of which, I took off the restrictive intake scoop on the top of the air box to allow more air volume to enter. This opened an even better location for the voltage regulator which has now become its new location.
Another part of the puzzle was gearing. This bike came with a 15 tooth engine sprocket and a 36 tooth rear sprocket. After riding it around for a while, I realized that I could max out the engine within a city block. It definitely had very good acceleration but I couldn’t imagine doing a long ride the way it was geared. Thankfully, I had a 16 tooth sprocket from my previous bike and installed that on the TMX. It has made quite the difference. I can now comfortably cruise 70 to 80 kph (at 6,500 rpm) and I can still hit my top speed quickly. All possible even with the taller 18 inch wheels and tires.
The Finished Product
So, here’s the final product. The transformation is complete. From a “racing boi” TMX 125 to a classic CG125 Cafe Racer. That didn’t take too long to finish: roughly around 8 full days of working on it. Of course, this doesn’t include the days waiting for parts or researching online. Still, in about a month’s time, it’s a completely new motorcycle. And just like a traditional cafe racer, it is lighter, faster, quicker, better handling, and best of all, better looking.
I’m very happy that I chose the TMX 125 as a base bike for this project. Not only does it have an amazing amount of parts available for it, but it is also a really well-built and designed motorcycle. It’s no wonder these bikes last for so long and can go through a very harsh life and still keep on running.
As good as Chinese motorcycles have become I have to say that the real deal Honda is still far better in terms of build quality and engineering. Each part just feels tough and is installed in a way that guarantees it will stay in place and do what it is supposed to do. And it is because of that I know this bike will have many years of enjoyable rides ahead of it.
Written by Cr. Clunky