An excellent 40 section, single lap trial, held in weather that was as bad as it gets in May (though not as bad as the Abergavenny trial)
Llanfyllin and District MCC held the Forest Trophy trial on the mountain high about Foel. Its a single lap 40 section trial, split into three groups of 14,16 and finally 10 sections. I rode the easy (white) route which is ideal for the sportsman/clubman twinshock or pre-65 rider, but there were plenty riding the harder route.
It rained, a lot, all day and was a massive 6 C when I arrived (impressive for the end of May) so Paul, Kevin and I got some gloves off the Rockshock’s guy. Wet and cold all day and with some long runs on the forestry tracks leaving you shivering and needed a run round a section to warm up. I rode the Jumbo , which ran without missing a beat all day. The only problem (and its a continuing problem) is that it did seem a little hesistant when openning the throttle, making it difficult to get (in
Starting riding with Harold Fenn and the two Liam’s (Fenn and Owens) to give him hand minding if needed. Liam O rode the standard (yellow) route, whilst Liam F rode the White route.
The first group of 14 were up though a streams and following a silly dab coming out of section 8, manage to drop 3 others. There were a couple of sections back by the start, with an interesting slab on section 13 for the yellow route, and then a change of cards.Though a bit of a challenge for me, the Yellow (standard) route was the route to ride on the day, with some excellent rocks and streams in most sections. Good fun.
The next group of 16 started with a number of sections in old quarries, the second of which saw me pick up a 5 for missing a marker (score doubled) and this then put me off my stride a bit. A long run down to the main group of sections, which were again set in a stream. The white route avoided the more serious stream sections, but dropped a couple stupid dabs. The bottom group of subs saw me drop another 5, for a stupid mistake when my hand came off the bars and a few more daps. 18 in total for second card was not good, as it should have been 5-8 total.
For the final group, after changing cards, caught up Kevin (on his RL325 Beamish Suzuki) and Paul (on his Godden-framed Yamaha) and headed off in the cold and wet for a long run to the next sub. Couple of sections in the quarries next to the road, with a stupid ‘2’ in the second sub. A twisty sub was followed a nice stream double-subber, ideally designed for twinshocks
The final group of 4 sections were again in a rocky quarry and provided a good finish in the continuing rain, with some tight turns on banks and lots of rocks. Then the long run back to the start, with Paul’s Yam playing up (dodgy HT lead) and in the end needing a tow for last 1/2 mile back to the start.
Pretty cold, very wet at the end, but an excellent venue for a superbly run trial. Many thanks for Llanfyllin club, very wet and cold observers and organisers. Looking at the scores on the main board as I left, the organisers got the balance absolutely right on the day, with some low scores balancing the woeful weather.
Nice bike, but crap for trials ? This article looks at the issues about getting your TL125 ready for trials…or not
Are Honda TL125’s worth the effort ?
A couple of recent ebay listings in the UK show that there are potentially some stunning returns for completing a full Honda TL125 restoration, with road kit and and the original components. However, is it really worth the effort of making a TL125 that is to be used in trials. A standard TL125 is basically useless in trials and by the time you’ve finished getting the bike in sorted state, you’ve got little of the original bike left. With the money you’ve spent you could have bought a “proper” twinshock trials bike (like an SWM…)
The main issue I have is I really enjoy riding my TL125 at a trial, but I don’t ever expect to win and it needs to a classic trial on the easiest route. If you are good rider (and I’m not) then you can get good results at this type of trial, but you are not going to be competitive. If you like four stroke Honda’s, and you want to be competitive in twinshock trials, then flash the cash and go get a TLR250. You could get a TL200, TL250, TLR200, a Seeley or an RS200 (or something else exotic) and you would get an easier ride alround.
The problem is that the TL125’s are potentially a cheap place to start with four stroke trials. A good bike for a trials project will cost £200-400 on ebay, depeding on what useful bits it has on it. My issue is, that by the time you finish getting the bike ready, you may have very little of the original bike left and you’ve spent the same amount of money you would have spent on that TLR200 or Seeley. Unlike the these bikes, if you sell the TL125, rather than appreciating in value you are unlikely to get your money back.
So, for a quick run over the bike for my opinion (and there are plenty of others on the interweb) on what to check for, what to bin and what you may be able to live with.
Starting with the engine
1. Top end. The earlier “K” models (1973-5) were not so common in the UK as they seem to be have been in the US. They had a single piece cylinder head whilst the later (1976-on) “S” model it is in 2 parts and like all small Honda 4-strokes have the problem of the camshaft running directly in the head. This wears (especially on badly lubricated engines) and requires engineering to fix, something that may only be possible on the two part heads. One of the main parts you now cannot find listed are “S” model cams, though some “K” ones seem to be available via David Silver and others. That said, you should still go for an “S” model engine if you can.
2. The reason for that is in part because it comes with the 124cc barrel. The boring out and stroking of TL125’s is a subject much discussed and is something you need a 124 barrel for. The stock 124cc or 122cc bike suffers a lot from the awesome 4bhp performance but more significantly from the ‘idle-cough’ response when you open the throttle in a section. Increasing the capacity removes the latter and improves the former issue.
The standard liner can be bored to 150cc, though this does result in something with the thickness of a pastry cutter. Disaster stories abound of crack liners, but been ok for me. Sammy Miller will provide the piston and bore out as a kit, but there are also people who will drop in a new thicker liner and a modified CB750 piston. You may get to 165cc this way, more if you want to stroke the bike also.
3. The gearing on the bike is set up for trials, with a low 1,2 and 3rd gear and a higher 4th and 5th gear. Other gear clusters (from CG’s, XL’s and SL’s) are not so good and are infact laid out differently. The TL also has a heavier crank, which is also very good. It means whilst there are lots of engine spares for this type of Honda, its good to keep with the TL components where possible.
Onto the other bike parts.
A. Exhaust. The stock exhaust on the TL depends on the model, but needs to be changed to improve perfomance and basically to get it out of the way. There is a (not cheap) Sammy Miller pipe which looks the part and does also improve performance. There are some alternatives and I’ve also seen plenty of self-built exhaust systems which sound good, but may not help where needed, ie providing power.
B. Airbox. The airbox takes up a lot of space and I’ve removed it to use a K&N clip on filter. This was in part due to a change of carburettor (see below).
C. Controls. I’ve swapped to Renthal bars and Domino levers and throttles on the bike and also ensured that the cables are new. The stock clutch is not really up for one-finger operation though there are some articles on lengthening the clutch arm etc. My thinking is that for trials where you can ride the TL, you shouldn’t really need to use the clutch anyway, but can see the reasoning on improving it from stock.
D. Front Forks. Probably the real weak spot on the stock bike as they really are not up to the job. They bottom out easily and the rake is all wrong. To improve the turning characteristics, you can drop the forks in the yokes so that there is 10-15mm of fork leg showing out of the top. This does prevent some of the dropping into turns, but this is also affected by the rear shock height and performance (see below). I’ve put an extra 50mm spring in each fork leg as a spacer in an attempt to beef up the damping and to stop it crashing down off drop-offs. Its still not perfect and getting a set of forks from a TY250R or later Honda or SWM maybe the best bet as you may also get a better brake drum also.
E. Carburettor. The original Mikuni carb on my TL was worn. I managed to avoid the cheap/nasty new Chinese copies and got hold of half a Honda CB360 set from Ebley Honda, though the choke is on the wrong side. This bolts directly onto barrel and the jetting seems to be spot on for the TL and has made an improvement with pick-up. There other carbs, like the later CG pumper carbs, but they really bend the rules in some respects (for AHMRA for example)
F. Frame. The stock frame on the TL125 is a pressed steel that isn’t up to trials, heavy, wrong geometry and not exactly very strong. There are some Sammy Miller Hiboy frames that appear on ebay and elsewhere. They are expensive (last seen for £350), but potentially can add significant value to the bike.
G. Rear Shocks. The rear shock lengths on the Honda are longer than normal, at over 14.2″. My TL125 has a couple of plates welded on top of the rear of the swingarm, allowing for the fitment of new aftermarket shocks. These seem to be available in lengths from 13.4-14″ as standard. I’ve put some NJB Clubman shocks on the bike as a good value, but working shocks, but you’ve plenty of choice including Betor’s, Falcon’s or Rockshocks, though the later will cost over £150.00 for a set. The NJB Clubman shocks are a very reasonable £55 and are up to the performance of the TL.
– loose weight, TL125’s are best suited to riders in the sub-65kg category. Bigger riders will always strugge to wrestle a good ride from a TL. Skinny blokes (and ladies) and under-18’s will be fine.
– brakes; they don’t seem to be any worse than other drumbrakes on twinshocks but they do lack stopping power in more challenging situations
– tank: is metal and dents. Mine has a couple of ding’s from knees and rocks, but nothing that doesn’t add to its glamour. Not sure about fibreglass or plastic alternatives, or whether there is a single seat-and-tank-unit. The original seat is a little bulky
On the whole, its a great bike to ride but only if the trial isn’t too hard. If want a Honda (and have the cash) get one of the later, more trials centric models. If not, maybe get an SWM, Bultaco, Montesa for similar money.
A hard course + lots of rain equals disaster. 45 entries and only 8 finishers means thats the weather was bad (heavy rain all day) and the course was too hard.
It seems that for every 10 good trials, you need to have one that
doesn’t go well. The trial at Llywdcoed Farm, that was set out on the
harder side, became impossible as rain turned into an all-day deluge.
Infact some of subs wouldn’t have been out-of-place in next weeks
Mitchell Trial at the same venue. This trial will live long in the
memory of some of the riders and club officials.
That there were 45 entries but only 8 completed cards really says it
all; the conditions were horrendous and even reducing it to 3 laps of 15
sections didn’t help. With a venue like Llywdcoed it is difficult to
make last minute adjustments and the weather conditions made things very
The hillclimb on Section 11 providing early entertainment; a wet,
slippery full out 3rd or 4th blast. Some early cleans showed it was
possible for the Clubmen, but it required too much nerve and skill for
most of the Sportsman and Twinshock entry. One rider, on his Beta Techno
had three spectacular failures in a row near the top of the climb,
summing up the effort and approach of many of the riders on the day.
Section 13 was unlucky for some, with the Merthyr Club’s Martin Jones
achieving a spectacular off after his throttle stuck open attempting the
steep muddy exit. With a damaged cable and not wishing a repeat
performance he wisely retired, but not before Alastair Bedford showed
the more experience riders on how it should be done with a beautiful
ride across the log and up to the exit. An injured shoulder also saw Dai
Bedford’s forced retirement on the first lap.
Credit should go to the finishers; Jake Evans-Luter put in a determined
ride on the Expert route to once again provided the ride of the day. Of
the 5 Clubman to finish the day, Dai Clothier used his experience and
skills to be the only rider to finish below 3 digits. The mossy rocks
only offered some relief late on and finding grip was the main challenge
On the Sportsman route, Gavin Griffiths was the only finisher and showed
many of the older riders that he’s got the determination to tackle a
difficult trial. The Youth C and D riders rightly decided to ease the
sections and all of them completed a large number of the sections, a
sensible approach from their minders which saw them gain valuable
practise at a difficult venue.
Of the 4 Twinshock entries, only Mike Roberts on his 156cc Fantic
finished, with myself and Gavin retiring. Gavin after he flipped the bike on the steep muddy slope of section 13 and myself after scalding my leg on section 4 on the second lap. I carried on for a bit, but also
must of popped the exhaust gasket in attempting the hillclimb
After putting the bike in the van and changing in the back (it was still pissing down) I noticed a couple of marks on my left left from the exhaust, the biggest of which was on top of my leg. The combination of hot exhaust and soggy trousers = interesting scalds ! The Jumbo obviously didn’t enjoy the trial either.
Lesson’s learnt; The trial was too hard, certainly for the conditions and even in the dry for the majority of the Sportsman entry who turned up. The Abergavenny club will need to pull out the stops at the next trial by setting out a good balanced course and by ensuring that there are observers on the day. Offering free or 1/2 price rides for people who entered this trial might encourage people to give Abergavenny another chance.
The results (of all of the finishers…)
Jake Evans-Luter 64
Dai Clothier 92 Steve Duggan 102 Richard Aldridge 110
A Thomas 113 Mark Davies 118
The 1982 320TL was passed on to my neighbour a couple of months ago and after some serious work by Gavin, its now in a ready-to-trial state.
So thought I would grab a couple of pictures prior to the Abergavenny Club Trial. The bike has been out on a couple of test runs, including a Merthyr trial but it’s been smoking a bit and there is a bit of top end knock. It failed to start prior to the Wye Valley trial, which turned out to be a knackered plug.
Even though it was running, it was smoking and removing the top end showed that there was crankcase oil in the bottom of the cylinder, so this indicated a crankshaft seal change was needed. Also, the crank was out of line and not pressed together correctly so after checking it with a dial gauge on the lathe it was knocked back into shape.
The frame had already been powder coated, in the matt blue of 82, rather than the metallic paint of the 83 Jumbo’s and 320’s. Gavin painted the engine using stove paint which has given a far more permanent finish than the PJ1 engine stain black I used on the Jumbo. He’s also fitted a Renthal bar with Domino controls and acquired some very shiny Rockshocks.
The bike still has a bit of a knock, which could be as a result of the lower cylinder head that came with the bike. A quick ride round the garden shows that the bike is more “snappy” than my 320 and also the Jumbo and feels small and very quick to turn at the front end. Its not a later Jumbo frame, but the steering head angle is steep so it feels like a later trials bike.
Will do a report of performance of the bike (and the Jumbo) and the Abergavenny club trial later today.