MX Bob Bike History - Unit 5
1978 Yamaha YZ125
First Races and Tailgates

This was the first new bike I had owned for 4 years and my first true motocross bike. 1978 was a great year to get a 125. The improvements made between 1975 and 1978 were substantial. Honda was little slow to adapt, but Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Suzuki all had new designs with good motors and long travel.

I went to my first race on this bike at Cambridge, Minnesota. There were 4 classes of 125B (later known as 125C or 125 Novice) that day, all with close to full gates. The start at that time was a really long straightaway into a sweeping downhill left with a sharp right hander at the bottom. I was quite intimidated by the thought of being in the middle of 40 riders with more guts than skill, tapped out into the high-speed first and second turns.

Prior to the race, I was confident that my BMX success would quickly carry over to my motorcycles. That delusion did not last long. Motorcycles were a whole different world than bicycles. Guys that didnít look that fast from the side of the track seemed much faster when you were out on the track with them. I think I finished around 30th, not last, but much closer to last than first. I raced three other times with pretty much back of the pack finishes, although I felt I had improved each time.

The Burnsville / Savage /Shakopee area had a lot of places to ride back then, and I would often be out there with many good riders. I liked riding with faster riders, which was nearly everyone at this point. Blake Grossman and Tom Fendler were in the same grade as I was in high school, but they were some of the best riders in the state, and I was just starting to use the front brake. I did learn a lot trying to keep them in sight for longer than a few seconds, and seeing how they rode.

There was about a month and a half in the summer when I couldn't ride the bike. I had run off the track while practicing, and there was a really big rock cleverly hiding in the tall grass. I was just a bit banged up, but the front wheel of the bike was now a misshapen oval. I canít remember if I had trouble getting a new rim or if I thought it would be trick, but I ended up getting a 23-inch wheel. Unlike the CR125 that came stock with one that year, the geometry was not made for a bigger wheel. I thought it made it harder to turn on the flat and small berms, but felt better in sand and big berms.

This was the bike I had when my dad bought a pick-up. I now had a driver's license, and was given my first chance to borrow it one sunny spring day. On that afternoon, I loaded the bike up using the side hill by my house, figuring there would be plenty of people where I was riding to help me load it when I was done. Unfortunately I was there by myself, and there was no such side hill to aid me.

My ramp was a relatively short 2x4. I couldn't push it up because the truck was too tall and the ground was too sandy to get a decent run at it. I made the regrettable decision to ride it up. Of course, the board broke about halfway up and the cases dragged on the tailgate as the momentum thankfully carried it the rest of the way into the bed. Did I mention that the truck had a little over 100 miles on it?

I continued the series of bad decisions by buying some touch-up paint on the way home and covering up the scratched off paint. My dad eventually discovered the dent that was still there, and my pick-up privileges were severely curtailed after that.

I can't remember much about selling it other than, it was in really good shape when I sold it and I still only got half of what I paid for it the year before. If anyone remembers buying a 78 YZ125 with a 23-inch front wheel, that was probably mine. I don't remember seeing any other YZs with the 23-inch hoop in Minnesota.

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Revised April 2017