This radical motocrosser from 1980 was the result of the Honda factory’s open chequebook—and a desperate desire to see off its rivals. Born in response to Gilera‘s twin cylinder motocross bike, the Honda RC125M Twin was nothing short of a beautifully engineered technological marvel.
Producing a staggering 35 horespower at 13,000 rpm from a reed-valved and watercooled, 124.99cc motor, the red rocket brought a new meaning to the word ‘screamer’. That radical ‘Ribi’ front end was seen as a worthwhile experiment after Roger DeCoster achieved some success with the design aboard a factory Suzuki RN in 1978; when DeCoster switched teams, he introduced Valentino Ribi to Honda and they bought the rights, which they own to this day.
The benefit of the system was a flex- and friction-free operation, coupled to a highly adjustable and variable rate of progression—similar in effect to modern-day rising rate rear suspension systems. The downside was the staggering cost of the 19 separate components, the difficulty in setting it up, the weight, and the fact that visually, it resembles a techno praying mantis. The Honda RC125M debuted at Suzuka in 1980 with Kenji Sato aboard, and had further outings in 1981 before the FIM stepped in and banned twin-cylinder bikes from international competition. A single cylinder version of the RC125M—once more with a Ribi front end—won the 1981 All Japan 125cc Motocross Championship in the hands of Yasuo Tofukuji.