A few weeks ago a couple of us pitched up at flat track race school with the aim of learning how to back it in and drift like the pros. Excitement wained somewhat when we clocked eyes on the choice of machinery for the day, Honda XR125s. We were expecting flames, wheelies and bending the bars against the lock-stops. Needless to say, 125 cubic centimetres were plenty, and in some cases 50 too many. Ten grown men ragging around all day with smiles wider than turn one at the Springfield Mile.
The owner of this CG125 shares similar memories of seeking the most out of a diminutive single pot while he delivered pizza as a teenager. He must have ridden fast as eventually enough doughy goodness had been dispatched to afford a restaurant of his own, and later a chain of them. The loyal CG was run into the ground and finally parked at the back of the garage to await a rainy day and some TLC, that day didn’t arrive.
Rejuvenation came in the form of Luis, head honcho at Maria Riding Company based in Lisbon. Usually known for styling larger capacity machinery the guys in the workshop needed a bit of persuading to take on the CG project. After all, at this level a similar amount of hours go into a build, whether it be a chicken chaser or exotic track weapon. The sad looking 2002 donor was wheeled in a stripped bare to reveal the extent of abuse.
Luis and his crew had their work cut out as the little Honda had been in a few accidents and the frame wasn’t pretty. Once repaired and reinforced the subframe was looped in preparation for the new leather saddle and fuel tank. The stock CG tank is a good looking unit and is often transplanted onto larger NX650s and other scrambler projects but Luis wanted a more flowing shape so modded an SR125 tank instead.
In a bid for lightweight flick-ability the electrical system and battery were binned, replaced by a capacitor to power the essentials. There are lights fore and aft and that’s about it, and as a result the bright white bars are free from clutter and switchgear.
If you’ve seen other bikes from Maria Riding you’ll be familiar with their playful style, introducing splashes of colour wherever possible, in particular powder coating wheel rims. Another nice attention to detail is the liberal use of yellow passivation on the fastenings, essentially zinc plating but with a finish more pleasing on the eye. Against the polished engine cases and custom made stainless exhaust the torque arm, brake rod and various nuts and bolts look great.
To make the most of the new looks the mechanicals needed to join the party. New shocks out back and rebuilt forks deal with the suspension but the engine required further attention. After a lifetime spent at the end of a stretched throttle cable all was not well so the guys came through on the promise of some proper TLC. It was completely torn-down and rebuilt with new internals, gaskets and seals.
Once completed it was nearly impossible for the customer to get hold of the keys, everyone in the workshop wanted to have a go on BellaDonna and take that trip down memory lane to feel what it used to be like to ride free of weight, electronic interference and complication. Although with this much time and money spent a trip between cafés is more likely than delivering pizza.