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1976 Honda MR 175 Elsinore: Where To Start?

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Bringing my just purchased Elsinore home tomorrow. I'm in need of some kind of manual. Any recommendations? Any thoughts on what to check first would be helpful. It's been years since I've owned a bike. I'm interested in some docile trail riding, nothing rip roaring. It starts right up and holds an idle with good clutch action. Most of all, she just needs to be made pretty again. That's what Winters are for. Any thoughts on this bike greatly appreciated!

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After I purchased my 1st. MR about eight years ago much of what I learned about the MR came from this and other vintage forums along with an expert on this series of Honda 2T's I got to know .  The MR is a solid vintage bike that has some parts commonality with the CR 125M & MT 125.  The MR seems to have a very reliable engine and transmission unless it has been abused.  There are part # changes between the three model years of the MR - some of which are minor and some that are not so minor.  A number of items changed between 1975 and 1976 model years (headlight set-up & fenders design and material primarily) and there were a number of internal mechanical and external cosmetic changes to the 1977 MR versus the prior two years.

If the bike starts and idles well then you are ahead of the game.  The ignition system often gets weak at the 1,500 - 2000 mile range unless it has been very well maintained.  It seems that the cam on the flywheel that operates the points wears out and it becomes impossible to set the points and timing correctly. The fix is finding a new flywheel (good luck with that as they seem rare as hens teeth) or switching to the factory CR 125M electronic ignition system or the aftermarket PVL system (no lights at the point however).  I've had good luck with the OEM CR ignition system and they seem very reliable with good used and NOS versions available on Ebay from time to time.  Switching to the CR ignition also adds power, better rev-ability and added flexibility in the power range to the MR engine as well.

The MR engine, like all two strokes, needs good sealing of the crankcase so inspection/replacement of the crank seals is important.  This engine will start & run decently even when fairly low on compression so a check of that would probably be a good idea.  There still seems to be a fairly good selection of NOS piston and ring sets available.  One issue to keep in mind with the Honda rod is that they offer three sizes of small end (and big end) needle bearings depending on the rod installed in your engine.  Honda only offers one size of the small end bearing new (sized at -0.004-0.006) so a careful review of the shop manual and part numbers is a good idea before buying parts for a top end rebuild.  Crank parts for a crankshaft rebuild are very hard to find but Crank Works (and others I'm sure) can install a still available early Kawasaki KDX rod kit if needed.

The original Keihin carb has worked well for me and can also be re-jetted for better performance - depending on altitude going leaner on the main jet & slide cut out works well along with a change to the CR 125M needle jet.  Keeping clean fuel to the carb is critical - I've always used a secondary inline filter. 

The rear shocks, if stock, seem to loose performance over time like any stock shock, but they can be rebuilt with some effort.  It may be best to replace with 1" longer aftermarket shocks if better handling is desired (lifting the rear end helps the front tire stick better).

Finding the correct size tires is important to handling and performance so finding a 3.50x18 rear tire is important so that it doesn't rub against the swingarm/chain guide - even most 4.0 width tires will be too wide.  If the correct size tire can't be found then sanding the offending knobs on the left side of the tire may be required (I use a belt sander). 

Another potential weak spot are the swing arm bushings - they are a plastic composite design and can seize in the swingarm if not greased regularly.  If they seize cutting the swingarm apart may be the only way to remove the swingarm from the frame.

Best of Luck!

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Thank you  IAoffroader for your detailed observation list. But it looks like Sofiedog has called my hand on this thread!  I backed out of this deal at the last minute and should have indicated such.  If you want to investigate further...go to CL motorcycle section for Reno Nevada. Type in the word: vintage. Asking price is $700 and I could've brought it home for $650. Unfortunately no pics. This has been a family bike. Passed down from the grandfather (bought it new) to the granddaughter some 8-10 years ago.

As I said...the bike needs to be made pretty again. The tires hold air but are weathered and cracked. And I feel the "parts chase" would widen from there.

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I understand about making the decision to not proceed with the purchase of a vintage dirt bike that needs a lot of work - the costs are always higher than estimated!  And I already have too many MR/MT projects going on right now to take on any more thanks just the same.

The cosmetic aspects of the MR are the hardest to fix as finding good used, or NOS, parts for this model is not easy and potentially very expensive.  I've looked for may years for NOS fenders for the 1976 and have yet to find any and good used ones are hard to find due to the composition of the plastic Honda used in that era and the use the bikes were put to - often ridden hard and put away dirty. Although there are some good replacement front fenders available from companies like VMX (not the rear fender though). And the gas tanks are dent magnets so even good used and rust free tanks will more than likely require expensive repair.

I allowed myself to get sucked into the 1970's Honda 2T's scene and while I love my MR's and MT's there are other bikes like the late 70's Honda XR, Suzuki PE, Penton, and Yamaha WR that offer much better suspension than the MR's and would make for better vintage dirt bike riding IMHO.

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I agree...think about it, even the best MX bikes of the day had poor suspension components and far less travel compared to newer bikes today...the "dual sport" bike typically got a grade down in suspension components from the MX bikes of the day...so...they are cool, but very difficult to ride fast or rough terrain...so...is it fun? typically not once the novelty wears off...maybe cool to ride around the camp fire, or neighborhood and go to the QuikMart?

 

 

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10 hours ago, Sofiedog said:

I agree...think about it, even the best MX bikes of the day had poor suspension components and far less travel compared to newer bikes today...the "dual sport" bike typically got a grade down in suspension components from the MX bikes of the day...so...they are cool, but very difficult to ride fast or rough terrain...so...is it fun? typically not once the novelty wears off...maybe cool to ride around the camp fire, or neighborhood and go to the QuikMart?

 

 

I'm afraid your right - I like the styling and look of the vintage bikes but not necessarily their performance.  Although my 1980 Suzuki TS 250 does very well on the street and on dirt roads I wouldn't take it on a true off road trail ride due to lack of suspension capability.  Many of us that own and work on vintage bikes are trying to re-capture our younger years as well as enjoy the experience of restoring these older bikes.  We were big Honda fans back in the day and tried to buy a CR 125M when they were red hot but couldn't get one from our dealer as they were sold out.  The MR is a bike that we probably would have bought if we had known about it.

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At age 67, my trail riding pursuits will be low key casual. Just wanting to go further in the Nevada outback.

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I have been out of it for quite awhile. The last bike I owned was "last century"! My first ever bike was a '64 Honda 90. There's a Honda 250 Motosport on CL that's catching my eye. Circa 1975. I know, I can't stay away from the old stuff! Can't stay away from CL either! Is there a support group available?

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I had an SL 250 motosport - silver tank cant remember what year / model it was - had a big bore on it - 300 odd cc's

heavy thing it was - but went everywhere on it - so reliable - back in about 82

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Like IAoffroader said, if you want to explore dirt roads at an easy pace, the old '70s dual sport bikes should be fine...could even go slowly through washed out sections and slow trail riding...back in the day, seems like one of the first things we did was put on aftermarket shocks.
But, if you go riding with someone on a modern bike, he/she will be having an easier time...

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Yeah...like an alcoholic working in a bar...it helps to be removed from your vices...did a 13hr round trip drive to Kingman for my last one...I almost have more maintenance than I can keep up with and I still look at CL and dream about bringing another cool bike home...but, old bikes are easier to collect, than to ride and maintain regularly...

 

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