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ADV NewsAttempting The Trans America Trail On A Honda CT125

Attempting The Trans America Trail On A Honda CT125

Taking on the 5,000-mile TAT on a mini bike. Crazy or crazy fun?

Published on 03.29.2022

Ask any rider about traveling the Trans America Trail (TAT) on a bike, and they’ll tell you it’s an adventure of a lifetime. Nearly 5,000 miles of dirt and backroads across the entire United States from coast-to-coast is no easy task: the distance alone is daunting, and if you add all the gnarly Rocky Mountain passes, remote dirt trails, and the endurance it takes to cover it all, it’s clear the TAT presents a serious challenge. For this reason, most riders aim to tackle the TAT on lightweight dirt bikes or off-road-ready adventure motorcycles. Most also have significant off-road riding experience.

Trans America Trail on a Honda Trail 125
Official Trans America Trail (courtesy transamtrail.com)
Angelo Gianni, a 54-year-old North Carolina native, had neither. Inspired by quirky adventure riders like Ed March, Angelo and his friend Johnny Pow decided to ride the TAT on two Honda Trail CT125 motorcycles. In addition, Angelo had very little to no previous off-roading experience…yet decided to go ahead anyway.

What could possibly go wrong?

Trans America Trail on a Honda Trail 125

From Choppers to Dirt

Angelo has ridden bikes from the age of sixteen, owning a Honda Shadow and a Suzuki Intruder. At the age of 32, having married and had his first child, Angelo decided to shelve motorcycling – but he’d still rent a Harley-Davidson every once in a while. In 2007, he would try out adventure motorcycles to explore North Carolina, but other than easy forest roads, Angelo had not ridden much dirt. Yet, yearning for adventure and having heard of the TAT, he made a plan to ride the entire route… on a motorcycle that is far from being the ideal mount for the journey.

Trans America Trail on a Honda CT125

The inspiration to tackle the TAT on a Honda Trail CT125 came from watching Ed March’s adventures on a C90, and once the seed was planted, Angelo and his friend Johnny both bought brand new CTs and got ready for the adventure.


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“A few weeks after getting the 2021 Honda Trail CT125, I met up with Johnny and we took the two CT125s to a trail that’s pretty famous around here called Hurricane Creek. I had no gear. I wore a pair of Merrell slip- on shoes. I just figured, “Ahh, I’ll figure it out. How bad can it be?,” Angelo shares.

The first ride went gloriously bad: due to heavy rains, the trail was a muddy, rutty, rocky mess.

Offroad with the Honda CT125

“I crashed literally 2 minutes in, smashing the headlight housing of my new shiny motorcycle. And then I continued to crash throughout. That trail was completely beyond my skill level. It beat the living sh*t out of me… and I enjoyed every stupid minute of it. I kept repeating, “Why is this fun? Why is this fun?!” That was my first real go in the dirt and with that under my belt I figured, okay – I’m ready for the Trans America Trail. I’m an idiot. At least I had the sense to invest in some boots,” Angelo says.

Honda Trail vs the TAT

The total mileage Angelo covered from Asheville, NC to Port Orford, OR was 5,029 miles. His average speed was 25mph, and it took him 25 days to complete the ride, spending a total of 240 hours and 21 minutes in the saddle. “I rode 9 or 10 hours per day on average with 12 hours being the longest day. The molecular structure of my behind has been forever changed by what must be the most uncomfortable motorcycle seat ever designed,” Angelo shares.

Trans America Trail on a Honda Trail 125
Trans America Trail on a Honda Trail 125

And yet, the little bike – and its ill-prepared rider – held. Both Angelo and Johnny rode the Trails completely stock, even starting out with stock tires.

“There were discussions about getting some 13t sprockets but my attitude about pretty much everything is, ‘Ahh, it’ll be fine.’ Which was semi-true until the Colorado passes. To be honest, I had such little experience with this sort of riding that I didn’t know enough about sprockets or suspension travel or tires or anything else to really have an opinion one way or the other. I figured all I’d really need was stamina, a high tolerance for pain and suffering, and a general acceptance of going slow as hell,” Angelo explains.

Trans America Trail on a Honda Trail 125

According to him, the Honda Trail CT125 is a pretty unkillable motorcycle. Other than a few flat tires, racks that rattled apart, and a few bent gear shifters and broken brake pedals, the bike survived it all and there were no major issues.

Trans America Trail on a Honda Trail 125

“It is a freaking monster. I found ways to grind gears even with an automatic clutch; I rode it all day every day for 25 days straight; I beat the living hell out of that little bike… and it didn’t mind one little bit. It didn’t even blink. In fact, I think Little Ugly Homefry liked it. The CT125 is the cockroach of motorcycles, and I say that with the utmost love and affection,” Angelo says.

Trans America Trail on a Honda Trail 125

However, the journey wasn’t without its challenges: in Arkansas, Angelo had four flats in a day and ran out of gas. A fellow rider from the Facebook TAT group, Bret Winnegar, came to the rescue offering his own bike tire and a stay. Engineer and California Passes in Colorado were extremely tough with the little bikes, and the desolate, sandy landscape from American Falls to Arco, Idaho made Angelo question his own sanity.

Trans America Trail on a Honda Trail 125

“No one told me there was going to be a freaking desert in Idaho! The sand, the ruts, the endless desolation… That’s the day both Johnny and I crashed and bent our brake pedals in half. Riding in sand with only a front brake kind of sucks, especially on a motorcycle that has tires the width of a bicycle. I came very close to losing my mind that day. After hours and hours and hours of nothing, all I wanted was to see something man made. Oh my good Lord Jesus, there’s a fencepost! There’s a power line! There’s a silo – a big beautiful silo! A house!  I couldn’t have taken much more of it. Arco was an incredibly beautiful sight to behold,” Angelo recalls.

Trans America Trail on a Honda Trail 125

Lessons from the Road

According to Angelo, the biggest lesson after completing 5,000 miles of the TAT was the fact that America is an incredibly beautiful country with amazing diversity in landscapes and nature. Kindness of strangers was another surprise – for Angelo, meeting other riders on the route, receiving help from the locals, and having conversations with strangers in campsites and gas stations was what made the trip special.

Trans America Trail on a Honda Trail 125

As for the riding…”I learned that even after 5,000  miles I still pretty much suck at adventure riding. I’ll never be good at it. I’ll never shred on a motorcycle. What I have gotten pretty good at is crashing, dusting myself off, and getting back on the bike. That’s a skill I’m pretty proud of and it comes in especially handy when you suck at riding. But being good isn’t what I’m after. What I love more than anything is being lost, stopping for a break on some trail in the center of the middle of nowhere all by myself, and just feeling like it’d be tough to get any further away from everything,” Angelo explains.

Trans America Trail on a Honda Trail 125

He says he didn’t choose the Honda Trail because it was right for the TAT – he picked it because it was the goofiest choice possible, and because it made him slow down and appreciate the journey more.

“The trip wouldn’t have been the same on any other bike. The limitations and incredible slowness were maddening – but that’s what gave the trip its character and made it so damn memorable,” he explains. .

Trans America Trail on a Honda Trail 125

Angelo says he would do the same trip in a heartbeat, and when it comes to the TAT itself, he is convinced it’s pure poetry. “Sam Corello, the creator of the Trans America Trail, is a mastermind and the route he created is truly a breathtaking work of staggering genius. As I told him in a thank you note, he’s created the Great American Novel using roads instead of words. I had many conversations with Sam (in my head) along the way. I really felt like he was telling me a story. And it was an epic story”.

Follow Angelo’s CT125 adventures and more on his YouTube Channel Some Guy Rides.

Author: Egle Gerulaityte

Riding around the world extra slowly and not taking it too seriously, Egle is always on the lookout for interesting stories. Editor of the Women ADV Riders magazine, she focuses on ordinary people doing extraordinary things and hopes to bring travel inspiration to all two-wheeled maniacs out there.

Author: Egle Gerulaityte
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7 thoughts on “Attempting The Trans America Trail On A Honda CT125

  1. You’d crash a lot less on a bike with better suspension. If you want to stick to a simple aircooled bike get yourself a fuel injected XT250 and add Cogent suspension to both ends.

  2. The part about American Falls to Arco ID caught my attention. I have spent a lot of time in that area. My grandpa had a 5000 acre farm in the middle of that desolation by Atomic City. Starting in the 60s, I went there with my dad for every “vacation” (from CA and TX) and eventually, when old enough, all summer to “move pipe”. The two 1.5 MW irrigation pumps and all the hard work and anxiety still ended in bankruptcy.

    I loved the desolation there, but then I am well down the autistic spectrum. Blackfoot was the Big City 35 miles away that I never went to. The time I was not laboring, eating or sleeping I was exploring on whatever I could slink off with for transport and firearm. (I never fessed up how the Honda ATC 90 handle bars got bent since I did not break any bones in the incident.)

    I am pleased that some people can today experience the area on bikes. I am sure it was mind broadening as well as maddening for the two gregarious Eastern Seaboard riders who had no idea such places yet exist for a little while in the continental US. Until they too are overrun with people like everywhere else.

  3. Circling Australia on a built-by-a-chucklehead Ducati 250 (top speed 60 mph/95k) before there were paved roads all the round was wonderful. Small bikes are definitely better for me. If I had a faster bike, I would’ve done it faster. Instead, I just plonked along admiring how beautiful Australia is and the daily break-down almost always happened in a convenient spot.

  4. Very cool journey. I admire the riders’s attitudes of just getting out there and doing it. The best bike is the one you have, right? And the thing you hear time and again from travellers is that 98% of the people you meet along the way will be helpful and friendly, so that’s why everyone should travel. An enjoyable read as well!

  5. I get the fun factor. I consider myself a great rider, on road and off. I have a Beta Xtrainer but ya know which bike I’d like to do this on? A T-Dub. Better machines don’t necessarily mean more fun. And honestly I wouldn’t ride one of these Honda Trails. There’s a balance I’ve learned between what’s necessary and what’s too much. I think the TW200 would be a hoot.

  6. I watched nearly all of your TAT trip. At times I admired what you were doing and at times I thought you were nuts. I’m glad you got to experience a once in a lifetime adventure that most will never do. Many could, but never will. To simply say it is one thing and that close to just doing it, but to do the prep, research on the gear down to socks and embarking is another thing. I hope you know that what you have done is provide those that watched a wealth of information by testing the little CT on its many weaknesses and strengths which also are many. What worked, what didn’t, what broke and what turned out to be bomb proof. Even for those that will never make the attemp, you took us along for the ride. The logistics, and as many hours almost videoing, edititing and documenting as hours in the seat. Ya, it may have punched you around a little but there is nothing free in life and no gain without pain. Thanks for the TAT experience.

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