Attitudes to 250s

The name says it all...

Re: Attitudes to 250s

Postby John Hilmer » Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:18 pm

Rick,

My experience is somewhat similar to yours and perhaps it is the roads that we ride that influence our preferences.

After a number of years, say between '85 and '07 having given up my '83 Wing because it just was a pig compared to the '76 wing and traffic getting frightful I bought and restored an '85 VF 700 Sabre. I had to learn how to ride all over again, but it was worth it.

Friends and I rode the local twisties and the open roads and of course I did better on open roads even after I got the bike to handle correctly. Mu wife was suffering with cancer so being responsible I sold the Sabre.

When Susan passed I bought an '86 VFR 750. If you don't know, it is a bit unique. The VF 700 f was rated at 86 HP as I recall and the '86 VFR 750 was 106 HP. Well, it becomes apparent about the HP difference very quickly when you ride them. I loved the VFR 750 when I was on open roads and could use the power. Riding the twisties was labor with such a heavy machine. My twisties are 62 turns in 3.2 miles for the best part and challenging the Tail for the entire ride.

Next, a VTR 250 came available and the twisties just became a playground. I found that I was riding through the good stuff faster to the point that I was getting a bit too fast for the speed limits, my reaction time and a reasonable safety cushion given the condition of the road and access points like driveways etc. The HP and torque available was minimal and allowed me to work to optimize the ride for proficiency, so technique for a small machine became important and I learned more from the experience without the weight of the VFR 750F. Passing Hardleys on the outside while waving became simple and fun.

I must add that the VF 500 F that I restored is very pleasing on the same roads. Squirrelman may have a bad tates in his mouth about the 500's but my '86 is a pleasure.

I'm supposed to be working on a restoration of a VFR 400 F that I expect to be very interesting for obvious reasons. Things like supporting folks with services and parts keep getting in the way to say nothing of a project for Walth that will be of grate interest to most of you.

I've wandered, but Rick all is well and I'm just waiting on the parts.

John



I also had at the time a VF 500 F that I was restoring
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Re: Attitudes to 250s

Postby XRayHound » Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:00 pm

I will give you my left kidney and one slightly soiled soul for the VFR400 if you decide not to pursue that project.
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Re: Attitudes to 250s

Postby Guaire » Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:42 am

Keith - I admit it. I'm a refugee from the BSA OC SoCal. Now I'm back in the northern Virginia, DC area. In high school I dreamed of owning an A65, Gold Star or the really cool Starfire 250.
Have you ever seen the UK magazine "Classic Motorcycle Mechanics"? I buy them over here from a bookstore locally. I really should subscribe. They cover quite a range of bikes, including Fizzies. I'll let you explain that one if anyone asks. I love the mag. 'Classic' Japanese bikes means buying something you can afford and making it really road worthy. This VTR250 forum is this really thick with that enthusiasm. Also, it always isn't a matter of budget. A lot of good engineering has gone into the 250 riding platform. Apart from the obvious good mileage, these machines handle well and they even stop quite well. By getting good rubber on my VTR, I have no problems stuffing the bike into turns between the farms in western Maryland. I would love to go on runs with a pack of other VTR 250 riders, but so far it's just me and friends on EX250s.
The whole Brit bike thing here tightened up when parts got more and more rare, prices going up like buying jewelry. It wasn't like that in the late 70s. You could get parts, buy your own parts bike. I kept an A65 on the road a long time. I moved back to the DC are in '03. By '06 I finally stepped into Japanese bikes. My first machine was a CB160 when I started riding in the late sixties. After that, it was BSA, Triumph and Nortons for me. Since making the switch back to Japanese hardware, it's been a hoot to have access to parts and expertise, all at regular prices.
I've owned three EX250s, selling them when money got tight. They were amazing. Well built, highly engineered, and way fun. I had only seen sale adverts for the exotic Honda VTR 250. Now that I retired I wanted to get a good runner while I work on my '88 Yamaha Radian. Yes, I looked at a bunch of EX250s. Then, I saw an ad for a VTR 250 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. That's the one you can see on my posts.
My Radian is listed as 60 hp by Yamaha. Today's 600s run 100 hp. That's a beginners' bike??? Sure. I've seen the mentality that motorcycling success means riding a massively powerful and large machine. In CA I worked at a shop in the early 80s. I rode the big Z900s and the KZ1300. The KZ900/1000 are tall, top heavy and too wide for my body to even comfortably sit on them. Going around turns.... creepy. I didn't feel things had really advanced. Riding bigger didn't seem so successful to me. That's why I kept my Triumph T140 a long time.
Nowadays, all the Japanese factories are offering 250s in the US, including new models. Scooters of varying displacements are all over the roads. Our own US Harley-Davidson won't offer a scooter or a small displacement motorcycle into this expanding market.
I would love to meet other local VTR 250 riders locally. Our counterpart groups of Ex250 riders, really ride. Commonly, riding with HD guys means, short rides long visits to (pubs) bars, etc. I live in a city/suburb sprawl. Riding with the Ninja riders means getting out to the good rural roads and having a good time covering lots of miles in beautiful places.
You might consider the CMM mag and getting in touch with the UK's VJMC (Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club). If I lived in the UK that's what I'd be doing!
Cheers,
Bill
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Re: Attitudes to 250s

Postby UK Keith » Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:08 pm

Bill.
Yes, I've got a few issues of Classic Mechanic in the 'Bathroom Library'. I tend to buy it occasionally when there's much in there that I feel is relevant to me. There's another UK mag which must have started up in the last year or two called Practical Sportsbikes. I offered to send John a copy of the issue where they compared the VF500 and RD350, but he politely declined, saying he didn't care too much for the opinions of journalists. For the record they most liked the VF500.

I certainly remember Fizzies! I didn't have one myself but a number of my friends did. Now you've reminded me of a tinkering session we had in someone's front garden. Tony had his Fizzie's exhaust off to decoke it and was cleaning it out by shaking it with petrol (gasoline) inside. Someone discovered that if you held a lighter to one end and blew you could get a sizeable flame out of the other end. This was great fun until it backfired (literally) for Tony, blowing a huge amount of soot all over his face.

The only British bike I ever owned was a Triumph 350 that had been built into an old Ducati chassis. It was never properly sorted and aged 17 I didn't have the skills or the finances to finish it off so it was sold on for quite a big loss. I've still got a scar on my leg where my foot slipped off the wet kick start and it punched a hole under the side of my knee.

There's a guy I see locally from time to time who runs a Yamaha MT03 (660 single). Last time I saw him he was telling me about a 'small bikes run' him and some friends were planning to go through France next summer. I couldn't take a week off for that but I might see if I can tag along on one of their local ride-outs. I'm probably my VTZ's biggest enemy as my number one hobby is cycling and given a sunny few hours in the summer I'm more likely to pull on the lycra than leathers. Also, I cycle with the same guys most weeks so it's quite a social thing too. My VTZ gets used most often when I have to run the 6 miles into town. It's a horrible ride on a bicycle, too much traffic on the road and too much broken glass on the cycle path. The run tio my parents on the Isle of Wight is a good one though, lots of rural roads and the bike's cheaper to put on the ferry than my van. You're right about the VJMC though, it's something I ought to do even if I only get to meet up with them a few times a year.
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Re: Attitudes to 250s

Postby Guaire » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:16 am

Keith - That's a hoot that you're a CMM reader. One thing that it has made me realize, is that 2 strokes were a much bigger deal in the UK than here. The 4 stroke thing came on quickly and permanently early on. Then, poof, the stink wheels were gone. US and UK have another difference, over there is the "sixteener" laws. It altered the market from time to time. Fizzies became so popular there, but I never heard of them until I started reading CMM. Now they're a restoration project for lots of guys.

Remember Laurel and Hardy in the US movies? Stan was English. Your friend with the blowtorch silencer is a chip off the old Stan Laurel comedy style. I'm glad he didn't get his face broiled.

A friend of mine with an EX250 and I are planning a ride this weekend. I check my computer 'weather widget'. On Sunday in Arlington, VA we'll have a high of 47. In western MD, in Thurmont, the high is predicted at 36. On our run with the horse pix I posted the temperature was about a high of 36. Fortunately, it was sunny and clear. I'll be looking for some better thermal underwear for this one. I don't have electric clothes, so I just try to get a good riding rig.

Isle of Wight, one day I'll get there. The only ferry around here is one on the upper Potomac River near Leesburg, VA. It crosses the river on a cable, not like a ship. One of these days I'll have to venture to Newfoundland and get to a major ferry.

I'll check for Practical Sportbikes. It makes sense for a Brit mag to compare the 350 and the VF500. It was less of an issue here as 2 strokes went the way of the dodo. Actually, the last 2 stroke I remember seeing on the road was a BSA Bantam in San Pedro, CA. It was an audio-visual experience. It was loud and smokey. What a lot of show for so little go. The VF500 is a much more refined machine than what was probably a peaky Yamaha.

If I get out this weekend I'll do another pic or two for you to see us.
All the best,
Bill
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Re: Attitudes to 250s

Postby John Hilmer » Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:43 am

Keith & Bill,

Excellent read here, and I'm waiting on the next episode.

What a shame that we are so spread out. A get together with you guys would be great.

John
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Re: Attitudes to 250s

Postby UK Keith » Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:34 am

John, if you put it like that, how can I refuse?

Bill, if you do get over to England I can show you the best bits of my local area, including the Isle of Wight. We're spoilt for ferries round here. There's an annual charity bicycle ride that takes in six of them in a 60 mile loop. Two different routes to and from the Isle and four harbour and river crossings.

I owned a few 'stink wheels' in my early years of riding. A Suzuki GT200X5 followed on from the Triumph/Ducati and was a smooth, light bike with about as much go as any four stroke 250 of the time. The electrics were a bit under engineered. If you looked under the fuel tank at night you could sparks jumping all over the place from HT leads to other components. Also, riding home one night on a country road I once lost all lights half way round a bend. When I was 19 I bought a new RD350LC, one of the last non-power valve models. This was the one that was as docile as a puppy until you hit 6000rpm when the power would kick in very quickly. Riding it home from it's first service as the first time I really opened it up. I reached the top of a rise on the road over the hills doing maybe 70 in 4th and suddenly all I could see in front of me was sky! I knew there was a bend coming up soon so I backed off the throttle and got the front wheel back down rather quickly. Eight years ago I crossed paths with that very same bike and rather foolishly (I now think) turned down the chance to buy it back. That was on a local charity run that used to take place every spring and would attract over 6000 riders. If you didn't get off in close to the front you'd be crawling the whole of the 20 mile route.
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Re: Attitudes to 250s

Postby XRayHound » Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:32 am

Yamahas are supposed to be peaky, it's part of their charm. I was reading an article just recently about a very nice RZ350 build (RD350LC YPVS to you, Keith) that was making about 70-ish HP and absolutely terrorizing a modern, track-prepped R1. I'll see if I can find a link, I would love to build something like that someday.

Speaking of which, I saw an article on Visordown that confirmed the YZF-R250 was indeed on its way. My hopes for it are probably far too high, but I hope it's not too much to hope that the new triple Yamaha has been teasing the shows with is meant for it, it would be nice to have a quartersport with more than 2 cylinders in the States. And it would rev to the -sky-.

EDIT: http://www.motorcycleclassics.com/class ... rz350.aspx There it is, the Jamie James RZ350. I found a lot of badmouthing on this bike on forums while searching for the article, and I can't for the life of me understand why, I think it's beyond awesome.
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Re: Attitudes to 250s

Postby the benz master » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:11 am

UK Keith wrote:When I get on a motorcycle I want it to handle more like the bicycles than the van.


Lol, definitely :P

For my part, i've been laughed at at the race track... untill i was pushing inexperienced riders with 1000 supersports around the track. Then i got some respect.

I now own an Aprilia RSV mille too... i do love the kick in the but brute horsepower, but it's quite uncomphy to ride at legal speed limits and i'm thinking about selling. Even at the track, it's really fun but exhausting and hard to handle. I hate the weight (and it only weights 405 lbs wet when prepped for the track) Something with the weight of the 250 with just a bit more power would be awesome (something like a supermoto, just like you guys were saying)

Here in Quebec Canada, motorcycle business is running good but small bikes are pretty much non-existant other than the ninja 250...and people quickly move onto 600 + ... people say they are dangerous because they are too slow... (total BS)

In my mind, the "perfect" bike would be something like an Aprilia SXV 550 moded like they do on www.450gp.com

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Re: Attitudes to 250s

Postby UK Keith » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:36 am

Ref the RD/RZ350s, there were a few folks over here that managed to build the motors into Suzuki RG250 Gammas. One of the magazines of the time got hold of one and was suitably impressed. A quick bit of googling turned up this guide on how to do it.

http://www.cultofelsie.co.uk/?page_id=22

Note step 14.
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