They don’t come much closer to the real racer deal than the Japanese only TZR250R. Ian King has one, and treats it to track session on a regular basis, as well as taking out on the road to the many bike nights in and around his native Lincolnshire.
46-year-old Ian king, a fork lift truck driver from Louth in Lincs, has a life long passion for screaming two-strokes. He raced them at his local track Cadwell Park, in the 80’s and early 90’s, and despite having tried more than a few diesels, cant get the blue haze completely out of his blood. “ My biking career began at 16 on my brothers old Puch Grand Prix and, before too long I had the buzz for racing, taking the local clubs 250 proddy championship on my LC in 1986, before going on to race many other forms of stroker” Ian proudly stated “Even now I have packed that game in, I still like the buzz and excitement that only a highly tuned two-stroke can give”.
“The opportunity to acquire a TZR250R V-Twin came about two years ago, after my brother decide to part with his to buy a CBF600 Hornet, I quickly sold my current TZR, a UK spec parallel twin, to finance the new machine. The V-Twin was never a UK import and as such is a highly sought after machine, so the chance to have my brothers arm off was too good to miss. It was in pretty good condition, but I have improved it in several areas since getting my hands on it. The Nikon pipes were already fitted, so there wasn’t a lot I could do in that area but there is a fair bit that can be done to the engine to get it even more on song than the standard machine. There is an SP version available in Japan and, even though these are hard to come by, the specification can be largely copied and applied to my 3XV version. The TZR has a healthy following and a burgeoning website too, before too long the forum on the TZR website gave me all the contacts and info I could ever need to keep my machine running, I would recommend to anyone trying to keep a classic machine going to hunt out the owners club and website if there is one, the help and support offered from such is invaluable, particularly if the machine in question was never a UK machine. There isn’t even an English language manual for the 3XV TZR250R, so help is much needed when things get a bit technical.”
As for problems, considering ex-racer Ian does his fair share of speedy track days, mainly at nearby Cadwell Park, the Yamaha has been pretty reliable. “Yamaha say around 7-8000 miles between top end overhauls and, providing good quality lubricants are used, the rest is pretty bullet proof” Ian proclaimed “I swear by Silkolene lubricants in my engines, as it does a great job, and runs clean too. Having said that I did hear a rumble in the bottom end a few miles back and this eventually turned into a whine indicating a main bearing problem. If the petrol tap has ever leak ed or the carb overflowed then it can wash the oil off the bearings causing them to fail prematurely. I had no choice but to take the engine out and send it off to a local two-stroke specialist, Chris Gunster in Grimsby, they replaced the mains and rebuilt the bottom end for me.
Since refitting the engine, along with a new clutch centre from Accu-Products in the States, all is well. I intend to strip the top end again over the coming winter and replace the pistons and rings, using only genuine items. I wouldn’t dream of ever fitting pattern parts in this respect, as long as the real deal are still on the shelf, then I feel it is a false economy. At the moment parts aren’t a real problem despite the machine never officially appearing in the UK, long time Yamaha specialists, Webbs of Lincoln have been superb and proved to be real two-stroke enthusiasts, one of the bosses has an RD500, so they must be. Providing you have the correct part numbers, then sourcing the bits has never been too hard. There are quite a few places to look for bits, not just the usual eBay, and several companies outside of the UK can prove helpful too. One thing I have done is to remove all of the seemingly unnecessary clips and fixings that make the engine bay a real nightmare to do even the simplest task on. I think Yamaha were having a joke when they thought that lot up, I have taken loads of stuff off and it looks a lot tidier in there, plus it doesn’t try to remove the backs of your hands every time you try to fettle something.
I have only tumbled off the TZR once, despite having done many a spirited track day on it, luckily the crash was a low speed one, having just left my garage to test the bike out. I grabbed the front brake and the front end disappeared from under me, luckily the freshly painted fairing wasn’t on, but it did result in the radiator taking the full force of the impact. It still works and doest leak but it is well out of shape.”
As for the next bike what does Ian fancy having? “I am very happy with the V-Twin, although I wouldn’t mind a proper 500 stroker like an RG, although I have to admit it wouldn’t handle anything like as sharply as the TZR. I also fancy taking the TZR as far as possible too, maybe fitting more SP or pukka race parts to get the most out of it, if I did more track days then I would definitely go down this road.”
Accu-Products Ohio tel (440) 356-1202
CMSNL Dutch specialist in all classic Japanese spares tel +31 (0) 320-265120
Webbs of Lincoln tel 01522 513193
Chrus Gunster Dynojet Centre tel 01472 251222
1991 Yamaha TZR250R (3XV) Specification
- Price: £1500
- Value now (est): £1900-2500
- Power: 45bhp
- Torque: 27.5ft-lb
- Top speed: 112mph
- Dry weight: 128kg
- Colours: White/Red
- Fuel: 16.5litres
- Rake/trail: 25deg/96mm
- Seat height: 780mm
- Wheelbase: 1340mm
- Engine: liquid-cooled 249cc (56 x 50.7 mm), 90deg, V-twin, two-stroke. 2 x 28mm Mikuni flat slide carbs. 6-gears. Chain final drive
- Chassis: alloy Deltabox chassis, 39mm USD adjustable telescopic forks, fully adjustable Monoshock rear.
- Brakes: 300mm front discs with 4-piston calipers, 210mm front disc with twin-opposed-piston caliper
- Tyres: 110/70 x 17 front, 150/60 x 17 rear
- Always use genuine parts whenever possible, buy cheap buy twice is a true statement in most cases.
- Shop around for spares prices as some dealers either quote incorrectly or load prices once they find out its an import.
- Acquire parts book and, if at all possible a manual, dealers respond better and are more likely to order parts if you have an idea exactly what it is you need.
- Treat yourself to a workbench, they aren’t expensive and sure beats kneeling on the floor, which once you have a two stroke you will spned a lot of time doing.
- Join a club and if possible a web based forum, help is then on hand 24/7.
- Don’t try to save money on cheap lubricants, this is the life blood of a two-stroke and when things go wrong they tend to do so both quickly and expensively.
Yamaha TZR250 Restoration Gallery