The bike is a 1981 SR-250T, Yamaha Exciter, red of course.
My first motorcycle ever was a blue SR250, which I bought (with some parental help and against their wishes) in 1992 for $800. I rode that bike all over the country, without knowing one single thing about motorcycles, their care or their maintenance. Of course, I had some issues.
That SR250 (called by my girlfriend at the time the Yammer Hammer) was sold when I got my first big bike, a 1980 Yamaha xs1100, which was a much better motorcycle for the long trips I was starting to do more of, with it’s massive engine it could keep up and more on the interstates, and trips that used to take all day would now be nothing to mention.
But I missed the little 250, and was sad to see it go. So I kept my eyes out for another one I could pick up. Time passed, and I found myself engaged to a lovely woman who wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle of her own. This kicked my search into high gear (because how cool would it be if we both started on the same model motorcycle?) and I found one we purchased and cleaned up together. This one was red, and came with a locking truck (a feature of the T model, though a VIN check showed her bike wasn’t actually a T).
She rode the bike out to Rapid City, SD, and other places, but eventually decided (as I had) that she wanted a larger bike. I helped her find and buy a Moto Guzzi, but she made some other (much worse) choices that resulted in the engagement ending. She took both bikes when she left, but eventually decided to sell the red SR250 back to me for the sum of $65.
The bike wasn’t running anymore when I got it, the battery was bad and there was terry cloth fluff strung through the carb. Also the vacuum line for the carb was disconnected, which I’m guessing is why she hadn’t been able to get it started.
Once I had the bike back and running I started riding it all over. The high gas prices helped, of course, but it was fun to be on a little bike again. Once I decided to start riding around the planet, and posted on Horizons Unlimited a question about which bike I should use for the trip (Limiting the choices to the bike I already owned, and were in good running condition) the little 250 was the overwhelming choice.
So through 2010 I worked on the bike, assembled some spares, and worked out how much of what I could easily carry. I had gotten used to long trips on larger bikes, and the limits of the 250 added an interesting challenge. In the fall, the bike went into my Mechanic’s for a winter of overhauls and final tuning up. And then things went a little wrong.
The intake valve, rocker and possibly even the cam shaft was damaged. The bike was still running fine, but would destroy itself sooner or later, and the cost to replace those parts were about 10 times what I had paid for the bike. After a lot of talking with my mechanic and other friends, I decided to drop the 250, and instead use my 2007 Ural Patrol.
So the winter was spent getting things set up for the Ural, extra parts and repairs. The Ural is also my primary transport in the winter, so a plan was hatched to get it in to my mechanic as soon as spring arrived for whatever work could be gotten done before I left. But spring was late in coming in 2011, and I decided to take the Ural on a test road trip to the Overland Expo in Amado, Arizona, a 4,000 mile round trip.
The trip didn’t go well, despite my trying to plan the trip highlighting the advantages the Ural brought to the table (mainly the increased storage and being able to live “off the gird” longer), but even before I reached the Expo, after a couple long talks with my mechanic back in Milwaukee, the plan had switched back to taking the SR250, and what needed to be done to make it road ready.
Back in Milwaukee, I started looking for a complete parts bike, to handle all the little replacements needing to be done without spending the time and money for new bits. Instead I got incredibly lucky and found a complete, running and titled SR250T in Peoria IL, and with the help of a friend managed to go and pick it up right away. With only 1/3 of the miles on my current SR, and none of the issues, it was promoted to the Trip Bike, and the other surrendered whatever parts I felt I needed to swap or carry as a spare.
Very little was found wrong with the new bike, and it was quickly and easily made ready. I have a long standing habit of naming motorcycles, usually something dire to match my last name (Pain), the xs11s were called Misery and Suffering for example. On the suggestion of a friend a lighter name has been added to the new SR250T – Curiosity.
Great meeting you up at Crater Lake in Oregon the other day–hope you had a fun boat ride. Our bicycle ride around the lake was awesome.
Hope you get to Lake Tahoe–if you do, holler for a dinner and shower and place to crash!
John and Diane Pang
Glad to know I’m not the only one who really enjoys riding on a 250! Mine choice is the 250 Ninja, it does everything I ask and is even fairly comfy at interstate highway speeds.
Little Ninjas are excellent, the twin really makes a difference. My SR is a single, a bit more vibration but it will still manage freeway speeds.
I recently purchased a SR185 Exciter, which had a whopping 378 original miles on it. I’m about to ride it from Cottonwood (Close to Sedona) Arizona to Denver. Everyone thinks I’m nuts. I’ve already done the ride on a little 450 twin Suzuki, so I know what I’m in for. I think the little 185 runs as smooth, just no quite the top end on speed.
Little bikes are awesome. You do have some limits on what roads you can take, but who really wants to sit on an interstate for 7 hours (or more) a day?
Have an excellent trip, and let me know how it goes.
Pingback: Horizons Unlimited Virginia 2016 Part One | Traveling250's Blog