1981 Yamaha XS250
Fun, sturdy and reliable if serviced properly
Front caliper seized.
Seat cover torn.
Front mudguard rusted away.
Both forks seals leaking due to rusty forks.
Carb idle jets blocked.
Rear light fell off.
Would only start intermittently from hot or cold, and wouldn't tick over.
I had bought this bike from Ebay for £150 while drunk. It was taxed and tested, but how it passed is open to question!
Judging by the "what's gone wrong section" the bike was obviously a rat and hadn't been looked after or serviced / maintained properly for years.
When I picked it up from the seller, it wouldn't start and he took out the plugs and dried them on a radiator, alarm bells started to ring, but on finally starting, I was encouraged by the sewing machine like noise coming from the engine. On top of that, below the messy seat and rusted chrome the frame looked half decent. I wasn't overly concerned with the shabby appearance as this was only intended as a work hack.
Got it home through a monsoon-like downpour and was struck by the lack of brakes. The front wouldn't dive the forks and the rear only made a nice metallic scraping sound. My friend who had come along couldn't help but laugh out loud at the heap.
Cutting a long story short, I replaced all the ignition parts bar the coils, cleaned the carbs, set up the timing (this took a few goes to get spot on), recovered the seat, replaced the front and rear lights, relapped the valves and replaced the cylinder head gasket (both bores spotless and very little wear), changed most of the visible nuts and bolts with stainless replacements. Unseized the front caliper slider and replaced the pads. Fitted new rear shoes, the old ones were down to the metal.
Having faffed around with the engine for ages, it appears the timing on these heaps is fiddly and the points need looking at every couple of months. The tick-over and starting problems all stem from here, as long as the carbs are spotless.
Now it is running OK it has proved to be very reliable and will give over 60mpg even when thrashed in an attempt to squeeze some speed out of it. I have seen 75mph a couple of times, but 60mph seems a comfortable cruising speed and it will go uphill OK at this.
The brakes now work and aren't that bad. The handling is quite soft and bouncy, but the bike is good fun on back lanes. It's easy to throw around and the low rev torque is good for a little 4 stroke. These bikes have a strange combination of low down torque and high rev acceleration, with absolutely nothing in between.
This little bike hasn't let me down for a couple of years now, and although tatty and slow, I like the retro styling and it's good fun on back lanes. I've read loads of bad reviews on these, but they're OK if you service them regularly and don't expect modern bike performance.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 31st July, 2009