1981 Yamaha XS250 from United Kingdom


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.

General Comments:

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

1979 Yamaha XS250 from United Kingdom


Good looking retro bike, feed it well and give it a bit of TLC, and it'll be OK


Nothing major, except the fact it was a pain to start!! Especially at 5am. Had to push it along the street as to not wake the neighbours.

That and the clutch cable snapped, the rev counter cable fell out, the speedo cable snapped, the gear lever fell off, the rear brake rod wrapped itself round the rear axle, and it wouldn't run properly on cheap petrol.

General Comments:

I thought I must add a review about this bike as it was my first.

Like others, I have seen many bad reviews about this machine, some of the bad comments are well deserved, but some are a bit harsh.

Yes, I agree acceleration is poor, but it is a sleeved down 400, therefore a heavy lump for 28 Bhp to push around.

Dual carriage ways and motorways are not what this machine is good for. Top speed of 65 on an incline feels like you can get off and push.

However country B roads are fine, and will easily

cruise at 60+ if you use the box a bit. (ahem sorry officer)

One thing you've got to remember though, is that this bike was released for the learner market (250 the learner limit in the 70's) Compare this bike to a current learner legal 4 stroke 125, as I did when I passed my test and it feels like you've just climbed aboard a V Max!! Well that is until you try a much bigger bike.

The one thing I did notice was the fact that it is a fussy eater. Give it cheap fuel and pay the price, lucky to get 15 mph! Give it the good stuff (Shell in particular) and it's good for 85 two up!!

All in all, yes this machine has it's faults and characteristics, but is generally a solid machine. It is still taxed and on the road (even though it is older than my wife).

Don't expect it to be a sports bike or tourer, it isn't.

It's a good looking naked bike for cruising and commuting, and fits nicely into the 33bhp limit for new riders.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th October, 2008