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Old 11-26-2008, 09:33 AM   #1
motojunky OP
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Honda XR250R Project

In January of 2007, a friend gave me his 1988 Honda XR250R. He bought it new in 1988 and set it up pretty well. It blew up in the early 90s and sat in the corner of his shed until he gave it to me. I wasn't exactly sure why I wanted it, but I knew I did. I've long enjoyed Honda XRs and the 250R was a model that I'd never owned.

It looked about like this when I picked it up, though the plastic was in place. It needed everything.



Over the next couple of months I did some math, and did some thinking and it just didn't make sense to fix it. I could buy a nice one for the same money.

One day, my 15 year old neighbor saw it in the garage and I could see the gleam in his eye. Realizing that I might never do anything with it, I decided to give it to him. I remember how much I wanted a bike at 15.

He was very excited. Then he did some math and some thinking and didn't fix the bike.

Some months later, he gave it back to me.

Around this time, it was getting close to 2008. I realized that in 2008 it could be tagged historic and plated with little hassle. The idea of turning into a dual sport suddenly made sense. At the time, I was riding a ratty 1987 XR600R dual sport that was due for a significant cash & effort infusion after many years of neglect (mostly before I owned it). For the kind of riding I like, the 600 was always a bit on the heavy side anyway. I liked the idea of giving the 250 a try.

I sold the XR6 to free up some cash for the XR250 and the project was officially underway.

More to come.
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Old 11-26-2008, 09:35 AM   #2
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Keep 'em going!
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Old 11-26-2008, 09:43 AM   #3
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The disassembly part of a project always goes quickly. The bike needed everything, so I had to start with a bare frame.



I'd been thinking about the bike and what some if its limitations might be (other than being a 20 year old play bike). The big ones were the rear drum brake and non cartridge forks. I started shopping parts on Ebay.

It occurred to me that having a parts bike would be very nice, since many little odd & end things had gone missing over the years. I figured if I could buy a newer parts bike, I could get the cartridge forks, rear disk brake (& necessary parts to go with it) and maybe even a better engine to start with.

I ended up buying a 1994 XR250R for not a whole lot of money. It was running, but the countershaft seal was leaking badly. Honda was kind enough to design this motor so that the cases had to be split to change a countershaft seal. The parts donor came with a lot of odd & end goodies as well - skidplate, fork brace, aluminum bars, etc.

I didn't think to take any pics of it, but you can just see it to the right in the picture above.

So far, so good.

motojunky screwed with this post 12-01-2008 at 07:44 AM
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Old 11-26-2008, 09:48 AM   #4
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It seemed strange to hack up a complete and running bike to use the parts for a frame-up project, but for logistical reasons, that's what had to be done.

First things first, I had to get the rear brake master cylinder bracket from the newer frame to the old frame. I cut it out from the backside and then spent some time with the bench grinder getting just right. I took it to a buddy's house to have him weld it on since he's a good welder and I'm not.



I was very pleased with the outcome - it looks every bit as good as factory.



Moving right along.
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Old 11-26-2008, 09:51 AM   #5
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Since this was to be a low-budget project, I intended to rattle-can the frame. I'd done this with my old KDX and it came out quite well. Another friend mentioned that there was a powder coating shop at his work and that he could get it done for free. Well, free is my very favorite price, so off it went.



The downside of this is that now I might feel obligated to try to make other stuff look good. That's not really my style.
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Old 11-26-2008, 10:35 AM   #6
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Old 11-26-2008, 10:42 AM   #7
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Now that I had the frame ready to go, it was time to get started on the engine. I didn't have any real plan, other than to do what it took to make it reliable.



That's not a noose in the background. It's a piece of 3-strand line I was using to teach myself how to splice. The black thing is "rod man." He's made from a chevy connecting rod, valves, pushrod and rocker arm. Unfortunately his arms (pushrod) fell off and I haven't gotten around to reattaching them.

There are also various parts of the 1988 motor visible on the bench. I hoped that the 1994 motor would be a better starting point since the 1988 was a mess.

Again, the disassembly portion went quickly.



The crank and transmission



If you look closely, you can just see some wear on the surface where the countershaft seal goes.

In case you missed it, that last line was a bit of foreshadowing.
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Old 11-26-2008, 10:53 AM   #8
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Looks like a great project
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Old 11-26-2008, 10:54 AM   #9
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The 1988 motor was a 280 (IIRC, actually 272). The 1994 turned out to have a (stretching my memory, notes are in the garage) 75 mm piston which made it something like 264 ccs. On my couple of test rides, it seemed to make adequate power and it ran great with no noises or smoke. Shifting was perfect.

After disassembly I found the top end to be like new. Unfortunately there was just a tiny bit of wear at the small end of the rod. I'm sure it would've run fine for a long time had I left it alone, but I figured since it was apart I might as well do it right.

I ordered a rod kit, all of the bottom end bearings, a gasket kit and probably some other misc. stuff that I'm forgetting now (nearly a year later).
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Old 11-26-2008, 11:00 AM   #10
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While waiting on motor parts, I turned my attention back to the chassis. Here's what the steering stem/bearings looked like after sitting for so long.



The ones in the 1994 bike were in much worse condition - literally falling apart. Yet the swingarm bearings in the 1994 were perfectly clean and greased. A previous owner had some weird maintenance habits. I bought the parts bike from a guy who'd bought it used and just plonked around a little, not the guy who did the motor work, added the aftermarket stuff, etc. The guy I bought it from wasn't a gearhead at all, so he knew very little about the mechanical details. Oddly enough, I found it fun to discover things along the way even though some were good and some not so much.

motojunky screwed with this post 11-26-2008 at 11:08 AM
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Old 11-26-2008, 11:11 AM   #11
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IIRC on the '94 there is a zerk fitting for the swinger but not the stem bearings, if it doesn't have a grease fitting it must not need greased you know...
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Old 11-26-2008, 11:16 AM   #12
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The parts bike had an aftermarket shock spring and fork springs that were, according to the charts I could find, a bit on the heavy side for me. I decided to go with them anyway figuring I'd change them out later if they didn't work. They felt good on my short test rides, but I hadn't really pushed the bike. I replaced the fork seals & fork oil, but left the shock alone for the time being since it felt OK.

I replaced wheel bearings, cleaned & greased all of the rear suspension linkage, etc. All of the normal maintenace that gets done.

The 1994 swingarm and shock bolt right on to the 1988 chassis. The only thing that needed attention was adding the master cylinder bracket mentioned in an earlier post.

Engine parts took longer than expected to arrive, and I was super-busy at work, so progress was slow for a while.

Eventually, I started to put some parts together and it started to look like a bike again.

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Old 11-26-2008, 11:40 AM   #13
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I'd been waiting a long time for a countershaft bearing that was backordered. It finally arrived and I thought I had everything I needed.

This is what that big pile of parts looks like when they're all in the right place.



I happily assembled the motor thinking that things were going just great when I made an interesting discovery.

The oil pump seat (which is a paper gasket) is not incluced in the Moose "complete" gasket kit. My own fault for not checking first, but I foolishly assumed that complete meant just that. This is as far as I could get without that gasket.



I called Moose, and they were very apologetic. They said of the hundreds of kits they'd sold for XRs, I was the first person to ask about the missing gasket. They said they'd be adding it to future kits ASAP. They also made a good effort to make it right, without making excuses. They're OK in my book.

I ordered the gasket, and in a week called my local dealer to see if it was in. Gee sorry, it's on backorder. I called every dealer within a 150 mile radius and of course nobody had one in stock. Why would they when it's a gasket that never needs replacing?

Fortunately, XRs Only had some in stock. Of course, they were all the way on the other coast and I'm too cheap to pay for overnight shipping so I waited another week.
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Old 11-26-2008, 11:56 AM   #14
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While waiting for the oil pump seat, I finished assembling the chassis and a lot of the little stuff that goes along with it. I realized that I could go ahead and put the motor in since the rest of the assembly could be done with the motor in the frame. I did that, and set most of the parts in place to get a sneak peek.



It looked OK, other than the old tank graphics falling off and the scratched up sidecovers. I'm not one to care much about cosmetics, but with everything else looking so good I thought I might need to do something about that.

I hadn't mentioned it before, but obviously I spent a bit of time cleaning, sandblasting, painting, etc. over the course of the project. Never much at once, just a 1/2 hour here and there in between the bigger parts of the project. There's a lot of work involved, and it's easy to get caught up in scope creep. "Well, since I already did this, I might as well do that..." And so it goes.

motojunky screwed with this post 12-04-2008 at 01:06 PM
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Old 11-26-2008, 12:01 PM   #15
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Finally the oil pump seat arrived. I finished putting the last of the parts together and "finished" the project. There were a number of odd & end things left to do (skidplate, brake light, turn signals, yada yada yada) but it was finally ready to ride.



I put a splash of gas in and fired it up. It started up and ran great. After a couple of heat cycles I took off for a short spin. About 1/4 mile from home, it died.

I should've put in a bigger splash of gas.
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