Honda XR250R Project

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by motojunky, Nov 26, 2008.

  1. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    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.

    [​IMG]

    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. :D

    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.
    #1
  2. bongodave

    bongodave Join my cult!

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    Oddometer:
    42,644
    Location:
    Fabulous Eerie, Indiana!
    :thumb
    Keep 'em going!
    #2
  3. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    The disassembly part of a project always goes quickly. The bike needed everything, so I had to start with a bare frame.

    [​IMG]

    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.
    #3
  4. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    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.

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

    Moving right along.
    #4
  5. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.
    #5
  6. keowidan

    keowidan Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    57
    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    :lurk
    #6
  7. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    The crank and transmission

    [​IMG]

    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.
    #7
  8. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    11,251
    Location:
    Tampa
    Looks like a great project:clap:clap
    #8
  9. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    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).
    #9
  10. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.
    #10
  11. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    11,251
    Location:
    Tampa
    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...:norton
    #11
  12. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    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.

    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.
    #13
  14. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.
    #14
  15. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    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.

    [​IMG]

    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. :D
    #15
  16. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    I happily pushed the bike home, added more fuel and went for a slightly longer ride. It was night time, so I stopped in the parking lot of a nearby fire station to look the bike over under the lights.

    Imagine my pleasure when I saw the steady drip of oil from the countershaft seal. Remember that foreshadowing a while back?

    I don't know how I missed it, but there was a little groove worn at the sealing surface of the countershaft. It was enough that when the bike got good and warm, oil would drip at a steady rate. I may have used a four letter word or two (hundred) at that particular moment.

    I raided the box with the 1988 motor and found a perfectly good countershaft. Now all I had to do was disassemble the entire motor again to install it. Yay.

    At least I'd just done the motor, so it was all fresh in my head. Also, all of the gaskets were new and I wouldn't need to do any scraping or cleanup or anything like that.

    The following Saturday I headed out to the garage and set to it. It was a little less than 5 hours from running to running with the new shaft installed. This time it didn't leak. Now it was done.
    #16
  17. seantx

    seantx Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    628
    Location:
    waco, tx
    :clap

    Excellent! A ride like that is so much more desireable to me than one that came with a payment book. Bet you'll have lots of fun with it.
    #17
  18. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD

    Thanks. It has been fun. Quite a bit more than I expected actually. More details when I can find some time...
    #18
  19. motojunky

    motojunky Professional Idiot

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,089
    Location:
    North East, MD
    What the heck, I can squeeze in a little right now.

    As I was finishing the bike, I started thinking about where I'd ride it. The whole point of doing it was to have an off-road focused dualsport that I could ride locally, but I figured it'd be fun to do a race or two on the old bike for kicks.

    After finishing it up, I took a look at the calendar and saw that the Delaware Enduro was only a week or so away. I managed to squeeze in about 50 miles of break in time in that week. I figured if it ran for 50 miles it was good to go. Changed the oil, added a roll chart holder and clock and called it good.

    I hadn't done much riding at all in the last couple of years, so I was pretty badly out of shape. Fortunately the XR is easy to ride and doesn't wear me out. 3 miles in I hooked my odometer cable on a branch, so I had no way to keep time for the next 80 miles or so. I was able to mooch off of another guy on my minute and ended up doing OK for the day.

    [​IMG]

    The XR250 is no race weapon, but it's good enough for a C class rider like me. I don't race regularly at all, so I don't need a competitive race bike. I was very pleased with how well the XR performed in that environment.

    It passed the first test with flying colors, completely exceeding my expectations.

    More later.
    #19
  20. DownDirty

    DownDirty Learnin the hard way.

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    106
    Location:
    Krazifornia
    Very nice write up, and a great job of breathing new life into a worthwhile project! :thumb
    #20