'78 XL250, practically free - still worth it?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by bpg, Oct 9, 2008.

  1. bpg

    bpg Off Trail

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    So I'm trying to work my way into dual sporting (a bud lent me a plated XR650 for a month and I was hooked!). It turns out that I have another friend back home who's trying to get rid of his old Honda XL250, for like $100:eek1 .

    Here's my take:

    THE GOOD:D :
    - CHEAP! If I end up not liking it, no big deal
    - Runs great when (finally) started. Starting issues are likely an issue of sitting for a few years on several occassions.
    - Has speedo/tach/lights/brake lights/horn/etc. Some of which actually work (see "The Bad")!
    - Very lightweight and flickable compared to the BRP, and some other buddys' DR650s and LC4s. Not the bestest, high-zootiest suspension, but for a "2-wheeled jeep" on tight trails, it's just what I'm looking for, especially as a novice.

    THE BAD:cry :
    - one of the forks is frozen, and obviously both need a rebuild. Can you still get parts for 'em??? Rear shocks are probably shitty as well...
    - brake light, turn sigs and horn not working. Probably just a fuse and/or corroded terminal(s); and the bike was never butchered. Abused, yes; but never really hacked into.
    - Might have some title issues - as in, lost title.
    - probably needs the carbs rebuilt - to be expected. Cold starts are a PITA, but if ridden even occasionally it supposedly kicks over pretty well.

    If anything, it'd be a great project to fix up and sell toward something like a DRZ or XRL, and learn a lot in the process. I'm mainly just worried about parts availabilty, and whether this thing will have any value if a do a "functional restoration" to it??

    Thoughts?
    #1
  2. Silver King

    Silver King Maita'i roa ae!

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    Get something that works. Speaking from experience, it's cheaper to buy something running. A XL250 is hardly worth the headaches...even at $100.
    #2
  3. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

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    If you'll get it starting good , fix the suspension and lights I'll give you $200 for it................






























    :hide
    #3
  4. montesa_vr

    montesa_vr Legend in his own mind

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    The electrical problems sound like a dead battery. Brake light, horn and turn signals on that bike all very battery dependent. Rebuilding the carburetor is not beyond you, as long as you make notes and don't lose any pieces. You could try a can of Seafoam first. Not sure what you mean by "one of the forks is frozen." If you mean it's rusted so it won't move, that means you need new forks. Not the end of the world, but you'll have to be all over Ebay to get replacements at a price that makes sense for this project.

    I guess if you can get the title thing worked out with the current owner, as in, "I'll buy it the day you get a clear title for it", I would do it. The bike will have no brakes, and the lighting is so poor you shouldn't ride after dark, but it will give you 70 mpg on regular unleaded and the CDI ignition will keep you from having to go back to the bad old days of timing lights and ignition points.
    #4
  5. bpg

    bpg Off Trail

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    Oh, it's running - very well actually and is a blast to ride! Just has a few peripheral issues - I'm just trying to gauge how serious they are.
    #5
  6. pckopp

    pckopp Aged Adventurer

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    + a very big 1 !

    I just got a 74 xl250 running. Its a fun bike but as a dual-sport bike it sucks. There may be 3 inches of suspension travel on either end. My Honda Identification Guide says the 78 has a 23" front wheel. PITA.

    My 74 is a 6 volt system. Lots of the electrical parts are unobtanium. Not sure when they all became 12v.

    There are lots of things you didn't mention:
    tires
    tubes
    chain
    air filter
    oil and filter
    brakes - even when they're good, they're bad.

    I had to nearly replace all the inside parts of the carb before it would start and run reliably.

    My rule of thumb is any bike project will cost at least $400 and usually more.

    Find something that runs and has the correct paperwork.
    #6
  7. bpg

    bpg Off Trail

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    #7
  8. exboomer

    exboomer Adventurer

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    If your capible of riding an XR650, the 250 would get boring quickly. Once you get it titled and fixed up, when you sell it, your really not going to make alot of $ on it. I would just get the bike you want and bypass the 250.
    #8
  9. bpg

    bpg Off Trail

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    aha, more excellent points. I'll need to check the voltage and how big a PITA it is to get tires - the front tire is good, but the rear is pretty worn. New oil and filter are an automatic for me with any used bike, no biggie. Chain looked OK and still in the adjustment range, will need to check on the air filter and brakes. Thanks for the input!
    #9
  10. montesa_vr

    montesa_vr Legend in his own mind

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    The 23" front wheel limits your tire choices, but they are readily available from Dennis Kirk http://www.denniskirk.com/jsp/tpl/cmn/prodlist.jsp;jsessionid=N5YXHDZSW431VLA0WTKSM4VMDK0NCIV0?store=Main&catId=108&leafCatId=10806&av=5707

    The late 70's and early 80's dual sports still had 6V electrical systems.
    #10
  11. bpg

    bpg Off Trail

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    Actually, the XR650R was a PITA in tight eastern trails, for this rank newb to dirtbiking. I'm looking for something along the lines of a motorized mountain bike, with street legality fr trail hopping. This thing is a riot on the trails I intend to use (yeah, I know, there are numerous choices that are even better - but I'd be paying well over 2-3 grand MORE to get one...)
    #11
  12. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp REMF

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    #12
  13. Feo

    Feo Commentator

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    If it's a '78, it's an XL250S.

    16 inch laydown shocks, carb w/ an accelerator pump? An "S".

    I have an '81. Geared low, it's a trail tractor. I can idle along in first through thick brush using alternating hands to move limbs and vines out of the way. No feathering the clutch or working the throttle. Just move stuff and steer through.

    As mentioned earlier, the brake light, signals, and horn need a good, charged battery to work. They're DC, the headlight is AC. The last battery I bought was about 18 bucks, IIRC.

    Carb needs to be clean, valves adjusted, and it should start with less than four kicks. Cold. Mine gets started regularly, and it's 1 or 2 kicks, cold or hot.

    Fork seals are available, dunno about anything internal to the forks. Ebay. They only seem to be readily interchangable with the 78-81 XL250S and 500S's. Maybe the same years XR's.

    Rear shocks were marginal when they were new. Most I've seen only have one shock of the pair with any damping, and not much of that. Your choices are Hagons from Dave Quinn for around 200 bucks or Works Performance for around 400.

    Not much good to be said about the brakes. The less you weigh, the better. My 200 lbs produces some sphincter-tightening moments in Houston traffic.

    How's the exhaust? Most of them around here have rotted out mufflers. Mine came with a Supertrapp that cost the PO 150 bucks. I have the loudest lawnmower on the block. :D

    Dunno, how much wrenching can you do yourself? Mine is fun, but it is what it is, and it'll prolly never be more.(I have a KDX200 front end w/disc brake I'm eying to adapt, but it won't be simple.)

    PM if you've got any more questions.

    Mark.
    #13
  14. Feo

    Feo Commentator

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    6 volt.

    No oil filter.

    Rear tire is 18 inch. Easy to find. 23's, less selection.
    #14
  15. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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  16. wheelgun

    wheelgun Not a wannabe..a usetobe

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    Love mine. One of the most dependable bikes I've owned, and I've had close to 40. She's easy. I let everyone ride it. Not to mention you can climb a tree with the 23 inch front tire.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiQFvVXtqV0




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    #16
  17. bpg

    bpg Off Trail

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    f
    #17
  18. bpg

    bpg Off Trail

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    dammit, your pics and vids are making me sway toward this money-pit even more!:D
    #18
  19. Silver King

    Silver King Maita'i roa ae!

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    Awww, fukit! I take back my first comment. Get it and have fun. Just don't think about making any money on it. Those old Hondas are a hoot. I've found parts pretty easy for my XL350 and 175 scrambler thanks to the interwebs.
    #19
  20. truck6driver

    truck6driver Proud Navy dad!

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    Hey,

    I tell you what, if you get it back here and deceide you don't want it let me know I will give you you money back for it. I'm looking for a bike that my son and I can wrench on. He is 10 now but if we do things right he could have an excellent vintage bike.

    Ray
    #20