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READER RIDE | 1986 HONDA XR250

We take a look at Jon Sinclair's 1986 Honda XR250 that he restored and what it took to bring it back to life!

WHAT IS IT? 1986 Honda XR250

WHO? Jon Sinclair

WHERE DID YOU BUY IT? I bought the bike off Facebook marketplace as a spares bike

HOW MUCH? $200

WHY AN OLD XR?

In 2015 a mate asked me if I wanted to do a vintage enduro with the VTR Club and I told him I had no interest in riding an old bike and I didn’t have anything suitable. He said what about that old Suzuki DR200 you bought for your wife? So I dragged it out of the shed and rode my first VTR event. I didn’t hate it and ended up riding the little Suzuki for a few years.

A few years later my son Adam started riding VTR events and we built him an XR200 out of a few parts bikes, and eventually he decided to buy an XR250.

Then after riding Adam’s bike a few times and finding out how much fun it was in the bush I decided I had to have an XR250 as well.

HOW MUCH WORK WAS NEEDED?

The build for this bike started when the first 1986 Honda XR250 I bought started cracking the frame around the bottom frame rails and cracked the back rim after about 2 years of vintage enduro’s and the occasional vintage motocross. So I bought a parts bike for $200 and decided to strip it down to the bare frame and sand blast and paint it. The plan was to use the good bits from my current VTR bike to build a good bike from the two.

So once I painted the frame I then started to assemble the suspension back in the frame, new bearings were fitted and the swingarm and triple clamps given a good clean up. The rear shock was rebuilt by Jason at RJ’s suspension works and I rebuilt the front forks and fitted new fork boots. I bought a set of gold rims and stainless spokes and got those laced up as well as the hubs sand blasted and painted black. On the front I fitted a Michelin Star Cross 5 80/100×21 and the rear is running a Maxxis Maxx cross it 100/100×18.

The front brake caliper and master cylinder were replaced as well as new rear brake pads.The bike is running Pro Taper handlebars, grips and a set of Bark Busters.

The seat is an original Ballard’s XR’s only seat cover that I had on my previous bike.

The plastics I had to hunt around for and  Hugh from Newcastle Dirt Bike Dismantlers found a good condition red rear mudguard for me, and I managed to buy a new red headlight.

There’s also a Ballard’s front mudguard brace fitted for that old school enduro look,

and for protection I fitted a B&B bash plate. The stickers I kept pretty basic with Honda Wings on the tank, HRC swing arm stickers and black number plate backgrounds.

The engine I rebuilt with a Wiseco high comp 4mm oversize piston and new cam chain. Hugh found me a Ballard’s big fin head too and to top off the rest of the Ballard’s period correct bling, the exhaust is running the standard header pipe with a Staintune muffler. I’m running a 34mm Mikuni flat slide pumper carby to give it a bit of extra punch.

Front and rear sprockets are RK 12/47 with a new O-ring chain. When I reassembled the bike everything that went back on was either painted or polished and most bolts were replaced with new ones. This is the first full build I’ve done and I was aiming to build a bike that Honda might’ve built if they built a factory 1986 Honda XR250 enduro bike.

WHAT WAS THE RESULT?

I’m really pleased with how the bike has turned out as it’s an absolute weapon in tight single trail, as the little XR’s are such a great steering bike. Power wise it’s a good improvement over the stock 1986 Honda XR250 engine with a nice boost in the bottom end power to help it lift the front wheel over obstacles. The suspension is perfect for enduros with enough travel to handle reasonable hits while still being plush. Once a year we run the heaven VMX grass track event at Gloucester and the bike is unreal fun in those types of conditions and is certainly competitive.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND ONE TO OTHERS?

if you are looking at getting into some vintage enduro events I think it’s hard to go past the 1986 Honda XR250. They seem pretty reliable when looked after and aren’t a high maintenance bike. They’re such an easy bike to ride and a definitely a giant killer in the right hands! There are still some good bikes out there at a reasonable price, so it could be a cheap easy way to get into some vintage racing. It’s just one of those bikes that after every ride I get off with a grin on my face and at the end of the day that’s what it’s about.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT YOUR XR?

I think my bike is a bit unique and stands out from the normal XR with the Ballard’s bling and for me the gold wheels really finish it off.