Tim's TZR Blog

Early 2006, with a bit of spare cash and some space in the garage, I convinced myself that I needed another 350LC.  There's a very active UK scene for these bikes, the most useful and popular online resource for all two-strokes is the  Yamaha RD Forum  and there are various shows and rallies devoted to RD's, both air and liquid cooled.  The local LC boys had made me and the KR welcome at their photoshoot back in 2003 but I still wanted to join in properly.  I'd joined the  LC Club  back in 2002 when I first decided to get another one but the KR came along instead and it never happened.  I'd continued my membership anyway but club lynchpin Tom gently reminded me at shows that it was about time I had an RD...

I didn't want a mint matching-numbers restoration job, I prefer the bikes that retain the original LC style but have been tastefully upgraded with more modern bits.  A white/blue 'two-striper' with chrome Allspeeds and TZR wheels/brakes would be perfect.  It would have to be a '4LO' too - I've seen a few nice YPVS-based specials but the standard LC2's don't really do much for me.  I kept a close eye on the forum and the club newsletter for a suitable bike, and of course made regular searches on  Ebay  ...

...which was where I soon spotted a nice TZR250 not too far from me.  It was the Reverse Cylinder model and the rare SP (Sport Production) variant to boot.  It looked good in the photos so I contacted the seller and arranged to go and see it.  Not strictly an LC of course, but a direct blood relative and perfectly in keeping with the club.  The original 2MA/1KT parallel-twin TZR was a bit mainstream for me but both the 3MA R-C and 3XV V-twin models were sufficiently unusual to attract me.  The bike looked nice - not mint - in the metal, although to be honest I didn't really know what I was looking at.  Luc, the seller, had a TDR250 in the final stages of restoration and was obviously a two-stroke nut.  I put in an offer and a few days later it was mine.  Despite the winter cold and salty roads, I rode it the 30-odd miles home.

Yamaha TZR250SP (Reverse Cylinder)    Yamaha TZR250SP (Reverse Cylinder)    Yamaha TZR250SP (Reverse Cylinder)    Yamaha TZR250SP (Reverse Cylinder)

One of the special features that makes it an 'SP' is the dry clutch.  It's quite alarming to hear the bike rattling away like a tin full of spanners and the on/off nature of the clutch takes some getting used to as well.  But it pulled really nicely and there's a lovely 'skrrsh' from the clutch as you change up through the gears.  As standard they make 45bhp but this one has the much-sought-after CDI box from the unrestricted New Zealand model which liberates the full 60bhp !  That purple rear shock isn't standard either - it's a Maxton unit giving a more usable range of adjustment.

I posted the above pictures on the  Yamaha RD  and   TZR250  forums and it stirred up a lot of debate as to what it really is.  Luc had suggested that the early SP's had RWU forks like mine - some people agree with this but others insist it's not true.  The paint-job on the fairing is also different to all other SP photos that I've seen - check out the brochure pictures below.  The frame number suggests that it's an ordinary TZR250R (3MA1) but only the SP (3MA4) had the dry-clutch motor and chunky swingarm that mine's got.  Maybe it's an SP that was crashed in Japan and rebuilt with the front-end off an 'R' and a replacement fairing ?  Maybe it's a blown-up R fitted with a SP motor ?  It honestly doesn't bother me in the slightest 'cos I love it the way it is, but in the unlikely event that I ever came across any genuine SP USD forks then I suppose it'd be nice to put them back where they belong.

TZR250SP (3MA4) brochure    TZR250SP (3MA4) brochure    TZR250SP (3MA4) brochure

All I'd done to it so far was replace the horrible grey handlebar grips with some black ones and replace one of the taillight bulbs which had blown.  I also bought a new paddock stand for it as it was already fitted with bobbins on the swingarm.  Luc forwarded a box of assorted spares he'd accumulated and I also downloaded an SP parts book and R workshop manual from  Pure 2-stroke Spirit.  Later I managed to get hold of original brochures for both 3MA1 and 3MA5 and the SP manual supplement from  Yahoo Auctions Japan.

Non-matching front brake hoses    Carbon-fibre filler cap cover    Tank pad    Carbon-fibre clock surround    Warning LED for the alarm

I'd like to remove some of the non-standard bits (genuine carbon-fibre but still tacky) and replace the red anodised fasteners, sort out the mismatching and too-long brake hoses and add the missing 'Deltabox' frame stickers.  The bike used to have an alarm - this has been removed but the warning LED still blemishes the tailpiece.  There's also some scabby bits of paint that need sorting, and the fork sliders have some alloy corrosion that could look better.  I'd really like to get hold of one of the rare plastic cowls to replace the pillion seat with, and maybe remove the pillion pegs at the same time.

Scabby fairing paint    Corroded fork sliders    Scabby fairing paint    More fairing damage

Good Friday dawned dry and sunny (if very windy) and was the first time I'd had chance to take the bike out for a run.  It started OK but seemed a bit choked up to start with.  It soon cleared but it wouldn't tickover on it's own and the first time I stopped it was difficult to restart.  But I seemed to acquire the knack and only stalled it once.  It was definitely happiest being caned up through the gears, although once or twice it seemed to cut on one cylinder just as I gave it a big handful to overtake traffic.  I think a carb clean and set-up plus new plugs are next on the list - I also need to glue those new grips on !  There was a bit of coolant splashed over the right-hand side of the bike when I got home, although the temp gauge was normal throughout.  I managed 150kms altogether - I would have liked to stay out on it but my left wrist was in agony from the clutch !  That seat isn't very forgiving either...

Engineered weak-point on the front brake lever - evidence of it's racing past ?    Yamaha TZR250SP (Reverse Cylinder)    Yamaha TZR250SP (Reverse Cylinder)    Yamaha TZR250SP (Reverse Cylinder)

Two days later I decided to remove the bodywork to see what it looked like underneath.  Hmm, a bit of a mess, you might say.  Reminds me more of working on a car than a bike - a jumble of pipes, brackets, cables, tubes and wires, with nothing where you might expect to find it.  Don't fancy having to do any work on this one !  I also had to hacksaw one of the front indicators off (!) to remove the top fairing - easily fixed with a new bolt though.  And the concensus among the LC boys is that the coolant leak is caused by a dodgy head gasket pressurising the cooling system - doh !  But looking at it a bit closer reveals that the inlet to the header tank is positioned so that the feeder pipe is bent double and trapped by the bracket below.  Could this be the cause ?  I re-route the pipe as best I can but it's still not ideal - I also drain some coolant from the tank back into the radiator.

Engine layout - RHS    Engine layout - RHS    Engine layout - LHS    Master on/off fuel tap    Coolant hose pinched closed ?

So let's check out what it is that makes it an SP : well, there's the 'Sport Production' logo on top of the tank of course, the swingarm has the rear section welded on instead of being a single casting, and the rear wheel is 4.5" wide (4" on the R) and stamped '3MA-50'.  That's all easy to check, what next ?  Well, the barrels should be stamped '3MA-20' as should the heads (which are separate items - one-piece on the R).  Check.  The airbox lid should be marked '3MA-4' in white paint and the 34mm SP carbs (R has 32mm) should have '3MA-20' marked on them in a faint black ink.  All present and correct, plus of course the dry-clutch and close-ratio gearbox.  The SP also has different CDI boxes (mine are off the unrestricted model though) and the exhausts are different internally although they look the same.  And finally the SP has the fully-adjustable USD front-end which we'll conveniently overlook at this point...

Yamaha TZR250SP (Reverse Cylinder)    SP swingarm    SP rear wheel    SP barrel
SP heads    SP airbox    SP 34mm carb    Yamaha TZR250SP (Reverse Cylinder)

I wasn't sure how best to take the tank off, considering the remote fuel tap.  I unbolted the tank, looked underneath and was delighted to find a master on/off tap which makes everything very easy.  Nice one Yamaha-san !  But then my admiration evaporated as I realised that the massive lower airbox forms two large pipes which then merge again under the top chamber - this means that removing the airbox (to get at the carbs, plugs, heads etc.) involves draining the cooling system as the hoses pass through the gap in between.  Shockingly bad design !  Maybe I'll look into modifying it with some jubilee clips and suitable bits of rubber pipe.  In the meantime I managed to fit a pair of new plugs (NGK BR9ES) and cleaned the air-filter.

Partial stripdown    Partial stripdown    Partial stripdown (with Stig the cat helping...)    Partial stripdown

There's a drain tube off the bottom of the airbox - it'd been bunged with an alloy bolt.  I removed the bolt and about a quarter-pint of watery oil drained out.  The carb intakes looked oily too - that can't be helping things.  I cleaned everything up as best I could, careful not to get degreaser or water in the clutch housing vents.  I also found a bolt in the end of the breather pipe from the 2T oil tank - a bit more weight lost there as that finds it's way into the bin too !  I checked the battery, fitted a new horn and also a lead that'll let me connect my Optimate charger easily.  Time to put it back together and ride it I think...

TZR250SP    TZR250SP    TZR250SP

It wasn't really any different.  It starts easily enough and ticks over OK when cold but once warm it struggles at very low revs.  I wound in the tickover screw a bit which improved things slightly but had the additional adverse effect of keeping the revs up for a couple of seconds when you shut the throttle off, like the slides are sticking open.  Runs great when you're really going for it though !  Normally cleaning and setting up the carbs would be the way to fix it but it's not that simple on this bike - there's extra stuff going on like a throttle-position sensor feeding the CDI which controls 3 air-corrector jets via solenoids, and the wiring diagram and workshop manual is all in Japanese...

3XV-RS and 3MA-SP    3XV-RS and 3MA-SP    3XV-RS and 3MA-SP

So what's with that other bike in the photos above ?  Well, a mate of mine that came round to have a look at the TZR caught the bug too and managed to find himself a 3XV.  Like me, he's still getting to grips with it, ironing out the odd little problem and working out exactly what spec it is (are there any 100% genuine TZR's out there ?).  We think it's a 3XV8, the 'RS' model, but the non-standard paintwork is something closer to 'SPS' spec.  Naturally we swapped bikes for a bit - his bike is much easier to ride than mine but suffers from a misfire at higher revs which we thought might be due to it still being restricted, although he's subsequently discovered piston/ring/head damage caused by some hopeless bodger in the bike's past.  But it's all sorted now with new parts.  His bike also has a dry-clutch and close-ratio gearbox but is a lot quieter than mine, and I thought my brakes were fantastic until I tried his !

I spotted a bloke on Ebay selling loads of 3MA parts, including some (R model) USD forks.  I wasn't sure whether to go for it or not but I'm highly unlikely to find any genuine SP ones anytime soon so I snapped them up, along with the yokes, spindle and clipons to match.  I also got a lower airbox off him so I can experiment with making a more quickly-detachable version.  The forks need new seals, but more annoying is the damage to the top yoke - some idiot racer has saved about 2 grams in weight by hacking off the ignition switch holder with what looks like an axe.  So I need to find a replacement (is 3XV same dimensions ?) along with a USD mudguard.  And I'm not sure yet whether my existing wheel, discs and calipers will fit straight in without modification.

USD forks    butchered top-yoke    Snapped stud in one fork leg    accumulated spares

A sunny bank holiday provided all the incentive I needed to ride out to the coast with a mate on his SV1000.  Unfortunately it wasn't happy sat in traffic at all and the clutch started to complain, so I ignored the queues, made my way to the seafront and parked up to let it cool down, suffering a strange misfire at one point that seemed to clear itself.  After half an hour it looked like rain (british bank holiday - what do you expect ?) so we left - the clutch was no better and the misfire came back.  But once back on the main road, it ran perfectly - even holding a steady 180kph for a mile at one point (private road - ahem).  Back home, I adjusted the clutch and it seemed OK.

A couple of weeks later, a sunny day off work and a booking at the MOT station.  Spluttering and backfiring, I made it as far as the main road before it died altogether.  I couldn't get it running again so pushed it back up the hill, in leather jacket and gloves, on the hottest day of the year so far.  An hour spent cleaning the plugs and looking for problems didn't help, so I cancelled the MOT and started on the beers instead...

Advice from several different people including fitting brand new plugs, stripping and cleaning the carbs and putting all the jets and settings back to standard.  Easier said than done, the carbs are difficult to get to and much more complicated than you'd think - they're plumped into the cooling system for a start !  I managed to get the float bowls off with the carbs in situ, and discovered that the left one had a #280 main jet while the right had #270 - standard is #260.  I couldn't check the needles - what happened to good old-fashioned carbs with a slide hanging off the throttle cable ?  In the meantime, I stripped and cleaned the clutch - in contrast to the carbs this has to be the easiest bike in the world to strip the clutch on !

clutch basket    let's just say it's a specially lightened version...    back together

Over the next couple of weeks I cleaned the carbs (well the bits I could reach anyway), bought some 260 main jets and fitted them and fitted another brand new set of plugs.  Another sunny Friday, another precious day off work and another booking at the MOT station.  It got there and back fine and passed the MOT no problem.  It also seemed to tickover better and was definitely happier at low revs than before.  But (you knew that was coming...) it felt flat everywhere else and down on power, not only that but the clutch is still very grabby too.  Interestingly, the boys at the MOT place said they could smell super-unleaded and said they'd had problems before with two-strokes and high-octane fuel, so when I got home I completely drained and flushed the fuel tank and filter - look at the rust and crap - and small spider ! - that was in the bottom of the tank.

do they all do this ?    old and new plugs    float bowls and valves    rust in the tank - and a spider too !

The  Aircooled RD Club  annual rally normally features lots of LC's, TZR's and TDR's as well.  It was approaching fast so I took the TZR for a decent test ride a few days before.  100kms with no real problems, just the odd cough and a temporary drop onto one cylinder.  I added some 'DELTABOX' stickers that I'd had made up to the frame spars and some extra 'YPVS' ones on the fairing too, I also fitted a new numberplate with the Japanese kanji for 'kouho haiki' along the bottom - this is what the 3MA is known as in its home market, it means 'backward exhaust'.  Finally I gave it a good clean.

DELTABOX stickers    non-standard YPVS stickers on the non-standard fairing    Yes, 'YGP' stands for Yamaha Grand Prix - cool eh ?

The August 2006 issue of Performance Bikes magazine had a feature on 'The World's Greatest Strokers'.  And there's a nice full page photo of a 3MA at Cadwell.  On the 'Worst' page.  Captioned "Had one of these ? Never mind".  Doh !

PB magazine, August 2006    Ready for the off

The Saturday of the Ashbourne Rally, I set off in perfect weather about 9:30am.  As 'insurance' I'd packed a small toolkit, just enough to take the fairing off and swap plugs, two new ones of which I also packed.  I stuck to main roads and motorways, mainly to give the clutch an easy time.  After one refuel and almost 100 trouble-free miles, I made the mistake of sitting behind a car which was religiously sticking to the 40/50mph speed limits.  The bike developed a minor misfire which persisted until I arrived at the rally site.  Tom recognised me and waved as I parked up and Warwick came up to say hello too, having emailed me lots of useful 3MA info in the past.

There wasn't really time to deal with the misfire before the rideout planned for midday.  I decided to risk it and joined the queue with everyone else.  Unfortunately, it got worse and although I stuttered my way out as far as the main road, I decided to abandon the rideout and limped back to the campsite instead.  I removed the fairing and swapped the plugs with the assistance of a couple of other stragglers, threw it back together and made my own way up to Matlock Bath to meet the rest, the bike now running fine again.

The Big Rideout    100 mile service instead of joining the rideout...    See, I made it to Matlock after all !    Evolution

Despite never having been to Matlock before, it was pretty easy to find the others and I parked up on the riverside with everyone else.  Soon my mate Karl arrived on his 3XV-RS, and we wandered up and down admiring the bikes in the sun until the riot police arrived, overreacting as usual and threatening everyone with charges of civil unrest unless we vacated the pavement (tossers).  So we all left at that point, and had a great ride back to the rally site breathing in two-stroke fumes.

There was some fantastic machinery at the campsite.  Early aircooled RD's, through the coffin-tank models, LC's, powervalves, 500's, TDR's and all 3 variants of TZR.  Only one Reverse-Cylinder though !  Unless you count a proper TZ that was on display, or Tom's hilarious 'Really Dodgy Looking Contraption'.  Highlights were Fred's R1-Z special, the aircooled four-pot RD700 and a lovely blue hybrid special I wanted to take home.  We couldn't stay all night unfortunately but we didn't leave until Tom had managed to get the chopper running at last - nice one !

Tom's LC chopper in front of our TZR's    700cc four-cylinder aircooled RD special    You wait ages to see a 3XV then 7 come along at once    Best LC I think I've seen.    One more kick and it's gonna start...

Karl and I set off home about 4pm or so.  The bikes were running fine all the way to the M1, then his bike dropped onto one cylinder.  Even so, he managed to keep it going at 80mph or so until a couple of miles short of the M18 turnoff.  He suddenly slowed and I saw the rear wheel lock in a plume of smoke.  That'll be a seizure then !  We parked up on the hard shoulder and despite a few attempts to kick it over, realised it was terminal.  The other essential item I'd remembered to pack was my AA card, so I phoned them and the big yellow truck arrived almost an hour later.  The 3XV winched aboard, I followed behind until the misfire started to re-appear, so I overtook and opened it up to 90mph to help it clear.  At Doncaster services we had to transfer to another AA unit and once his bike was safely on the trailer, I waved them off and rode my bike back home without further problems.  386kms total for the day.  I can't afford to keep putting new plugs in every 100 miles though...

Karl's blown 3XV sits on the M1 waiting for a very very nice man...    Doesn't look too unhappy about it does he ?    To the rescue !    Swapping AA patrols at Doncaster services

Two weeks later, it was the annual VJMC Classic Japanese Show at Lotherton Hall.  A quick test ride the day before proved that, yes, yet another new set of plugs would be required.  Argh !  This time I fitted BR8ES hoping that the hotter grade would take longer to oil up.  It got me 156km there and back no problem although the clutch is still making odd noises on take off.  It was a good show though.  There was another lovely 3MA there and I had a good chat with the owner who told me he had no low-speed running problems.  He pulled a face when he heard my clutch too !  There was the usual sprinkling of RD's and LC's plus a nice pair of cute YSR's.  A TDR turned up later on and there was even a 3XV parked outside in the public car park.  A month or so later, the latest VJMC magazine came through the letterbox.  Inside was a selection of colour photos taken at the show, the best one being of some crappy old 70's Yamaha clunker.  Why ?  'Cos my TZR can quite clearly be seen parked behind it !

2006 Lotherton Hall VJMC Show    2006 Lotherton Hall VJMC Show    My trophy for 'Second best 3MA in show' !    3MA at the 2006 Lotherton Hall VJMC Show    YSR at the 2006 Lotherton Hall VJMC Show    3XV at the 2006 Lotherton Hall VJMC Show    500LC at the 2006 Lotherton Hall VJMC Show    TDR at the 2006 Lotherton Hall VJMC Show    My TZR (just) in the October 2006 VJMC magazine

Fast forward through several weeks of neglect.  I was planning to take the TZR to the Classic Mechanics Show at Stafford in October.  A mate and I had decided to show some of our oddball two-strokes off and booked a little stand under the name of  Diff'rent Strokers.  Show regulations stated that all bikes had to be displayed with empty fuel tanks and the battery disconnected so with a week to go I dug it out of the garage and got the allen keys out.  I also gave it a bit of a clean and polish at the same time, and decided to run the engine just to hear that fantastic race-bike crackle again.  It was reluctant to start but eventually ticked over sweetly.

Of course, even though the show was just static exhibits and the TZR would not be called on to prove itself, it decided to disgrace itself anyway.  Once safely loaded into the van it proceeded to leak oil all over the place, for reasons not yet discovered.  I almost got my own back when we arrived - I was unloading it from the van and the ramp slipped.  We were almost displaying an inverted-cylinder TZR...

The show went very well.  We didn't know what to expect but the response was overwhelmingly positive.  The bikes looked great together and the TZR attracted plenty of interest.  I was actually a little embarrassed at all the praise being heaped upon it, especially when one bloke said it was the best bike he'd seen all day (I think he'd just arrived...) !  Several people wanted to know if it was for sale.  I didn't see any other 3MA's there although there were a couple of reverse-cylinder race TZ's and I now know there was a gorgeous turquoise 3MA5 lurking just a few yards away.

TZR at the 2006 Stafford Show    TZR at the 2006 Stafford Show    TZR at the 2006 Stafford Show    TZR at the 2006 Stafford Show
TZR and RGV ready for the 2006 Stafford Show    TZR at the 2006 Stafford Show    Reverse Cylinder TZ racer at the 2006 Stafford Show

Having been unsure whether the TZR was a keeper or not, I'm now determined to make it more like the proper SP it should be.  It's definitely not for sale now, the only way I'd let it go now is by replacing it with an even nicer one !  Unfortunately, I didn't get chance to browse the Stafford autojumble for another top yoke or front mudguard for the USD front end, but I took a risk on 4DL (TZR125R Belgarda) parts off Ebay and they seem to fit OK.  The forks have had new seals fitted and a snapped stud removed by my local bike shop.  I've since been told they're actually 3XV forks but as I'm unlikely to find any genuine 3MA-SP ones this hardly matters.

Old 3MA top yoke and the new 4DL one    4DL top yoke is stepped, like the 3XV    All the bits I need ?    New seals fitted

Tom kindly sent me some old fairing panels for free - have a look at  Links Engineering  to see what shiny new parts he can supply for your RD/LC/TZR/TDR.  A brand-new 3MA USD white front mudguard came up on Ebay so of course I had to have that.  I bid on another single-seat cowl on  Yahoo Auctions Japan  but again it went out of my tight-fisted reach - I don't know if they're a genuine Yamaha part or an aftermarket item, but they look very cool with their twin vents.  I'm determined to get one and I also bought an old rear subframe so I could cut off the pillion footrest hangers for the full pilot-only look.  Also spotted on Yahoo, an airbox that had already been modified in the way I suggested before.  It should make maintenence easier, although I've since discovered via a Japanese 3MA promo DVD that the radiator swings out of the way for that very reason - doh !

Fairing panels    Brand-new 3MA front mudguard    Single seat cowl    Spare rear subframe ready for the grinder...    Modified airbox    LC Club 2007 Calendar

That last photo above ?  Well, the  LC Club  asked all of the members to choose their favourite pictures for a 2007 Calendar, and look what made Miss March - it's official, that makes my bike one of the Top 12 LC's in the whole country !

_____________________________________ 2007 _____________________________________

Well, March came and went and the calendar was all I had - for various boring, complicated and probably feeble reasons, several months passed during which the TZR wasn't even started, never mind ridden.  But with the  VJMC Uttoxeter Show  fast approaching followed by the  2007 RD/LC Ashbourne Rally  the weekend after, it was time to stop messing about and get on with the list of jobs to be done on the bike.  The battery had been kept topped up but there was no fuel left in it so with the tank half-filled with fresh unleaded... it started pissing out of the top of the fuel tap !  It looks like the vacuum diaphragm has dried up and shrunk - hopefully it'll fix itself now there's fuel in again or maybe it'll need a new one.  A quick check round the rest of the bike revealed tyres that had lost a bit of pressure (no surprise really) and bad-earth problems with both front indicators.  Serves me right for neglecting it eh ?  That'll change now I promise, and I've just been given yet another rear subframe (thanks Tom !) to help kick me into action.

Well, the fuel leak stopped as predicted and the following weekend dawned warm, bright and sunny so it was time to hit the road again.  The bike started easily, though it revved itself silly even more than usual, no matter what I did with choke and throttle.  On with my lid and off I went, trying - and failing - to make a smooth getaway with that damn clutch.  The engine cleared as I took off up the main road and just as I hit the bypass, the rain started.  Two minutes later it was pelting hailstones, and I hadn't put any gloves on.  Ah well, it was running OK and that was all that mattered.  It soon went onto reserve so I came home having only put 15kms on the clock.  Naturally, once back in the garage the sun came out again for the rest of the day.

Spare subframe No.2    Rain, in Spring ?  Surely not...    Needs a clean now

Two more jobs have been added to the list of things to do.  Someone spotted (on a photo of my bike with no fairing on) that the solenoid-controlled air-jets appear to be connected the wrong way round.  Not sure how critical this is but it should be easy to test.  Whilst this was being discussed online, someone else pointed out the the left radiator bracket is mounted in the wrong hole - again, easy to fix (assuming the proper thread hasn't gone).  Also at this time, the insurance and tax fell due although these were easily and cheaply sorted.  Let's hope next month's MOT is just as painless...

With a few hours to kill one Sunday, I decided to start the front-end swap.  With an axle-stand positioned carefully under the engine cases, it was easy to drop the front wheel out, and a couple of minutes later it was fitted perfectly in the USD forks.  At this point I tried offering up the front mudguard too and it looked great !  Just the brakes to try and then we know everything fits.  You know what's coming next don't you ?  Yes that's right - although the calipers look right, the mounting holes have the same spacing and the offset appears to be correct, they don't line up. Argh !  It looks like I need smaller discs, or maybe different calipers.  This wasn't part of the plan, and (of course) I wish I'd tried all this out months ago.

Note handy bottle of beer to keep spirits up !    Calipers don't line up    The new front end ready to go on - nearly    Comparison of 3MA-RWU and 3LN-USD discs    Calipers do line up !    Old front-end ready for the bin (or a future LC upgrade)    New forks and yokes fitted    Old and new    Front mudguard mounting    Front mudguard mounting    Front mudguard mounting

A couple of posts on the  Yamaha RD  and   TZR250  forums asking for advice resulted in several quick and helpful replies, which all seemed to agree that I needed the discs from a USD-kitted 3MA or 3XV.  One chap (take a bow 'OldElsieBoy') even offered me a pair of discs from a '3LN' (FZR250R) with the same dimensions, so I snapped them up and hoped for the best.  A few days later they arrived and an hour with the spanners proved that they were perfect for the job.  The rest of the day was spent removing the old forks and yokes and fitting the complete USD front-end.

Wrong mount and jet wiring    Right mount and jet wiring

I decided to replace the horrible blue/gold front brakeline at this point and a shiny new stainless one quickly arrived from Hel Brakelines.  Bleeding the brakes took a lot longer than normal but finally the brakes were sorted.  The steering lock still doesn't work even though everything lines up, and speaking of steering lock, there seems to be slightly less of it although it shouldn't be a problem.  I swapped over the wires to the air-corrector jets and moved the LH radiator mount to it's proper hole - no longer is the inlet pipe to the coolant header tank bent back on itself.  That just left the mudguard to fit, a simple matter of 6 small bolts.  Wrong !  Although it looks right, the holes don't line up unless the guard is up tight against the tyre - another subtle mismatch caused by mixing parts from different models I suppose.  My old apprentice fitting skills came flooding back as I turned a strip of aluminium into a pair of front mudguard mounting plates.  They did the trick and painted black you can barely see them.  I then fitted the top-fairing and was pleased to find there were no interference problems with the new bars.  Time for a test ride then.  Everything worked fine, the brakes were good and nothing fell off (!) although the new forks feel a little harder on the bumpy backroads that constitute my usual test track.  I tightened the head bearings a little on my return as there seemed to be a slight knock, and then bolted the rest of the fairing on too.  Even the repaired indicators work OK, although I don't have much confidence in their hopeless construction.  The headlight 'pass' switch doesn't work though, and the throttle tube sticks open - these should be enough to guarantee an MOT fail later this week...

New, improved, with added USD !    New, improved, with added USD !    New, improved, with added USD !    New, improved, with added USD !

...and it did.  Fail that is.  On 'binding brakes', which I initially thought was nonsense although I've now changed my mind.  I took the pads out, pumped the pistons out a bit and gave everything a decent wash with brake cleaner.  Then I reassembled the calipers, fitted them, and pumped up the brakes.  They were even worse.  It appears that the left disc isn't central in the caliper and is touching the caliper body itself.  This doesn't make much sense, unless the fork leg is bent or the disc isn't sat flat on the wheel.  Maybe I could space out the left fork leg a bit ?  The discs aren't warped by the way, I've checked that.  Even worse, the thread has gone on the left lower caliper mount so it needs either a helicoil repair or maybe a longer bolt with a nut on the end, if there's room.  And did I mention I found a big nail in the rear tyre too ?

Can you spot the nail ?    Spare exhausts, courtesy of Tom

Nevertheless, I gave it a bit of a polish and chucked it in the back of the van for the VJMC Uttoxeter Show.  It was on the Diff'rent Strokers stand again, along with Fred's stunning R1-Z special and a tuned YSR80.  I was even talked into pushing it into the parade ring and firing it up for the benefit of the watching public.  Luckily it started 3rd kick and didn't disgrace itself by leaking oil or anything.  I've put a short video clip of it on  YouTube  so you can all hear the dry-clutch rattle.  Also at the show were Andy Bolas' mint 2MA and 3XV plus lots of nice LC's.  And Tom turned up with a pair of exhausts that he didn't need any more.  Now the TZR's back home again I suppose I'd better start fixing all these faults, although I can't see it being sorted - and MOT'd - in time for Ashbourne.

VJMC Uttoxeter Show, July 2007    Fred, Darin, Me, Alfons and Hans    Andy's award-winning 3XV    YSR80 and TZR250SP
VJMC Uttoxeter Show, July 2007    VJMC Uttoxeter Show, July 2007    VJMC Uttoxeter Show, July 2007    Fred and his R1-Z special

No, of course it wasn't ready for Ashbourne, or the VJMC Lotherton Hall show either.  I sort of lost interest in it a bit over the next couple of months, occasionally raising some enthusiasm and attacking the brakes only to find no improvement or even that I'd made them worse.  I put a 1mm spacer between speedo drive and fork leg to centralise the left disc in the caliper but this didn't make any difference.  I also spun the forks in the yokes to check if the legs were bent at all but they looked OK.  Repeated cleaning of the calipers and bleeding the system didn't do the trick either, although I have overcome the dodgy mounting thread by using 5mm longer bolts.  On the advice of the knowledgable chaps on the TZR Forum I completely disassembled the calipers, pistons and seals and cleaned everything so it was like new.  Corrosion behind the piston seals is a known Yamaha troublespot, and there was some evidence of it on mine too.  Oddly I couldn't get the dust seals back in again so left them off - race bikes don't have them and it's not like I'm gonna be riding it through winter.

Problem solved ?  No.  The brakes are fine until the caliper mounting bolts are tightened up, then they begin to drag again.  Next step is to play around with 10mm washers between the calipers and the fork lugs, as it still seems to be an alignment problem.

Brake maintenance    Spacer between speedo drive and fork-leg    Dismantled front brake caliper

Remember those spare exhausts I was given ?  Someone I know wanted them to go on a 3MA that his mate had just bought.  His bike came with race pipes fitted and he didn't like the way they sounded, or the lack of stingers poking through the tailpiece.  So I swapped him.  Anyone know what make they are ?  The only marking is 'R2C05' stamped on each one.  They're incredibly light and have the usual race-style spring fittings.  Wonder what they sound like ?  Wonder how much extra power they liberate ?...

Race pipes

I went to the Classic Bike Burn Up at Cadwell Park, just for a look.  A great mix of cool bikes there, including one 3MA track-day bike.  I chatted with the owner for a while, and he seemed to be having fun on track.  Maybe next year I'll take mine ?  I didn't take it to the Stafford Show in October this year as we had a great line-up of bikes already booked for the Diff'rent Strokers stand.

3MA track bike    3MA track bike    Someone's taking it seriously...

So what's happening now then ?  Well the front brakes are as good as I can get them and will hopefully pass an MOT now - there's little point in getting one in the middle of winter though so I'm waiting until better weather.  In the meantime I've got the clutch apart again, to try and see where the 'grabbing' problem lies.  I've got an ordinary wet clutch so I'll see if any of the metal plates look the same, but it's the friction plates I really want - no-one seems to make any on the aftermarket so it's Yamaha Genuine Parts only and they're very expensive.  And the little rubber damper blocks appear to be 'NLA'.  I need to get that nail out of the rear tyre too.

My local bike shop bought a cheap 3MA as a background project and showed it to me when I popped in.  It was an early model and in poor condition, but the interesting thing was the seat unit was painted in SP colours and it had the matching single-seat cowl.  I tried to buy it (the cowl, not the whole bike...) but the whole thing was soon sold on.  All I've managed to acquire lately is one of those cutaway posters that Performance Bikes magazine printed back in 1989.

Performance Bikes 3MA cutaway poster

_____________________________________ 2008 _____________________________________

Is this blog dead now then ?  No, you'd be forgiven for thinking so though 'cos I hadn't updated it for months.  That's because there's been nothing new to say, I've been distracted with all my other bikes.  Since the last update, I've put the clutch back together although I haven't replaced any of the plates as originally intended.  The rear tyre still has the nail in but doesn't seem to be losing pressure.  There's still an annoying minor leak that appears to be 2T oil, though I can't work out where it's coming from.  On the eve of the Uttoxeter Show I suddenly realised that it had been a whole year since the bike had run, so I fired it up and annoyed the neighbours for a while - I managed to ride a few yards up the drive under the bike's own power, just for the sake of it.  Checking the bike over I found that the horn and the left-front indicator no longer worked so I fixed those - the horn was just dirty connections but the indicator wire had come apart where it had been bodged in the past.  Fairing back on - now I need to take it for an MOT and get it back on the road where it belongs.  By the way, I've donated those race pipes I acquired to Andy Bolas as he needed some and I had no plans to use them myself.  And I've managed to get one of the original SP brochures from Japan - sad I know, but I like that sort of stuff...

3MA-SP brochure    3MA-SP brochure

It's back on the road !  I took it for an MOT and it passed, no problem.  The brakes no longer drag, all the electrics work and they didn't notice the hopeless steering lock or the nail in the rear tyre.  It fouled its plugs in town centre traffic of course but I celebrated the pass by caning it down my favourite local back road (my official test route) and it cleared.  Ooh, it's good to be back !

3MA-SP, August 2008    3MA-SP, August 2008

There's still an annoying knock from the front end which I need to trace but I can live with the throttle, which only sticks when the engine isn't running.  The oil leak I'm ignoring too.  I bought it a tax disc and now I need to start making use of what's left of the summer...

Of course, I didn't.  The cold, wet, gritted roads arrived before I knew it and the bike hadn't gone anywhere.  I have met another 3MA owner though.  James popped up on the  Diff'rent Strokers Forum  and turned out to live not far away from me.  He'd bought a lot of spares to rebuild his bike and was now keen to offload the remainder as he'd run out of space.  Despite being in a similar position, I helped him out by buying most of his bits off him.  I also acquired a battery/toolbox panel off Ebay with a view to trying to cobble together another fairing to paint in proper SP colours.

toolbox/battery panel    3MA spares    3MA spares

_____________________________________ 2009 _____________________________________

So winter over, the sun eventually came out and the bikes were dragged out of the garage one by one and kicked into life.  The TZR fired up OK after a few kicks and was warmed up up the bypass before being caned round some of the better back roads near me.  I didn't go far and I don't have 100% confidence in the tyres/handling yet but I want to get it sorted properly and use it more.


Another sunny Bank Holiday saw the TZR dragged out again for a longer ride.  The back roads near me are quite badly surfaced in places and there were hard knocks felt over the bumps.  I think I need to play with the suspension settings.  Apart from that all seemed OK.

Someone on the RD Forum suggested a 2-stroke meet up at Squires Cafe in Sherburn, a famous bikers hangout not that far away from me.  It was pencilled in for the last Saturday in July, the day before the Lotherton Hall Show which is literally just a couple of miles away.  The idea was for everyone to meet up, have a chat, go on a decent ride-out then camp over and go to the show en masse the next day.


I wasn't going to do the camping thing obviously but thought it would be good to go along on the TZR.  Sunny weather was a good start so after a very quick check of the bike I set off.  Despite getting slightly lost I eventually got there to be met by a couple of hundred assorted bikes.  I headed towards the two-strokes and parked up.  Someone immediately said hello and it was Nick whose stunning Lucky Strike VJ23 was parked nearby.

Obviously feeling outclassed by this (and parked nose-up on a slope) the TZR decided to dump about a pint of unburnt fuel/2T mix out of the airbox drain tube.  This caused much amusement in those watching who all decided it was a terminal gearbox fault but is of course all part of the fun of owning a 3MA.  My 3MA anyway.  Needless to say, the bike completed the 168kms round trip without missing a beat, although the numberplate was only hanging on by one screw when I got home...

I didn't get chance to renew the MOT and tax so the bike remained off the road until November, when it was displayed at the  NEC Classic Motor Show  with Diff'rent Strokers again.  I drained the fuel out of it (like you're supposed to) but didn't bother isolating the battery.  Worried about it leaking on the venue carpet I did however drain the accumulated gunk out of the airbox and carefully arranged some rags in the bellypan in case of further drips.  It was fine though.  The bike got plenty of favourable comments and I even had a nice chat with someone who'd owned a 3MA-SP in the past - not many of us about.  Our stand was next door to the LC Club so the whole weekend was a bit of social thing too.

When the show finished on Sunday, I couldn't face the long push uphill back to the van so I fired it up (first kick) and carefully threaded my way through the worlds most exotic traffic jam.  It wouldn't tick over and a nearly-flat battery meant the lights wouldn't work either.  Bearing in mind it was dark, there was still no MOT or tax, it was fitted with a Japanese numberplate and I had no helmet on, it was quite a fraught experience...


Oh yeah, nearly forgot - my wife has acquired a tatty TDR80...


_____________________________________ 2010 _____________________________________

After the NEC show, the Optimate was plugged in to recharge the battery.  Despite going through its cycle and displaying a green light, the bike was completely dead when I eventually tried to run it.  I removed the battery and put it on the proper bench charger for a few hours - very little seemed to be happening but then this could be either a good or bad sign.  Back on the bike - still dead.  Worried that I might have fried something on the bike itself, I borrowed another battery off my KR250 having first established that it was charged OK.  When the key was turned, the dash lights lit up and I was greeted by the familar sound of the YPVS test cycle.  Relief !

The old battery was definitely dead then, confirmed by the voltage dropping from 12.3V to less than 3V under load.  Without much hope I enquired about a new YT4L-BS at the Halfords just round the corner from my house - to my surprise they had a Bosch in stock which they sold me for 34.99.  Having added the sulphuric acid (supplied) and sealed the top, I connected it up to the bike and normal service was once again resumed.  Moral of the story - don't believe everything that an Optimate tells you.


And if you think my garage carpet looks familiar in the pics above, you may have seen something very similar at the NEC show !


May, the good weather arrives and the TZR is finally taken for an MOT.  Which it passed without a problem, so I taxed it straight away for another 12 months.

1987 Yamaha SDR200 1987 Yamaha SDR200 1987 Yamaha SDR200 1987 Yamaha SDR200 1987 Yamaha SDR200 1987 Yamaha SDR200 1987 Yamaha SDR200

July, and the TZR is joined by a baby sister.  My wife Sara buys a Yamaha SDR200, a water-cooled 2-stroke single with YPVS and trellis frame.  Because this blog has very little TZR action these days (sorry), I'm going to put any SDR news on here too from now on.

Following a few odd jobs like correcting the reversed gear-change and fitting a numberplate with the correct registration (don't ask...), the SDR also passed an MOT and was taxed for a year.  It's been fitted with flat bars but I've managed to acquire some used clip-ons and a top-yoke to put it back to standard spec.  I also picked up some good used forks and rear wheel at the same time, as SDR parts aren't that easy to find, something else it has in common with the 3MA.  The bike goes very well indeed, probably due to the lack of weight.  Strangely I've ridden it more than Sara has...

_____________________________________ 2011 _____________________________________

After what seems like months of terrible weather, a half-decent Sunday appeared at the end of February so the TZR was fired up for a run.  Well, that was the plan, but it was bereft of life and I gave up trying to start it after 10 minutes without even a cough.  The SDR didn't complain though so it got the run out instead.

A month later, another attempt to run the TZR was more successful.  First though, I had to fettle the front brakes as they were binding again.  And with a fresh MOT in the bag, I, erm, didn't use the bike again for the rest of the year.  Pathetic ?  Yes, definitely, though I did get a lot more use out of my similarly-neglected KR250.


At the October Stafford show, Wayne Rainey was the Guest of Honour.  Having previously got the autographs of Ballington, Schwantz, Spencer and Lawson, I needed something appropriate for him to scrawl on.  Best I could manage was my 3MA toolbox panel, which Sara duly got him to sign.


_____________________________________ 2012 _____________________________________

I've booked the Cadwell trackday run by  Classic Bike Trackdays  and told everyone I'm taking the TZR.  Oh dear.  So when the last weekend in February was dry and sunny (but still cold) I gave it a quick once-over, kicked it into life and took it out for a test ride.  I did 65kms but wasn't very happy with how it ran - no plug oiling this time, it felt harsh and a bit flat.


I've finally got myself a seat cowl though, a brand-new reproduction one from Japan.  I've started to make a little padded bum-stop for it, and have sprayed it red with a B&Q rattlecan.


Remember those photos from 2006 above, when my mate Karl came over on his 3XV and we took some shots in front of the Humber Bridge ?  Well he doesn't have his TZR any more but he does have a lovely SDR, so we thought we'd give it another try.


I added a satin-black vinyl stripe to the seat-cowl - it nearly lines up !  I haven't finished the bum-stop yet but gave it a test fitting.  Good job I did, 'cos both front and rear mountings needed considerable filing to make it fit.  I added a strip of foam to cover the holes until the bum-stop is done.  I also fitted a new pair of BR8ES plugs and a pair of new handlebar grips.

And a brand-new pair of Bridgestone BT090's.  I've never been one to get excited about tyres, but the imminent trackday drew my attention to the fact that the ones that were on were at least 7 years old and there was a big nail in the back one which I've been ignoring.  The front one was the wrong size too.  The Easter weather ruled out a test ride but they seem very soft and grippy compared to the hard plastic ones which came off.

Whilst I was at it, I completely stripped, cleaned and reassembled the front brakes again, and fitted a longer bolt and half-nut to overcome the stripped lower thread on the left caliper.  I also drained the red oily liquid from the airbox and plugged and re-routed the drain tube.  Can't afford a leak at Cadwell.  That's if it makes it there of course, it's still feeling sick...


So, Plan B, the SDR.  I decided to bin the streetfighter look and revert back to the standard cafe-racer style, using the parts I accumulated last year.  I thought it'd be a quick top-yoke and bars swap but in the event I needed to swap both yokes and so it got the other - better - forks fitted too.  It was quite a job all told but it's sorted now and both looks and rides much better.


Back to Plan A, my local tame mechanic offered to check the TZR over and see if he could see why it'd lost its mojo.  He stripped and ultrasonically-cleaned the carbs, setting them up to spec.  He checked and adjusted the oil-pump, throttle cables and all the various tubes, pipes and cables that festoon it.  He also serviced the rear brake and set up the suspension.  He took it for a test ride and reckoned it was fine, though he confessed he didn't really know how it should feel.  Two days later, I took it for a ride myself and it went flat and made a tinkling sound...


...and as expected...


What are the chances of finding a pair of 3MA-20 SP barrels for sale on Ebay ?  Well, oddly enough, the next day, these appeared :


The TDR80's looking better now don't you think ?


Christmas 2012 and time for a stocktake...


_____________________________________ 2013 _____________________________________

...which led, inevitably, to someone making me an offer I couldn't refuse.  The new owner picked it up early April 2013 and has promised to sort it out and look after it better than I did.  So long, Teazer !


_____________________________________ 2014 _____________________________________

I let the MOT expire on the SDR because it needed a few things sorting out.  In October I let the same bloke that had worked on the TZR take it away - he gave me it back with a brand-new rear-shock (aftermarket Aprilia AF1 125), new fork seals and oil, stripped and cleaned calipers and new front brake pads.  He also pulled the dent out of the silencer and painted it, and fitted a new subframe so that the seat fastens and locks properly now.


See the first line of this page, where I say that I want to buy a 350LC ?  With Allspeeds and fat 3-spoke wheels ?  Well...

350LC 350LC 350LC

...and I even found my old Kenny-rep AGV from when I last owned an LC.

350LC 350LC 350LC

_____________________________________ 2015 _____________________________________

350LC 350LC 350LC

I went to the 2015 CMC 2-Stroke Day on the LC.  Well, I set off, but I gave up fairly quickly due to the horrible weather.


I did make it to the big 2-Stroke Day at Squires though, where I joined 90+ other two-strokes on a frenzied ride to Seaways cafe.  The bike didn't miss a beat, though there was an alarming quantity of oil coating everything when I got home with 120 miles on the clock.


I taxed the bike a couple of weeks later but then let the MOT expire as I was expecting to get some work done on the bike first.  It needs a fatter back wheel, better steering lock, some nicer-looking footrests and a better-fitting seat.  And that oil leak sorting.

_____________________________________ 2016 _____________________________________

My mechanic mate was busy with other stuff though, so after winter I got it MOT'd again ready for some more use.

350LC 350LC 350LC 350LC

A few short runs over the summer were followed by another trip to the Squires 2-Stroke Day.  No oil leaks this time.

350LC 350LC 350LC 350LC

A couple of weeks later, I took some snaps for the LC Club calendar, one of which was chosen for December 2017.

350LC 350LC 350LC

_____________________________________ 2017 _____________________________________

Over winter I got my mate Simon to replace the 2MA rear wheel/tyre for a fatter GSX750F one, and swap the clunky rear brake for a neat underslung one while he was at it.  He also modified the lockstops to get a bit more clearance, swapped the BMX-style fixed footpegs for neater folding ones and made a neater chainguard.  The dodgy handling is transformed, and it sailed through the MOT.  I fitted a new speedo cable, and I've already got a new top-cover for the clocks and a NK Racing boost bottle to go on.  I still want to fit a RH mirror somehow too and get the seat recovered.

350LC 350LC 350LC 350LC 350LC 350LC

_____________________________________ 2018 _____________________________________

I fitted a pair of replica mirrors, but the non-standard bars mean I had to use threadconverters so they're a bit tall and wobbly.  I let the MOT run out as I was busy with other stuff.  But eventually the rattle of the Allspeeds proved too alluring, so in August I fixed the dodgy horns and it passed.

350LC 350LC 350LC 350LC 350LC 350LC

_____________________________________ 2019 _____________________________________

It pissed petrol everywhere when I tried to fire it up after the winter layoff, so I fitted brand-new fuel pipes and clips, plus a boost bottle !  I also finally got round to replacing the cracked clock surround with a new one from Fowlers.

350LC 350LC 350LC 350LC 350LC

_____________________________________ 2020 _____________________________________

A long-overdue house move was completed last year, so even less bike stuff got done than usual.  But I have a bigger garage now !

yamaha yamaha yamaha

August, and the annual Squires 2-Stroke Day is fast approaching.  Better get something MOT'd then.

350LC 350LC 350LC 350LC

It passed without problems, and a month later I did 110 miles riding to and from the Yorkshire 2-Stroke Meet, including the epic lunchtime rideout.