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My new toy - Yamaha 1980 XS250 project bike

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' at netrider.net.au started by JimmyJazz, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. Hi guys.

    Thought I'd say hi (first post here) and post a photo of my new toy- a 1980 yamaha xs250.


    First bike I've bought and I plan to pull it fully apart and give everything a good clean and renew all the gaskets, bearings, etc. Was stored in a shed for 5 years before I got it and doesn't seem in too bad a shape. Complete newbie at this so I apologise in advance for the many stupid questions I'm sure will come.

    First question to the Yamaha guys on here, any suggestions for good places to source basic parts (gaskets, carby kits, spark plugs, etc) in Melbourne or that do mail order?

  2. What a cool bike. Nice one!

  3. I would suggest not worrying too much about the engine. Change the oil, filter and plugs, check the valve clearances and points (if it's got them), stick in a new air filter and then leave well alone for the time being. Give the carbs a good strip and clean and make sure the rubber boots that connect them to the head don't look like fossilised elephant hide. Have a look in the tank and see if it's rusty or filled up with crap from standing. If it is, clean it out (search is your friend) and get a cheapo inline filter for the fuel line to keep any residual crap out of your newly cleaned carbs. The fuel line will likely need replacing, as will the vacuum line to the carbs if it's a vac operated fuel tap. Might not be though, on a 250 and I can't remember 'cos it's nearly 20 years since I had anything to do with a little XS.

    On the chassis, the shocks will be buggered. If they're not you have a miracle on your hands 'cos they were pretty awful from new and didn't improve much with age. Those fork legs look a bit dull but, hopefully not rusty. If they are pitted, you'll need new fork seals and to do something about the pits. Proper fix is to rechrome or replace the fork stanchions but I've had good budget results filling the 'oles with Araldite and polishing with fine wet and dry. Even if you don't need to replace the seals, you do need to change the fork oil 'cos it's probably never been done.

    For the brakes, at least put in new pads, fluid and flexible hoses. The master cylinder and caliper seals might be OK but keep an eye on them for leaks.

    Pull apart all electrical connectors and inspect for corrosion and signs of heat. Give 'em a squirt of contact cleaner (try Dick Smiths or Jaycar) and put them back together. The battery will be dead so get a new one. They're really very cheap considering how inconvenient a battery failure can be.

    There's a decent chance the steering head bearings and swingarm bearings will be tired as on bikes of this vintage they didn't last that long anyway.

    Tyres will have gone hard so replacement is advisable even if they're not cracked though, having said that, I habitually ride on tyres that have passed their 10th birthday and am none the worse so far.

    And that, apart from standard checks like chain tension and condition, should give you a rideable, roadworthy bike. I would suggest doing the above and riding it around for a bit as-is before deciding whether you want to expend the effort and expense on a full rebuild.

    If you want to make a major project out of it, I'd recommend not bothering to rebuild the 250 engine and, instead, hunting down a 400 lump to spend your money on. It'll bolt straight in and cost about the same but will leave you with a bike capable of a genuine 160 on a good day rather than the somewhat asthmatic 135 of the 250.
  4. THat is a lovely bike. Congrats man. I really like it.
  5. Thanks for the replies guys, particularly PatB - that's a pretty comprehensive post.

    I've stripped most of the removable stuff off the bike and have got a bit of a to do list together. This is the "garage" I have available to me by the way...


    no ideal but i guess that's the cost of inner-city living.

    rust is limited to surface-rust patches like these - i imagine metal polish plus a bit of elbow grease should be to strip most of it off before retouching the paint job. no pitting on the folks as PatB thought might be the case - a few tiny bubbles under the chrome but nothing dramatic. no big plans here, just get rid of as much rust as possible so touch up paint doesnt trap in any cancer.


    on the topic of air filters, do these look saveable? the service manual I have recommends just blowing all the crap out with an airhose


    New ones will cost ~$60 for a pair. I'll be leaving the country for a while in 4 or 5 months so if the current filters will get me by till then that would be great. I've seen some cheap pod-type filters but I've gathered this will involve a fair bit of goofing around rejetting carbies and the such, so not so keen on that.

    Electronics all work but some of the wiring is looking a little dicey. quite a few connections look like this:


    plan to go through all the wiring and replace anything like this given there actually isn't that much of the stuff on the bike and its all pretty basic. The current battery does turn the engine over but its pretty weak and I've heard even if old batteries do work its not worth the $40 or whatever to risk getting your self stuck somewhere so that will get replaced.

    according to the service manual the bike has a points based distributor but this is what I found under the distributor cover...


    not alot I can do here right? guess the distributor has been replaced at some point during its life (the bike also has a non-standard brake caliper, so i guess its been repaired with whatever was cheapest / on hand / whatever during its life).

    only real modding i plan to be doing to the bike is debadgeing, which I guess will mean some creative filling on the side of the engine casing - need to have a look at what people have previously done.



    the good:

    - looks like it has had a decent life. all the fluids were at a reasonable level and the oil was pretty clean when I drained it. a small amount of silty stuff in the oil filter casing but that was all
    - straight, more-or-less rust free fame
    - brake rotor above the replacement limit so it can be kept

    the bad:

    - front tyre thread gone, need to call the previous owner to see if they know when the rear went on, might be worth keeping (heaps of thread left)
    - had 2 different types of spark plugs, no idea why - very close part numbers though. no idea of the effect this would have on an engine
    - rust spots on the chain where the individual links meet. does this warrant a replacement?

    the ugly:

    - nothing so far

    To do (in the immediate future, plenty more to come):

    - attack the whole thing with WD40 and degreaser / releasing fluid
    - rekit carby
    - replace oil and filter
    - new brake pads (unevenly worn, looks like they were installed on a slight angle), hoses and fluid
    - replace all other hoses (there's only a few)
    - get the rear wheel off the check the drum / shoes of the rear brake
    - get new spark plugs and leads (the leads look fine but the foam covers on them are shot, i'm guessing they're there to protect them from the hot engine block?)
    - get motorcycle L's!
  6. Cool bike and you will amaze yourself how just a thorough clean will transform it!
    As for the plugs, do you mean brand or heat rating is different?
    Though, If they are within the specified range, it doesn't really matter.
    As for parts, just use your search (often ebay is a good source)
    Oh and you cant ask for a worse enviroment to do a rebuild than what you have, but if thats your only choice.. do your best to keep it dry!!

    Good luck with it!
  7. Hey Mate,

    Congrats on the purchase!!

    I've been working on one of these for the last 6months. Got most of my parts off ebay and wemoto.com.

    there are quite a few parts between the xs250 and 400's aswell.

    Here's my a link to some of my progress pics if you want to waste some time during the day here

  8. Sweet bike - sweet blog, and I love the found object 'eggplant' accessory mounted just for the hell of it!

    So any XS250 build will be worth following in the future - they look like good starter bikes.
  9. hahah cheers maduncle. Now that you mention it, it does look like an egglplant :)

    I just chose the xs250 because it was my first crack at modifying I wanted something dead cheap. I think as long as it's got a steel frame then any bike is a good base. Only thing is there are no bolt on bits and pieces like your sr, w650, tw200s. So you have to make a lot of the things yourself. Which is all part of the fun and learning process.
  10. Just a thought on de-badgeing, you could make up a circular plate and rivet it on over the YAMAHA cast in the engine, as long as the rivets seal well and don't foul any parts on the inside of the cover - that might be easier than filling.
  11. congrats on the purchase, and the pesistence to embark on the project, I join with the others in looking forward to the process, and the result

    with reference to PatB's comment about the shocks, by my recollection they were hopeless when brand new, too :LOL:. I replaced them on my RD-250 with a set of Mullholland shocks and springs, but any quality replacement will be better than anything Yamaha built in that era..........
  12. Most Jap shocks of the era came from FVQ, a set of initials suggesting that the Japanese had a better sense of humour than they were generally credited with :D.
  13. Part numbers are NGK BP-7ES & NGK BP-6ES, i assume its just a different heat rating? There was ALOT of soot on them, and in the exhaust pipes for that matter - like the carbon fouled plugs on this page - http://www.gnttype.org/techarea/engine/plugs.html.

    Super Dooper, I really like what you're doing - that thing looks super-tidy. Are you keeping the instruments to the bare minimum also? Is it legal to have just a speedo? that would look great
  14. Thanks mate. Yep have just used a single speedo, I had another bike that I had only a speedo on and it passed the road worthy. Hopefully this will too, if not it won't take to much to mount another dial.

    Keep us posted on your progress :) definitely keen to see which direction you go with it.
  15. Hey, I have one of these, same year too :)
    From my hunting for bits it seems that the carby diaphragms aren't available new anymore. I got around this by replacing the carbies with a pair of mechanical carbs from a Suzuki 250 of some description.
    Good luck with it, keen to see the finished product :)
  16. its running rich - Not sure what range is reco. on this model, but they are pretty hot plugs, so probably those plugs are being used to compensate.
  17. You definitely don't need a tacho for rego.
  18. hi guys. not alot of progress - my boss ran out of money so i didnt have an income for a while, but he found some more so the projects back on. how can this happen you ask? long story. got the rear wheel off the other day to have a look at the back brake. this is what I found...

    looks pretty stuffed to my untrained eye

    not too sure if the drum will need machining, there are a few burnt (?) patches like this but no cracking or anything else drastic. opinions?

    on a positive though, very happy with how the bikes cleaned up, kind of want to cut the back fender off at the vertical though, thinking very minimal (small, low mirrors, get all the wiring/hoses nice and close to the bike rather than the mess at the moment, maybe lose a few of the non-vital instruments?)...
  19. As long as the brake doesn't judder when applied, it'll be OK. I'd probably hunt up some new shoes/linings though.
  20. I still cant get over the work shop!
    House Brick wheel clamps... lol