Wednesday, 20 July 2016
Long ago and far away, when learners still rode 250s and I had not owned a bike for a couple of years, a longing for a return to two wheels grew on me. A chum tipped me off about a gold painted RD250, which whilst a non-runner looked like it had been well cared for. It had a fair amount of play at the end of the crankshaft - used to British engines, l assumed that when the mains ﬁnally went it would merely be a matter of a few quid and an afternoon's work. so I handed over £40 for a 1978 RD250DX.
I discovered a weak spark so started by replacing the electrics - new plugs, points and condensers failed to help the bike start. Whilst removing the tank to gain access to the coils, I had to remove the pipe that joins the two sides of the petrol tank — the ﬂuid that fell out didn't look or feel like petrol. The tank emptied, the carbs drained, new petrol added and, much to my surprise, it came to life at the third kick. I later learnt that the bike had been lent to a chap who had syphoned off some fuel from his father's Transit, fitted with a diesel engine...
The Yam was a revelation after British bikes, so smooth and civilised up to around seven grand when all hell seemed to break loose and it went like crazy up to max revs. The brakes and handling (aided by Konis and Roadrunners) were both good. This was a fun bike. The bike could also be used for commuting in London, it ticked over cleanly and reliably, had some useful low speed power and even returned 43mpg.
On a tour of Ireland the bike found its true home in the mountain roads around Cork and Kerry, it just seemed to want to go quicker and quicker and averaged 50mpg. Sometimes, the curves would suddenly tighten, but all the RD required was a touch of the powerful front brake and to lean into the corner a little more. Its nimbleness and flickability made riding these mountain roads sheer exhilaration.
The thrash back down the motorway ended in the main. bearings disintegrating at 90mph, the motor just went slower and slower and then seized. Thank God for the RAC. A £30 used bottom end had me back on the road PDQ. The bike had done 6000 miles with that crankshaft slop so I didn't feel too hard done by.
Shortly afterwards, I bought a complete bike for spares for £20, which helped keep me on the road for the next couple of years. I eventually sold the Yam for £120 when a used Guzzi V50 became available - don‘t say it.