A Tale of 250
It was the best of times, it was the best of times.
For years I've wanted a DR350. I also like the DRZ-400, but the 350 is appealing because of the air-cooled engine and relative simplicity. Circumstances deposited a few extra dollars in my motorcycle fund, and I found myself shopping for a small dual sport. There weren't enough extra dollars for a DRZ, so I was looking at Yamaha XT225s. On the Adventure Rider website I found this DR250. Until then, I didn't realize that there was such a thing. It turns out that for a spell in the mid 1990s, Suzuki made a 250 version of their DR350, and the bikes are very similar.
Here's the story of bringing it home:
That was back in April, 2011. Since then I've been having a great time with the bike. Here are a few stories about working on it.
Making a great motorcyle better is a slippery slope. I can think of all sorts of things that would make the 250 slightly better, but the monetary investment would be way too high. I've decided that I'm better off just enjoying it for the bike that it is. If I outgrow it, I'll sell it and spend that money to buy a DRZ.
One of the first tasks was to get an understanding of what was in the OEM toolkit. I'd like to add to it, but there's no point in carrying two of the same thing. First, the dimensions. The box itself is about 6.25 inches deep, just over 2.75 inches tall, and 1.5 inches wide. Here's a picture of the contents of my toolkit, which is probably mostly stock:
By my count, it includes wrenches in 8, 10, 12, 14, 17, and 24 mm, plus the spark plug wrench, and the interchangeable screwdriver. The little 8 also has a slot in the middle for valve adjustment or something.
One of my first goals is to be able to fix a flat with tools on the road. While I hope I'll be able to get the tube out without having to remove the wheel, in some cases wheel removal might be necessary. The rear axle requires a 24mm wrench for the nut and a 22mm for the head. The front wheel can come off by removing the small nuts, so that's no problem.
The spark plug that's in there now is a NGK DPR9EA-9, so I'll add one of those to the new kit.
Everyone talks about Jesse's airbox mod for the DR250, so I called Jesse to see if he also recommended it for the 250. I ordered a kit from him with the new jet (137.5 vs Stock 135) and the idle adjustment screw. I also ordered a new air cleaner element, in this case a UNI. I opened up the airbox and found this:
To translate, that's a sticky, gooey mess where the air cleaner was supposed to be. Fortunately the screen in the boot stopped much of it from passing into the carb and cylinder. It took an hour or so for me to clean all of that out of the airbox and boot. Here is the result:
I followed Jesee's directions for removing the plug in the bottom of the carb. It worked just as advertised, as you can see in this picture:
Then I cut the top out of the airbox:
Here's the new needle:
And the new idle mixture adjustment screw:
Here's the new filter installed, as viewed through the new hole in the airbox:
I went for a ride with my neighbor to try it out. The power seems about the same when I measure it unscientifically. The fuel economy has gotten worse though, by about 10%. Here it is at the store by Wilson Creek on the way to Mortimer:
It was time for some new brake pads up front, so here's how I changed them.
I got these linings on Ebay for a reasonable price:
First, I loosened these bolts:
Then I removed the first bolts:
And the first pad came out.
I took a little bit of fluid out of the reservior since it was fairly high:
Then I took the other pad out. Check out the thickness difference between the old and new!
Then I pushed the pistons in to make room for those new thick pads. The level in the reservior did come up a little.
Here the new pads are in place:
And some grease for the pins that the caliper moves on
I tightened those pins back up:
Refilled the reservior, and took a picture of the odometer to document the mileage.
The whole job took 22 minutes, though it would have been quicker if I wasn't taking pictures to document each step.
My next project was to add 12-volt power to the GPS. I started with a power adapter for the Magellan Explorist that was intended to plug into an SAE cigarette lighter jack. I cut open the plug and removed the circuitry, since the DR250 doesn't have a cigarette lighter jack. I soldered a powerlet plug to the input spots on the circuit board and wrapped the whole thing in rescue tape to isolate it environmentally:
That powerlet will plug into the powerlet connector that I usually use for the battery tender. When I'm ready to ride, I disconnect the charger and connect the GPS. I routed the wire up to the handlebars and called it done.
While I was in the shop and had a few of the body pieces off, I also changed the rear turn signals. I ordered the signals from Procycle, along with a new tail light lens, which turned out to be a Yamaha 1M1-84521-60 in case you can find one off of another bike. The new lens is exactly like the original, except that it is white on the bottom, so I could move the license plate up to the fender. I took off that big piece of plastic on the back to save a few pounds and prevent damage to it while riding trails. To move the signals I started by drilling a hole in the side of the tail light housing:
I like the new location. The signals are out of the way and unlikely to be damaged when I set the bike on its side.
Doesn't this look like fun?
It is lots of fun. A few weeks later, I was pulling out of the driveway, and as I accellerated, the back end seemed really loose. I wasn't sure if I had hit a patch of oil, if the axle was loose, or what. I looked back and found the problem- a flat rear tire. This will do it:
This wasn't so much of a setback. I've been wanting to test my roadside tire repair system anyway. I pulled the nail out of the tire, then used the tire irons to get the right side bead off. This gave me enough room to get the tube out, and then patch the hole.
With the first attempt I was able to patch the tube and reinflate the tire with my hand pump in 26 minutes. Little did I know, I was about to get a lot more practice. I've had lots of experience with the old style tube repair kits. They include a tube of goo, and the black and orange patches that are stuck to a foil backing. They have always worked well, but often the glue tube doesn't last very long. When I saw some one-step peel and stick patches at the store I thought that those must be a much better solution. They're sold under the "Slime" brand and come in a very compact package. I used one of these patches in my first repair, then rode on to my next stop. After a few minutes, the back tire was flat again. I thought that maybe I didn't quite cover the old puncture, so I took the tire off of the bead again, and added another patch. Still, the same problem. It would hold air for about 10 minutes, then it would be flat. After a couple of these frustrating iterations, I assembled a bucket of water and tested the entire circumference of the tube, including the valve stem. The air was leaking right at the edge of the green patch. In total, I used 6 of these patches, and in the end, they all leaked. I did some google searching and found that everyone else has the same problem. While it was frustrating to have to go through this many iterations, I'm glad I figured this out close to home and not out in the woods! I used the hand pump on the first inflation just to be sure it worked, but I used the air compressor for subsequent refills. If I had been stuck with pumping the tire back up 6 times I would have been even more frustrated for sure. I procured a few of the old style patch kits, and a new tube, and carried on.
The leaves are very colorful around here right now. While I was flying with Danny over the area south of Grandfather mountain, I was looking down at a network of awesome gravel roads in the National Forest, thinking about how silly it was for me to not be enjoying them more. So I stuck a mount for the gopro camera onto the headlight fairing, stopped at the Subway for lunch, and started the GPS track (which I'll post, once I figure out how to download it from the GPS). The headlight fairing probably isn't the best mount, since it ended up with lots of blurred images from the vibrations. Here are a few pictures:
And my favorite: