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Suzuki TS125
Suzuki TS125-R. This was my first bike, a 125 two-stroke off-road styled bike. Its off-road capabilities were limited, but it could handle most terrain. Limited to 12bhp in line with the UK learner laws it is easily derestricted by removing a connector to enable the powervalve and removing a restricting ring in the exhaust. The bike had street-legal knobblies as standard and adjustable suspension, as well as street paraphenalia such as indicators, head lamp, stop lamp, horn, speedo etc. The picture isn`t of mine, in fact a completely different colour. The TS R was not available in some countries with more stringent pollution laws.
Suzuki DR350

Suzuki DR350 . My second. After passing my test and legally able to ride anything I purchased this. A dual-sport bike, but quite good off road. Plenty of torque, but heavier than a two stroke. The bike proved pretty reliable, and able to tackle street and dirt very well. A true all rounder. My bike was a 1994 model and had a kickstart rather than the newer electric start. It took a while to get used to the decompressor! I prefer kicks to electric starts anyway, much safer and lighter. The picture isn`t of mine but is similar.

Husquvarna WR250

Husquvarna WR-250 After the DR was stolen 🙁 I bought this. A true off-road 2-stroke bike. This bike was incredible fun off road and not that bad on road, even though the motocross tyres tend to skip on corners. The power delivery wasn`t that smooth, but the kick was controllable. This bike is quite a culture shock compared to the DR but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. It was a 1998 model, registered for the road but was barely legal. Pure off-road, no indicators, battery, legal tyres etc. Eventually it started to die, the bike wasn`t meant for day to day use, mainly competion. I soon found the worst thing about owning a Husqvarana – parts and prices. The bottom end went, needed a new conrod kit and piston kid and had to get the crank split. Then the swinging arm started to crack and the electrics died. I part exchange it, for a…

Yamaha XT600

Yamaha XT-600. The bike was older than any other I owned, 1984 or thereabouts and an italian import. Old styling, old performance, but not that bad actually. The XTs are known for reliability and being solid rather than exciting, but I quite like it. Fully road legal. Off road it is a heavy beast, but it can cope. On road it can go all day. Then the problems started. Firstly there was an oil leak, that I wasn`t too worried about. Then my chain snapped and cracked the engine. New bottom end in, but some casing holes were threaded so I tried helicoiling them. In the end I cracked the holes open. Eventually I bought new cases from a secondhand XT dealer but didn`t get around to fixing the bike due to my total lack of mechanical skill and my refusal to pay someone else to do it. It ended up being sold as a basket case.

Suzuki RM250

Suzuki RM-250. A full motocrosser. Took a bit of getting used to. The power on these isn`t easy to control, as it comes in the powerband quite viciously. A nice rush when it does though! This a 95 model bike. Not well recieved. One downer – my first proper ride out on it I was going fast downhill, hit a bump, went flying through the air. The bike seemed ok, but I dislocated my shoulder. Pretty painful and off bikes for a few months 🙁 This bike has now been sold. I doubt I`ll ever buy a full motocrosser again but if I do it will be something a little kinder. It’s also one of the few that I sold on without too much of a loss!

CCM 250

CCM 250. This is another weird one – a handmade british bike that houses a Bombardier (Rotax) engine last seen in the CanAms. CCM, formerly Armstrong, originally made army bikes (which had a similar engine) but now make 600cc+ supermotos etc. My bike had drum brakes back and front, strange for a `91 bike. It was road legal, but something was wrong and it didn’t run properly. The engines are supposedly pretty strong and torquey, with an impressive mid-range. The rest of the bike was pretty good, white power shock, hand-welded frame etc. You can probably guess that things started to go wrong. I never had full power from the bike, and little things like a damaged kickstart shaft were nuisances but I could live with them (even the annoying habit of the kick falling off resulting in a trek along the mountains to find it…) It finally comitted suicide when it seized on me. By then the shock had no fluid in it so the bike was springy and it was sold on as a dead bike. Unfortunately it’s hard to find information on this bike and the person I bought it off died not long after.

Suzuki DR350 Enduro

Suzuki DR350 #2. This is my current bike. While looking for a new bike after the CCM died I found this. I reasoned that out of all my bikes I had most fun on the old DR, and it was one of the only ones that didn`t break. I quite like this. Firstly, its the Enduro model so it has a different shock and carb and is much lighter. To me it seems much more powerful than my old one. The only thing against it is that it’s a road-registered offroad bike so it’s on a Q plate, meaning I could only get 3rd-party only insurance for it. Now that the DR400 is out there are quite a few DR350s available from riders who traded up. I`d recommend them to anyone. Good offroad and on, true dual-purpose, pretty light and not too bad on fuel. And they’re STRONG! With my record on bikes I like something that lasts. Of course mine has a few problems, theres an oil leak in a little pipe and I`ve lost the speedo cable and the compressions down and the tappets need doing but it still runs ok. Watch this space…

Suzuki PE250

I`ve owned a couple of other bikes that haven`t run or at least not much. Firstly, an XT600 Tenere. Similar to the XT I had, but a paris-dakar replica styling with a big tank. Currently parts are swapped between the two XT`s. I also owned a KX500 once, which I bought in parts and never run properly, so I swapped it for a PE-250 (theres one in the picture). This one was interesting, a vintage suzuki enduro bike, but that never run properly either. Not much luck with bikes 🙂 One last bike is a KX420 , another old motocrosser that I swapped that Tenere for. This was running okish, but really needed a new piston, or at least rings. It was fitted with a wheel off the XT.

Others Bikes

Yamaha DT125 DT50

Yamaha DT50/DT125. Lee’s first bikes, the first two steps up the UK learner ladder. The DT50 is a small bore trail/play bike, the DT125 a well known off road bike, but not fully, as he found out when a jump collapsed his back wheel 🙂 The DT125 can be derestricted by either fitting a powervalve motor if it doesn`t have one or simply opening it all the way, as his was, giving the quirky riding style of no-power then all-power. Interesting way to ride. The picture is of Rob’s bike.

Kawasaki KDX200

Kawasaki KDX200 SR. This is the japan spec KDX. The KDX is a much respected enduro/play machine. Almost anyone you talk to will say good things about it. The 200cc is a bit underpowered compared to the 250 motocrossers but the bike is easily capable of tackling most things. There is hardly anything bad to say about this bike. Unfortunately, it was stolen. The picture isn`t his but very similar. I wouldn`t mind one of these myself.

Honda CRM250

Honda CRM250. Apart from owning a Bandit 400 street bike this was Lees second proper trail bike. The CRM is an enduro bike modelled around the famous CR crosser. This bike had all lights and other street parts and luxuries such as a cold starting system, two stroke reservoir and pump etc. Pretty well specced for an enduro bike it could tackle anything, and had smooth power thanks to its powervalve system. This was a MK3 CRM. Unfortunately this was stolen as well.

Kawasaki KLX650

Kawasaki KLX 650. This is a big dual sport machine, well specced and has good reviews. The KLX is fully road legal yet can handle most off-road tracks (with the right tyres). The bike is pretty heavy. The KLX has a motocross inspired frame and has one of the best suspension systems of any big-bore trailie. Lees bike had a new exhaust system, letting more of that 4 stroke torque free :).

Kawaski KLX250

Kawaski KLX 250. Lee sold his 650 to buy a 250. Some may think thats a strange thing to do, but Lee had his reasons. Mainly the 250 is a lot lighter and better offroad. To look at the 250 apart from its size it resembles its bigger brother quite a lot. The KLX 250 is an imported bike, its apparently a little different to the UK version as it has altered porting and a wider range gearbox. In a similar story to the DR400/DR350 the arrival of the KLX 300 meant a lot more 250s were available. A four-stroke 250 will never make great amounts of power but light weight makes up for it and its not far off the DR350, but runs much more smoothly.

Kawasaki KX250

Kawasaki KX250. This is a a full motocross bike. Lightweight, powerful, fast – just like most crossers I suppose. A bit more torquey than my RM and it`s pretty standard and in good condition, but not road legal… Guess that`s why he sold it!.
No more from Lee`s collection left, so I`ll mention a few others bikes.

KTM 125

KTM 125. This bike belongs to Chris. It`s a 125 2-stroke enduro bike, fully road legal. KTM`s are nice bikes and this one is no exception. Imported into this country it`s registered V but is a 97 model. The KTM pulls well for a 125 and handles excellently due to the marzochi forks and ohlins shock.

So… what now?

After the offroad bikes I had a few years away from motorcycles, then came back into the fold with a Suzuki Bandit 1200. A powerful, torquey beast that I managed to crash on a bend, breaking my collarbone in the process 🙁 Not a good start to road bikes!

There’s nowhere really to ride off-road in the local area any more. The police now have a dedicated off-road bike team (on honda XR400’s last time I saw them) and riding in the countryside is a big no-no. So it’s road bikes for now.

At the moment I have a Triumph Sprint, a 995c triple-cylinder road bike, a so-called sports-tourer really. Easy to ride, and something I’m comfortable with.