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Rare Middle-Child: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 3MA for Sale

1989 TZR250 R Side

If you wanted a lightweight backroad weapon decorated with speedblock graphics in the late 80s and early 90s, your choice was clear: a Yamaha TZR250. The first TZR was powered by a liquid-cooled parallel twin and the last had the familiar 90° v-twin layout shared with Aprilia, Suzuki, and Honda.

1989 TZR250 L Side Rear

In between, Yamaha’s 1989-1990 3MA version of the TZR used an unusual reversed-cylinder configuration that had the carburetors mounted on the front of the engine, giving the exhausts a clear shot up under the seat and out the tail-section, avoiding expansion-chamber clearance issues. As can be seen from the photos, this left the airbox mounted low behind the front wheel.

1989 TZR250 L Side Bare

Backed by a six-speed gearbox and mounted in a classic Deltabox frame, the complete package made 50hp, depending on tune and weighed in at 308lbs wet.

1989 TZR250 R Side Front

This particular example has been well-used, with 16,000 miles on the clock, and does have some minor wear-and-tear, but is extremely clean with the fairings off, as can be seen from the photos.

1989 TZR250 R Side Bare

From the original eBay listing: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 3MA

It’s raining really hard today but I wanted to get some pics anyway. I rode it to a nearby park and got some shots.

Brake calipers need to be rebuilt, wheels could use new paint, some cracks in the plastics, need tires and a battery. The gas tank is almost perfect inside and out, titled in my name in Washington. I sell my bikes the way I want to buy bikes. With all the original parts weather they’re in need of repair or not. I do not like to swap out parts unless they are NOS and for the exact model. They’re only original once and once a bunch of things have been changed they no longer have value to me.

Please look closely at the pictures for condition. Bikes runs great but it’s a two stroke with 16,000 miles on it so I do not put any guarantee of any type on it.

1989 TZR250 Clocks

The seller also includes a short video of the bike being started and a quick walk-around. As you can see, the bike has some scuffs from use, but it otherwise looks very nice, and most importantly, it looks ready to run.

1989 TZR250 R Side Rear

With a Buy It Now of $5,000 and a street-legal title, this is a pretty cool opportunity to pick up an unusual little road-ripper for pretty cheap. Sourcing parts for this unusual middle-child TZR could prove a bit of a pain, but well worth the effort.


1989 TZR250 L Side


  • Talk about literally “rode hard and put away wet”!

  • that exhaust system is smexy as hell

  • Too bad 95% of the parts are nla new for this model tzr250.

  • O.K. which one of you 250cc smoker fans picked this up?

  • There is a reason that this engine configuration only lasted 2 model years…reliability. The exhaust side of the pistons had above average wear rates and the crank was also suspect after 10K. Nice garage queen or collector, less great as a rider.

  • Actually the reverse cylinder layout was an answer to excessive piston wear and failure with large modern intake ports. The exhaust side of the cylinder is full and supportive. The thrust of the piston on upstroke (at the bottom of the stroke when the rod angle is acute) pushes the piston into the intake port on a conventional forward facing cylinder with standard forward rotating crankshaft (any motor without a pilot shaft). By reversing the cylinder orientation, Yamaha sent the piston thrust into the full skirt, allowing a much bigger intake port with improved reliability.

    • As always, thanks for chiming in Rick. From what little I could glean from the interwebs, the 3MA has a reputation for being fickle, but actual owners seem to disagree. Wouldn’t be the first time! Now parts availability might be a different story… Regardless, a really cool little bike, and nice to see with the fairings off to get a good look at the pipes and airbox setup.

    • Improved reliability was not my experience with my1990 3MA SP. I think the culprit may have been exhaust temps. I thought the reverse cylinder configuration trapped heat behind the engine. The underside of the air box, the frame rails and the case kind of made a little oven with no real air management attempted on Yamaha’s part. That said, the first indicator of crank wear is decreased piston life. “Fresh Top End” is a red flag for me in any 2 stroke ad.
      That bike was blessed with fantastic handling. Once the front forks were dialed in, one could “flick it” with abandon.

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