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Small Things In Small Packages: 1986 Yamaha FZR250

Looking to get into sportbikes, but thinking maybe a used GSX-R1000 is a bit much? And maybe a Ninja 250 looks and sounds a bit too cheap, and is maybe a bit too common? Well this rare little gem of a Yamaha FZR250 might just be the ticket!

1986 Yamaha FZ250 L Side

Made between 1986-1988 with a shrieking 250cc four-cylinder that redlined at 17,000 rpm and managed to punch out 45hp, this may have been small-displacement, but it offered very real performance. Later models were designated the FZR250R and got Yamaha’s EXUP valve. These were originally intended for the Japanese market only, but some of these have managed to find their way overseas.

1986 Yamaha FZ250 Clocks

From the original eBay listing: 1986 Yamaha FZR250 for Sale

This is a very rare 86 FZR250, probably only a handful in the states, and fewer with a CA title. Cosmetically it is not perfect, but mechanically is very solid, it has had a very thorough going through and it carburates beautifully and runs like a sewing machine. Recent oil change and coolant, and last week just did fork seals and fresh brake fluid front and rear.

Please look at the pictures closely and email or call with any questions. This is a rare Japanese model not imported in the states.

Major flaws are a poor paint job, small rip in pax seat, slightly faded switchgear and it is sporting older rubber. All of these things are easily sorted! You can buy cheap Chinese painted kits or spend a little time and money and make it very nice. This is an incredibly rare grey bike that needs a new home, and it is a bit out of place in my Honda collection.

Very original, will be an easy clean up and restore or even ride as is. Please check out the pics closely and let me know if you need more or of any other part of the bike not pictured.

This bike is not in perfect condition, but should clean up nicely. It’s obviously been down on the left side at some point, but it looks like a decent new paint job on the fairings would get you close to where you’d want to be. The original listing does include some very clear, high-resolution images so you can get a good feel for what you’re getting into. And while you should always be careful with a grey-market bike, that CA title and registration goes a long way toward increasing buyer confidence concerning this machine.

1986 Yamaha FZ250 R Side Fairing

While 45hp may not sound like all that much, it’s also nothing to sneeze at and should allow for a rider to exploit all of the bike’s power with minimal fear of it biting back. It’s not a “starter bike” — it’s a bike to learn about serious cornering, one you can grow into with time and experience, not simply use as a stepping stone to bigger bikes.

And experienced riders could keep this thing pinned basically all the time. As the saying goes: “It’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than it is to ride a fast bike slow…”

1986 Yamaha FZ250 Dash

It is truly a shame that in the US, a 600cc supersport bike is considered a “learner”. Sportbikes of any displacement are far from ideal bikes for beginners in the first place. Their tall silhouette allows for maximum lean on track, but makes it hard to put your feet down flat. They can be reasonably comfortable on the move, but you’re perched over the bars, feet tucked up under you, making them very awkward to maneuver at low speeds, and limited steering lock just makes things worse. And modern 600’s make well north of 100hp, power that no first-time rider should have access to, combined with handling far beyond what a new rider can exploit.

We’re breeding generations of motorcyclists who have had the crutch of speed to hide very limited riding skills. Having been to a few bike nights frequented by the sportbike crowd, I can safely say the skill level of the Cephalopoda inexperius or Common Road Squid found all over the United States is very, very low. If they’d learned on something like this Yamaha FZR250 instead of Hayabusas, that might not be the case


1986 Yamaha FZ250 L Side Rear


  • Hey Tad,
    Completely agree with your sentiment about learning and basic skills. My son earned his license in NJ riding around a parking lot over one weekend!. I was so concerned, we rented two Honda 250s on vacation in Barbados of all places and he and I rode around and around and around to get basic on road skills. Now my daughter has license too, and we’re using my son’s Ducati Monster to give her the road experience! I tried to borrow/rent and smaller bike but they don’t exist! Where are the 125cc bikes I learned on!

    • Hey, some more Jersey folks! You guys ever make it down to NJ Motorsports Park? Glad you didn’t mind my soapbox: it really should be much harder to get your license in the US. My buddy took his MSF course with a kid who IMMEDIATELY went out and bought a Hayabusa, which he soon dumped in a parking lot mishap. Wanna guess if he still rides? Honestly, I feel like it’s in our best interest to push for more stringent requirements: better riders should hopefully equal greater safety and more legitimacy for our sport/hobby.

      As a Monster owner, I can say that limited steering-lock is still a total pain, but the 600/620 version certainly won’t intimidate with power, and the low seat height can be great for smaller riders, although it makes things cramped for me! Most “learner bikes” are pretty cheaply made, but keep an eye out for that KTM 390RC if it ever makes it to the US. At least the big manufacturers are updating their small bike offerings to look a little less cheap!

    • Sorry to hijack the thread a little Tad, but I learned on the exact opposite of this bike … a old TW200 a farm kid friend of mine had. Man that thing took a lot of abuse!

  • heh…Cephalopoda inexperius…

  • I had an ’89 when I lived in Japan. Put an Over slip-on on it, well, because I was young and wanted it louder. The bike is seriously fun–listening to the engine scream is great. Actually, that’s the best part and you need to do it a LOT. The EXUP sweeps through its range every time you start it up, and if you disconnect the connector at the right time you can have the exhaust completely open and it’s surprisingly loud. Yes, I was a stupid kid.
    And I’ve got a bridge for you if you think it has an actual 45hp. My Hawk has slightly more than that but the FZR is nowhere near this number. I think you’ll need a derestricter and valve work, if not a bore to get that much hp.
    You may have issues finding good rubber choices for this bike–I remember back in the day there wasn’t good support for it.

  • I wish someone would make a 6 cylinder 250 for the street.

  • Funny story.. Went to DMV when I was a kid to get my MC license (25+ years ago), failed the test on my ZX7 as I couldnt get the damn thing to keep the front wheel in the circle. I was club racing at WSMC, throughout the canyons…etc so a pretty good rider but damned if I could keep that front tire in the lines. Borrowed a female friends FZR (it was tiny…may have been a 400 or 250).

    Anyway, had this large guy basically laugh at me when I took the test for the 2nd time and passed on this thing. I stuck around, watched him fail miserably on his Full Dress Harley but tried not to laugh as he was an easy 300 Lbs. I went in to get my photo taken, he taps me on the shoulder and offered $200 to let him ride the FZR the next day! It was awesome, only wish I had a picture! Great thing is, the extra 200 paid for a weekend at Button Willow which was a big deal as that bike took every $ I had!!! HAHA

  • Good story Adam. I took my test on my friends 250 kawi 2 stroke to ensure that I passed. My 750 Bonneville probably would have been ok but at 17 I did’nt want to take any chances.

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