Posts by tag: reverse head

Yamaha August 7, 2018 posted by

One-Eighty: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 3MA for Sale

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Yamaha TZR250 3MA for sale, and the bike is both very rare and also a sportbike, so we’re posting this one, even though it isn’t in perfect condition. I’m a huge fan of this particular iteration of the TZR, because of course I’m a fan of the weird, slightly less-than-successful version of any bike. With competition very fierce in the 250cc sportbike class and specifications so similar, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, and occasionally Kawasaki were all looking for a competitive advantage. The bikes all had aluminum beam frames, liquid-cooled two-stroke twins, and power valves to boost midrange. Light weight meant incredible agility and the triple disc brakes were almost overkill for the 300lb machines.

Although two-stroke engines are very compact, routing the bulky de rigueur expansion chambers meant design compromises: the typical quarter-liter solution meant asymmetrical “banana” style swingarms that looked cool and allowed the expansion chambers to tuck in close to the centerline and maximize cornering clearance, but added weight.

Yamaha had a different idea. Why not flip the cylinders of their parallel twin around 180° so that the carburetors were at the front and the exhausts exited toward the rear? Since two-strokes lack camshafts or valvetrain, this was pretty simple to do for the 3MA version, and meant there were no worries routing the exhaust and expansion chambers around the bike’s lower half. Instead, they went straight back and out through the tail, creating a slight bulge in panels just below the seat.

The concept was sound but the bike was produced for just two years and is generally considered a failure, although its reputation for mechanical unreliability is apparently a bit of an exaggeration. It was light and handled brilliantly, but the reversed-cylinders offered no real advantage. A failed experiment, the bike was only officially sold in Japan, although the bike did find its way to parts of Europe as a parallel import.

This little TZR is a complete machine and appears to be original, but is a little scruffy around the edges, although it’s hard to tell from the pics. I’m seeing the typical corrosion and discoloration you’d expect on a Japanese bike of this era, especially one that likely spent it’s first few years in the salt air of its homeland.

From the original eBay listing: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 3MA for Sale

1989 Yamaha TZR 250 3MA, no reserve
New tires, chain and sprockets, carbs rebuilt, fresh service
Very low kilometers, runs good, aftermarket exhaust chambers, bodywork is OEM
I can send running video, call me or text me 954-809-8596
My name is Mike

Hi, Mike! This isn’t my favorite color combo for this bike, but you can’t go wrong with basic black. The $5,500 opening bid is probably in the ball park, but I wonder what the reserve is. TZRs are rare, but seem to generally be less desirable than NSRs. Personally I love the look and general weirdness of the 3MA, but there was no performance advantage for the backwards cylinders, and I’ve read that parts are harder to source than for earlier parallel twins or later 3XV v-twin TZRs. Basically, it’s a cool bike, but it’s the oddity and style that appeal most, and this one is a runner, but in need of a bit of cosmetic TLC.

-tad

One-Eighty: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 3MA for Sale
Yamaha April 26, 2017 posted by

Hat on Backwards: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 3MA for Sale

Competition between the Japanese manufacturers in the 250cc sportbike class was fierce, with each trying for some small advantage in terms of performance, given the limited displacement and government-mandated power cap. On paper, they all seem to follow a pretty standard template: a compact two-stroke twin cylinder engine, power-valves of one sort or another, and an aluminum beam frame. But each manufacturer went their own way trying to maximize performance within those fairly narrow parameters. While development eventually led to the NSR, RGV, and TZR all using v-twins, there were a few experiments along the way, and today’s TZR250 3MA represents an interesting attempt to solve the packaging issues inherent in two-stroke design.

Obviously, two-stroke engines are very compact by nature: with no overhead-valves or cams, they’re short, simple, and very light. But while the exhaust expansion chambers required for a performance two-stroke may not weigh all that much, their bulging shape takes up valuable real estate in a motorcycle. The famous “gull arm” swingarms of the period were one solution to the problem and allowed the chambers to tuck in close to the centerline of the bike to maximize cornering clearance. But the 3MA version of the TZR250 went a different route by reversing the cylinders so that the carburetors were at the front, with the exhausts exiting directly out the rear of the bike instead of curving around the sides or underneath. The bulbous expansion chambers fitted neatly into the seat, with the exhaust exiting through the tail.

The design was eventually replaced by the v-twin 3XV version introduced in 1991 after just two years, so the experiment can be considered a bit of a failure. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea, and this is one of my favorite bikes of the era, at least in terms of looks and the weird factor: it’s my deep and not-so-secret shame that I haven’t ridden one yet, but here’s hoping that the stars will align and I’ll be able to find a decent California-titled example when the time is right. Scouting around the message boards, it seems that the bike’s reputation for poor reliability is exaggerated but, as these were not often seen anywhere outside of Japan, parts availability will prove difficult.

From the original eBay listing:  1989 Yamaha TZR250 3MA for Sale

The parallel twin reverse cylinder version. The bike is imported from Japan. Not registered yet in the U.S. This bike is sold without title. (NO TITLE) Start engine. Original Cowl. New Aftermarket Front fork innre tubes. Dragging brakes. Need to change tires (flat tire) and a battery. Some scratches and rust, so look carefully all pictures and video. This motorcycle is 28 years ago. Sold as is.

11271km (7003mile) LOW MILE. Sold as is with NO warranty NO refunds NO return. Buyer responsible for vehicle pick-up or shipping to your location. (ITEM AT CARSON NOW)

There’s also a helpful clip of the bike starting, running, and revving. The seller’s English is a bit limited, but it looks like the bike runs from the video and just needs a little TLC: a brake rebuild, new tires, and some minor cosmetic issues. Normally nothing you’d find shocking in a 28 year old motorcycle, but make sure you’re prepared to troll eBay and use Google Translate to track down parts to keep this running. It’s certainly not pristine and it’s not the cleanest example we’ve featured on this site, but if the price is right, it won’t take all that much to get this one on the road. Obviously, the usual titling issues apply, so I doubt this bike will remain in Southern California.

-tad

Hat on Backwards: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 3MA for Sale
Yamaha August 17, 2016 posted by

I Come In Pieces: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 for Sale

1989 Yamaha TZR250 R Side

If you’re looking to import a rare and unusual vehicle that was never intended for the US market into the country like today’s Yamaha TZR250, there are a few ways to go about it. Some of these desirable machines can be found in Canada, and others can be found already here in the US, imported at some point in the last 25 years by one means or another. These days, there are a number of people bringing in little smokers by the container-load, buying up bikes that are relatively ordinary in Japan and shipping them across the Pacific to two-stroke-starved US buyers. If all else fails, you can simply browse the internet and buy all the parts you’d need to build one in your own garage, one bit at a time. Which is what the seller of today’s bike appears to have done.

1989 Yamaha TZR250 L Side Rear

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Japanese Big Four were competing for sales in the hotly-contested 250 two-stroke class. Specifications were very similar on paper and performance advantages could be razor-thin, with the RGV, NSR, TZR, and the occasional KR all fighting for a slice of the pie. Early on, parallel-twins were the most common configuration, although later bikes shifted towards v-twins. Yamaha eventually followed suit with their TZR250 3XV but, for a couple of years, they experimented with an unconventional reverse-cylinder layout in their 3MA.

1989 Yamaha TZR250 R Side Front

Reverse-cylinder engines claim a number of performance advantages, although the reality is that actual gains are very minimal. The main goal in the 3MA appears to have been packaging: two-stroke exhausts require bulging expansion chambers for optimal performance, and wrapping them around engines and behind fairings and underneath swingarms can be a packaging nightmare. In the TZR 3MA’s case, the expansion chambers are tucked up neatly under the rider to exit through the tail section, avoiding cornering clearance and swingarm fouling problems, in addition to saving some weight and any ram-air benefits the bike might have seen from mounting the carbs at the front of the engine.

1989 Yamaha TZR250 L Side

The 3MA TZR’s handling was supposedly excellent, and the little twin made good power compared to its rivals. Unfortunately, the bike quickly developed a reputation for being very unreliable compared to the RGV and NSR, although I’ve read comments in various two-stroke forum threads claiming that they’re no worse than any other bike in the class. There’s really nothing here an experienced two-stroke rider wouldn’t expect, so the main concern with the 3MA is limited parts availability, although eBay and Google can likely provide most of what you need if you have a little patience.

From the original eBay listing: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 for Sale

I have for sale a 1989 Yamaha TZR250 with a 3MA20 engine, wiring harness and ECU but a 00 clutch and top end. We did NOT import this bike whole but spent about 5 yrs getting parts and pieces for from all over the world to make this a complete running/racing bike. This bike was not sold in the US but can be titled here for street use or raced in Vintage Roadracing classes through a number of organizations.

She is a two stroke streetbike that was issued in Japan for street use or roadracing. She is about 95% complete, starts and runs (have even tested it around the streets of Indy). Doghouse shown in pictures is the only new piece of freshly painted bodywork on the bike ~ I have everything else to install still but have not yet since she wasn’t completely built but could be tested this way and if anything happened, the new bodywork would still be pristine. I have a Japanese title and registration for her. I have the paperwork for Indiana BMV to assign a new VIN # to her and issue a Indiana title for her. Things still needing done ~ Rear brake caliper is leaking and needs replacing (I put in a rebuild kit and it still leaks ~  it needs replacing). Windscreen is not the proper one and too small for the bike ~ got tired of dealing with the supplier I was working with. Custom painted bodywork needs to be fitted to bike but have all pieces ~ front fender and doghouse already installed ~ seat, side panels and rears need to be installed. You can keep the old bodywork on her too. Wheels freshly powder coated white. New tires just put on last year.

Currently oil tank is not connected due to trying to keep the gas tank from rusting any further by using oil/fuel mixed in the fuel tank. A dust seal on LH Fork needed. Like I said, some minor things need finishing that I just can’t do or afford right now. Just one hell of a bike. I will try to post a video of her starting and running. Contact us with any questions. This is also listed locally on Craigslist. Whenever it sells, the ads will be removed from both Ebay and Craigslist.

1989 Yamaha TZR250 L Side Front
The seller also includes a video of the bike starting and running. It’s great that this TZR is here and I’ve developed a real fascination with this particular model. These reverse-cylinder bikes were a bit of a failure in practice, but they’re very cool and, for some insane reason I’ve put the 3MA on my wish list. But importing a bike in pieces seems to absolutely be the most difficult way to go about purchasing a TZR250. The question is: since these are being regularly imported these days from Japan and elsewhere, why go through the trouble to bring one in in pieces? A noble endeavor, but that’s a pretty big hassle. Did the seller begin the project before that was commonly done? Was he avoiding import taxes on a complete machine, or planning to title it as a “kit bike”? The seller does mention that he has Japanese paperwork for the bike, so I’d imagine it be just as easy, or just as difficult to get the bike registered, depending on where you live.

-tad

1989 Yamaha TZR250 Fairing Panels

I Come In Pieces: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 for Sale