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i recently purchased a 1990 yz 250 and have a notion that the bottom end is bad. Is there anything I should listen to, to confirm it with out having to take it apart? 

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You could take off the stator cover and wiggle the flywheel, see of there's any play in it. If there is that's your left side crank shft bearing. You can remove the cylinder and take hold of the rod, move the piston to its highest position and wiggle up and down. If there is any up and down free play there's a bad bearing. I think also if there's a lot of side to side play you might be in trouble but a bit of play is to be expected and fine. Also if you have a dial indicator gauge or want to buy one there is an easier more accurate way to check your crank bearings

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