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vintage enduro for an old-timer looking to get back?

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Hi,

Love the forum! I am old-timer who is looking to get back into a little dirt-riding. I had an old Yamaha early-70s MX-80 that I rode when I was a kid, in the late 70s, and since I have been riding vintage road bikes (currently my ride is a 1960 BMW R50, but I left it in the US when I moved to London).

Since I have a thing for older bikes, and I like to do my own wrenching, I was thinking of picking up an older enduro. I am currently living in London, and have no car, so it needs to be road-legal. If I can, I was hoping to try out some vintage scrambles.

I was originally thinking of a early 70s XL250, since it has a reputation for reliability, and I am more comfortable tinkering with a 4-stroke, but I have been seeing a bunch of older Yamaha DT175s on ebay.co.uk. I am not sure if the 175 is big enough for me (6', 175lbs.). I have also seen some DT250s, and they seem pretty cool, but they are less common. I would love an Elsinore, but they seem rarer, and more expensive. I have a perverse desire to get a 2-stroke, even though it may be less practical.

My thought is to get something less than 500cc at first, since I haven't been on the dirt since 1982, and I will only ride on the road to get to the trail.

I am more comfortable with Honda and Yamaha because I have had them and know that they are known to be reliable, but I am ready to be pursuaded. Reliability is pretty key, since I have no truck to haul it around if it breaks down somewhere.

Anyway, I appreciate any opinions.

Added - my budget is less than $2000 (US) - London is a crazy expensive town.

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Those MR's were never street-legal, though, were they? Those lights were just for night-enduro riding, yeah? No brake lights, no horn, etc.

It was the MT's that had the full street kit, no?

Still, it might be a fun ride!

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Does anyone have opinions or experience with the DT175? Is it large enough for a 6-footer to ride comfortably? I am guessing that, since it is a 2-stroke, the power is roughly equal to an XL 250.

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Well.... what do you mean comfortably? Like, GoldWing comfort? No, of course not.

Even sport-tourer comfort? No, of course not... :worthy:

Will you look like a circus monkey doing his act? No, I don't think so.

I had a Kawasaki F7 (a contemporary of the DT175) and I'm 5-10, 230 lbs and it would pull me along at 55mph just fine. A regular full-sized bike with 19" front and 18" rear tires. That being said, there wasn't really any room left over for hauling even my then-7 year old son without scootching up on the tank...

Just my two cents, though. :lol:

Kirk

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Those MR's were never street-legal, though, were they? Those lights were just for night-enduro riding, yeah? No brake lights, no horn, etc.

It was the MT's that had the full street kit, no?

Still, it might be a fun ride!

Yep your right about the MR:thumbsup: While Ive never ridden one Ive always heard they had a very Blah power factor but were easily woken up with CR parts. Seems like they are a real hot item lately.

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I've always liked the mid to late seventies Honda XL line up.They are still pretty reasonable price wise,and parts still seem to be plentiful. just my 2 cents....

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The mid to late seventies Honda XL's were not really Enduro bikes although we used to use them for exactly that here in NZ . Personally I'd go with a more modern XR of the RFVC variety. Dunno if I'd get a 250 though as they had a really bad reputation down here for grenading the heads...cracks etc. An 82 older style 79/82 motored single shocker XR/XL would be my go but in the 500 department. or the RFVC version of the same thing. Reliable, fast as a road bike and still pretty good for a bit of trail riding. I wouldn't class them as vintage however even though they are put into this section..

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Will you look like a circus monkey doing his act? No, I don't think so.

Ha Ha! That is exactly what I wanted to know. Thanks!

Also, thanks for the tips on the old XL250s - I will keep an eye out for that issue. I definitely do not want to have to worry about cracking the head.

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Don't be shy of the old big bangers I got off bikes in '83. Got back on a KDX250 two and a half years ago, and have just started riding an '81 XR500R, it's a big ***** and half fast when I get out of the 2 stroke habit of shifting down for corners.

Edit, I meant its a big lazy thing like a fat cat but I got censored

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Forget the vintage Enduros. I tried that when I got back into dirt riding last year and was bored out of my skull in a week.

Then I got a vintage trials bike! Lots of fun, great on the trails, a conversation piece wherever I show up, and lots of fun competitive events for us older guys!

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is there anything that shows up in your local classifieds or eBay that's in your budget? Personally, I'd say get an XL/XT or KE if this forum is any measure, they just run and run. Sure, they have problems, anything 20 years old is going to have something that rots every year, an o-ring here a gasket there, a bushing that's rusted itself to bits.

But since we're not in the UK, I think telling us (or at least me) stuff that is available would be helpful.

How about an XL185? You want more power, throw an XR200-ish motor and it all works like it was supposed to go together. I don't see too many of those though.

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I'd like to clear something up:: The 79/82 or earlier motored XL/XR's did not have a reputation for cracking or exploding heads. The model that had that reputation was the RFVC 250 which runs from 83 upwards. .Nothing wrong with the earlier motors. None of the other RFVC's had the problem or the rep of the 250.

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I would be interested on opinions on these two. They are a little later than I had in mind (especially the XT), but they seem pretty clean. They XL is beautiful, and may go for a lot more money.

1 pound = $1.6

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/1984-YAMAHA-xt-400-WHITE_W0QQitemZ230352899750QQ

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/honda-xl-250-trail-bike_W0QQitemZ110408862885QQ

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Well, I don't think you'd go wrong with either of them, except not fulfilling your 2-stroke needs... :worthy:

The XL is the older, bullet-proof design. No worries a'tall there.

I had a similar XT, only slightly newer, and a 600. They never sold that 400 here in the US. Nice bike. Ran great.

As I say, I don't think you'd go wrong for trail plonking and having a great time with either of 'em...

Kirk

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I'd like to clear something up:: The 79/82 or earlier motored XL/XR's did not have a reputation for cracking or exploding heads. The model that had that reputation was the RFVC 250 which runs from 83 upwards. .Nothing wrong with the earlier motors. None of the other RFVC's had the problem or the rep of the 250.

I never heard about the 250's having any issues with head cracking, but the RFVC 200's certainly did. Search around the Honda sub-forum on this very Thumpertalk site, and you'll see plenty of references to the problem. The non-RFVC 200's have been dead reliable for the last 20+ years in that department...

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I understand being comfortable with Honda's and Yami's, but I have heard that the Suzuki TS series were pretty popular on that side of the pond? We have owned several of them, 90-250cc and have all proved dead reliable and still have the 2 stroke snarl. My 56 year old father still rides his 185 and keeps up with everybody we ride with, I have quite a bit of fun on it too.

I currently ride a 2 valve Honda and am a bit larger than you, so I hope the circus wont be calling soon.

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The Suzuki TS was a good bike as far as I know. There's a guy on here who rebuilt one, but for the life of me, I don't remember who he is.

I'm sure he can tell you the short comings of the TS.

Well, I don't think you'd go wrong with either of them, except not fulfilling your 2-stroke needs... :worthy:

The XL is the older, bullet-proof design. No worries a'tall there.

I had a similar XT, only slightly newer, and a 600. They never sold that 400 here in the US. Nice bike. Ran great.

As I say, I don't think you'd go wrong for trail plonking and having a great time with either of 'em...

Kirk

One note, the XT400 uses the same CDI as the XT550 and 600, which has a tendency to self destruct. (by tendency, I mean it will guaranteed at some point fail and fail miserably.) Plan on getting another CDI at some point in the bike's life. From yamaha, they run about $500, there are aftermarket ones and DIY ones which are significantly cheaper. Aftermarket is $150 and DIY runs from $20 up.

I've only ridden my XT550 and the only complaint I have is the brakes leave much to be desired. Yamaha could have made that a perfect machine for it's purpose and year if they'd only slapped a front disk brake on it. My XT will run 85 mph, climb damn near anything, handles awesome on/off road for being a DS bike, gets decent gas mileage and so far, has been easy to work on.

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I may be showing my age here - but what is a CDI?

As for the 2-stroke vs. 4-stroke: how much power difference is there, really, between bikes of comparable displacement, in the 1970-1980 time frame?

Thanks for all the responses so far - I feel encouraged!

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