Project Lowbucks Yamaha YZ250: Cleanup on Wheels and Triple Clamps
Our goal in all of our Project Lowbucks bikes is to buy a bike for little money and turn it into something great to ride and decent to look at. We are not attempting to do a 10-point restoration here; instead we want to end up with an affordable dirt bike that will look good in your garage.
If you go out and shop for a new 250 or 450 MXer, you can pay as much as $8,000-10,000. This is all well and fine if youíre making lots of money, but if youíre like most of us, budgets are tight.
It wasnít that long ago most of us rode reliable two-stroke motorcycles. Back then, you could take a motorcycle and repair the entire top-end for low dollars and do-it-yourself in a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. Then, my friend, you were ready to go riding on Sunday.
What weíre trying to do is make fun riding and racing on dirt bikes within the reach of the average budget. To get the dirt bikes for any of our Project Lowbucks series, we went through Craigslist or the local classifieds. With a little bit of patience, we will come across a decent dirt bike that needs some work, or a bike that started out as a project build and was a little bit beyond the skills of the current owner.
If you use your head and arenít in a hurry, chances are very good that youíll be able to get some sort of a decent bike to start with. Donít get anything strange. Itís all well and fine to have a little bit of fun with an exotic Italian dirt bike, but when it comes time to find parts for it, itís a virtual nightmare.
Instead, look for Japanese two-strokes and look for the more popular models. Consider Yamaha YZs, Suzuki RMs, Honda CRs and Kawasaki KX models. Also, there are a bunch of great bikes in the Enduro line like the Yamaha IT and the fantastic Kawasaki KDX.
Quite often, you can find these bikes not running, with a simple thing like a stuck piston as the culprit. One of our project bikes was a Suzuki RM and all it needed was a set of rings and some small pieces in the power valve setup to get it running again. Total cost to get this bike up and operating was about $100.
If you get an older bike, like something from the mid-70s, itís a good idea to get a beater bike for spare parts. By a beater bike we mean something thatís not really worth fixing up but could be used a good source of parts. You can get a bike like that for very low dollars and itís a good source of nuts, bolts, axles, triple clamps, wheels and a multitude of odds and ends that will keep your other bike running.
One of my friends bought a YZ 250 for $500, spent another $200 make it work right, and bought a beater Yamaha for $100. So for $800, he has a decent vintage racer and a parts bike in reserve.
Reliability? You get something like a 250 stroke thatís 20 years old and you can put hundreds of hours on it before you need a fresh piston. And when you need one, the cost is low, the availability is there and you can do your repairs yourself in a short period of time.
So whatís stopping you from doing your own Project Lowbucks?