Perhaps the prettiest of all the later 2-T twins. And this one really is pretty
Some people yearn for one particular bike for most of their adult lives. Jason Staunton from Ireland, now of Liverpool, is one of them
MY FIRST BIKE was a Suzuki RG80, when I was 16-17 in the West of Ireland, and a guy I knew had one of these,” the now 34-year-old Jason tells PS, gesturing to the glorious, recently-restoredyam taking pride of place in his garage alongside a DR-Z400 SM ‘daily driver’ and his missus’s GN125. “I just fell in love with it and said one day I’d want to restore one.” The machine he’s referring to with such affection is, of course, yamaha’s exquisite but short-lived TZR250R ‘3MA’. Better known as the ‘reverse-cylinder’, the two-stroke, twin pot GP replica that was, in 1989, the successor to the original, more conventional 2MA (1KT in Japan) and which in turn was succeeded by the V-twin 3XV in 1992 beforeyamaha ceasedtzr250 production in 1996.
But while that first 2MA became a common sight in the UK both on road and track, the 3MA and 3XV were Japan-only jewels that only ever visited Blighty as grey imports.that, and the fact that each is an exquisite, road-going doppelgänger, from engine configuration to styling, ofyamaha’s GP 250s of the day, makes them now about as desirable 250 GP replicas get – right up with the very best Honda NSRS.
For Jason, however, the 3MA, ever since those impressionable days inwest Ireland, was ‘the one’. “It’s just kind of the uniqueness of it,” he says today. “The carbs out the front, the cans out the rear...”
Wanting specifically a project to rebuild rather than a finished bike, Jason’s search took quite a while. “Eventually I came across
one on ebay about two years ago, bought it blind from somewhere in Kent, and had it delivered up here.”
If he’d inspected it in person he might have realised it was a bit of a mess. “It had been off the road since 1993, the tank was blue, the powervalves were held together with nails and it didn’t have brakes,” Jason remembers. On the plus side, though, it was largely complete and he paid just £1300.
“The guy had had it since ’93 and had been slowly obtaining the bits and loosely assembling it – he more or less had 95 per cent of it.”
Better still – it worked, although it also immediately showed signs of a fault that would taint the whole rebuild.
“When I first got it back I attempted to start it, which it did,” says Jason. “It ran,
and pissed oil out of every powervalve orifice. It ticked over OK – but it was really hesitant to rev.you had to slowly roll the throttle before it would clear and rev freely above 4000rpm. I ran it for a few minutes then started disassembling it.”
After stripping, boxing, bagging, measuring and inspecting pretty much everything, Jason ordered replacement bearings before turning to cleaning and refinishing the chassis.
“To be honest I’m not very pleased with my choice of powdercoater. It’s OK from a distance but not so good close up. He also managed to lose half my rear caliper!”after that Jason went totriple-s (“Who do some very good work”) before he started reassembling with new bearings and so on.
Then he started on that famous reversecylinder twin.
“By that point I hadn’t touched the engine yet. It still had 27 years of corrosion. So I stripped that and did the same.”
Crank runout measured true so Jason changed only the outer bearings and not the centre.while apart he had the cases aquablasted then he turned to the top end.
“There was some damage on the Nikasil liners and a nick in one exhaust port,” says Jason. “And as I mentioned, one of the powervalves was held together with a piece of nail so I needed some powervalve components, too. But I managed to source a set of barrels with complete powervalves on thetzr forum and had them shipped off to thetuningworks in Sleaford.”
The barrels were cleaned and re-nikasiled and the top end was reassembled.then the TZR’S fuelling issue resurfaced.
“I had the carbs aquablasted and replaced all the jets and needles and then, two or three months ago, the day came to start it,” Jason says. “I was quite surprised – it fired up relatively easily.”
But all was not well. “It seemed to be functioning right, ticking over smoothly and not now pissing oil out of every orifice – but it was still not taking throttle,” says Jason. “You still had to roll the throttle really slowly and let it build.then it’d start clearing itself and rev.”
And no matter what he tried, he couldn’t get to the root of the problem.
“The carbs have been on and off about 20 times in the last couple of months trying to figure it out,” he says, recalling the frustration. “Every single component taken out was either replaced with new or aqua blasted or ultrasonically cleaned. I was trying different needles, different needle heights…”
Finally Jason realized that a tiny, pressed-in, brass nozzle jet was missing on both carbs.
“What happens is that sometimes, when you remove the emulsion tube, they can fall out.they’re very, very small and easy to miss.”
They’re also hard to come by. “I had to go to Fowlers and get them ordered from Japan,” Jason says. “For 70 quid! But they went in and then it ran much, much better. It’s still not the sharpest on the throttle but
I’ve been told that in reality that’s as good as I’m going to get.”
But even with the engine now sorted, Jason’s problems weren’t over.
“When I originally started to disassemble it I’d noticed some of the frame lugs the engine mounts on had been cut, rotated 180 degrees and rewelded,” Jason says. “The only explanation was that the previous owner thought the frame had been used in Super Singles racing with some kind of four-stroke single in it. I’ve since found references to the 3MA frame being used in singles racers so it ties in with what he was saying…”
The only remedy was to have the lugs cut, rotated back and rewelded while the sidestand – or rather, the lack of one (another indicator of a racing past) – required similar remedial action.
“A local machine shop welded a piece on for me and I just filed it down and tried to get it back to how it originally looked,” says Jason casually. thankfully, most of the rest was more straightforward.
Forks were disassembled, aqua-blasted and rebuilt, still with the original springs.the rear shock, too, was stripped, cleaned and refinished. wheels were stripped, blasted, coated and had new bearings and seals.
The discs are the originals while the calipers have been rebuilt, painted and given braided lines. “And I must say I’m quite impressed with how good the front brakes are,” Jason adds.
Switchgear and clocks were simply cleaned while most of the wiring was good, too.
And the result, following the repainting of the blue tank back to original white/red by Fast Line in Preston plus the addition of some temporary Chinese-made replica bodywork, is as you see before you now.
“There’s still some things I need to change, like some of the fasteners, maybe rebuild the shock and the Chinese bodywork… but that’s just a stop-gap,” Jason says.
For the time being the original fairings are in the attic awaiting a repaint. “Originally I got some really, really expensive quotes to do the whole bodywork which drove me down the route of getting this Chinese stuff,” Jason says. “They’re only £300 or so and they’re OK for now. Plus I needed the belly pan ‘V’ piece which was missing. I’d also like to do a couple of track days on it. It’s so small and light they’re brilliant fun on track – so that’s another reason for the Chinese bodywork. Eventually, though, I do want to put the OE stuff back on and get them painted the same as the tank.” And what about after that? “I’m getting pretty desperate to start on something else,” he admits. “Although I’m not sure what.”then he casts a mischievous glance at his DR-Z. “Maybe a supermoto with a 500 single-cylinder two-stroke in it,” he adds. “And of course it’s got to be a two-stroke, everyone knows they’re a lot more fun.”
A fit two-stroke is worth any amount of resto pain
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