Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Reader Restoration -

Con­sid­er­ing the length of time the NSR250 MC16 was in pro­duc­tion (a year), there are more than a few ex­am­ples around but, as Dar­ren says, they’re the least de­sir­able NSR. And, as with all two-stroke 250s, ask­ing prices are go­ing up even for ratty non-run­ners. And as for find­ing a TT-F3, good luck with that


I snaf­fle Dar­ren’stt-f3 MC16/18 race bike for the first ses­sion on track, for two rea­sons: 1) it’s on Dun­lopal­pha 13 race tyres which, de­spite a 2014 date stamp, feel like glue and (2) the race bike shock is just stiff enough to sup­port my weight; Dar­ren’s a rake and the Hagon af­ter­mar­ket shock he’s fit­ted to his road bike is woe­fully un­der­sprung for my heft. “I’ve had it slid­ing a few times at Don­ing­ton,” he tells me, and the Bridge­stone BT45S look de­cid­edly un­invit­ing. Coura­geously, I’ll let him warm them up.

The TT-F3 starts eas­ily, blurt­ing out a smoke screen of pre­mix. Dar­ren runs it on 37.5:1 Cas­trola747 and su­per-un­leaded pre­mix; the road bike gets Mo­tul 710 in the oil tank and su­per-un­leaded.

We wazz onto Cad­well’s swel­ter­ing tar­mac.thett-f3 is us­ing a race shift be­cause the link­age clear­ance would be com­pro­mised on a road shift, and so Dar­ren con­fig­ures his road bike that way too so he doesn’t have to think when he swaps. I’m not used to it so I have to think, a lot. Last thing I want to do is drop it down a gear ac­cel­er­at­ing hard out of Char­lies.

De­spite reser­va­tions about lev­er­ing my girth onto the NSR’S diminu­tive pro­por­tions, it’s ac­tu­ally quite roomy; I’ve rid­den more awk­ward slab­bie GSX-R750S. And the ini­tial steer­ing, brak­ing and chang­ing di­rec­tion is beau­ti­ful – de­spite Dar­ren’s apolo­gies for the age of the bike and the out-of-the-crate na­ture of the sus­pen­sion, the TT-F3 slots through Hall Bends and the hair­pin like a nat­u­ral. Drop­ping onto the bot­tom straight for the first time, the race bike slices through its


powerband with gears go­ing in like flicking a deck of cards. By Cop­pice it feels like top but I’m not count­ing; just re­mem­ber­ing which way is up is hard enough.

An un­nec­es­sary tap on the front brake lever, back a gear, run up Cop­pice and back once more into Char­lies, then all the way up the hill and over down to the se­cond apex where the mo­tor comes on song at­ter a cou­ple of laps I get my head down and crack on – and driv­ing out of Char­lies shows up the sus­pen­sion lim­i­ta­tions as the back end starts to chat­ter ever so gen­tly on the exit, run­ning out of damp­ing as my lardy ass com­presses it like a biro spring.

Gear­ing-wise, Dar­ren’s guessti­ma­tion feels about right – when thett-f3 ar­rived it was on a stan­dard 15-tooth gear­box sprocket, with a 38-tooth rear when stock road is 42. Af­ter a cou­ple of track days, the race bike is now on 13/43 and it feels about right, get­ting some use from top on Park Straight.

Back in the pits, I tell Dar­ren I think the race bike is ex­cel­lent, but he’s not hav­ing such a great time on the road bike – he’s had an­other slide from it. OK mate, you’d bet­ter go back out on it and check it’s OK be­fore let­ting me loose on it. I’ll, er, stick with the race bike for now.

Dar­ren reck­ons thett-f3 is mak­ing some­where north of 60bhp and I can’t ar­gue. It’s hard to do the bum-dyno thing on two-strokes be­cause they’re de­cep­tive; they tend to feel un­der­pow­ered, then sud­denly over­pow­ered. But the NSR is a flex­i­ble mo­tor – there’s enough width to the power to just about get away with an ex­tra gear over the Moun­tain, mean­ing not hook­ing a foot un­der the lever to go down the box (did I get that right?) at the chi­cane just be­fore.

Af­ter a se­cond ses­sion di­alling into the Honda and al­most pick­ing up enough pace not to be a mo­bile Fast Group chi­cane, I pull in to find Dar­ren has re­tired to the pad­dock on the road­other slide and a tyre pres­sure check has re­vealed 25psi in the hot rear tyre.we’ve no pump to hand or foot, and I don’t take much per­suad­ing to do a last ses­sion of the evening on the race bike. Oh, go on then. It’s not ev­ery day you get to ride some­thing this rare; MC16 road bikes, com­mon as. TT-F3; prob­a­bly the only chance I’ll ever get.and, next sum­mer, Dar­ren’s go­ing to have a lot of fun.

Un­clut­tered, neat and very invit­ing

And still with the orig­i­nal rub­ber hoses

Dar­ren had a cou­ple of big tyre mo­ments on the stocker

Su­per­sized Si­mon makes it look ab­so­lutely tiny

This is/was the sum­mer of fun

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