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
“THE RACE BIKE SLICES THROUGH ITS POWERBAND, WITH GEARS GOING IN LIKE FLICKING A DECK OF CARDS”
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 at 8000rpm.after 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 road bike.another 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