Crawl­ing out of the met­al­work

See­ley’s two TDRS see the light of day af­ter a long, hard year con­fined to their steel pris­ons

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - On Your Bench -

For a bike so widely ig­nored in the UK on its launch, the Yamaha TDR250 has gar­nered a de­voted, pos­si­bly ra­bid fol­low­ing, even as it en­ters its fourth decade. I’m as guilty as any­one for ig­nor­ing Yamaha’s proto-su­per­moto then be­lat­edly be­com­ing a devo­tee. In the late 1980s I was far more in­ter­ested in big four-strokes, hav­ing left lit­tle two-strokes far be­hind me in my rid­ing youth, which in 1988 was all of five years pre­vi­ous. Time runs longer when you’re young.

Still, there’s noth­ing like the fer­vour of a lost soul re­turn­ing to the body of the church and hav­ing bought my first TDR late in 2013 – the blue one you see here – I would in short or­der have a sec­ond one which read­ers of longer stand­ing will know as Project Light­weight TDR. That’ll be the one with car­bon body­work and cast wheels.

When I bought the blue one for £1600, I re­ally thought I’d paid too much but hoped it would soon grow into its price. That it did and more. Within a cou­ple of years, lesser ex­am­ples were chang­ing hands at twice the price. By then the TDR had been an ea­ger com­pan­ion on many a com­mute and ride-out – of­ten just for the hell of it. The big­gest test came in 2015 when we did a 2000-mile round trip to Porto and back on the Jack Lil­ley Two-stroke Chal­lenge. On this the lit­tle Yam per­formed fault­lessly. One of the other voy­agers re­marked on how light the TDR was and this com­ment was the gen­e­sis for Project Light­weight TDR, the ob­ject be­ing to see just how far we could rea­son­ably go in par­ing down a bike. Rather than mess with a stocker, we started with a wreck.

To my shame and the detri­ment of both bikes, nei­ther turned a wheel in 2017. I was way too pre-oc­cu­pied with other bikes, projects and events. So the blue one sweated out the hottest sum­mer for years in a metal shed while Project Light­weight TDR lan­guished in the bat­tered ship­ping con­tainer that passes for the PS lock-up.

Time to lib­er­ate both from their con­fines and re­turn them to where they be­long – the road. Be­cause no one in their right mind would con­tem­plate tak­ing a TDR off-road de­spite the bike’s trailie styling. Hav­ing first pumped up the blue one’s tyres so it could be pulled from the tiny steel shed, I was re­minded of


fur­ther shame­ful doings re­lat­ing to this bike. In the fi­nal push to fin­ish Project Light­weight TDR, I’d nicked the blue bike’s in­di­ca­tors, their bracket and the pil­lion grab han­dles. Worse, one of these mis­ap­pro­pri­ated in­di­ca­tors had been bust while Light­weight TDR was in the ship­ping con­tainer.

As far as the blue one goes, the en­gine paint and some of the plat­ing have suf­fered from con­den­sa­tion dam­age and the whole bike was cov­ered in greasy dust. Light­weight TDR has been un­der a cover so, in­di­ca­tor apart, emerged rel­a­tively un­scathed. That bike needs some fi­nal fet­tling that wasn’t ad­dressed af­ter its first shake­down ride so I’ll got through it front to back.

I’ll get the blue one back on the road first as it’s been off of it the long­est. Whereas be­fore I was two in­di­ca­tors short, hav­ing bro­ken one I now need three if stay­ing stock. Pat­tern ones tend to sag and break quickly and orig­i­nals cost a for­tune. The stan­dard units, OE or pat­tern, are huge and ugly too. The best so­lu­tion seems to buy one orig­i­nal for the blue bike and get a qual­ity aftermarket set of an­other de­sign for Light­weight TDR. Makes sense as the blue bike is close to stock and the other is nowhere near to fac­tory spec.

Prices of used TDR parts have risen to ridicu­lous lev­els as ask­ing prices for the bikes them­selves have rock­eted. Grab han­dles change hands for up­wards of £50 a pair, even in knack­ered con­di­tion. My neat so­lu­tion to that is to fill the gap left on the blue one when I nicked its grab rails for Light­weight TDR is to fit an orig­i­nal ac­ces­sory lug­gage rack. This was a long-cov­eted item that turned up on ebay in Ger­many a year or so back. Un­for­tu­nately its orig­i­nal yellow has faded and there is rust on the bosses where the paint has de­parted but it is the real deal and al­though its car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity is some­what limited it will look good on the bike once re­fin­ished.

Be­fore get­ting down to cos­metic niceties, how­ever, both bikes de­mand thor­ough recom­mis­sion­ing and in the case of the blue one, a very deep clean. Next time you see them, one or both will be do­ing what TDRS do best – up­set­ting the peace and pro­vid­ing at least as much fun as any of the old fourstroke barges I thought were so great in the late 1980s.

Alan See­ley

Po-faced cretin grov­el­ling in a mess en­tirely of his own mak­ing

At least there aren’t birds or mice nest­ing in it

That’s yer ac­tual mould. Not cor­ro­sion: MOULD

Oh, it’s all smiles now is it? Light­weight with his light­weight TDR

Looks like a barn find, ex­cept he hadn’t lost it and it wasn’t in a barn. Worse than that, in a metal shed

Here’s his much-prized rack from Ger­many. Wow

Amaz­ing what a bit of gunge in a bot­tle can do

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