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paranoid_android
paranoid_android UberDork
10/19/19 8:13 p.m.

This past Monday I brought home my very first evar motorcycle, a 90 Suzuki DR250 LI'm pretty sure it's the L anyway.  

Found the listing on facebork, sent it to every single person I know personally that is motorcycle knowledgeable for their take on it (which is two people here on GRM), took a day off work and drove to Saginaw from Ann Arbor in a borrowed pickup truck to meet the seller.

Here it is in my driveway fresh out of the 989:


 

The seller turned out to be a mechanic in Roscommon who picked it up as a basket case.  It was disassembled with the intent of an engine rebuild.  So my guy rebuilt the engine and put it back together, then rode it for a few months.  I asked him why he was selling it, and he said "it's snowmobile season and I need a snowmobile."  Nuff said.

Important to note here, my level of comfort with this thing is here:


 

And my intentions are to learn my way to this:

This thread will serve to document this journey to the best of my ability.
 

 

paranoid_android
paranoid_android UberDork
10/19/19 8:37 p.m.

Being new to this business, I wanted to be sure to find a motorcycle with sound mechanicals that could take its lumps with a learner, and this was it.

It was a trail bike it's whole life, and it kind of shows.  It will need a few things fixed, but I can chip away at those over the winter.  Like grips, throttle tube, and a shift lever:





So far, aside from the test ride, I've been putting it around my small back yard (I live in the city).  Circles to the left, circles to the right, figure eights- all very slowly obviously.

Aside from that, I've mostly been trying to learn to start it both cold and warm.  It's kick start only, so that in itself presents it's own learning curve.  Thank goodness for motorcycle boots!

Oh, and figuring out how to get it to a location where I can ride it.  With a Subaru.  (It isn't street legal yet)

slowbird
slowbird HalfDork
10/19/19 9:10 p.m.

I had one sorta like that. For about a month. I recommend finding a place to practice that isn't near any buildings. I crashed it on my first attempt, got scared and sold it for half what I paid for it. Hopefully you'll have more success.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
10/19/19 9:32 p.m.

Unless you want to get a trailer for the Subaru your best bet is going to be a friend with a pickup truck until you can get a plate on it.

Also yes, kickstarting is definitely best done in motorcycle boots- I once split the only pair of normal shoes I had packed kickstarting my DRZ at Sandblast and had to clomp around in motorcycle boots everywhere as a result.

paranoid_android
paranoid_android UberDork
10/20/19 7:57 a.m.

I think a trailer is going to be the answer.  That's an expense that will be a little easier to justify as it would be able to do house project duties as well.

Also on the need to buy list is the rest of my safety gear.  Luckily things like helmets are going on crazy sale right now.

 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
10/20/19 8:24 a.m.

In reply to paranoid_android :

Last time around my solution to that was an old Harbor Freight folding trailer, with the connections bolted instead of pinned to get rid of the slop, some sort of decking that was already on it, a wheel chock, and flipping the axle to lower it a bit.  Worked great behind our Saab until it got rearended and bent the whole deal into an S shape.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/20/19 9:14 a.m.

Veeeeery interested in this project. When I move back north to hang out in your neck of the woods this is the first motorsport I plan to pick up, and on a similar size bike. 

XLR99
XLR99 Dork
10/20/19 1:16 p.m.

Nice!  My son has a DR250SE (plated) that I've been riding from time to time when my back allows it.  He uses it 90% in the dirt, but I ended up doing some lighting upgrades and Shinko 705 tires to make it less exciting to ride to work at 5:00am.

I second the HF trailer, I used to have one to pull street bikes behind a Saab.  I left mine foldable so it would tuck away in the garage, but built up some short stake sides for it as well.

paranoid_android
paranoid_android UberDork
10/20/19 6:12 p.m.

So many thoughts flying around in my head on this thing!  It's hard to put them into a coherent format.

The bike- mechanically speaking

I just plain have a hard time starting it.  Cold, warm, in my garage, in the yard- doesn't seem to make a difference.  I try to keep repeating this to myself before I start trying to figure out "what's wrong" with it, because honestly I don't know what I'm doing.

After getting it home I started it in my driveway twice using the directions the PO gave me.  No choke (never used it), give the throttle three or four twists, find the compression stroke and kick it.  He didn't bother with the decompression lever either.  And that worked.  But since then it seems like it has gotten harder to start. 

Tonight for example I had to hold the throttle half open and kick it about ten times before it started cold.  I tractored around the yard for about ten minutes before I dropped it and it stalled.  Again, throttle half open kicked it about five times and it fired back up.  Rode it for about 20 more minutes and stalled it getting it through the yard gate.  Tried to get it started again but gave up.  I was pooped.

I did test a few things to make sure they were even working, like the choke, decompression lever and the fuel cock.  Again, I'm sure it's more me than the motorcycle.  I'll figure it out...

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/20/19 6:23 p.m.

You need to learn about the carb, what the adjustments are, and what the factory settings were. Is it a pumper carb so the throttle twists are squirting gas? There is probably a fuel bleed screw that controls how much fuel enters when the throttle is closed. The fact that you don't need the choke makes me wonder if this is off. Is it a decompression lever or a hot start lever? They look about the same but work very differently. There is also the chance that the carb and it's tiny little passages could use a good scrubbbing to make sure things are doing what they should do.

paranoid_android
paranoid_android UberDork
10/20/19 6:26 p.m.

Thoughts on safety and risks of riding-

Seth I've been following your thread and learning a a good deal from it.  I know very well it's not a matter of if I'll hurt myself, it's when.  So putting thought into trying to lessen the impact of hurting myself has been were I have really been expending mental energy this last week.

As much as I want to go to the Leatt website and deck myself out head to toe with every top shelf protective item they offer, that isn't going to happen financially.  Neither does it really make sense logically.

It's just hard to find that point where I feel my list of stuff to get started is pretty good, then it can be tweaked as I ride and learn.  Especially since I have no experience to base it on smiley  Luckily I have some good friends that can help me make those decisions.

paranoid_android
paranoid_android UberDork
10/20/19 6:33 p.m.

Thoughts on where to take this initially-

There are several active riding groups across Michigan that put on harescrambles and enduros alike, both in the lower peninsula and the upper.  I don't know particulars without looking up the events again, but some of them are billed as family events which seems pretty darn cool.

A folding Harbor Freight trailer will get me out early in the spring, or maybe even this fall yet, so I can get a better taste of where this is all going.  I guess this is sort of my personal tentative goal- not to get out and be competitive, but to get some basics down well enough that I can get out to some events to meet people and ride with them.

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
10/20/19 6:42 p.m.

What's the VW?

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/20/19 6:49 p.m.

Helmet, goggles, gloves, every ride. From there boots and whatever armor you're comfortable with. Then neck and knee braces. You're going to fall off, that's part of the game. The idea is to first protect your head and eyes because they're important and don't grow back. Then hands because 95% of the time you'll put a hand down when you fall and even soft dirt peels off skin.  Then boots because ankles are a weak pathetic joint and your motorcycle wants to fall on them. Then knees and elbows, hips and shoulders back and chest. 

Looking where you want to go is important. Target fixation is real. Nothing beats practice. 

Error404
Error404 Reader
10/20/19 7:32 p.m.

Target fixation, as Seth put it, is very very real on 2 wheels. Not only do your hands steer where your eyes are but if your head tilts then your body tilts and then your balance is off. Gloves are very important, as are head and eye protection. Boots that protect your ankles both from impact and sprains are nice to have and quality ones can be found that don't break the bank. (Revzilla has generally good stuff in my limited experience with them and I recommend checking out their youtube for product videos and general knowledge stuff) Street gear is different than offroad gear, especially in boots as you can buy street bike boots that are armored but comfortable enough to wear to work for a day, you don't do that in offroad boots (or race boots). If you can find a local 2-wheel shop where you can try stuff on, that is a good place to start. See how the gloves feel on your hands, just like jeans every manufacturer has a different cut pattern.

While you're buying things, make sure you have what you need to clean and lube your chain as well as adjust its tension. There are metric tons of guides on how to do this but I know that the Revzilla video is short, sweet, and to the point while not missing out on anything important. (Not a shill, I just appreciate How-To's without all the fluff) Chain cleaner and lube can be bought all over the interwebs from any number of places, or your local 2-wheel shop. Generally, they're all pretty similar. Offroad lube, if you see it on a label, is more viscous and sticky as it is designed with offroad use in mind. Street lube tends to be a little thinner and is designed for less fling-off for aesthetics. Also, know what kind of rings your chain has, it does make a bit of difference in the lube that you use. My basic motorcycle maintenance stuff is some hex keys and wrenches for getting to and adjusting the chain, a rear wheel stand, and a grunge brush. YMMV but the basics are pretty basic. Your chain looks pretty tight, from what I can tell, but they will stretch and wear out, both your sprockets and chain are very much wear items. I think I wore out the chain on my CB500F at around the 20k mark, to the point that I couldn't adjust the wheel back any more after it slipped off the sprocket on the way to work. No one was hurt, bike included, but I don't recommend letting it get that bad.

Mechanically, I don't have much to add other than echoing mazdeuce and saying that you need to learn how your bike works. Do some research, learn what everyone should do and see how your bike is different. That's the best place to start as you'll potentially learn what isn't right about your bike and you'll be able to set it right and be happier. Echoing mazdeuce again, wear your gear on every ride. I live in Swamplandia and I wear my full gear in traffic even in the summer, the guys who come down for Bike Week in nothing but jean shorts and aviators don't do too well when the skin hits the road.

If you can find a MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) safety course, I recommend taking it. The one I took was street bike oriented but they're a very good place to learn the basics of handling from experienced riders. Also, if you ever want to get a street bike having taken a safety course can lower your insurance rates.

paranoid_android
paranoid_android UberDork
10/20/19 7:52 p.m.
Datsun310Guy said:

What's the VW?

1984 Rabbit L.  Want it? wink

GCrites80s
GCrites80s Reader
10/20/19 8:02 p.m.

Many kickstart 4-strokes before around 2005 have a set starting ritual that must be followed. This information used to be shared through dealers and magazines, but as time has passed now must be spread though lore. I'd say find a DR or Suzuki 4-stroke specific forum to find out what it is for this model before trying to fix it through adjustments even though you are probably going to have to make adjustments for other reasons anyway.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
10/20/19 8:04 p.m.

These guys have covered a lot for you so I'll just address something I feel pretty well versed in: kickstarting- assuming this bike has a hard external stop (like the kick lever hitting the footpeg) my advice is to not be afraid of kicking too hard.  Ideally you want to keep accelerating the engine right up to the point where the lever hits the stop, I see a lot of people who back off once their foot is halfway down to avoid slamming the stop at the bottom, which is wrong- engine wants to spin fast, keep the foot moving.  If it's not starting, doing that, on the compression stroke, something is probably wrong in the carb or the ignition.  A weak battery or funky CDI can also sometimes cause the "I need to kick it a thousand times" thing because you have to charge it a bit before it'll really spark, which is no fun.

paranoid_android
paranoid_android UberDork
10/20/19 8:35 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

You need to learn about the carb, what the adjustments are, and what the factory settings were. Is it a pumper carb so the throttle twists are squirting gas? There is probably a fuel bleed screw that controls how much fuel enters when the throttle is closed. The fact that you don't need the choke makes me wonder if this is off. Is it a decompression lever or a hot start lever? They look about the same but work very differently. There is also the chance that the carb and it's tiny little passages could use a good scrubbbing to make sure things are doing what they should do.

I was typing earlier and didn't see this.

The internet seems to think the stock carb is a Mikuni BST31, but I can't confirm that is what's on my bike.  Here are a couple images:


 


It certainly seems something is off because it runs like a champ once it's started.  But I wanted to rule out the human factor before I started taking things apart.

I did confirm it is a decompression lever however.

@Error404- you jarred my memory on the chain.  The seller said it probably needs a new chain and rear sprocket.  The chain has a couple solid links in it.  And he said it has a vibration when it's running wide open.

Error404
Error404 Reader
10/20/19 9:36 p.m.

A chain job isn't too bad, just read up on it before attempting in case of any hang-ups. I haven't done my sprockets, they're still in good shape, but it is something that I check when I'm in the area for chain maintenance. Another thing that made a big difference, after years of riding, was bleeding the brakes out just like on my car. Check the brake fluid and go from there, best way to know for sure.

This is a good video on what to look at when you're down in that area as far as wear, they also cover cleaning. Adjustment is another video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgPpLKCUlbA   It might be referenced in that video, I don't recall, but since your front sprocket is in plain site I bet you can get your chain off easily and use a kerosene bath for deep cleaning. This will cause the least mess when you have a filthy chain.

Define "vibration". You'll know that your chain is definitely loose if getting on or off the gas feels jerky in the seat. It should be smooth so if it's jerky then your chain has been slapping around for a while.

 

paranoid_android
paranoid_android UberDork
10/26/19 8:43 a.m.

Basics are starting to fall into place.  Factory service manual received this week, original owners manual should be here soon.

My carburetor is a Mikuni TM31SS.


 


 

Also included are carburetor "constructions"


 

Finding information is such a satisfying experience.

I also ordered the first round of parts to get the bike ready for a street legal inspection.  Details will be shared once I know if they work or not.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/26/19 8:53 a.m.

Identify the pilot screw, and gently tun it in while counting. record that so you can go back there. now set it to the 1 5/8 recommended and see how that affects starting and running. Idle is adjusted through #7, throttle stop adjuster? Should be a procedure for dancing between the bleed screw and idle to get it all happy. 

XLR99
XLR99 Dork
10/26/19 8:59 a.m.

Yes, that looks like the same carb as Nick's '91.  I got a rebuild kit from Motolab  which came with decent instructions.  He sells better carb bowl drain screws with a 5mm hex, since yours already looks abit stripped.  After the carb rebuild and new battery, it's almost always a 1-3 kick start unless it hasn't been ridden in awhile.

Also, it's probably a good idea to get a few different sizes of JIS screwdrivers.  I got a couple of Vessel ones from Amazon, some of which have a built in impact on them yes. They were like $8-10ea, and work great for all phillips screws, and don't seem to cam out as easily.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/26/19 9:02 a.m.

JIS #2 will change your life. 

paranoid_android
paranoid_android UberDork
10/26/19 1:04 p.m.

Took it apart for inspection and cleaning.

Nothing appeared to be properly plugged up or varnished over.  There was a fair bit of whitish powdery crap, like the leftovers of cheap gas that sat for a bit.

Bowl contents:

The most obvious thing I saw was the absence of a part the manual showed by the main jet:


Mine as found:


Not sure what to think about that.

Pilot screw was identified, as found was 2.5 turns out.  I put it back at the 1 5/8 turns out the manual indicated.

Also of note, the float bowl gasket seemed to have been coated in some kind of clear caulk like silicone, some of which came loose inside the bowl.  The float needle was in good shape though, so at the least I may need a new float bowl gasket.  I'll see if this one seals after I clean the caulk off of it.

I could read marks on two of the jets, and the numbers matched what was listed in the book.  So that's good.

Yes, I believe idle is adjusted through #7.  I'll have to do some more reading to see what it says about finding its happy place.

Thank you for the motolab tip!  They are on my radar for replacement parts.  The head of the bowl drain plug is indeed borked, but I got it out.

Embarrassingly enough, I completely forgot about the existence of JIS tools.  Sheesh.  I'll be adding those to my tool list as well!

Hopefully I can get back out to the garage this evening to see if I fixed anything.

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