Item three: The motor had a massive air leak. It turned
out that it wasn’t from a crank seal but from a small crack
in the center case.
Item three: The fold-over washer that secures the clutch
nut was unmolested. It had been folded over at the factory
and never touched again. Even a careful mechanic massacres that washer after a few visits. This means the clutch
had never been off and the cases never split.
Item four: The subframe was broken near the front and
Item five: There were almost no aftermarket parts. The
levers and every nut and bolt were original. All the rubber
grommets and all the special fasteners were Honda parts.
So, here are the results of my investigation. There were
at least two previous owners who were complete oppo-
sites. The first
owner was an
old guy who had
it serviced by
the dealer. He’s
the one who had
installed and insisted on original parts. When a rock hit
the cases, the dealer gave him a repair estimate that was
pretty high. By then, the bike was old and he didn’t ride
much, so he sold it cheap. There could have been a few
more owners in the next years, but eventually it fell into
criminal hands. That guy just didn’t care. He was oblivious
to the air leak. He smoked the rear tire, and he looped out
on a regular basis. He rode it almost every day but only on
pavement. With no real load on the engine, it kept running,
despite the crack in the cases. He never, ever worked on
it, aside from hasty crash repairs. My conclusion—it was
the perfect find. The fact that the last owner didn’t work on
it was the best news of all. Nothing destroys a bike more
than a bad mechanic. Now, it’s my turn to leave a mark on
the bike’s forensic record. I promise to be good. ❑
The 1995 Honda CR250R was a crime scene. That much was clear. The most obvious clue was the rear tire. It looked like it had the rubber equivalent
of male-pattern baldness—smooth and shiny in the middle
with cracked, burned knobs on the sides. Under the rear
fender, there were faint deposits of rubber. The bike had
been ridden for years on the street. That’s no crime against
machinery, only against authority. What made it criminal
in my mind was the obvious lack of regard for the bike.
Wearing a tire down that far has “I don’t care” written all
over it. The same was true of the rear brake pads, which
were worn all the way to the metal. Further evidence was
the presence of clear and obvious loop-out carnage. The
rear fender was broken off. The left footpeg was ground
down, and the muffler end cap was flattened. The picture
was clear—the bike had spent the last few years being ridden around a local neighborhood in the high desert where
a kid used it for wheelies and burn-outs. It was not a fitting
end for such a fine motorcycle.
I bought it, of course. I always seem to buy crime victims.
Sometimes I can save them, sometimes not. In this case,
my motive was the District 37 FMF Big 6 series. This is a
very well-attended series of races in Southern California,
Nevada and Arizona, and it has a class for “Evo” bikes.
Evo bikes, by District 37 rules, were manufactured between
1986 and 1995, and they get to ride in the second race of
the day. My regular class is the fourth race of the day, so I
use the Evo class to practice and get to know the course.
Then there’s a nice break before I go out again. That was
my thinking last year, but in the course of doing the whole
series, the old bike class became more and more important. By the end of the year, my 1988 KDX200 would no
longer do. What would be the most competitive bike of all
for a class that limits the vintage to pre-1995 bikes? A 1995
Honda CR250R! Honda
was pretty much on top
of its game back then.
My friend Bob Casper
still rides a 1996 version
and swears it’s competitive with modern bikes.
I put him on the case, and he found the high-desert crime
My initial crime scene investigation was admittedly superficial. Once I started taking the bike apart, I came across
more clues about the bike’s previous life. It was like a 220-
pound rolling jigsaw puzzle. Some pieces just didn’t seem
to fit together.
Item one: The cylinder walls were absolutely clean. No
scores, no evidence of dirt and not much carbon in the
power valve. The rings, on the other hand, were completely
worn out. I didn’t have a feeler gauge big enough to measure the end gap. It looked like it might have been the original piston.
Item two: The front and rear tires matched, and the rubber center strap was still in the rim. It was very likely they
were replaced at the same time at a dealership.
Crime scene mechanic
“Wearing a tire down that far has ‘I don’t care’ written all over it.”
Photo: Mark Kariya
By Ron Lawson