Words by Jeff Ware Photography by Tony Wilding
I’d wanted to ride a proper late model 250 GP machine forever. Having raced 250 proddies for years and being part of a top running Honda team in Japan (Moto Bum) that ran 250 GP bikes, I’ve always drooled over 250 GP machines. But a few things stopped me ever racing one – mainly money and my fat arse!
I had my own roller for quite some time, the black one I’m holding up (yes, they are that light), but it was going to be a ten grand project finding and fitting a motor and that was back in 2012. I sold that roller for five grand, sadly…
The opportunity to ride this bike was one not to be missed and being able to have my old mate, two-times world supersport champion, WorldSBK and MotoGP legend, Andrew Pitt along was a huge bonus. This bike was a little special, it had come directly from the Garage 4413 team who campaigned it to the runner-up slot in the All Japan 250cc Championship. The bike’s current owner, Harry Danilidis, purchased it from the team two years ago, straight after the Championship.
On the technical side, the bike is a kitted TZ250-5KE and the final evolution of the original TZ250. In standard trim the bike puts out a claimed 93hp but with the addition of the kit that is boosted significantly to 105hp. The cylinders are factory items but the porting is done in-house by the team. A few other parts are sourced from ‘The Japanese Tuning House for Yamaha GP bikes’.
The ignition system is Yamaha along with the dry clutch and the factory exhausts. Trevor Lusby of Scott’s MC was our mechanic for the day and looks after the bike. He mixed the fuel at a fairly conservative fuel/oil mix for us journos and has jetted the bike slightly on the rich side just to be safe and taking into account the cool morning temperature.
I’ve done a million laps of The Farm and never been fully satisfied on any bike I’ve ridden on the challenging layout. There is always a section that doesn’t suit a bike in some way. But not this time. The TZ250 is perfection. The first thing that grabs me is the size. I’m 25kg heavier than I was last time I rode a 250…
Once I squeezed in, I was OK. And after the initial amount of clutch slip and rpm took me a second to get used to after so many years of four-stroke riding, I was off up the chute. The bike was hot and the tyres too, so I wasted no time. I put my head down and ran the bike through to 12,500rpm. I like to do that – rather than ease into a shock of power just get the shock over with!
Once I had a feel for the powerband and throttle I was off.
The bike was jetted on the rich side so it was a matter of rolling off the throttle very gently mid-turn to lean the bike out then it would snap into its powerband, and that sticky rear Bridgestone would hook up. So much fun! The gearbox actuation was incredible and the quickshifter sensational.
But the big thing for me was the performance of the front-end – the tyre, brakes and forks all worked together to give feel and accuracy that I simply have never felt before. No chance of running wide or missing an apex whether on or off the brakes. The chassis was inch perfect everywhere and the most amazing section, the Famous Five Esses, was a dream on the 100kg 105hp pure racer.
The bike was so well presented, and it was a real honour to ride it. I can honestly say I’ve never had so much fun on two wheels – ever! Well, I hadn’t until I rode the ex Alex Debon RSW250 GP racer… more on that in the next article!
SPECIFICATIONS 2009 TZ250 5KE
Power: 105 RWHP
Wet weight: 95kg
Fuel capacity: 18L
Engine: Yamaha 5KE 250cc two-stroke GP engine, SJK internals
Bore & stroke: 54 x 54.5mm
Compression: 7.2 - 7.7:1
Fuel delivery: Keihin flatslides
Exhaust: Yamaha Racing
Gearbox: Cassette-style adjustable ratios
Final drive: Chain
Chassis: Aluminium hand made
Rake & trail: Variable
Suspension: Front: Showa, Rear: Ohlins
Tyres: Bridgestone slicks