Buying this 1996 CR250, advice on what to look for?

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11/28/2017 12:31 PM
Edited Date/Time: 11/28/2017 12:34 PM

I know the McGrath replica thing is "played out" to some, but the 13yr old kid in me gets all kinds of nostalgic feelings when I see these bikes. Plus, I always loved the look of the 1996 CR250 in general. Fast forward to this morning... I see this posted in my area. Spoke with the guy today and we agreed on a trade deal. Seller seems like a good dude my age who will probably become a riding buddy. He bought the bike a couple years ago with intentions of a full restore, but has only ridden it up and down the street a few times and now realizes he has too many projects. He's the 3rd owner, bike originally came from the Pennsylvania area.

Anyways, looking for input on what to look for on these bikes. NOT looking for a critique of the McGrath replica aspect (I'll go down that rabbit hole later - though if anyone has a really good link to a reference/thread on that, feel free to post it)..

Mostly looking for input on known issues with this year bike, etc. I'm leaving for Key West on Thursday, so I won't be meeting him until next week. In the meantime, I want to perform my due diligence on these machines. Thanks in advance for the tips! (btw, seller removed the ad, so nobody bother looking for it and trying to snipe me! :laughsmile

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Positively, absolutely 110% obsessed with anything MOTO.

11/28/2017 12:40 PM

Ask questions about top end/cylinder. If it's been bored out or still on stock bore. It's getting hard to find stock cylinders for those years.

Would give a good once over of all linkage parts and swingarm bearings. Outside those things, they are pretty bullet proof. Obviously check over common wear items and make sure powervalve is clean.

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11/28/2017 12:41 PM

Hard to say what to look for really. I had a 94 CR250 & parts are really hard to get hold of now. The kickstart, one of the rads, louvers & rear pedal are unavailable now. Me personally, I wouldn't go near one again because they are such a pain in the ass to get parts for but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. Check the rads are in good condition & check the water because if it's had tap water sitting in it, it will rot the water pump.

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11/28/2017 12:49 PM

miketherider wrote:

Ask questions about top end/cylinder. If it's been bored out or still on stock bore. It's getting hard to find stock cylinders for those years.

Would give a good once over of all linkage parts and swingarm bearings. Outside those things, they are pretty bullet proof. Obviously check over common wear items and make sure powervalve is clean.

Bored as in a big bore kit? These cylinders are plated unless they have been sleeved.

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Take it to the limit, one more time!

11/28/2017 1:04 PM

miketherider wrote:

Ask questions about top end/cylinder. If it's been bored out or still on stock bore. It's getting hard to find stock cylinders for those years.

Would give a good once over of all linkage parts and swingarm bearings. Outside those things, they are pretty bullet proof. Obviously check over common wear items and make sure powervalve is clean.

You can't bore those cylinders wtf?

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11/28/2017 1:06 PM
Edited Date/Time: 11/28/2017 1:07 PM

Muscle-Milk-KTM wrote:

Hard to say what to look for really. I had a 94 CR250 & parts are really hard to get hold of now. The kickstart, one of the rads, louvers & rear pedal are unavailable now. Me personally, I wouldn't go near one again because they are such a pain in the ass to get parts for but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. Check the rads are in good condition & check the water because if it's had tap water sitting in it, it will rot the water pump.

Between my 1986 KTM 250MX, my 1992 Husqvarna 360 and my small fleet of early 90s Honda EZ90 Cubs, I ain't skeered of "hard to find parts" bikes. wink I always find a way. Good heads up though

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Positively, absolutely 110% obsessed with anything MOTO.

11/28/2017 5:27 PM

I just got this put back together.......I had no trouble finding parts, maybe i got lucky but Ebay is your friend on things like this. Be patient and the part will make itself available....(for a price). A lot of these bikes were sold in the 90's. Photo

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11/28/2017 6:27 PM

take the skid plate off and check the bottom of the engine cases really good, they are cracked on a lot of these bikes and a lot of the used cases on ebay are cracked but they still ask a lot for them imo. When I bought mine it was pretty ragged out, but ran, so I figured the cases were ok, wrong they were cracked. I have no idea how the thing still ran.

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11/28/2017 7:39 PM

The 93-96 CR250's are excellent mx bikes even by today's standards. They're bullet proof & really don't have any flaws that I recall. The only thing that stood out to me was a good friends 96 didn't turn as sharp as a 93 owned. Honda kept changing the head tube angle every yr. after 93. Check for visual wear & tear, pivot points, tweaked or cracked rims, bent bars, any frame damage etc..
Take it for a spin & listen for any unusual sounds coming from the engine / trans.. Check the oil & coolant condition & also the levels. The brakes cond., brake pads, any mushy feeling squeaking... Push up & down on the forks for any clunking noises. Also the rear shock by lifting the rear tire up & down with the bike on a stand. Check the chain & sprockets, tires cond..
Look inside the airbox for any debris like dirt or sand & check the cond. of the air filter.
Basically a once over..

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Speak softly and carry a big stick.

11/28/2017 8:14 PM
Edited Date/Time: 11/28/2017 8:15 PM

tmauto769 wrote:

take the skid plate off and check the bottom of the engine cases really good, they are cracked on a lot of these bikes and a lot of the used cases on ebay are cracked but they still ask a lot for them imo. When I bought mine it was pretty ragged out, but ran, so I figured the cases were ok, wrong they were cracked. I have no idea how the thing still ran.

Good call, exactly the kind of info I'm after.. I assume you're referring to the inner cases?

Did I hear the swing arms prone to cracking on these bikes?

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Positively, absolutely 110% obsessed with anything MOTO.

11/28/2017 8:48 PM

Damn for 1600 that's practically a steal.

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If it can't be fixed with a hammer, it's an electrical problem.

11/29/2017 2:58 AM

tmauto769 wrote:

take the skid plate off and check the bottom of the engine cases really good, they are cracked on a lot of these bikes and a lot of the used cases on ebay are cracked but they still ask a lot for them imo. When I bought mine it was pretty ragged out, but ran, so I figured the cases were ok, wrong they were cracked. I have no idea how the thing still ran.

F150Motocrosser wrote:

Good call, exactly the kind of info I'm after.. I assume you're referring to the inner cases?

Did I hear the swing arms prone to cracking on these bikes?

Yes the inner cases. Haven't heard anything about the swing arms cracking. Good luck to you, although from the pictures that one looks a lot better than the one I picked up, but mine was $1000 cheaper than the one you are looking at. I intended to ride mine after it was restored, but after 3 heat cycles and two trips to the track (it sat on the trailer the whole day each time) I just couldn't bring myself to ride it. For 2 reasons, as mentioned before the parts for these things are really becoming hard to source, and 2 for my lack of ability to focus, it turned out pretty damn good (not up to Newman standards of course) and I really don't want to mess it up.

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11/29/2017 5:58 AM

tmauto769 wrote:

Yes the inner cases. Haven't heard anything about the swing arms cracking. Good luck to you, although from the pictures that one looks a lot better than the one I picked up, but mine was $1000 cheaper than the one you are looking at. I intended to ride mine after it was restored, but after 3 heat cycles and two trips to the track (it sat on the trailer the whole day each time) I just couldn't bring myself to ride it. For 2 reasons, as mentioned before the parts for these things are really becoming hard to source, and 2 for my lack of ability to focus, it turned out pretty damn good (not up to Newman standards of course) and I really don't want to mess it up.

Haha I hear ya man, I have the same conflict with one of my bikes. Got any pics of how yours turned out?

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Positively, absolutely 110% obsessed with anything MOTO.

11/29/2017 9:27 AM

Make sure cases aren't cracked. From what I hear the RH center case is just about unobtainable............

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11/29/2017 12:14 PM

I would look at the swingarm under the chainslider to make sure the chain didn't burn through the slider. I remember my bike and several other people I knew had that problem. Almost think it was the underside of the swingarm if memory serves me.

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We are the sum of a 1,000 lives. What we know is almost nothing at all.

11/30/2017 12:25 AM
Edited Date/Time: 11/30/2017 12:50 AM

All the small parts you can get. Theres a handful you can't get new like the kickstarter, but you have one on your bike and theres piles of them on Ebay if it didnt. I would not worry about the little things. As mentioned I would ask about the cylinder. A sleeved cylinder might be a deal killer for me. Worn cylinders are not an issue. They can be replated.

Look at the engine cases for cracks and welds. Especially in front of the sprocket or on the bottom of the cases. Check the swingarm for cracks where the two pieces are welded together. I had to buy 3 of them on Ebay to get one that was in good condition and not cracked. Also would be nice to check if someone let the chain grind through the swingarm but that would require him letting you take parts off the bike. I dont let buyers strip down my bikes. They can do that after they pay me for it.

The motor and the swingarm are the two things to look over. Everything else can be repaired, replaced,restored.

The hardest part I have had trouble finding was oddly the brake foot pedal spring. I had to buy one from a guy in Norway who makes them. Looked everywhere for one for weeks. Theres parts that you can't buy new anymore, but theres plenty of used ones. Like swingarms. I now have a pile of them now. LOL.


SO....

To me the motor is the big issue. If it runs and has no cracks, I dont see any issues with the bike.

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11/30/2017 1:26 PM
Edited Date/Time: 11/30/2017 4:33 PM

Rockinar wrote:

All the small parts you can get. Theres a handful you can't get new like the kickstarter, but you have one on your bike and theres piles of them on Ebay if it didnt. I would not worry about the little things. As mentioned I would ask about the cylinder. A sleeved cylinder might be a deal killer for me. Worn cylinders are not an issue. They can be replated.

Look at the engine cases for cracks and welds. Especially in front of the sprocket or on the bottom of the cases. Check the swingarm for cracks where the two pieces are welded together. I had to buy 3 of them on Ebay to get one that was in good condition and not cracked. Also would be nice to check if someone let the chain grind through the swingarm but that would require him letting you take parts off the bike. I dont let buyers strip down my bikes. They can do that after they pay me for it.

The motor and the swingarm are the two things to look over. Everything else can be repaired, replaced,restored.

The hardest part I have had trouble finding was oddly the brake foot pedal spring. I had to buy one from a guy in Norway who makes them. Looked everywhere for one for weeks. Theres parts that you can't buy new anymore, but theres plenty of used ones. Like swingarms. I now have a pile of them now. LOL.


SO....

To me the motor is the big issue. If it runs and has no cracks, I dont see any issues with the bike.

97-99 kickstarter fit and available from Honda Photo 92-96

Photo 97-99

Photo Rockinar this what your looking for?

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11/30/2017 4:01 PM

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Mine is actually a '95 and I am still not done with it yet.
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11/30/2017 4:02 PM
Edited Date/Time: 11/30/2017 4:05 PM

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I need to find a new or in better shape seat base as this one is so flexable now that it springs back when I put tension on the seat cover to staple it, and I can't get the wrinkles out of it. Also Polisport plastics suck for this bike.
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12/1/2017 3:40 PM

mchonda2 wrote:

97-99 kickstarter fit and available from Honda Photo 92-96

Photo 97-99

Photo Rockinar this what your looking for?

Yeah, that's the spring I had to buy from the guy on Ebay in Norway or wherever it was. Cost me like $40 or something....crazy for a spring. But i could not find a new OEM one. Saw a history of some being sold. Nothing current when I was looking.

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12/1/2017 3:53 PM

Rockinar wrote:

All the small parts you can get. Theres a handful you can't get new like the kickstarter, but you have one on your bike and theres piles of them on Ebay if it didnt. I would not worry about the little things. As mentioned I would ask about the cylinder. A sleeved cylinder might be a deal killer for me. Worn cylinders are not an issue. They can be replated.

Look at the engine cases for cracks and welds. Especially in front of the sprocket or on the bottom of the cases. Check the swingarm for cracks where the two pieces are welded together. I had to buy 3 of them on Ebay to get one that was in good condition and not cracked. Also would be nice to check if someone let the chain grind through the swingarm but that would require him letting you take parts off the bike. I dont let buyers strip down my bikes. They can do that after they pay me for it.

The motor and the swingarm are the two things to look over. Everything else can be repaired, replaced,restored.

The hardest part I have had trouble finding was oddly the brake foot pedal spring. I had to buy one from a guy in Norway who makes them. Looked everywhere for one for weeks. Theres parts that you can't buy new anymore, but theres plenty of used ones. Like swingarms. I now have a pile of them now. LOL.


SO....

To me the motor is the big issue. If it runs and has no cracks, I dont see any issues with the bike.

mchonda2 wrote:

97-99 kickstarter fit and available from Honda Photo 92-96

Photo 97-99

Photo Rockinar this what your looking for?

Rockinar wrote:

Yeah, that's the spring I had to buy from the guy on Ebay in Norway or wherever it was. Cost me like $40 or something....crazy for a spring. But i could not find a new OEM one. Saw a history of some being sold. Nothing current when I was looking.

Yeah i got mine from the same guy.

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12/5/2017 8:39 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/5/2017 8:40 AM

Great tips here guys, thanks a lot. The guy is bringing the bike over for this weekend, so I'll get to check it over then.

Had an older vet rider I know that the '96 CR250 he owned was one his all time favorites... said he could ride it more like a 125. Anyone that's owned one care to comment on how these bikes ride compared to others you've owned?

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Positively, absolutely 110% obsessed with anything MOTO.