Everyday Friend: XR250 Build
March 16, 2017
RCC: Our shop is in the garage that we started Red Clouds Collective out of. We spent about 2 years working in there everyday sewing pants, backpack and making tons of leather goods. When we had the opportunity to move our brand into a larger space we turned the garage into a motorcycle shop. Now it is full of motorcycles, random parts, tools and so many objects of inspiration. Some people miss their home when they are away for too long, but I miss my garage. Most nights I will spend countless hours working on motorcycles or just strumming a guitar dreaming up ideas about the next project.
AJ: What was your inspiration for the build?
RCC: Sometimes we just want to have fun. This build is made to put a smile on your face if you are riding in the city or through trails in the woods. I have owned a few enduro bikes from the 70’s and when I started doing more trail riding I bought a more modern dirt bike. The suspension along with the lightweight made it so much more fun to ride compared to those older enduro’s. The only problem was that I loved the look of my 1970’s Honda XL 350, but enjoyed the feeling of riding my new dirt bike. I wanted the best of both worlds.
AJ: Where did you find the bike? What year was it originally made?
RCC: I found this 1989 Honda XR250 in a small town outside of Portland, Oregon. The guy I bought it from had picked it up from a trailer park in the area and got it running. The seat had duct tape holding it together, the plastics were completely broken and ziptied on and the tank was secured by a bungee cord, not to mention there was a handful of wires coming from below the tank which were wrapped around the handlebars and the frame had about 3 layers of spray paint on it. The bike started, stopped and it did have a title that said it was street legal. He threw in some extra wheels and random parts and we took it home. For the next few months I rode it all over the OHV trails of the Tillamook Forest of the Oregon Coast. It was a blast to ride, but it hurt to look at.
AJ: Can you run us through the build process?
RCC: After riding this bike in the trails and beating it up for a few months it needed some love. It really looked like a junk pile and things just kept falling apart, but it got me where I needed to go and was fun to ride. We started going through it doing some routine maintenance and at the time had removed all of the plastics, the seat, air box and the tank. It had a great stance and it looked great stripped down so we began to play around by placing some random seats and tanks on it to see if we might be able to make this into something that looked good and would still function as a fun dirt bike. Design and function are everything for us at Red Clouds with each product we create. We decided to rebuild this bike with our own vision. Every bolt was rusted on, and oil leaked from any possible place so we started rebuilding certain things like the rear shock, brakes and replacing gaskets and cutting off any useless thing on the bike. An angle grinder, liquid wrench and simple green became our best friends cleaning up this rusty thing. At first we tried to remove the many layers of paint with paint stripper, but decided to bring it to get sandblasted. We used a wire wheel, steel wool and a dremel along with Mothers aluminum polish on everything. We welded necessary mounts and made modifications to make the lines of the frame match the new fenders, tank and seat. We were all about the vintage style and feel while keeping it lightweight and dirt ready. The vision came to life and the bike is more fun to ride than ever.
AJ: What was the hardest part of the build?
RCC: The hardest part and most time consuming was the seat. We have been making custom seats for a long time, but this one was especially tough because the tank is asymmetrical, and we also wanted to incorporate a leather weave technique we have been playing with. We have never seen a woven leather motorcycle seat before and thought it would be great see how it wears in after using it. It took way longer than expected to make and if we messed up sewing it together we would have had to start all over. It was such a relief to finish it and see how it looked on the bike.
AJ: What do you like best about the finished bike?
RCC: Our favorite part is that it looks like the perfect blend between the 1970’s enduro’s and a modern dirt bike. It feels light and responsive and it looks classic and clean. There are a lot of details that I could say are my favorite, but honestly it brings a smile to my face while riding it in the city or in the woods and that was the ultimate goal.
Year, Make and Model:
1989 Honda XR250
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