A true Classic that lives up to its reputation.
When Honda released the Honda Elsinore CR250M Motor cross Bike and the Road registerable MT250 version in 1973 they changed Motor cross forever. The CR250M weighed in at 214 pounds and produced 28 horsepower to the back wheel. The front forks had 7.1inches of travel which back then was as good as you could get. The motor casings were cast in Magnesium and the tank was polished Aluminum. The bike also had a full Expansion Chamber and alloy rims. The drum brakes worked well and the five speed gearbox was a joy to use.
The Mt250 was the road going version with a larger steel tank, Speedo, tacho, horn, front lights, rear lamp stop lights and indicators. The expansion chamber was longer than the Motor cross model and offered a milder state of tune with a broader torque delivery. It was heavier than the Motor cross bike but was still very light compared to any other 250 in its class.
I picked up my MT250 from a collector with three sheds full of bikes in varying states of decay. It had 5000miles on the Speedo and the original tyres and battery. The seller also threw in an Aluminum Elsinore tank as well as the original. The body had a fair bit of surface rust and the seat had rotted away. I stripped the bike down then wire brushed and sanded the frame. I found a near new seat on eBay and repainted the body work. I chose smaller aftermarket indicators and a more 'classic' style rear taillight - stop light combination. I got hold of a service manual from eBay and rewired the bike, which was not as hard as I though it was going to be. I decided to remove the two stroke oil tank and run the bike on premix. You can safely do this on this model Elsinore because the oil pump only pumped the two stroke oil into the carby. This reduces weight and gives me peace of mind because I can control the exact amount of oil mixed with the fuel. Be careful doing this on other bikes as you can potentially damage the engine. I have found that my Elsinore runs better on a hotter plug (NGK B9ES rather than the standard B8ES). You can also run a BR9ES. The 'R' stands for Resistor which reduces electronic interference very important on Bikes with computer engine management. Of course you don't need this on the Elsinore but the BR plugs are a bit more common these days and your local Garage may only have the Resistor Plug.
After a thorough clean out of all the fuel lines and carby and a flush and oil change in the gearbox the bike was ready to start. (The bike was running when I purchased it). The motor, clutch and gearbox were in excellent condition. I put on a new set of tyres, some new fork seals and boots and the bike was ready to ride.
The first thing you notice about the Elsinore is how light and easy push around the bike is. Then you throw your leg over and realize how low the seat is compared to modern trail bikes which is a bit like mounting a horse. You can easily place your feet firmly on the ground even if you are small in stature that is because the Elsinore is close to the ground with quite low ground clearance compared to modern trail bikes. A little bit of choke and the bike kicks over nicely. It rarely bites back like more highly tuned two strokes and a couple of kicks is usually all it needs to bring the motor to life. A little bit of a warm up and away you go.
This two stroke engine delivers pleasant low down grunt which was the first surprise. The Motor will spin the wheel as soon as you twist the throttle and acceleration is crisp and even. The gearbox is delightful, nice light with no false neutrals. The clutch is easy to use giving nice rapid gear changes through the five gears. On a tar road the bike is a load of fun, it corners really well as you would expect from a lightweight bike with a low center of gravity. The power delivery is quite even across the rev range with a bit of a surge at the higher end but really is more like a four stroke than a two stroke. The bike has a feeling of effortless power which was surprising and very pleasing.
The seating position is very laid back with those wide handle bars and the nice soft seat. Mr Honda has always been good at ergonomics and this bike is no exception. The brakes are adequate and stop the bike quite well remembering that this is 1973 and its not fair to compare the brakes with a modern bike.I would love to trick one of these bikes up as a road bike with road tyres, smaller bars and stiffer suspension it would be a party on a twisting mountain road.
So now for the dirt:
On gravel roads the bike is well balanced and stable as long as the ruts are not too deep. It's on the rougher stuff that the MT250 shows problems with its low ground clearance. On the forest roads where I ride there a lot of twigs and sticks which can flick up and whack you on the leg. (Always wear Motor cross Boots !). These twigs can also jam themselves in between cogs, wheels, pipes and chains. The Elsinore has a good solid bash plate which is a blessing because it needs one. Having said all of this, if you stand on the pegs and ride it trail bike style you can ride over the rough stuff pretty well. Remember the CR250M Motor Cross Elsinore has better ground clearance and is set up specifically for the rough stuff. All round I think they have found a great balance with this bike, it's the sort of bike you can jump on and ride anywhere. As an added bonus the Elsinore has two spark plugs, so if one fouls up you can still get home on the other one.
Cheers and Happy Riding.
Carl Ellison. on December 31, 2015:
Found the diagnosis for my MR 250..Sold it and bought a Kawasaki 1970 175cc trail bike.
Starts first kick,19 hp, fun fun fun.
Would l ever buy another MR 250? No chance. Best thing l ever did was to get rid of the MR.
I understand why Honda only produced the troublesom bike for 12 months..because it was rubbish.
Carl Ellison on September 18, 2015:
Im in the process of renovating MR250 1975 and 2 MT 250's both 1974 Elsinores.
Having difficulties with the MR 250 carburation constantly smoking/flooding on tickover.Multi carb strip and inspection..all stock jets and clear gallerys..bought a second carb..done the same inspection/cleaning and still smokes!
Replaced crankseals still smokes. Just before l gave up l thought l would fit one of the MT250 carbs to try and diagnose the problem. Some adaptation and on it went.
Started second kick..no smoke!
My question is..the massive carb fitted to the MR 250 back in the 70's,did some people suffer with carb related smoke problems and what alternatives were available to rectify/diagnose.
Big Sven on December 15, 2010:
The Elsinore 250 mx looked strange at first, too low and long, the front wheel WAAAAY out there like a chopper. It WAS low, big riders never really got on with it (me). The expansion-chamber flattened in the ruts and the gear-lever ripped-off, usually cracking the cases and bending things in the box. Savvy riders made their own lever, with a dog-leg raising it a couple of inches. Crude, but it worked. But landing hard after big jumps could still bend the shaft in the cases, it being at the bottom of the cases, not higher-up as most European bikes. But the Elsinore proved a very good bike, handling better than it looked, and once modded for our rough tracks (Sweden) it was a hard act to beat. The power was excellent, it blew away most others. The flywheel was much lighter than we were used to, but using a higher gear (3rd instead of 2nd) and punching the throttle wide open earlier surprised many following riders. Unfortunately, later models just got worse. Honda did not use the same high-quality materials as the Europeans and things bent, the bikes sagging like an old horse after just one season. You were ment to buy a new one each year. We couldn't afford that, 2-3 years the norm for us. Only the original Elsinore impressed us.
Motor leathers on July 22, 2010:
Frankly speaking, I'm not fond of Honda bikes. But Valkery is the greatest thing ever made in the world.
Classycut on November 17, 2009:
I like to bike but after seeing a hirrible scene of a guy who fell off of bike I decided to quit. But I had a lot of fun then biking.