2015 Yamaha XT 250 Review!
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    Senior Member kj7687's Avatar
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    Cool 2015 Yamaha XT 250 Review!

    EDIT: See my posts on page two for updates on the 14 tooth sprocket.


    Here it is, folks Sorry for the long wait! EDIT: Paragraphs and other spacing apparently get screwed up when copying and pasting here. I don't feel like going through and fixing all those little errors lol, sorry. Also it has occurred to me that I might be crazy; perhaps next time I will do a concise summary of the main points ;D




    [Longterm-ish on and off road review of my new, 2015 XT 250, including mods and some comparison to the TW 200 and DR 200]






    Severalweeks ago, I started a thread on the purchase of my new motorcycle —a 2015 Yamaha XT 250, stating my reasons for purchasing this model,some basic specs which I think are significant, and several of thethings I like about it. That initial post can be found here, ifanyone is interested in perusing it:https://tw200forum.com/forum/other-bi...250-today.html. Since posting that purchase-announcement, I've had the pleasure ofbreaking-in the new engine, purchasing and installing several mods,and putting roughly 1,300 jubilant miles on the new machine — bothon road and off. Needless to say, I'm loving it! Although, as withany machine, there are pros and cons, I am quite happy with mydecision overall (to purchase this model); the pros of the XT arefantastic, and the cons are not so horrible as to cause any buyer'sremorse.


    InitialRiding Impressions


    My firstthoughts, upon sampling the new bike, were on how it compares to myold Suzuki DR 200 (and my TW 200 before that). Right off the bat, itbecame apparent that, while certainly no rocket ship, the XT 250definitely feels like it has a little more pep to it's step. Handlingis fast and crisp; bone stock, this motorcycle actually carves upstreet-canyon roads quite nicely. It is actually fairly competent inthat arena (the low compression, 2 valve, air cooled, 250 cc enginedoes, of course, limit its application to serious canyon carving...).The antithesis to this sharp handling is that the bike does, attimes, feel a bit twitchy and unsettled. More on that later... Thefirst few tanks of fuel run through the bike netted some ratherimpressive miles per gallon: the least efficient of the first four orfive tanks returned 69 mpg, with the most efficient returning anastonishing 79 mpg! Note that I was not trying for these numbers, butrather focusing purely on engine break-in methodology.


    EngineBreak-in
    Enginebreak-in for the XT, as per the official Yamaha owner's manual, is a1,000 mile ordeal. Yes, I did ride the bike 1,000 miles for thebreak-in. Some will call me crazy for this, but I have my reasons(rather sound reasons, I dare say). Basically, for the first 600miles, I did not consistently operate the motorcycle above 1/3throttle. For the last 400 miles, I did not consistently go over 1/2throttle. These parameters were punctuated, about every five miles,with two or three WIDE OPEN blasts from just above idle to red line,and back down again. These punctuations, of course, never took placeunder anything but full, normal operating temperature. I changed theengine oil and filter multiple times during break-in (usingconventional oil: Honda 10W40SJ), did a valve adjustment at 600miles, and never ran the engine too long without allowing it to cool(several “heat cycles”). Feel free to PM me if you wish to knowmore about my methodology. Please be aware that this motorcycle didnot see a spec of dirt until the engine break-in and all mods werecomplete, so the proceeding descriptions (before the “Off RoadImpressions/Capability” section) are primarily based on myroad-riding experiences.


    PostBreak-in...Engine Power and Characteristics
    Bottom-endpower from the XT 250 motor feels similar to the aforementioned TWand DR 200. Keep in mind, here, that the TW is geared MUCH lower thanthe XT. The DR, on the other hand, has nearly identical first andsecond gears. At 8,000 RPM, only about 1 mph separates the two bikes,with the XT being the “faster” one. Letting the XT breathe alittle does clearly elevate it above the others — right about tothe extent that one would expect from an extra 50cc.
    TheEFI on this machine is absolutely brilliant! The engine fires rightup every time you push the button — no fussing about with a chokeknob or fuel tap here. Hot or cold, the motor settles right into aconsistently butter-smooth idle, and responds instantly to thetiniest throttle inputs. Fueling is smooth and consistent all the wayfrom 1,100 RPM up to red line; there is absolutely no hesitation,surging, burbling, flat spots, or any of that sort of nasty crap. Tobe fair, all this raving about the EFI on this machine iscoming from a guy who's owned only carbureted bikes previously. Evenstill, I know that EFI is not always so well sorted! Based on myexperiences riding this bike, I have inferred that the engine “redline” seems to be at about 9,000 RPM. Engine power declines sharplyabove 8,000 RPM. Also from my experiences (and previous research), Ihave inferred that peak horsepower at the crank is about 23, and peaktorque at the crank is about 15 or 16 foot pounds. Compare that to 16and 11 (respectively) for the TW 200 — and 20 and 13, for the DR200.
    So,what does 23 horsepower and roughly 16 foot pounds of torque do for a291 pound quasi-dirt bike on the highway? In short, it provides saidmachine with just enough power to maintain a steady 60 or 65 mph (orperhaps a bit more, but those are my cruise speeds for bikes likethis...). I even stood up, acting like a sail, while riding the bikeup highway 79 here in Southern California — fairly steep, ashighways go — and the bike still held an indicated 65 mph, even onthe steepest sections — albeit barely. Get this bike up into asteep mountain pass back-road, however, and it reminds you that it isan air cooled, two valve, 250, by its inability to maintain fifthgear on the steeper bits. On the highway, though, it is very smoothand virtually buzz-free: at an indicated 65, the mirrors are silkysmooth! Take it up to an indicated 70, and it still feels prettysmooth, and just fine, but the mirrors do start to haze up a littlefrom a slight engine buzz. I do weigh only 140 pounds, sosignificantly heavier riders may see different results. Note that at7,000 RPM in fifth gear, the XT is traveling at about 65 mph —about 5 mph faster than the DR 200, and about 10 mph faster than theTW 200, assuming stock gearing for all three, of course.
    Beingthe hooligan that I am, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that,wait for it...a bone-stock 2015 Yamaha XT 250 will do sit-down powerwheelies — no clutch needed! They aren't quite as easy as they wereon my big-bore KLX 250S (331 cc), but neither are they overlydifficult. I have also discovered that, with some effort, this bikewill do some pretty decent second-gear clutch wheelies! Thisperhaps-unexpected propensity for wheelies, it should be noted, doesnot come solely from a brilliant motor: the combination of overalllight weight, a light front end, fairly short gearing, and anultra-short wheelbase all come together to produce said wheelies. Asfor engine sound/exhaust note: at idle, the XT engine sound is akinto some strange-yet-pleasant hybrid between a purring cat and a smalltractor motor. Let it rip and ascend to the upper RPM range, and thatpurring cat transforms into an angry dog — a small, angry dog!


    Suspension/chassisand Handling
    On the road, the stock XT 250 handles decently, for what it is. Turnin is quick and easy, as are mid-corner line changes: just input aslight push/pull on the bars and look where you want to go, and thebike immediately complies. The stock handlebars — and the positionin which they are set — make for a seating position that isreasonably conducive to semi-spirited street riding (low enough toallow hanging off the bike in corners without feeling super awkward).The stock Bridgestone Trailwing tires actually work pretty well astrue 50/50 dual sport tires, in spite of their infamous “DeathWing” monicker. While certainly not true dirt bike tires, they arecompetent off road, and not half bad on road either.
    With this playful and highly flickable handling, comes theinevitable dark side of superb flickability — tendencies towardoccasional twitchiness and instability. Nothing extreme orunmanageable here, but this motorcycle does tend to get a bit wobblyand unsettled if too much aggressive maneuvering forces are exertedupon it by the rider. All of this can be largely attributed to theultra-short wheelbase, which is only 53.5 inches (according to theofficial Yamaha Motors U.S. web site). Comparatively, the WR 250Rshows a 55.9 inch wheelbase, and Suzuki's DR 650 wheelbase is shownon Suzuki's web site as 58.7 inches. Aside from the wheelbase, thereis no question that the XT 250 employs a budget suspension systemthat could have come straight out of 1980. Of course, let it not beforgotten that this model retails for a miniscule $5,200! Overall theride is comfortable, and, ultimately, it works. For several hundredmore, the XT 250's bigger brother — the WR250R — offers somethingmuch closer to proper enduro suspension.


    Modifications
    I bought this bike to use as both a commuter and serious (as seriousas such a budget-oriented machine can be) off road/ hard enduromachine. With this type of use in mind, several modifications to thestock XT 250 are virtually requirements. Riding the stock bike theway I ride my dual sports would see it beaten and destroyed in shortorder. All of the mods mentioned here were completed at 900 miles,just before finishing the engine break-in.
    The first and most important modifications include the variousarmors/hard parts added to the motorcycle: skid plate, handlebars,lever guards, Cyclerack, and rear brake master cylinder guard. Ofthese, the most important isthe skid plate. The under-engine frame rails are small and horriblyexposed; without a skid plate, they would quickly be dented anddeformed, ruining the structural integrity of the frame. My plate ofchoice was the Ricochet skid plate, for $95 (a bit less with thecoupon code). It is thick, sturdy, and well made, offering fullwrap-around protection and a hole for draining oil from the engine.
    For handlebars, I selected theProTaper SE bars in a CR mid-bend. The primary structural differencebetween these and the stock steel bars, is that they are able to flexduring impacts, as opposed to bending and remaining deformed — amust for proper off road handlebars! As for lever guards, in my view,my guards of choice are the choice.Lever guards, of course, are essential to prevent clutch and breaklevers from bending and snapping during drops. To put it bluntly, inmy opinion, everything else sucks compared to the HDB Ultimatehandguards. They are much more substantial compared to thecompetition, and the bar-end to top clamp mount system is superiorther guards' inner mounts are secured to the handlebars, which meansthey can rotate out of the way during crashes. This superiority doescome at a price — $150 for the guards, top clamp, and mountinghardware — well worth it! HDB even ordered my chosen handlebars forme, tapped the ends, installed the inserts, and then shipped me thewhole kit! The Cyclerack, is, of course, designed for carrying cargoon the back of motorcycles. What some may not consider is that italso functions as an excellent, very strong piece of armor for theexhaust, turn signals, etc. It can also be used effectively as apassenger grab rail or a leverage point for moving the bike sidewaysor picking it up after a drop. Finally, the TCI products rear breakmaster cylinder guard, well, pretty much does what its title implies.Installation/fitment of this piece did require a portion of the guardto be removed with a grinder.
    After all the armoring up was done,the next bits to go were the stock tires. I replaced the Bridgestoneswith a Dunlop D606 front, and Pirelli MT21 rear. RideOn TPS dynamicfluid balancer and sealant was used in the tires. This is an amazingproduct which completely eliminates, and vastly improves upon,traditional wheel balancing. It improves initial balancing, maintainsperfect balance throughout the lives of the tires (making the ridesmoother), reduces the chance of flats, and ultimately extends thelife of the tires. The rationale for these tires is simple: they arebetter in the dirt — closer to real knobbies than the stock tires.This is especially true of the front tire, which offers muchbetter grip in the dirt than thestock front tire (having much larger and more aggressive knobs). Onedown side (which I believe can be traced to the D606 front) is thatthe bike now has a tendency to sometimes become almost dangerouslyunstable at speeds over 75 mph: it doesn't want to track straight andtrue at higher speeds. However, below 75, there is no indication ofthis disturbing behavior. Since the bike tops out at 85 or 90 anyway,and normal highway cruising is done at 60 or 65, this does notconcern me overly much. The steering head bearings could alsopossibly be set on the loose side, which could have something to dowith it.
    In addition to the handlebars,armor, and tires, I have taken out nearly all of the rear shockspring preload. The budget-oriented suspension on this machine tendsto deflect harshly after significant impacts (hitting ten inch,square-edged rocks, for example). Taking out the preload effectivelyslows the rebound a little, which helps with that issue. This changedid seem to reduce street-handling quality a little, and made powerwheelies slightly more difficult. This is the only suspensionadjustment possible on the XT250.


    Offroad first-impressions/capability
    Only about 100 or 150 of the 1,300miles currently displayed on the odometer have been off road. Thosemiles have been enough to learn a fair bit about the new bike,though. One major question that I had when researching this bike,pre-purchse, was whether or not a gearing change would be “required”for serious off road use. My initial street ridingimpressions suggested to me that stock gearing would be adequate;after all, it will do power wheelies. Hitting my local riding spot(literally 15 seconds down the street) for a few hours and comparingthe XT's performance with that of my DR 200 seemed to confirm thisthought. One big and steep hill in particular had previously provennearly impossible onthe DR; it would bog down close to the top. The only way to make ithappen was a perfect run, damn near red-lined at about 35 mph. The XT250, while still requiring a reasonable degree of speed/momentum,seemed to conquer it with little difficulty, even pulling into anice, fat wheelie near the top, on one attempt. While this wheeliewasn't necessarily intentional, I did nothing to discourage it fromrunning its course!
    In another nearby riding area,there are a few hills which I know are impossible on my DR 200,because of power deficiency (gearing the DR down could help with someof these, but that would raise the engine RPM too high for reasonable60 mph cruising). To make a long story short, I quickly found thelimitations of the XT 250's power on some of these hills. Perhaps themost notable difference in power between the DR 200 and the XT 250 isthis: the Yamaha will make it up mostly anything you can throw at it, ifyou can get a good run at it, get the RPM well into the upper midrange before hittingthe base of the hill (around 25 mph in second gear), and keepthe throttle pinned the wholetime. Conversely, the Suzuki will often still bog down on steephills (in second gear), even if all of those, uh, prerequisites, aremet. Fail to meet those prerequisites and the XT will, again, remindthe rider that it is a low compression, two valve, air cooled, 250four stroke. For example, one of the hills I was testing the bike ongets pretty choppy with ruts and such, which doesn't allow forfull-speed runs at it, and requires careful line choice and throttlemodulation to avoid being thrown from the saddle. That budgetsuspension certainly doesn't help here, either.
    My descriptions of the XT's offroad manners thus far may lead my readers to think that I hate thebike and that it just sucks off road. This is definitely not the caseat all, however. I knew what to expect with this model, and amactually quite pleased with the bike. I merely wish to accuratelyportray the machine and honestly describe its shortcomings —shortcomings of which I was well aware before ever even seriouslyconsidering the XT 250. It is not an extreme enduro machine; of thisthere is no doubt (mostly on account of the lack of power and torque, but also because it doesn't have the chassis or suspension to take big hits at high speeds). But it is a competent, capable, fun, and highly affordable dual sport motorcycle. I believe it will also prove to bevery reliable.
    I have a 14 tooth front sprocket onorder (stock is a 15 tooth); this should help with the power problemson some of those big, nasty, second gear hill climbs off road. Infairness, I actually expected to have to change the gearing for moreserious off road use, before I ever purchased this model. I did makeit up one of three specific hills on which I was testing the newmachine's off road capability. Another of those three will beimpossible with this motorcycle, even with significant gearingchanges. That hill represents one of those cases in which the adage“no replacement for displacement” may hold true. That hill is anear-vertical monster, a monster that requires big-boy suspension andbig-boy horsepower, plain and simple. I know this, as I have managedit in the past with my heavily modified KLX 331S (lots of low-endtorque that a 250 just can'tmanage!). I believe that the 14 tooth sprocket will make it possible,though still quite difficult, to conquer the last of those threehills (which I could not with stock gearing).
    Of course there is more to hardenduro riding than just flying up big hills. The XT 250 has provenitself to be very fun and quite capable in low speed technicalterrain. There is a dry wash about five minutes from my home, whichis a perfect place to test a dirt bike's competence in suchconditions. The wash is filled with deep sand, gravel, downed treebranches, bushes, huge rocks and boulders, and cliff-like riverbedwalls. This is one situation in which that super short wheelbase andextremely nimble handling is quite beneficial. It is very easy topoint-and-shoot with the XT. The bike has a nice, wide steeringradius and a pretty good riding position (thanks in part to theProTaper bars), which means that radical line changes at low speedsare possible. This means that maneuvering through thoseriverbed-walls, fallen trees, and boulders in deep sand, all feelsquite natural on this little Yamaha. In other words, the bike is inits element here. You damn sure won't win any races through this typeof terrain, but take your time and pick your lines, and the XT willget you through it!
    Remember all that raving about theEFI on this machine? Well, it applies here as well. Even at very lowRPM and 1/8 to 1/4 throttle, the engine responds instantly to theslightest throttle inputs. This is not to say that it surgesunpredictably, for that is not at all the case. It respondsinstantly, but only as much or as little as you want it to. In myopinion, EFI is much nicerthan a carburetor. It is smoother and more responsive, moreefficient, and less prone to issues caused by sitting unused for longperiods of time. If speeds are kept under ten miles per hour (evenstock gearing is such that this is no problem) and you hold on tight,this little Yamaha will happily dance its way through some prettygnarly stuff without feeling overwhelmed. The 11 inches of groundclearance certainly helps in such endeavors. The 14 tooth sprocketwill surely make it even better suited to this type of riding! Thetires I have selected offer excellent grip through the aforementionedterrain; the rear tire hooks up and pulls nicely in loose, gravellyrocks and over boulders, and the front tire does very well inresisting lateral washout (not so for the stock front tire!).


    Closing Thoughts
    DidI pick the right bike? Hell yes I did! Granted, had I been so luckyas to have several thousand dollars more, I would have absolutelychosen something else. But among the choices available to me for themoney that I did have, I have no doubt that the 2015 Yamaha XT 250 isthe best. The KLX 250S is carbureted and often suffers from rottenstarting problems. It and the CRF 250L are prone to cam chaintensioner failure. The TW 200 and DR 200 are both carbureted, andless powerful. And of course, I've already owned a TW 200, andcurrently still own a DR 200. So those wouldn't make much sense forme at this time. The WR 250R is $1,500 more, plus another $150because it would “require” radiator guards. Beta's magical beau —the 430 RS — is a whopping $4,500 dollars more, nearly twice thecost of the little Yamaha! One day I will have a Beta RS, orsomething like it. For now, however, the XT offers a very economical,capable, and (hopefully/probably) reliable little commuter and funtrail bike! Check back in a week or two for my report on the effectof the 14 tooth sprocket, which I will include in this post as anedit.









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    Last edited by kj7687; 01-24-2016 at 02:21 AM.
    KJ, just KJ, ok.


    Current rides:
    2004 GMC Sierra 1500, 1999 Toyota 4Runner

    Past rides: 2015 Yamaha XT 250, 1997 Suzuki DR 200, 2007 Honda Ruckus, 2007 Yamaha TW 200, 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 500, 2009 Kawasaki KLX331S; 1994 GMC Sierra 1500, 1987 Nissan Pathfinder, 1992 Acura Integra, 1986 Honda CRX, 1989 Jeep Cherokee, 1994 Chevrolet Astro Van, 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit, 1984 Jeep Cherokee

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    Senior Member kj7687's Avatar
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    Last edited by kj7687; 10-17-2015 at 04:46 PM.
    KJ, just KJ, ok.


    Current rides:
    2004 GMC Sierra 1500, 1999 Toyota 4Runner

    Past rides: 2015 Yamaha XT 250, 1997 Suzuki DR 200, 2007 Honda Ruckus, 2007 Yamaha TW 200, 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 500, 2009 Kawasaki KLX331S; 1994 GMC Sierra 1500, 1987 Nissan Pathfinder, 1992 Acura Integra, 1986 Honda CRX, 1989 Jeep Cherokee, 1994 Chevrolet Astro Van, 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit, 1984 Jeep Cherokee

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    Senior Member kj7687's Avatar
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    A couple of the pictures (the Cyclerack close-up and rear break master cylinder close-up) won't upload for some reason, and my videos aren't uploaded somewhere that I can link to. No time to fix all that right now, sorry
    Last edited by kj7687; 10-17-2015 at 04:38 PM.
    jtomelliott49 likes this.
    KJ, just KJ, ok.


    Current rides:
    2004 GMC Sierra 1500, 1999 Toyota 4Runner

    Past rides: 2015 Yamaha XT 250, 1997 Suzuki DR 200, 2007 Honda Ruckus, 2007 Yamaha TW 200, 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 500, 2009 Kawasaki KLX331S; 1994 GMC Sierra 1500, 1987 Nissan Pathfinder, 1992 Acura Integra, 1986 Honda CRX, 1989 Jeep Cherokee, 1994 Chevrolet Astro Van, 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit, 1984 Jeep Cherokee

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    Banned ZDR1's Avatar
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    Looking good now you have a rack to put a Roto pack fuel can on it. The one thing I did not like when I had a 2009 was very few aftermarket parts.
    jtomelliott49 likes this.

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    Senior Member sponge's Avatar
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    Sounds like you have chosen a fun ride. The DR may be a little redundant at this point.
    jtomelliott49 likes this.
    Chris Vogel
    Current Rides
    2014 Zuma 50, 2004 TW200, 1992 R100GS, 1987 TW200
    Current Projects
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    Banned ZDR1's Avatar
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    I put a sergeant seat on it and a windshield, Skid plate, rear rack with a 2.5 gallon fuel can and tank bag and changed the Ching sing tires. 199092_1743924369997_1035695_n.jpg 132182_1591793646824_7076497_o.jpg
    Last edited by ZDR1; 10-17-2015 at 05:12 PM.
    jtomelliott49 and kj7687 like this.

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    Senior Member Dryden-Tdub's Avatar
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    Awesome write up. I have been patiently waiting and you did not disappoint. I will be waiting for your future thoughts on this bike. Thank you.


    Tom
    jtomelliott49 and kj7687 like this.
    It won't be greed which destroys America. It will be envy.

    Man who runs in front of motorcycle gets tired. Man who runs behind motorcycle gets exhausted.

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    Banned ZDR1's Avatar
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    Mine was not fuel injected that would of been nice and a sixth gear and I was getting around 78 mpg, I bet if you sent your oil cover to a guy on here he could make you a cooler.
    jtomelliott49 likes this.

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    Senior Member DonBenito's Avatar
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    Glad to hear you're happy with the XT!

    Like you point out, the FI really sets the XT apart from a lot of the competition. It's just easier living with an FI bike day to day.

    Here's wishing you many more happy and worry-free miles on the XT!
    2011 TW200 - Sold - after 9700 miles and 1,000,000 smiles. So long Tee Dub!
    2012 KLR650
    - Sold
    2013 Tiger Explorer XC
    2014 CB500X - RRP L3

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    Senior Member kj7687's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zdiver1 View Post
    I put a sergeant seat on it and a windshield, Skid plate, rear rack with a 2.5 gallon fuel can and tank bag and changed the Ching sing tires. 199092_1743924369997_1035695_n.jpg 132182_1591793646824_7076497_o.jpg
    Sweet looking rides, Z!

    I'm looking into purchasing a fuel bladder or two for longer trips. An extra gallon would give the XT a range of around 200 miles.
    ZDR1 likes this.
    KJ, just KJ, ok.


    Current rides:
    2004 GMC Sierra 1500, 1999 Toyota 4Runner

    Past rides: 2015 Yamaha XT 250, 1997 Suzuki DR 200, 2007 Honda Ruckus, 2007 Yamaha TW 200, 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 500, 2009 Kawasaki KLX331S; 1994 GMC Sierra 1500, 1987 Nissan Pathfinder, 1992 Acura Integra, 1986 Honda CRX, 1989 Jeep Cherokee, 1994 Chevrolet Astro Van, 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit, 1984 Jeep Cherokee

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