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Editor's Note

This page is so old it describes my first TZ, a 1993 model bought in 1996. Since then, I've had a 1996 model, and I've just ordered a brand new TZ250M 2000 model. I hope to update this page soon with some info on the new bike.

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Open Class 1997!

Roger Ford rides a Yamaha TZ250E for 1997

An open-class TZ250 accelerates faster than an Exup. Surprised? A wet Exup with a tank of fuel weighs around 230 kg, and makes 123hp at the rear wheel. Add an 80 kg rider, That's 0.397hp/kilo.
A 120kg TZ makes 80 hp. With rider, that's 0.4hp/kilo.

Almost 80 bhp from 120 kg (264lbs)! View a Dyno chart (67K) showing the TZ's power after tuning by Graham File. Dyno testing by Dynotech

After coming second in the Bemsee Formula 400 championship last year (I would have won, but for my broken shoulder in France), I figured it was time to move up a class for 1997.

Testing at Lydden, 24th Feb 97

Lydden was damp, and I pussy-footed around for the first few laps. The new power was showing already, the front didn't want to stay down! This worried me, and we tried finding ways to reduce it. I'm crap with suspension, but the workshop suspension guide recommended increasing shock preload.

This reduced the wheelie tendency, but made the rear grip less, and break away more often. I was pleased, though, that I was able to feel the difference. We reset the suspension, and I started to learn to live with the wheelies instead. It's amazing, but so long as you don't back off the throttle, you don't need to have your front wheel on the floor as you exit the bend still cranked over.

There was some detonation in the third and fourth sessions. At first I thought it was the noise of the clutch, reflecting off the track mid-bend. Graham suggested a larger needle-jet, which solved the problem, fortunately before any but the tiniest pitting had started. It takes about ten minytes to strip and refit the head on a TZ, by the way.

Getting used to the race (upside-down) gearchange was tricky. For last year's only race, I'd had it road way up. I didn't feel that I was doing full justice to the bike - but still managed low 46's. That's good enough to win a Formula Junior race on a cold day.

The competition present on Honda RS-250s were Formula Junior champ Darren Thomas, Ronny Ross (up from winning the TZR class) and ex Formula Junior super-Novice Lawrence Hooper. The two Johnson Brothers were on TZs. All were putting in fast rides, though none were consistently pulling away, except Darren, who was on slicks.

It's going to be a close match at Brands. Any one of us could turn out to be the fastest - or the slowest!

First Meeting - Bemsee Round 1 at Brands Hatch, 1st March 1997.

The New TZ

Which class?

My choices were a CBR600, or an open class Yamaha TZ250. A "diesel", or a pukka racing bike.

After my RGV, big bikes seem like hard work on the track, so the TZ had the edge. And anyway, when I give up racing, I can always get a 600 - or ride my FireBlade - for track days. This might be my last chance to ride a true racing bike.

A TZ doesn't make much more power than a tuned RGV, around 76 against maybe 72 hp, which says a lot for the RGV engine. But the TZ is much lighter, and handles and stops far better.

TZ 250 Model History

The V-Twin TZ has been going since 1991 with the TZ250B. Before that were the reverse cylinder TZ250W and TZ250A's. Most V-twin components can be upgraded - separately or together - for the latest versions.

But the frame of the B is different, limiting carb and airbox upgrades. So I wanted a D (there was no C), or later.

Bargain

I've bought a TZ250E, 1993 model, which was imported direct from Japan by Rob Mitchell (01635 269047) supplied by Kiwi racer Sean Harris.

Initially, I wasn't impressed by the bike. The paint job was nasty, and showed signs of scuffs and scrapes. Othewise, it was pretty clean, and came with spare wheels (but no disks), newish spare cylinders, crank, and lots of new gaskets, pads and stuff. But it didn't look new, so my initial instinct was to leave it. Then I phoned Graham, and he thought it was a good buy, especially if I knocked a bit off the price.

It was up at 4950. I offered four and a half. Rob checked some papers, and said "Could you go to four six?". The deal was done. Rob Mitchell was at Brands and was really pleased to see me do so well on it. "We only sell quality", said his Dad. If you're looking for a TZ, give Rob a call on 01635 269047.

It was a bit of a risk buying a bike with a totally unknown history, but it looks like it's paid off. Graham File has taken a look at the engine, and reckons it's mint. Looks like it has hardly been used.

At 4600, I'd have been OK if I'd needed to replace everything in the engine. As it is, it looks like it will be a real bargain.

We've put it on Dynotech's dyno, and it's making a strong 74hp. It's the best untuned TZ they've seen. It certainly didn't seem slow at Brands!

Preparation for 97

The bike will be stripped from the ground up, and everything renewed for next season. The suspension will go off to Maxton (01928 740531) , the engine to Graham File, New Dennis Trollope bodywork will be bought and sent with the amazingly light - but rather battered - original bodywork to Brucie Baby at Body Care (01273 329191).

The shopping list looks like this

Work

Parts & Tools

Tyres

The Competition

Doubts about my competitiveness in the Open class have been banished at Brands. A fourth in my first ever race, and a better lap time than Bemsee veteran Les Brace proved I can mix it with the fast guys.

Many of Bemsee's best riders are now in that class - including this year's arch-rival Darren Thomas on a Honda RS250. The Honda is a better bike at National (Supercup) level, but the TZ is reckoned to be easier to ride and live with for us mere mortals at club level. Also RS mounted is Mick Fincham, who won both of the Bemsee Formula Junior championships last year, and then sold me the RGV that I've been campaigning this year.

Full Class?

The open 250 class in Bemsee has been weak in past years. But I know of 22 riders in the class already, so I'm hoping we'll get our own grid.

It's going to be a really strong class next year. The strength of talent means we can expect a real tussle each race, not the common club race phenomena of one or two riders pissing off ahead and winning by half a lap or more after eight laps. It will be great to watch - perhaps not quite Doohan and Criville, but close!

I'm really looking forward to it. This year, I've been used to being out the front. That really doesn't give you the competition you need to push yourself onward. Next year, I'll be fighting my way in the pack, and hopefully that will give me enough momentum and adrenalin to reach the front.

Read Roger Ford's report on the TZ's first outing


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These pages are maintained by Roger Ford (email: raford@uk.oracle.com)