I had been quite active with my local TRF group ever since I bought my XL125. Lately I had been using my SP370 but found it to be too big a bike for a lot of the trails we were doing. Then I bought an immaculate DR400 Suzuki, a mistake really as it was much too nice to use off road.
Two of my rallying friends, Sid Beaumont and Ronnie Burgess had XL250RF Hondas which they used off road and for winter rallies. I quite fancied one myself, and then I heard that a Leeds member of the TRF was selling one. I had no problem getting rid of the DR and I invested a £1000 in another Honda!
To be honest it was another bike that was too nice to use off road seriously but I did do a lot of trail riding on it. It was used to good effect when Syd and a few others attended the Dean Valley Easter trail riding weekends. They were held at the West Holme camp site near Aysgarth. At that time of year the tracks up in the Dales are quite muddy and sticky. The XL was just right for those sort of conditions. The two R100 G/S's struggled a bit!
The XL250RF was a good compromise of power and weight with a radial four valve, twin carburettor, single cylinder ohc engine and a monoshock frame with long travel suspension. But for me importantly, not as high a seat height as the XR enduro versions. Its hard to believe that they are all eligible for Vintage VMCC events now.
I kept the bike for a couple of years and did nearly 10,000 miles on it. I was starting to struggle with trail riding and didn't seem to bounce as well as I used to when I fell off. All the TRF lot were wearing full body armour by then and couldn't understand why I didn't want to. It's a bit of a joke really as now I wear armoured gear and a back protector when I ride my road bike, but then it just seemed too extreme.
As so often happened, another altogether different bike was offered to me, a Yamaha FZR1000R EXUP. I sold the XL to part fund buying that and so ended my off road riding and I went back to a sports bike.
- Ted Trett