Yamaha IT175 – Legendary Woods Bike

15 06 2011

Yamaha had it right back in the late 70’s and early 80’s with the IT175.  The IT filled that gap for riders who wanted legendary Yamaha handling and power but did not want it in the form of a 125 or 250 MX bike.  The IT175 was purposely built to run enduro, hare scrambles, and other trail and woods type racing and riding.

Almost always in blue, the IT175 was a great bike to ride.  The first time I rode one, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the lightweight feel, and the great bottom end power that it had.  Definately a two-stroke, but you can tell Yamaha spent some time on the port design to give it some low and midrange zip – where you need it the most on the trails.  The IT175 I had always started on the first kick. I think it went about 8 years between top-ends, and when it came time to rebuild, it was still within specs.

Suspension and brakes were decent, and in the 70’s the suspension was ahead of its time withe the monoshock in the frame Yamaha developed.   Both were up for brisk trail riding, and small jumps.  Take it past that and you will realize that you are not quite on an MX bike.

Moral of the story is this…The IT175 was a great bike.  In fact, it still is a great trail bike.  Find one in good shape, and buy it.  Use it as a spare.  Use it for fun.  Either way it will put a smile on your face!

See you on the trails!


Yamaha WR200 – The Forgotten Woods Bike

27 10 2010

So you start reading the title – and you ask; what in the world is a Yamaha WR200?  Yes, it was made, and yes, it is a real bike.  For those of you that were riding back in the early 90’s, you may have had the chance to ride one of these rare machines.  Yamaha introduced the WR200 in the early 1990’s to compete with the Kawasaki KDX200 which was a successful bike for over a decade.  The “WR” stands for wide ratio for all of you curious readers.  The design came from a street-bike (yes, a street-bike) that was popular in Europe, and was sold in Canada as the Yamaha DT200.  The engine is derived from the old air-cooled Yamaha IT200, and Blaster designs.  Yamaha transformed it into a torquey, liquid cooled engine with smooth power from top to bottom.  The bike itself was a perfect mix between a 125, and 250.  It had the agility of the 125, and the grunt of a 250.  It is very rare to see one of these around.  For reasons unknown, it was only in the United States for about a year, and then it was gone.  I remember seeing them on the showroom floors thinking how it looked like a better bike than the KDX (Suspension was more modern, larger brakes) but it just did not sell well.  I guess the YZ250 made a damn good trail bike, and it still does!

1991 WR 200

Many people complained of power that was – ahem…..four stroke like.  You can fill in the dots on that one!  These complaints were soon addressed by FMF and Boyeson.  Both companies sought to desgin exhausts and performance reeds for the WR200.  These parts can still be had today.  The folks who upgraded their stock exhaust were greeted with a bike that transformed into a monster.  It went from a nice likable little thumper humming about on the trails, to a blood thirsty, screaming two stroke with a case of roid’ rage induced roost throwing episodes.  The suspension needed some work from the factory, but that all comes down to rider preference.  A re-valve, and new springs seemed to do the trick.  The brakes were YZ-esque of the day, and stopped well.  Jetting needed some attention, but what stock bike has great jetting from the factory?  Not many.  Do an online search – you will find a lot of personal reviews that show this was a solid bike.

Would I buy one if I stumbled across a clean example?  Yep, I am a sucker for nostalgia, and rare bikes.  I would race it, and attempt to beat newer bikes.  That always makes for a fun conversation piece.  At the end of the day though, the YZ250 makes a damn good trail bike.  Maybe that is why the WR200 failed….a good bike, but YZ250 good?  Buy a WR200 if you can find one, and you be the judge.


Suzuki PE 175 – Classic Review

8 10 2010

 There I was – answering a random classified for a used 1996 Yamaha YZ 250.  I started to inspect the bike and a yellow fender under a plastic tarp caught my attention.  I asked the owner “hey, what is that under that tarp?”  He said “oh, some old bike that a farmer gave me when he sold his land and some equipment.” “It doesn’t run, and has been sitting for about 8 years.”  I pulled the cover off and saw a jewel – a 1981 Suzuki PE 175.  I said “I will give you your asking price if you throw this one in with it.”  He said “sure, I wanted to get it out of here anyways.”

There I stood with an original 1981 PE 175 that had less than 800 original miles on it.  It was not locked up, and it had good compression.  I took it home, cleaned the carb and changed the oil.  One kick later and it sprung to life!

I have to admit, it was a great bike.  It was super reliable and was a blast to ride on the trails.  I installed new fork seals, sprockets and chain.  It was truly like a new bike.  After a short time I added an FMF universal spark arrestor and some boyeson reeds.  This coupled with a larger rear sprocket made this bike that much better.  It was quiet, but had a nice tone while on the pipe.

Back in the late 1970’s, there were some really good woods bikes being developed.  Yamaha had the IT series, Suzuki had the PE series, and Kawasaki had the KDX series.  At that point in time the popular size was 175cc.  This was a great mix between a 125 and 250.  These bikes were meant to be light like a 125 but with power characteristics more of a 250.  At the time, the PE 175 was the most technologically advanced.  It still had twin shocks until 1982, but regardless the bike outhandled the Yamaha IT 175 with it’s “Yamahop” rear suspension known to mysteriously kick out over roots and large bumps.  The Suzuki offered a well rounded package and the rear wheel and axle could be removed in 30 seconds.  This bike was truly built for trails.  The suspension was adjustable, and the power was there – from top to bottom.  The Yamaha had more of a pronounced midrage hit and would fall flat on top.  Having owned both bikes, I can attest to the versatility of the PE 175.  It was truly a great play bike and I can see how it was so competitive in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  If you ever come across one, don’t turn it down.  Restore it, ride it, and enjoy it!  You can’t go wrong.