ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 45

A classic in the years to come

By Gamini Akmeemana

Japanese trail motorcycles aren't as common on our roads as they used to be, but they have a band of enthusiastic followers who'll swear by them any day.

Deepal Perera is one such enthusiast. He owns a 1995 model Yamaha XT250G, an uncommon motorcycle on our roads. It used to be that the DT was better known here than the XT range but, now that the army is using the XT225 Serow in sizeable numbers, the various XT models are being sought after.

The Serow is very popular with trail bike riders all over the world because of its reliability and low seat height. But the XT250 with its distinctive tank design is a much more stylish bike, and that's one of the reasons why Deepal, a foreman at the AMW Yamaha motorcycle workshop, has taken such a liking to it.

Deepal is not an off-road rider and has never done competitive racing. But these aren't the only reasons for anyone to own a trail bike. There are those who take a distinctive liking to these torque machines with that "I mean business" look and they never trade them for anything else.

Deepal has ridden a large number of trailies, including other makes, and owns a DT175cc as well. While the two-stroke DT series has an enthusiastic following around the world, there are those who prefer the more softly-tuned four-stroke XT. Deepal, who has ridden his XT on all kinds of Lankan roads, says it's a nice-handing, highly civilized motorcycle.

The machine has been kept in trim and maintained well with original parts. The only non-Japanese item on it happens to be a pair of Indian wing mirrors. Their chrome-plating gives the bike a distinctive retro look. The drum brakes and lack of cosmetics make this bike a distinctively 'yesteryear' machine even though it was made in the 1990s.

Deepal prefers the drums to disc brakes because the former recover far more quickly from the ravages of wet and muddy roads than disc brakes do. They are cheaper and easier to maintain as well.

The XT series, which continue up the range till 650cc, lack the oomph of their DT cousins, but many riders prefer the softly-tuned four-strokes for riding longer distances. Once you get into the power band, these four-stroke engines, whether they are large or small, feel very good to ride with a steady surge of power, whereas the two-strokes need to constantly revved. The XTs are popular with overseas riders because they offer excellent off-road performance with good fuel economy.

In Sri Lanka, trail bikes were once a common site on our roads, whether city or rural. But today's inflation and depreciating rupee has sent the price of Japanese machines and spares skyrocketing. When you add to this the fact that the price of a litre of petrol has almost trebled in a decade, little wonder that most riders can do nothing else but dream of a trail bike while riding their pedestrian roadsters made in India and China.

Deepal, a trail bike enthusiast to the core, is determined to keep his much-loved XT 250 as a classic in the years to come.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.