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  • Missing In Action: '87 Honda 250R & 350X

    This brochure, originally from Canada shows the 1987 year model machines. Including the ever elusive '87 year model ATC250R, and ATC350X. No other piece of vintage literature posted on this site has ever caused such interest, speculation, controversy, bewilderment, and a gold rush like fever among three-wheeler enthusiasts. From the earliest days of 3WW, the "Quest for the '87s" has captured the imagination of readers. Originally, we were led to believe that ALL the 1987 year models were impossible to find. As years went by though, slowly but surely 1987 year model ATC250ES "Big Red"s, ATC200Xs, ATC250SXs, ATC125Ms, were all located and verified by forum members. The Honda of America Motorcycle Identification Guide, released for purchase through Honda dealer networks in the year 2000, confirms the existence of these models in the American market as well. What about the big boy models though? The highest performance models that Honda had ever offered? The ATC250R and the ATC350X are missing from the Identification Guide, and pretty much history itself. Questioning the existence of the 250R and 350X models originally came to play back around 1999. A French-Canadian member of the message board at the time that went by the user name of "xmen" had contacted 3WW and sent a scan of the same above brochure, but in French. That original brochure is what ignited the interest and controversy for years to come. Prior to that, no one in the online 3wheeler community even knew that there was a potential for those models to exist. However, as the fervor built, some additional sources of information came to us that had been over looked during the years.
    Magazine scan compliments of forum member "blue27"
    What your looking at here is one of those long forgotten pieces of the puzzle. It is a small blurb from the January 1987 edition of 3Wheeling magazine. You can click on it to read it yourself, but it says that the 87 models WERE available in Canada after all! You'll notice that this looks to be a studio shot, probably for a brochure or some other type of literature, but the background is definitely different from the original 1987 model line up brochure we have above. So was this a publicity shot that was taken in Canada, or Japan, or possibly even here at American Honda, before the Consent Decree took place? Its hard to say and that question my never be answered. Along these same lines, in the November 1987 issue of DirtWheels magazine, there is an evaluation of all the high performance models. A small caption under a picture of the 1986 ATC250R on page 67 states
    "Although not available in the US, the Honda 250R can be purchased in Canada for 1987".
    Another article, dated January of 1988 in 3&4Wheel Action suggests the following:
    "But the fact remains, the last time you could get your hands on a new ATC250R in the United States was 1986, even though they did sell a few 1987 year models in Canada and Europe."
    The re-discovery of these statements ignited a firestorm of interest on the forums driving collectors and even casual riders to hunt for these elusive models even harder than they had before. Perhaps one of the most interesting pieces of information to run across the site in recent times was a comment by former Associate Publisher of "3Wheeling" Dean Kirsten, when he said in a post That he had ridden an '87 250R himself.
    " I rode many top secret projects...The 1987 250R with the white plastic? Yup, that one too."
    I even asked Dean in a follow up question further about it, and he replied:
    It is my firm belief that the '87 ATC 350X and 250R ARE out there, but in very, very small numbers. Mostly in Canada, and Europe. I seem to recall a rider who lived in South Dakota, who wanted a '87 R, so he drove up to Canada, bought one, and brought it back to ride. There was a published story that came out in the paper, that manufacturers like Honda, did in fact, ship 3-wheelers to Europe to find a home for unsellable units. That shook up a lot of people at the time, saying they were selling "dangerous" ATCs to unknowing buyers in foreign countries.

    The Evidence, Or lack thereof?
    Over the years, the physical evidence to back up all these statements and claims has been hard to track down. While there have been countless claims of a "Friend" or "Cousin" that had one, there has never been anything substantial to back it up. Lets review a few things that lend credibility to the possibility, but don't necessarily concrete them. The decision of the existence, or non existence of the machines will be left up to the reader to make.

    This is great piece of evidence, probably the best that there is towards proving an entire machine existed once. What your looking at here, appears to be the seat off of an '87 year model 250R. Compare it with the seat on the machine in the photo shoots above. Notice the difference? The A logo is different from all other previous years and designs, exclusive to the 87 only. This is the only seat of this design known to ever exist. There have been no others since it was on eBay back in 2003 . So lets explore the possibilities. Is is an aftermarket cover? The attention to detail required to do it would have to be pretty keen. The differences in the seat covers from the 87 had in fact remained relatively un-noticed until this one showed up for auction. Or is it an actual 1987 year model seat that came to some un-suspecting guy wanting a replacement for his 1986? It certainly did generate a firestorm of interest at the time.

    Most people familiar with 250R parts know that the Honda product code (Used for ordering parts, and identifying specific year models by a 3 place code utilizing numbers and letters) for the late model 250Rs is HA2. You probably also know, that on the OEM 250R cylinders, the product code for the year, and the model is casted into the sleeve at the bottom. For example. A 1988 year model TRX250R, would have "HB9" (The 88-89 TRX product code) and the numbers "88" casted into it. An '85 ATC250R cylinder would have "HA2 85" casted into it. What you probably don't know is that there are few "HA2 '87" casted cylinders out in the wild. I've seen the pictures of one in particular about a year ago. I have some contact sent off to the person that had posted them on another ATV related forum, but I've not yet heard back from them. If you have or know where some pictures of an "HA2 87" casted 250R cylinder is, please let me know! Props will definitely be given to whoever tracks it down and submits a copy of it to me.


    And then, we have this little gem in the rough thanks to forum member Jesse (hrc200x on the forum). For 10 points, can anyone establish whats wrong with this picture? Anybody? Bueller? Nope? So here is the scoop. Like the product codes I mentioned above, all the 3rd generation 250Rs start with TB06E as part of the serial number for the engine. You can clearly see the letters casted into the case above the stamped/riveted portion. The only thing "wrong" with this picture is the fact that the 85-86 ATC250R's did not start with 800~ on the stamped plate. They started with 240~ (1985) and 250~ (1986). Your saying "Well, that's just a TRX250R case then". Not so fast, because the TRX250R's have a different casting in their cases. They have TE12E ('86-'87), and TE06E ('88-'89). Here's the best part though, according to the Honda Motorcycle Identification Guide, that I referenced above, the serial # for 1987 year model TRX250R would be TE12E-800~. Did you catch that? That number on the case pictured above has the first half of an ATC vin (TB06E) and the last half of an '87 model TRX vin (800~). Obviously, we do not have a printed guide to reference 1987 year model ATC250R numbers with, but that is an extremely logical way for one to be formatted. You can full size the picture and check it out for yourself, but Jesse tells me the VIN reads: TBO6E-8006250


    Yet another fragment of the puzzle, a 250R cylinder with the HA2 Product part code (specific to the three-wheeled 250Rs) and also the 1987 year model casting in the sleeve. If it was a TRX250R specific part, it would have the code "HB9" instead. Proof that the part was manufactured, but perhaps not ever put into public consumption as anything more than a replacement part? We'll never know for sure..Many thanks to Tim (250Racer on the forum) for contributing these photos.



    Here is another real head scratcher that had been brought back up on the forum by 69HemiGTX These pictures were originally posted in this thread (Possible '87 250R found) by petesatc back in late 2005. Numerous pages of discussion appeared on the forum regarding this machine. Apparently, the machine and the owner reside in Japan. The owner ordered OEM replacement plastics in 2000 and these were what he got. The machine itself is an '86 model and NOT an '87, however. But plastics are definitely not Maier, checkout the sharpness and quality of the corners and edges. That is only possible with OEM style Injection molding, and not vacuum formed like aftermarket. You'll also nice that the "250R" decal on the right airscoop has the special '87 specific design that is shown on the back of the fenders in the photos above.



    Reasonable Assumptions

    Based on the information we do have, from the pictures and the brochure, a long with model changes that were done to the 1987 TRX line up, we're able to make a few calls on things that are of a pretty high probability in these two different machines.

    The '87 ATC250R:


    • Only year OEM equipped with white front and rear fenders (as seen in the brochure).
    • Only year OEM equipped with white headlight shell (as seen in the brochure).
    • Only year OEM equipped with red fork boots (as seen in the brochure).
    • Only year OEM equipped with white air scoops (as seen in the brochure).
    • Only year with special new "A" Design in the ATC designation on the side of the seat (as seen in the brochure).
    • Only year with special new red "R" graphics on the rear fenders (as seen in the brochure).
    • Potentially would have shared the new "Long rod" engine design with the 1987 TRX250R quad.
    • Potentially would have shared the new keyed ignition feature with the 1987 TRX250R quad. Infact, if you look at the full size view of the brochure closely it appears to have a plastic "dash" cover over the handlebar mounts.


    The '87 ATC350X:


    • Only year OEM Equipped with white air scoops (as seen in the brochure).
    • Only year OEM equipped with a red rear fender garnish "mudflap" (as seen in the brochure).
    • Only year for blue Honda wing decals on the gas tank (as seen in the brochure).
    • Only year for new positioning for graphics on the rear fenders (as seen in the brochure).
    • Potentially would have shared the new keyed ignition feature with the rest of the '87 model line up. Like the 250R, if you look close in the full size view it appears to show a plastic "dash" around the handlebar mounts. High probability this was a place for a keyed ignition.
    • Potentially would have had additional frame gusseting and strengthening improvements. Honda made significant updates to the '86 model and it seems likely they would have continued on with them for '87.



    Conclusion

    With what we have gathered together for this article, you yourself as a reader must make a decision as to what you feel to be case. Did these two particular models meet an untimely death before they could make it to the dealer show rooms in the United States, and were disassembled and used for parts instead? Did left-over models get shipped outside the United States to Canada and Europe, to finish clearing out the stock? Did Honda simply just reject all shipments of the machines already in production and scrap them? The answer is un-certain. But with time, and the combining resources of this site and its membership perhaps one day we will have an answer one way or another, with certainty.
    Comments 64 Comments
    1. bigblockdartgts's Avatar
      bigblockdartgts -
      there was someone on ebay a few years ago selling brand new 350x engines that were taken from 1987 trikes that were diassembled when new. i dont have any proof of this , but the vin numbers on the engines were a dead giveaway. i was going to buy one but could not afford it. oh well!
    1. Marzuki bk's Avatar
      Marzuki bk -
      Hello guys! Is the 1987 250R a rare motorcycle? And where can I find the spare parts for it besides 3WW shop? Thanks!
    1. bigdaddyhj's Avatar
      bigdaddyhj -
      very nice artical and I wish i worked at the Honda dealership back in the day cause I would DAM sure have one . LOL
    1. fordnut79@hotma's Avatar
      fordnut79@hotma -
      Has anybody noticed that the 250r in this pic http://www.3wheelerworld.com/attachm...2&d=1263417697 (brochure) is exactly the same as this one http://www.3wheelerworld.com/attachm...4&d=1263420295 (magazine) , other than the background? The wheel/hub placement,angle,cables,reflection in the rims,everything, even the shadows under it. a small blurb from the January 1987 edition of 3Wheeling magazine. You can click on it to read it yourself, but it says that the 87 models WERE available in Canada(Nova Scotia where i live) after all! You'll notice that this looks to be a studio shot, probably for a brochure or some other type of literature, but the background is definitely different from the original 1987 model line up brochure we have above. So was this a publicity shot that was taken in Canada, or Japan, or possibly even here at American Honda, before the Consent Decree took placeThe background is different because the magazine obviuosly changed it for SOME reason. A "US Service man stationed in Canada" conveniently shot the photo, my .I am a huge 250r enthusiast, having owned 6 of them through the years, and now building another, and wish there were 87's out there.if somebody finds one, i'll eat a !!!
    1. Minnetonka4me's Avatar
      Minnetonka4me -
      Great read!!! Thank you so much for all the great info!
    1. slashfan7964's Avatar
      slashfan7964 -
      I have confirmed their existence with Honda Canada. I made a phone call and the guy did some digging and confirmed 350X's and 250R's of the 1987 model were built and sold in Canada in extremely low quantities because production was cut off. I have the phone call recorded and will be uploading soon.
    1. frenny187's Avatar
      frenny187 -
      anybody got 1986 lt250r parts for sale
    1. frenny187's Avatar
      frenny187 -
      looking for 1986 lt250r parts u knw anybody
    1. slashfan7964's Avatar
      slashfan7964 -
      I think the information I have uncovered in my thread should be added in here.
    1. smokintires27's Avatar
      smokintires27 -
      hey guys im new here and I'm wondering if my 1987 200x is worth more because there are rare? please help its runs and drives
    1. jakep53's Avatar
      jakep53 -
      Quote Originally Posted by smokintires27 View Post
      hey guys im new here and I'm wondering if my 1987 200x is worth more because there are rare? please help its runs and drives
      yes an 87 is worth more than say an 86 and definitely an 85 and older!
    1. smokintires27's Avatar
      smokintires27 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jakep53 View Post
      yes an 87 is worth more than say an 86 and definitely an 85 and older!
      about how do you think they are worth
      here it is
      Attachment 207057
    1. jakep53's Avatar
      jakep53 -
      Quote Originally Posted by smokintires27 View Post
      about how do you think they are worth
      here it is
      Attachment 207057
      I can't give you an acurate price because i'm from Australia and our prices are completely different!
    1. Ghostv2's Avatar
      Ghostv2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by smokintires27 View Post
      about how do you think they are worth
      here it is
      Attachment 207057
      That is an 86. Unless you swapped out the tank and fenders.

      For a second gen that runs and drives and has alright fenders, I would say at LEAST a grand. Prices are crazy here though so it would be listed for higher lol.
    1. smokintires27's Avatar
      smokintires27 -
      the guy i got it from for $540 said it got in a wreck and he
      had to get the gas tank replaced and the forks replaced and the plastics its say 1987 on the model sticker and also it's from canada
      Attachment 207089Attachment 207090
    1. Alberto's Avatar
      Alberto -
      This is a restored ATC 250R in Costa Rica....

      Attachment 223380
    1. Jamie119's Avatar
      Jamie119 -
      Here is my motor info. Do I have the 87 250r trike motor? I cant seem to find anything out with my vin. Engine code is TB06E 8002703. Has 87 ha2 on my cylinder and ha2 on my head and crank.
    1. Jamie119's Avatar
      Jamie119 -
      The thread is in new member discussion called 87 act? Look through the thread there I have pics up
    1. Jamie119's Avatar
      Jamie119 -
      87atc? My bad typo
    1. 3wheelieo's Avatar
      3wheelieo -
      Quote Originally Posted by code200k View Post
      i think their is a 87 250r and 350x out there somwhere.probally sitting in some old farmers barn in canada.that doesnt know bout this site also nice write up Billy
      I know what happened to most of the 87's they dumped them off the ship in the middle of the ocean and went back to port for dirt bikes . Thats true too. That information comes from a old timer that works for american honda . Some did go to uerope and australia .they just didnt have a big enough market to sell alot of them
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