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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.


    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 65 Comments
    1. code200k's Avatar
      code200k -
      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
    1. xxx's Avatar
      xxx -
      Never give up the hunt. There was no airbrushing involved in those days. There is a 87' 250R out there or somebody knows what happened to it. Damn' hippies.
    1. jeffs250Russell's Avatar
      jeffs250Russell -
      Freakin wow! and to think I was a die hard fan..cudos to ya!Oh Btw I want one..))
    1. ditchmud's Avatar
      ditchmud -
      Really a nice write up. The '87 250r and 350x are the trike equivelant to sasquatch
    1. atc_250_R's Avatar
      atc_250_R -
      i had an 87 350 x when i was 12 years old!!! i didnt know what i had back then i couldnt even start it i had to park it on a hill to jump start it the guy i sold it to still has it in show room condition with mirrorrs under it and all he has another that he rides i am trying to get ahold of him now and go take some pics they. do exist
    1. code200k's Avatar
      code200k -
      ^^ jk but pics are needed for truth
    1. jonathandexter's Avatar
      jonathandexter -
      Hey all:

      I am building a 1987 (visual match) Vis/mod - 250r. Key ig. colors etc.
      I will be posting my build in the near future. Along with some of the details etc.

      I am going to be offering for sale the 1987 Seat stencils, stickers for the rear fender a big red - "R".
      Also the new "250R" part of the radiator cover sticker as well.

      Feel free to email me if your interested in the sticker / stencils, (sample pics). They are $100.00 plus shipping.
    1. nitrometh king's Avatar
      nitrometh king -
      My neighbor just road by today on a atc that looked exactly like the in brocher!!!!!! I'm going to tr to confirm
    1. R-tifacts's Avatar
      R-tifacts -
      im currently doing the same 87 replica, i just got the trike and the hunt is on! anything at all will be a huge help. i would deff be intersted in the stencils i sent an e mail but mine is ceejaascutt@yahoo.com if anyone can help
    1. beefhammer's Avatar
      beefhammer -
      all right well here is the deal. My brother got super hyped up about a 3 wheeler he got said it was something special....well didnt know what it was but i go over to look at it and it is in fact a 350x....the year of course is unknown to me. he says its numbers matching and all that jaz but it needs some fixing up. mainly just plastics. if you guys have any questions or can help my brother with some of his own please feel free to text or call me at 4794389814. i think he is saying 85 but not sure he knows for a fact. but it looks exactly like the 3 wheeler to the right in the brochure posted at the top also with "lockeed" or "lockheed" printed on the side of the tank. i cant find anything about it maybe u guys can help
    1. Cuztom Racing's Avatar
      Cuztom Racing -
      Very nice write up! I had no idea about the 87 350x and R! Got me all fired up!
    1. Cuztom Racing's Avatar
      Cuztom Racing -
      Very nice write up! I had no idea about the 87 350x and R! Got me all fired up!
    1. NewOldSchool's Avatar
      NewOldSchool -
      anyone check the tar pits? haha i bet they took a big shipping container and sunk em all off the coast of japan. thats what they do in china right?
    1. Auto_Demon's Avatar
      Auto_Demon -
      look what i found

    1. 90guy's Avatar
      90guy -
      i know this is an old forum but here is the link for the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS1xI...eature=related
    1. jon jon's Avatar
      jon jon -
      i just got my first 86 350x and im now in the process of re building it. it has a fresh rebuild and is running 11.1 compression and has all new suspension... anyone no were to get other parts?
    1. doublej's Avatar
      doublej -
      Quote Originally Posted by code200k View Post
      ^^ jk but pics are needed for truth
      I have a "HA2 87" casted 250R cylinder. I will post pics shortlyAttachment 122362Attachment 122361Attachment 122360Attachment 122363
    1. gifted's Avatar
      gifted -
      I have an 87 atc 250r and it is fast as hell. I would like to find out the value of this mystery bike as everyone is getting crazy about buying it and my balls are worth more than there offers.
    1. tommerp's Avatar
      tommerp -
      Post up some pictures and vin's and lets see it. All that have claimed to have one have been promptly shown the door...

    1. captainweezy's Avatar
      captainweezy -
      Pics please.....We will help you sell it. I am sure it will go to a good home.
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