Updated: September 20, 2001

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3&4 Wheel Action - 1986 250cc Shootout

Plenty of hills to climb

The big battle. The major clash. The final showdown. Call it what you will,
the annual 250 three-wheeler shootout is one event that ATV riders won't want to miss. Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha laid their best on the line for this high-stakes main event that guarantees slam-bang action, revved-out motors and earth-shattering jumps. And that's just getting them out of the back of the pickup! This year's edition features the Yamaha Tri-Z, the Kawasaki Tecate, and Honda's ever-popular 250R - the meanest, fastest, baddest three-wheelers ever created.

So what would anyone even want with a fire-breathin', kick-in-the-pants, white-knucklin' ATV? It's fairly easy to answer that question. A person would purchase any one of these three ATVs to use it for either a) an organized racing event. b) as a high-performance recreational bike. or c) a combination of both. And that's exactly the basis of this shootout. Is one bike best for racing and not so hot for recreational rid-ers, or would another bike flounder on the race track. but be the best on the trails?

With the introduction of their water-cooled machines several years ago,
Honda and Kawasaki were first to put major efforts into a showroom racer Last year Yamaha introduced its first edition of the Tri-Z, a unique machine with an under-the-seat gas tank. Honda has also been coming up with new innovations and has consistently been at or near the top of past shootout battles. The Kawasaki Tecate is famous for its mongo top-end motor and is always a contender.

Simply stated, Honda took a well-deserved vacation in the new-innovations department for '86 and released a machine with no major changes from the '85. Kawasaki and Yamaha, on the other hand, hit the drafting board hard and added sparkling new changes which have improved both over the previous models.

The totally redesigned Tecate features a Kawasaki Integrated Power-valve System
(KIPS), which was designed to provide a wider powerband and increased compression. Electronic-advance CDI, revised porting, and new jetting for the R-bottom slide carburetor were also added to give the Green Meanie even more beans.
A new frame houses the centerport KIPS motor and features a Fresh Air Intake System. Twin frame-mounted radiators re-place the fork-mounted system of old, resulting in a lower center of gravity and im-proved steering. A box-section aluminum swingarm, new Uni-Trak linkages, 41mm forks, more front and rear suspension travel, and lower-profile rear tires complete the list of major changes.

The Yamaha gang was out to make the Tri-Z's sophomore year a successful one by adding a six-speed tranny (over last year's five), beefier 39mm forks with a travel increase of 0.8 inch over last year, and 0.3 inch of increased rear travel. New low-profile rear meats. an oil bath for the CD ignition and hot new Team Yamaha colors of red and white round Out the new Tri-Z.

The word for the '86 Honda is "refinement" rather than "redesign." Updates on this year's machine include handlebars (different bend), swingarm (redesigned), chain adjustment mechanism (easier to operate), and a slightly taller seat.

All three machines are powered by water-cooled two-stroke motors, with the Tecate sporting 249cc and the Tri-Z and Honda close behind at 246cc. The 250R and Tecate head the carburetor list at 34mm. with the Tri-Z bringing up the rear with a 32mm. All three machines are powered by electronic ignition systems. Yamaha and Honda both have six-speed trannies, while the Kawasaki is the oddball in this department with a five-speed. Of course, all three have manual transmissions, a must for racing bikes.