Honda NSR250 Factory Replica (1995 Ukawa)
Text and photos by Paul Pearmain, © TYGA-Performance
Triptych is about the only thing I learned from my failed life as a door to door art sales person in Australia. According to the dictionary triptych is defined as:
‘a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.’
Of course it was only by accident that a trilogy of TYGA project builds came about and we were just inspired by 3 of our favorite Honda race bikes. However, as it turns out they were all piloted by the All Japan champion Tohru Ukawa. Whether these bikes represent ‘artistic, literary or musical works’ can be judged by the reader but for us at least they can certainly be appreciated together! So having already described the first two of these projects in previous write ups, namely, the 1993 Tohru Ukawa replica, and the NC35 1997 Suzuka 8 Hours style Horipro RVF ridden by Ukawa and Ito , we now have our final (for now) Ukawa tribute bike, the factory 1995 NSR250 replica.
The purpose of this project was an excuse to build a factory replica using a ram air version of the RS250 model while at the same time giving owners a choice of fairings for their NX5. Now, I don’t want to offend anyone who owns a late model NX5 but in our opinion, with each facelift, the styling seemed to get less sophisticated and more blobby. To make it all the more strange, the factory continued to update yearly with some beautiful machines used in the World and Japanese championships. It all started off very promising with the elegant 1993 NX5 which was styled to look just like the 1992 factory bike, (See our previous Ukawa replica HERE ) but by 1997, when ram air was introduced on the NX5, the fairing was very uninspiring and the seat unit lacking in any features except huge indents for the mounting bolts. Functional it was, pretty it wasn’t! It was as if the guy at the Honda factory who built the kiddie motorcycle rides at the Suzuka funfair had somehow been shown the wrong door and wandered into HRC. To be fair, the final version of the NX5 was a slight improvement with less of a protruding chin but compared to the factory bikes, definitely the customers were made to feel second rate. Maybe it was to give the factory team a psychological advantage or maybe to take into account the larger physical size of the riders in the export market. Either way, we think it was a pity that the exotic RS250 didn’t really look as nice as the ones in the Motegi Honda Collection Hall . Given that these days, many people are parading and static displaying these types of bikes and it is as much about the show as the go, it seemed like an opportune moment to have a go at making a 1995 factory replica and this is the result.
So again, we packed our bags and went off to Motegi with a tape measure. As anyone who has ever been to this Mecca of HRC machines will know, the exhibits are routinely rotated, which for the most part is a good thing. However, in our case, even though many Youtube videos and even the picture in Wikipedia clearly show the 1995 Ukawa bike parked next to Rossi’s 2001 500, it was nowhere to be seen. Well, all was not lost, there were plenty of older and newer model NSR250s and we were able to take some crafty photos and dimensions of the air duct, windscreen etc of similar models to give us a head start. And, really no need to feel sorry for us given that there was so many other exhibits to take in.
Frankly speaking, our first attempt at styling the factory fairing was not a huge success. We assumed (yes I know) that the NX5 fairing would be loosely based on the one on the factory bike, at least the proportions and just needed a bit of nipping and tucking to get it close. To be fair, the lower cowling was so close we didn’t change it at all and the seat cowling is pretty large and similar size on both the factory and the customer bike so was not such a challenge. However, the upper cowling is diminutive on the NSR compared to the RS and we needed to have a rethink and remodel. This involved having the relocate the air box solenoid to in front of the instruments but apart from that, whittling down the front bung to fit between the air ducts, and making some new upper stays, all the stock mounting points could be used and we were able to get the proportions much closer to the Ukawa bike.
With the seat, it was mostly plain sailing but we had to raise it a bit at the rear from our original position but other than that K Thanet, with a bit of input from Matt and me, was able to get the approximate size and shape from photos and videos. Is it not exactly the same as the factory bike but it was never going to be due to the factory NSR having a self-supporting seat unit and the NX5 having a conventional subframe. We were able to disguise this issue somewhat by removing the ugly indents for the rear seat cowling mounts to be on top of the seat position. Bolts mount vertically down onto a seat support which in turn fits to the subframe using the CDI mounts so it keeps everything neat and tidy. The underside of the seat cowling is enclosed so the CDI is well protected from the elements and, due to the shape, the seat cowling can still be removed as quickly as a stock one.
The seat pad is hand-made from cut foam sheet and the bum stop is a modified TYGA one. For our project, we elected to use the premium carbon bodywork with carbon/Kevlar inside for a factory look, strength and weight saving. The underside of the seat cowling is exposed to show off the carbon, as is the black graphics which are actually carbon if you look closely. We naturally chose one of our TYGA carbon fuel tanks for this build so we could match the carbon graphics on the fairing. For the record, the factory bike actually uses a dark metallic gun metal colour but the carbon does look very trick!
Under the skin, this NX5 is not so dissimilar to the previous non ram air version we built. It has stock suspension and mostly stock looking foot controls. The main difference with the previous project is the TYGA carbon ram air box which seals against the bottom of the fuel tank when the tank is installed.
The other obvious differences from a stock NX5 is the TYGA exhaust system with carbon/Kevlar silencers. Not only does this system look better than stock but it gives more power and is fractionally lighter too. Less obvious features are the Brembo radial master cylinder and the 3D printed reservoir stay held onto the top triple clamp factory style.
We also included a rear brake reservoir 3D printed clip as it is neat solution. Also, we couldn’t resist some titanium bolts on things such as the front caliper mounts and the seat cowling. The fairing uses OEM HRC quick fasteners on the fairing lowers and we had some slotted aluminum bodywork bolts which look just like the factory ones for the fairing sides and ‘ears’. We used the OEM HRC ram air tubes because we had them already but otherwise would have installed our 3D printed ones which fit snuggly in place, just a bit glossier than the originals.
Apart from the obvious elbow grease of cleaning and polishing, recoating of bolts and ordering and replacing what few parts are still available from HRC, there is nothing really that remarkable about the rest of the build. I suppose that is the point. By changing to this bodywork which has been superbly painted by K Pong, installing a set of TYGA exhausts and upgrading a few other details, the rather average NX5 has been turned into something rather special. Whether this constitutes artistic or musical work, you be the judge. On the literary excellence, I’ll be the first to admit, my write ups don’t quite make the short listing for a booker prize, but I hope the three projects were worth the time spent reading them and inspire you to send us details of your TYGA build and we will be happy to dedicate a page to your pride and joy!