Bike of the Month - February 2004
1973 CR250M Elsinore
Loren Davis
Kenwood, CA



The story of the bike is I bought it brand new in October 1973. I was an avid desert racer living in Southern California and had ridden Bultacos for many years prior to switching to Honda. After one test ride I figure the gear ratios are to close for desert so I sprang for MT gears. I also added a three gallon desert tank, skid plate and Curnutt shocks. Raced it in many desert races for two years.

In 1975 I moved out of Los Angeles and up to Sonoma County in Northern California. Bike mostly sat around as there is no desert in Northern California nor is there much of anyplace else to ride. I did haul down for one desert race in January 1976 and that was the last time this bike was run for years. In 1980 I moved to Hawaii for grad school. My aunt had several barns at her place in San Jose and the Elsinore found a home in one of them. There it sat gathering dust and rust for about 20 years. Every now and then when I was visiting I'd wander out to the barn to relive old memories and watch the rubber rot away.

So fast forward to 1998. An old desert racing buddy who also moved to Northen California not to far from me calls up and says we have got to go to Sears Point Raceway and watch vintage motocross. Sure. Sounds like a good time to me. Sunday morning my girlfriend and I meet Bob at a local greasy spoon in Petaluma and after a large helping of cholesterol we head to Sears Point.

By the gawds and all that's holy! I thought I had walked through a time warp. BSA's, CZ twin pipers, Greeves, Pursangs and several Elsinores. My eyes were slammed wide open the whole day. I'm in Hog Heaven. I even run into a couple of guys I raced with in the desert years ago. My girlfriend looks at me and says "You're going to do this aren't you?". I laugh and say it's all behind me. I haven't even ridden a bike in over 20 years. Go home that evening still pondering it though.

OK, a year goes by. Bob calls...time for Sears Point again. Same greasy spoon, and another large helping of cholesterol. Bear in mind I pretty much watch my diet and rarely eat eggs or red meat. But this is another adventure in the Way Back Machine so I need the full effect. More of the same at Sears Point only I'm really thinking seriously about this now. The smell of Castrol is invigorating. For several months I'm having dreams about racing. Wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.

Several months go by and I finally decide to do it. So in December of 1999 I head down to my aunts house and inform her I am finally going to get that old motorcycle out of her barn. She'd been asking me to get it out for several years now along with several other items I had left behind when I was living in the Islands.

Tore the whole bike down. Every nut and bolt was on the garage floor within a couple of days. Frame goes off to the stripper and then to the powdercoater. I know I have to change the gear ratios back to CR but since I hadn't torn an engine apart in 20+ years and have no idea where to find parts I figure I might need some help. Get a referral to Richard McCormick in Modesto. Take the engine down to his house and it's promptly apart and a good thing too. One of the first things to fall out of the cases are pieces of third gear. I got lucky on my last desert race because it never got caught in the other gears and locked up. In go a set of CR gears, new seals, main bearings, and rings. After all those hundreds and hundreds of miles of desert racing the piston is still fine. Good ol Power Stroke oil. Wish they still made it.

Get it all back together in March. By now I have already joined AHRMA and entered Sears Point. I have the bike in the back of my truck and over at a buddies house who is on the fire department with me. We tweek a couple things on it and it's ready for it's first start since 1976. Suddenly it dawns on me... last time this bike was run my buddy hadn't even been born yet. We laugh our butts off.

Starts and runs like a champ. I'm ready and loaded for bear.

Head down to Tulare for a regional MX. Get on the starting line, gate drops, and off we go into the first turn. All of a sudden it seemed like the whole world was bumping handlebars with me. Oh crimmony... I forgot about this part. Out on a desert race when this happens you'd just move over to another trail. Nowhere to go this time so I chicken out and backed off the throttle. OK, first race in 24 years and I finish dead last. (I'm starting out as an Intermediate and probably should have started as a Novice in hindsight. But AHRMA rules say if you have any previous race experience you start as Intermediate or Expert. I had almost signed up as an Expert since that was my classification when I quit.)

At Tulare I am approached and asked if Billy Grossi could ride my bike at Sears Point. Wow.. the Billy Grossi? Well since we're not in the same class why not. Let's see what this box stock ride can do in the hands of a true champion.

Met Billy at Sears and he takes it out for a couple of practice laps. First thing he says is "I forgot how pipey these things were". Bear in mind that Billy used to be a Honda factory rider. First moto Billy bogs it out of the gate and then plays a fast and furious catchup to Brad Lackey on a big bore CZ. Oh man was that a race to watch. I never knew this little bike could go so fast. Brad finishes first with Billy right behind. Second moto and Billy gets a great start. Right behind Brad through the first turn. Then on about the sixth turn Billy goes for the pass in some loose marbley stuff and drops it. Gets back about dead last and races one heck of a makeup to finish seventh. Don't ask how I finished... it was not a pretty picture for someone who was used to always winning or finishing right up there. Put me on a nice fast bomb run through virgin desert and I can beat anybody. Throw one turn into the mix and I'm all messed up. Throw three or four in and I'm reduced to a catatonic stupor.

Figure that this narrow power band was OK for desert racing back in the day but with my now lack of riding prowess I need to do something. So off goes the engine to Kleem Research. About three weeks and $1500.00 dollars later I'm looking at my tricked out power plant with reed valves, 36mm Mikuni, and a new Kleem chamber. Put it all back together and does this rocket haul the bacon. And it does it from low RPM to the high end. It's expensive but worth every penny.

OK, lots of other experiences and adventures with the bike since then but here's the improvements list in a nutshell:

Works Performance rear shocks. Redesigned and machined a different reed cage and petals from what Kleem had. Did several other changes to the ports as well. Had the steering head angle brought in to 28 degrees. Now when you accelerate out of a corner it goes where you want it to. Billet aluminum triple clamps from Dalco Precision. This reduced the offset in the front forks and changed the mounting position of the handlebars. Turns even better now. DG replica Aluminum swingarm. PVL ignition. Kevlar clutch plates and heavier clutch springs. Several mods to the front dampers similar to Cartridge Emulators.


Loren Davis