For this week’s Two-Stroke Tuesday presented by Decal Works, we take a look at Rick Johnson’s iconic 1984 YZ250. This is the bike that he won the championship on that year, and it set the tone for things to come because it was a production-based bike. By 1984, Yamaha knew that some sort of production rule was coming and decided on a preemptive strike. At the start of the season, they brought Broc Glover and Ricky Johnson into a conference room and told them that, for the 1984 season, they would be riding production-based bikes. Both of them would be allowed out of their contracts (which stipulated that they would be provided with works bikes), but the decision was not negotiable. They both decided to stay.
Sadly, the 1994 YZ250 that Rick Johnson rode was not very good in stock form. It had been redesigned the previous year but was still behind the Honda and Suzuki. RJ’s bike improved with a pipe, porting and a few special parts, but even the front suspension was based on stock components. The fork had a Simons Anti-Cav kit and little else. The rear shock was, at least, an Ohlins. Still, he won four out of 10 Nationals that year and went on to win the des Nations with Jeff Ward, David Bailey and Johnny O’Mara.
A year later he went testing with Honda. “I tested on a training track near Carlsbad,” he said in an interview with the LA Times. “When I finished the test, I wondered why Team Honda hadn’t won every race.” RJ signed with Honda for the 1986 season.
Today, the very bike that RJ rode in 1984 is owned by Hugh Parker. It looks just like it did at the end of the ‘84 season, right down to the stock Z-spokes and the drum rear brake.
The 1984 YZ250 had Yamaha’s second attempt at a linkage rear suspension. A year later, it would move to a configuration that isn’t too different from the style used today.
Some factory hardware was used, but even the footpegs were frighteningly stock.
The motor had some porting and a longer rod than the stock YZ.
BEHIND THE BUILD
Behind The Build is our weekly focus on some of the most exotic bikes to roll out of the Dirt Bike shop. Here’s a look at a very special Kawasaki KX500 that got the off-road treatment. Look closly: that’s a KTM chassis. Click on the photo to learn more.
What to learn more about KTM’s all-new for 2023 two-strokes? We got to ride the new 300 as well as all the other competition models at Red Bud last week. Click on the image to watch Mark Tilley ride his brains out!