The VT250 was a 250cc Honda Naked Commuter built between 1982 and 1989.
While 1982’s initial Honda VT250F set the stage, in 1988, the standard little ripper was redesigned as the VT250 Spada MC20.
The new and improved model featured Nissin brakes, Enkei wheels, and a Showa rear shock, and Honda tuned up its liquid-cooled V-Twin motor, but what were the common problems with the VT250?
We dug deep through the Spada sheets to find out!
Table of Contents
1. Old Models Have Trouble Starting
One of the major complaints surrounding Honda’s 80s 250-standard-bike-legend is that it is hard to get started, especially for older models that were poorly maintained or passed from owner to owner throughout the decades.
All over the forums, you’ll hear VT250 owners expressing problems like this:
Can anyone out there help me? I have an 87 Jap. spec. Honda VT 250. I can’t get the engine to run.
I’m a qualified mechanic, but this was back before the electronic age.
The old story of the three things to check I’ve done, the engine has good compression on both cylinders, has spark, have put two new plugs in it, & have even tried priming the carb, with not only fresh fuel into the venturies but with an ether based engine start spray.
I’m guessing something is wrong with the ignition timing, but before I start replacing expensive CDI’s coils etc has anyone had a similar problem that may be able to set me on the right track to solve this problem?
If you’re the owner of a VT250 and you’re experiencing similar issues to my man quoted above, don’t fret. We’re here to provide a few troubleshooting tips!
- Start by inspecting your battery. An expired, or dry rotted battery is standard on a used vintage bike like the VT250.
- Check your spark; make sure the spark is going to the correct cylinders, especially if you are getting compression and fuel like the dude we quoted earlier.
- Inspect your pickup coil to make sure it isn’t damaged, especially if you’ve replaced your cover or stator, or even if it’s a new coil. We’ve read up on a few cases where various part-installations bent the VT rider’s coil, preventing it from firing up.
- The VT250’s petcock is a vacuum unit that won’t pump fuel until the bike is running—starting it after it’s out of fuel is a struggle even after you’ve refilled the fuel tank. Hook up a fuel bottle to the fuel line to bypass the process.
- Do Not inject the fuel straight into the carburetor, or you will flood the flame and make starting even harder.
- Avoid using ethanol-based starter enhancements, as they can kill your VT250’s spark plugs and make starting even harder.
- Inspect the battery
- Yank out the spark plugs and crank the VT over. Now, look at the spark plug hole and ensure there’s a fine mist of fuel/air mix coming out on each revolution.
- If your VT250 is spitting out fuel, you might have some damaged float heights.
If the electronics, fuel, and air intake are all good, there’s a good chance you need to clean/rebuild your carbs. Read on for some fresh tips on carb-cleaning your VT250.
2. Thermostat Stops Reading
This isn’t the most common VT250 issue on the list by any means, but it’s certainly been brought up on the forums a few times, so we figure we’d do our due diligence by dropping a dose of knowledge.
One of the VT250s charms was that it stocked a liquid-cooled V-twin motor. More than a few owners we encountered claimed that the Honda VT250 radiator’s thermostat stopped reading.
Water cooling is an intricate process.
The VT250 equips a temperature switch on the radiator and a temperature switch that runs from the thermostat housing.
The temp gauge sender is a thermistor. It changes resistance as the therm reads warmer or colder. The temp gauge has power going on one side, and it’s grounded through the temp gauge sender.
As the thermostat warms up, the resistance may go from, say, 20 Ohms cold to 280 Ohms when it’s overheating, for example.
Check the thermostat housing’s ground if your VT250 Spada’s therm isn’t reading.
The ground needs to run to clean, bare metal.
Ensure no corrosion in the wires that the terminal is crimped onto.
If that doesn’t help, you might need to replace the temp gauge.
3. Previous Owner Neglect
Unfortunately, the most common problem with the Honda VT250 is inheriting a Spada which the previous owner neglected.
For one VT250 owner I heard from, it all began when he rebuilt the carbs and replaced his floats.
His Spada would start fine when he popped the choke, but as soon as he pushed in the choke and engaged the throttle, the bike cut out.
At first, since he’d put the air cleaner on but was testing its idle with the tank still detached, he thought maybe the missing tank was the issue.
Nope. The VT rider slapped the tank back, to no avail.
- Next, he took the entire fuel system apart for a deep clean. He assured me it wasn’t the first system of parts he had to clean.
- The rider noticed some cracked airlines and weak carb clamps; the next thing he did was replace all the tiny components he may have overlooked.
- He found the battery was weak and charged it back up to full.
He made a point to note that he knew for a fact the bike said unkempt and poorly maintained by the previous owner he bought it from—who knows how many owners let it rot before that.
Eventually, this crafty VT250 Spada rider noticed the choke cables were longer than what looked standard to him.
It turns out that his Spada’s cables stretched over time.
Extra length on a VT250’s choke cable inhibits the cable from reaching proper retraction; the choke isn’t reduced when the adjustment lever is pushed back in, so as soon as you hit the throttle, the bike dies.
Unfortunately for this VT owner, though, replacing his choke cables didn’t fix the problem.
- Finally, he bit the bullet and pulled his freshly rebuilt carb out again for a thorough inspection.
- He inspected the diaphragm and found no problems.
- He inspected both the slow and main jets, utilizing a combination of stick pens and compressed air to clear all openings.
- He removed the float valve and valve seat and used rubbing compound on a Q-Tip and then his Dremel to clean them off.
- Then, he sat the float valve in the valve seat and turned it upside down to see if it would fall out without hesitation, as it should; it did.
- Finally, he made sure the little pin on top of the float valve rose and fell when depressed.
After adjusting his throttle cables to bring the play down to 2-4 mm, he put it all back together, and his once-troubled VT250 started right up to hit the highway at 70MPH without an issue.
4. High Maintenance Carburetor
One of the prominent reasons the VT250 is so sought after is its motor.
The Spada’s liquid-cooled V-Twin was tuned to rip way harder than any other 250cc standard bike on the market at the time, and its power is still competitive.
Because of its gnarly engine up-tune, the Honda Spada VT250’s carb must be cleaned and maintained frequently; some owners experience problems due to their carburetor’s negligence.
To prevent this, we thought we’d include a Guide for Cleaning the Carb on a Honda VT250:
- Always consult your VT250’s year-model manual and ensure your carburetor isn’t hot before you get started.
- Use a carb cleaner you trust—there are a lot of chemical components in the cheap stuff that can cause problems on specific models, so be sure whatever you use is Honda recommended. We find non-toxic cleaners like Simple Green Pro Heavy Duty work pretty well, but again, consult Honda first.
- Dilute cleaner by mixing 1 part cleaner and three parts water or following the instructions on the particular cleaner you’re using.
- Inspect your VT250 air filter to ensure that the air coming into the carburetor flows freely and isn’t letting any debris into the chamber.
- Kill the fuel supply and detach the spark plug wire.
- Uninstall the housing and hardware used to attach the filter.
- Detach the outer component.
- As we mentioned earlier, use compressed air to detach any debris.
- Detach the carburetor. Remove any linkage and hoses using pliers and a screwdriver, where necessary. Detach your VT’s cover and the clamps binding its carburetor in place.
- Detach the hose clamp that hooks it to the fuel line. Detach the carburetor and use compressed air to blow off any excess dirt on its outer casing.
- Detach your VT’s carburetor float bowl. Ensure you don’t spill any gas and dispose of any fuel in the bowl safely before starting. The carb bowl is a common point of buildup on VT250s.
- Detach the float pin pivots on, and place it aside in a safe spot. Now pull the float straight out of its casing.
- Soak and scrub your VT250’s carb parts. Put the carburetor float and other components in a large container with whichever degreaser solution you choose and soak them thoroughly. Use a brass brush to scrub all metal components and a stiff nylon brush to scrub plastic pieces. Pay special attention to cleaning the tiny vents, and clean the small parts in the cleaning solution as well.
- Rinse and dry. Rinse all carburetor components in a bucket of clean water and air dry thoroughly. For small holes and vents, use a can of compressed air to dry up any residual moisture.
- Reassemble and replace. Carefully reassemble your VT250’s carburetor, and install it back on the engine along with all hoses, clamps, and wires.
General Pros and Cons for Honda VT250
Here are the advantages and demerits of the Honda VT250:
- Vintage entry-level naked commuter
- Collector’s Item
- Liquid-Cooled V-Twin Motor is rare
- Engine Tuned Stronger than most *0’s 250s
- Quick Gear Acceleration
- Vintage Nissin Brakes
- Vintage Showa Shocks
- Vintage Enkei Wheels
- Older Models Have Trouble Starting
- Thermostat Stops Reading
- Previous Owner Neglect
- High Maintenance Carburetor
What Do the Review Say?
The Spada was only built for a couple of years, but it seems to be universally loved by the few who have been able to ride it. Honda advertised their CASting frame TEChnology right on the frame itself with the large acronym of CASTEC – the idea is that it allowed for varying thicknesses, shapes, and sizes of the main frame to better suit specific requirements. It was 30% stiffer than the previous steel frame, yet 11 pounds lighter. Multiple sources state that the 249cc V-Twin motor produced a healthy 40 horsepower, and it was paired with Nissin brakes, a Showa shock, and Enkei wheels.https://www.bike-urious.com/no-reserve-honda-spada-vt250/
What Is the Resale Value of a Honda VT250?
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.