HUMBLE GOAT OR SOMETHING MORE?
The year was 1985 and Yamaha had just released another dual sport motorcycle. The Yamaha XT225 Serow. I wonder if they knew that this unassuming bike would become a favourite of many riders, even 35 years after it’s initial launch? In the 35 years since 1985, the Serow has been the motorcycle of choice for a number of great adventure riders. For die hard motorcycle adventure travel fans, you should know that the wife of Austin Vince, famed for the hugely successful Mondo Enduro, Lois Pryce, took her Yamaha Serow from Alaska, down the length of America and to the tip of South America in her equally famous book, Lois on the Loose. Aside from the A-list celebs, the Serow was also the choice of bike for Helen Lloyd, another accomplished rider for her book (and others) Iceland Serow Saga. On this page you shall find model history, resources, workshop manuals, parts and an ever growing archive of information.
1986/87 – Yamaha XT225 2LN
The first look of the XT225. Distinguished by it’s unique tank panels, bodywork, frame and kick start only engine, this was the initial generation of the XT225. Featuring a 223cc engine outputting a humble 20 horse power. A similarly humble top speed of around 70mph could be achieved in favourable conditions. Perhaps a saving grace feature of the Serow was it’s six speed gear box, allowing the bike to cruise comfortably in the mid 50mph range. Nothing about this bike’s specification is particularly exciting but two numbers stand out and proved to be critical for the bike’s success: A 31.9 inch seat height and a dry weight of 108kg.
Simply put, this bike was nimble, manageable and easy going. It didn’t do drama, it was at home deep in the mountain forests, just like the Serow (A Japanese Mountain Goat). The low seat height made it particularly inviting for female riders and men on the shorter side, while the light weight meant that it could man-handled through difficult terrain. These were the features that ensured the continuation of the XT225 until it’s final edition in 2007 – a 22 year production!
1989/92 – Yamaha XT225 3RW
The second generation of the Serow is can almost be considered the first generation of the "new" Serow. This is because the 3RW model is very different to it's previous model. However, the subsequent models after this, featured only minor changes in comparison. Yamaha changed the tank, the plastics, the frame and a number of other parts in this shakeup. A big difference was the removal of the kick starter and addition of the electric start. However, although the kick start was removed, many Serows have had the kick starter kit retro fitted.
1993/98 – Yamaha XT225 4JG
In 1993 the XT225 had a model change with a number of small, yet precise and effective upgrades. I call this the safety update. These changes would stay with the XT until the 225 range was retired. Anyway, the changes saw the addition of a rear brake disc and changing the front brake caliper to be dual piston rather than the single piston it had been. This dramatically increased the braking potential of the 225, which up to press, had been quite poor. This 4JG also had changes to the wiring, allowing a hazard indicator mode to be controlled from the switches. The magneto was also improved and made larger, producing a higher output to provide better running lights, something that the model previous suffered from. (Believe me! I have the 3RW, it doesn't stop and I can't see at night without auxiliary lights).
1998 – 2007
We are coming to the end of the XT225 Story. The designers at Yamaha obviously felt that they had achieved everything that they had set out to achieve. Furthermore, they had addressed the issues with lighting and braking. This meant that apart from various graphics, including some much fancier designs than the early Serows, the XT225 did not change any fundamentals over this time frame. You may notice the canister on some models, this is simply an emissions unit for certain markets. See below for a list of specific changes.
An worthy side mention is the Brazilian XT225 4VWB. Produced in Brazil using the same XT225 engine as the Serow. The differences are fairly clear, different plastics and a plastic fuel tank. This model also had a better electrical system. However, the bike was produced to a cheaper spec overall, such as chromed wheels. I have chosen to include it on this page for the complete XT225 history and I intend on adding more information as time goes on. A number of these Brazillian models have been imported to the UK over the years, having one in our possession for a brief spell before selling to a friend.
The Future Of The Serow
The small trail and nimble Serow proved to be a good success for Yamaha. However, all bike products come to an end eventually. In 2007 Yamaha updated the XT225 Serow into a 250cc Serow. You can read much more about the XT250 on it's own page when it is available. However, in short, here are the major changes. The 225's 6 speed gear box was reduced to 5. The carb model XT250s shortly became fuel injected. Furthermore, the Yamaha XT250 engine would be used in 3 different varients of the bike. An urban commuter, the Yamaha Tricker. A 250X, a super moto. Lastly, the XT250 Serow. These bikes stayed in production until the final releases in 2020.
FAQS AND POINTS OF INTEREST
This is a summary of the data found here. To date your Serow, check the last 2 digits of the frame number. Graphics as per the link are then a good start to finding your specific model code. Not that these have any practical use as the parts are the same apart from the pre- 1989 model.
Fuel Tank: Here we can see that the fuel tank has some mounting differences between the years. Additionally, the air scoop is a slightly different shape. The tank on the left is later than the tank on the right.
The standard Yamaha XT225 Serow holds around 8.8 litres of fuel. This gives the XT225 a fairly small range of around 120 miles before hitting the reserve. There are two options for larger capacity tanks.
I will talk more about the Acerbis Tank in a post within the Workshop section of this site.
The Clarke Tank is of mixed reviews. When BikesAndBackpacks had this tank, we found that it fitted fairly poorly for the money paid. We then purchased second hand 23l Acerbis tanks, rigged the brackets required and fitted to our own satisfaction. There are pros and cons with each tank which will be mentioned within a workshop post.
The older XT225s are in excess of 30 year old now and not getting any younger! This means that a number of them are quite tired. However, even later models still have a few issues that occur commonly on the Facebook groups and forums.
That issue is hard starting and carb issues.
- Aged brittle wiring. Particularly around the front of the frame where movement occurs.
- Cable choke is attached to the carb via a plastic piece. This is prone to cracking and can cause issues. Rebuild kits are available.
- Accelerator pump (black plastic piece on the carb). The top of this is prone to cracking and may cause an adverse effect. Replacement available.
- Regulator rectifier can malfunction. It is best to buy oem spares of all the electrical components when you see them for a good price.
- Swingarm/shock condition. A lot of these bikes have been used and abused with little maintenance, the condition of the suspension should be reviewed.
OEM Serow decals are non existent. Replicas are available from websites such as Aliexpress. However, from our own personal experience, the cheap price is reflected with the cheap quality. By this we mean, poor adhesive and flimsy printed material.
Over the years that I have grown BikesAndBackpacks, I have put together templates for a number of variations of XT225s. I can now offer full replica decal kits for some Serow models. As well as a number of extra or individual stickers for your restoration.
Please click this link to read more about my XT225 Stickers.
Or click this link to see all my XT225 stickers.
YAMAHA XT225 SEROW - MANUALS & RESOURCES
REBUILD – RESTORE – MAINTAIN
(Coming Soon) Seen as I myself am the owner of a 1989 3RW, I have dedicated it’s own section in this websites “Workshop” zone. There you will find a number of high quality walk through articles, step by step guides and videos of various maintenance, rebuild and restoration projects for the XT225 along with other bikes that I have a liking to, mainly Yamaha XTs. Follow the button below to check out what I am up to in the workshop.
MY YAMAHA XT225 SEROW
The Yamaha XT225 Serow 3RW was my first bike after passing my motorcycle test. Within 3 weeks I was on the ferry to norther Spain with it along with my Dad and his 4JG and his friend with a Brazilian import 225. There we spent two weeks having a great time in the Picos and Someido National Park. Two years later, after a number of UK trips, including 1100 miles in 5 days to Skye and back, we loaded up the Serows and headed to Swizterland, spending two weeks blasting up and down the Swiss Alps, before a short trip trail riding in the French Voges. You can read much more about my own Yamaha XT225 Serow, including it’s full restoration for it’s biggest trip yet here.