More Chinese-made two-wheelers like the TaoTao TBR7 250 have been entering the off-roading scene. Largely, this is due to increased consumer awareness of alternative options and a growing number of tech-savvy owner-mechanics confident enough to do their own mods and repairs. Many might wonder whether it is wise to opt for a less-popular name-brand. Well, you will soon find out in this motorcycle guide.
The TaoTao TBR7 250 is a Chinese-manufactured dual-sport bike by Tao Motor. It features a 229-cm3 engine, five-speed manual transmission, a rear rack and gear selector, and preload-adjustable rear shocks. This Enduro-style machine is perfect as a cruiser, daily commuter, or weekend warrior.
As with any other non-U.S. motorcycle, many veteran riders feel that the TaoTao TBR7 poses an increased possibility of mechanical failure due to its cheap parts and the manufacturer’s lack of quality control. But while this is not entirely incorrect, this probability should not sum up what this bike’s capabilities are. Nor should it deter folks from trying it out. Read on to learn more about the TBR7 and decide if it will be a worthy ride.
The TaoTao TBR7 250 Enduro
The TaoTao TBR7 250 is one of the many dual-sport bikes in the market that caters to the increased demand for more affordable, capable two-wheelers. This feature-rich, full-sized motorcycle is well-equipped with a manual five-speed transmission, an electric starter with a back-up kick-start, and loads of low-end power. It hits up to 60 mph top-end speed like nothing, can carry up to 400 lbs rider weight, and is a superb ride on- and off-road. A new player in the dual-sport sub-segment, the TBR7 has components comparable to the Honda CFR250 and the Yamaha WR250.
In recent years, the TBR7 has become a top choice among first-time and budget-conscious riders – not because they are cheapskates but because it is convenient to upgrade parts and make mistakes on this wheeler. The TaoTao TBR7 250 has become part of the more popular practice/project bikes around.
Of course, not everyone would agree, especially die-hard Yamaha, Kawasaki, or KTM followers who would rather spend their money on secondhand units. After all, these big Japanese manufacturers still best the TaoTao brand in terms of product quality, durability, and reliability. But for a vehicle worth less than $1,600, I would say its features and characteristics do pack a punch. Best of all, it is 50-states-legal – not many bikes have the same bragging rights.
TaoTao TBR7 Specs & Features
The TBR7 250 has a four-stroke, air-cooled, single-cylinder engine. Engine displacement is 229 cm3, and the bore-stroke ratio is 67 x 65 mm. The air-fuel mixture is handled by a 30-mm PZ30 carburetor and 48-mm fully adjustable air filter. Fuel tank capacity is 12.5 Liters/3.3 US gallons (with a 1.1 Liters/0.3 US gal reserve). Recommended fuel is unleaded gasoline with a PON rating of 91 or higher, while oil would be 1.1 Liters/0.3 US gal of SAE 15W-40 motor oil, like Royal Purple SAE 15W-40 High-Performance Synthetic Motor Oil (view on Amazon).
Other details worth noting are as follows:
|Configuration||TaoTao TBR7 250|
|Valve Clearance||0.04 – 0.06 mm (intake/exhaust)|
|Bore x Stroke Ratio||67 × 65 mm (in)|
|Horsepower||14.8 hp (15 PS/11 kW @ 6,500 RPM)|
|Maximum Torque||17.5 Nm (12.9 ft-lb/1.78 kgf-m @ 5,500 RPM)|
|Top Speed||55 mph (90 km/h)|
|Idle RPM||1,500 RPM ±150|
Carburetor care entails using a fuel stabilizer to prevent residue buildup caused by stale or deteriorated fuel. This step is highly recommended for vehicles not in operation for 20 days or more, as they tend to form a residue in the jets and passages, resulting in starting issues. Regarding the engine oil, drain what comes stock with the bike and replace it with conventional motor oil before moving to a synthetic type. Finally, replace the stock carb with a 30-mm Mikuni if it becomes irreparable.
Power travels via TaoTao TBR7’s five-speed manual transmission (inclusive of neutral and reverse) with a five-up-one-down gearshift pattern. Its clutch is a wet multi-plate type, activated via a hand-operated lever on the left handlebar. The motorcycle’s transmission gear ratios are as follows:
|Driveline||TaoTao TBR7 250|
|Transmission Gear Ratio (1st)||2.909|
|Transmission Gear Ratio (2nd)||1.867|
|Transmission Gear Ratio (3rd)||1.389|
|Transmission Gear Ratio (4th)||1.150|
|Transmission Gear Ratio (5th)||0.955|
The TBR7 250 uses an electronic CDI ignition with an electric-/pull-start system. An AC-Magneto alternator and 10-Amp main fuse power up electronic accessories. The dirt bike requires an NGK D8EA spark plug with a gap of 0.6 – 0.8 mm (some resources recommend an A7RTC spark plug with a 0.6-0.7 mm gap) and a 12V 9Ah battery with assembled dimensions of 4.5 x 2.81 x 4.19 inches (114 x 71 x 106 mm) – excluding wiring harness and mounting accessories. The TBR7 250 is compatible with any other 5L-BS battery (view on Amazon) format. To prevent sulfation or damage, ensure that the battery is plugged into a trickle charger when not in use.
The TaoTao TBR7 250 tires consist of 90/90-19 front tires and 110/90-17 rear tires mounted on tubeless aluminum wheels, which enable the dirt bike to tread through diverse terrain. It is not shown in the service manual, but owners’ recommended tire pressure for both front and rear is between 27-55 kPa (0.27-0.55 kg-f/cm², 4-8 psi). You may opt for Dunlop D401 Front Motorcycle Tires (view on Amazon) if you are using your two-wheeler for a daily commute or Bridgestone Spitfire S11F Sport/Touring Front Motorcycle Tires (view on Amazon) for sport riding on the side.
Stopping power comes from hand-operated front hydraulic discs and a rear-foot-operated mechanical drum brake. The front brake requires no adjustment, while the rear allows 20-30 mm of free play. Always check brake fluid level, fluid leaks, wear/surface condition of discs and pads, and brake components’ cleanliness to keep the braided brake system in good working condition. Note that brakes will not perform optimally until after the initial break-in is complete. Use only brake fluid type 3 or 4 when servicing the system, and employ the help of an authorized dealer for brake system maintenance, repair, or replacement.
Enclosed in the chassis are dual shock absorbers at the front and a mono-shock absorber at the rear. Soft shocks are adjustable, but details are undisclosed in the owner’s manual. Chinese ATV forums are excellent supplements to the manual, as well as tutorial videos on rear shocks upgrade like this one from NateRides:
Overall dimensions of the motorcycle are 80 x 33 x 47 inches (2,040 x 840 x 1,200 mm – L x W x H), while carton dimensions are 69 x 22 x 42 inches (1,760 x 560 x 1,070 mm). The bike’s wheelbase is 53 inches (1,345 mm). Gross weight is 333 lbs (151 Kg – curb weight plus passengers) and dry weight is 286 lbs (130 Kg). Seat height is 34 inches (860 mm).
The TBR7 250 is equipped with a speedometer, turn signal indicator, trip odometer, high-beam indicator, gear position display, neutral indicator, odometer, and fuel gauge.
MotoCheez gives a full review of the TaoTao TBR7 250 and covers unboxing, build, and pre-ride checklist. The presenter also shares the wheeler’s advantages and disadvantages and mods that he did on the bike:
TaoTao TBR7 Reviews
There is a risk that goes with purchasing this dirt bike. Consumers who have only recently known this off-brand wheeler prefer the TaoTao TBR7 over pre-loved Enduros and Hondas, thinking that it comes with a known set of problems. And it does! These issues, however, should never be underestimated despite being common as they can lead to an unpleasant riding experience if left unnoticed or ignored.
Out of the crate, modifying or replacing the stock carb is among the first things you need to do. The reason is that the stock carb makes the motorcycle sputter like crazy. Experienced TBR7 owners strongly suggest getting a 30-mm Mikuni as a replacement, as this results in a night-and-day difference in power output on top of eradicating all kinds of sputtering issues.
Likewise, it is worth scrutinizing the bike’s assembly once you have it. Examine the fuel lines and front end before taking out the two-wheeler for a spin. Many riders have shared that the fuel lines are not connected, and the steering head is loose even if they were supposed to be taken care of in-factory. The chain tension needs to be adjusted as well (as demonstrated in the video above). If you notice that the rear wheel is stiff, immediately check if the rear wheel spacers are complete – in most cases, owners discover that this component is missing.
While the TBR7 gives good value for money, some of its parts are not designed for durability. Its studs and welds seem to consist of cheap metal, which is not as sturdy as riders would want (welding some angle iron on the rear end may help strengthen it). The rear passenger peg and rear brake tend to break off easily, especially for those using the bike to practice on stands. The structure of the airbox allows oil to be recirculated through it, potentially causing engine damage. As one would expect, the quality of its parts is behind that of Japanese-manufactured dirt bikes.
Average-height drivers may find the seat height a bit high. Adjusting the rear suspension sag close to the very bottom, removing the spacers inside the shocks at the front, and lowering the point where the tree grips the shock absorbers, fortunately, gain you an extra 2-3 inches for your feet to touch the ground when sitting on the straddle seat. This workaround applies to all riders. However, the outcome of these changes would differ slightly for light- to mid-weight people and those on the heavy side. Consequently, you may also need to shorten the kickstand to align with these changes.
Naturally, consumers would have mixed feelings about their experience riding a TaoTao TBR7 250. But if they have one common denominator, it would be recommending a visit to China Riders forums. This site has immensely helped both new and old TaoTao motorcycle owners and has a wealth of information about the bike not found in the service manual. Furthermore, support from the TaoTao following is remarkable, making it easier for beginner riders to navigate through owning and repairing their dual-sport wheelers.
Pros and Cons
To piggyback on the previous section, here is a list of benefits and drawbacks of owning a TaoTao TBR7 250 Enduro:
- Assembling and modifying this dirt bike is straightforward (and inexpensive, too!).
- It has impressive torque, and gear ratios are set very low – perfect for wheelies.
- The TBR7 250 has a gear selector that other Chinese-made motorcycles do not have.
- The wavy disc brakes provide good stopping power, and front and rear brake lines are braided.
- It comes with a rear rack, where you can attach a rear box for helmet storage or trip essentials.
- Weight is approximately 30 lbs less than big name brands and significantly less top-heavy.
- This dirt bike is very manageable and cruises with ease at 45-50 mph.
- It has 8.8 hardened bolts on motor mounts.
- Rear shocks are preload-adjustable.
- The bike’s main jet is too small to run properly.
- Inside of the plastics at the back is unpainted.
- Decals are of poor quality and fade quickly.
- 0-60 time is 14-16 seconds average – it is definitely not a speedster.
- Factory-assembled parts are not put together well enough that re-inspection is mandatory upon receiving it.
- Dual-sport tires are more suitable for off-road but not for street/highway use or mudding.
- The factory exhaust is made of low-grade steel and is bound to rust up quickly when you ride the bike frequently through mud and water.
- The shipping crate is not sturdy and breaks off from the bike during transit.
- Sometimes, the bike does not come with a manual when bought online. Or when it does, the manual does not have a fully detailed checklist with complete torque specs.
Some of these points and more are covered in this interesting and very informative video by Matt Smith about his 2019 TaoTao TBR7 250 Enduro:
About Tao Motor
Tao Motor is a premier Chinese motorsports vehicle manufacturer (a subsidiary of Taotao Vehicles Company Ltd.) with warehouses across the U.S. and in Canada. The maker of the TaoTao TBR7 250 has a reputation for producing quality, reasonably-priced ATVs, dual-sport bikes, and value motorsports products. Since its start in 1985, the company has followed through with its goal of allowing families to enjoy the outdoors through its product offerings, which include all-terrain and electric vehicles, dirt bikes, go-karts, and scooters.
Conclusion – TaoTao TBR7 250 Enduro Review
All in all, the TaoTao TBR7 250 Enduro is a very cost-effective and highly capable machine for its price point. It is easy to work on and modify and is an excellent alternative to pricier European- and Japanese-made dirt bikes. This two-wheeler does have its share of imperfections. But with a little tweaking and tons of knowledge and support, it can turn into a fantastic starter bike that will perfectly get you places – whether through wooded trails, vast canyons, and valleys, back roads, or on dirt-race tracks. Indeed, the TBR7 250 is one dual-sport bike with a lot to offer!