Classic Honda ATVs invade the Oregon Dunes

By Gee Armstrong

Photos by Ryan Swartz

Part of the festivities was arranging a group photo on the face of Banshee Hill. Most of the machines that showed up were excellent examples of classic Honda ATVs.


Few riders have more passion for their machines and riding sand dunes than Honda ATC250R and TRX250R enthusiasts. A growing group of these riders gathers every August at the Annual TRX250R Takeover in the Oregon Dunes at Winchester Bay to celebrate their classic machines and the ATV history they represent.

While there was organized drag racing, much of the event centers around powering up dunes for bragging rights. Everyone wants the most powerful TRX or ATC250R.


The Honda TRX250R evolved from its predecessor, Honda’s wickedly fast three-wheeled ATC250R. With its arm-ripping, power-producing two-stroke engine and six-speed transmission, the ATC250R dominated racing competition at the time. It is regarded today as the front runner of the high-performance three-wheeler craze that stoked the all-terrain-vehicle world in the 1970s and early 1980s.

A group of wildly diverse machines gather in the dunes. As you can see, riders are not shunned for bringing their four-stroke sport quads to the dunes.
You don’t often think about green as a go-to color for a Honda, but this one works! The detailing is amazing, and the machine stands out in a crowd.



But, the ATC250R became known as a high-risk machine to ride because of its three-wheeled design. Being a three-wheeler created a natural instability, but also allowed it to be quite nimble. The biggest problem was that three-wheelers were easy to learn the basics of riding on. Because they didn’t fall over sitting still, folks assumed they were totally safe. With the ease of learning the basics, it was too easy to learn to go fast before having the skill to do that safely.

There are always a few full-commitment drag builds that show up. There is very little of the stock TRX250R left, but it shares the same roots with the other machines that attend.
These drag chassis’ are built for speed, light weight and stunning acceleration. They don’t make for good dune trail machines without front brakes!

ATC250R production ceased at the end of 1986 over safety concerns, and the trike was replaced with the TRX250R, a more stable-handling four-wheel version with a liquid-cooled two-stroke engine and 6-speed, close-ratio transmission.

Another fun and popular event was barrel racing. Riders power from a standing start and go around three flags before returning to the start. Fastest time wins.



Honda manufactured the TRX250R from 1986 until 1989, and it remains one of the ATV world’s legendary and thrilling rides, with many followers passionately preserving these unique steeds. One such rider is Ryan Swartz from Portland, Oregon. He’s been buying, building and riding 250Rs for 20 years. In 2014 his love of the 250R adrenaline-soaked riding experience inspired Ryan and other members of the TRX250R Forum website to initiate an annual TRX250R group ride in the dunes at Silver Lake, Michigan, where it occurred annually until 2017. Then the group moved the event to the Oregon Dunes in Winchester Bay.

Austin Soderberg owns a matched set of sport three-wheelers. He arrived with an ATC250R, Kawasaki Tecate 250 and a Yamaha Tri-Z 250, but only rode the Honda and Kawasaki.
Ryan Swartz is the brains behind the TRX250R Takeover, but he also has some stunning Honda TRX250R modified quads. We love the look of this one!
Organizer Ryan Swartz owns this trick Honda TRX250R. We are amazed at the color. It is amazing that he could get plastic bodywork this color.
Not all the Honda two-stroke quads are fully vintage. This hybrid is a modern (relatively) Honda TRX450R chassis with a vintage Honda TRX250R-based engine adapted.


Each year the group ride has grown and has now become the Annual TRX250R Takeover. This year 75 ATC250R and TRX250R riders attended the 250R Takeover. Participants came from as far away as Ohio (previous years saw rider/owners from as far as Hawaii attending!) to camp out in the dunes or nearby campgrounds. They enjoy a weekend of group rides, Banshee Hill shoots, a meet-and-greet BBQ and show & shine of some eye-candy 250R specimens. There is also barrel racing and some heart-throbbing hill shooting out back in the towering Winchester Bay dunes. The Annual TRX250R Takeover event is free and open to anyone wanting to join in the fun. If you are interested in attending in 2022, keep an eye on www.trx250r.org or www.facebook.com/groups/250rtakeover.

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