2002 HONDA CR250R 2-STROKE PROJECT: BEHIND THE BUILD

The Honda CR250R has got to be one of the most popular early-to-mid-2000s two-stroke machines to rebuild in history. One reason is that Honda sold a ton, and the other reason is the bikes all seem to be aging very well. We found what looked like a very clean machine on the used-bike market, slapped down some cash, and threw it into the back of the mobile command unit before the accounting department could tell us no.

Editor Mark Tilley had a huge smile on his face when Ron Lawson snapped this photo.
Editor Mark Tilley had a huge smile on his face when Ron Lawson snapped this photo.

This build is all about function. We knew from the start this bike was going to see lots of track time, so we planned our build accordingly. In the style department, it was all about classic lines and slight updates to give it a more modern look. Plastics-wise, we went with a complete replacement kit from UFO that has all the OEM lines and color combinations and bolts right on without any modifications using stock hardware. That was the easy part of the style update. Nic and the crew at DeCal Works had a slightly tougher job coming up with a graphics scheme that would gives us what we wanted. They created a clean design with a matte finish, and MotoSeat matched a gripper seat cover with ribs to the overall color combination. With the major style upgrades complete, it was all about applying elbow grease and cleaning up all the dirty, neglected parts. Trust us; there were a lot of them. The frame was pressure-washed and scrubbed, and even needed some light, wet sanding in places. The engine, linkage, triple clamps, swingarm and braking systems all got vapor-blasted in our Vapor Honing Technologies VH800 machine.

DeCal Works did a great job updating our CR250R’s overall look.
DeCal Works did a great job updating our CR250R’s overall look.

When we bought the bike, we knew it had some engine issues that were going to need some attention. Our first clue was the cylinder was off the bike, sitting in a box next to it. Our next clue was the crank was seized up tight. We rebuilt the complete engine using a kit from Wrench Rabbit that comes with all the seals, bearings, piston, rings and gaskets needed. All we had to do was supply the mechanic to perform the labor. We replaced the well-used stock Honda clutch with a Hinson Racing complete billetproof clutch and CNC-machined clutch cover. The suspension linkage was also rebuilt using bearing and seal kits from All Balls Racing. Race Tech had its hands full rebuilding the OEM suspension. It had never been taken apart to be serviced since it left Japan in 2002. Basically, internally it was a mess. All the seals, bushings, valving and oil were replaced. Even the springs needed some TLC.

Our CR250R project has tons of power; you just gotta figure out how to use it responsibly.
Our CR250R project has tons of power; you just gotta figure out how to use it responsibly.

While resembling everything, we wanted to give our CR250R a few performance upgrades by replacing some of the worn-out stock items. We installed a Slide-N-Glide kit from TM Designs with a Supersprox chain and sprockets. An FMF Fatty platinum pipe and Shorty silencer were teamed with a Moto Tassinari VForce reed cage for some extra engine performance. The stock wheels were more of a square shape than round, so we replaced them with a set of Impact wheels featuring black rims and anodized hubs from Tusk Racing. We wrapped those in Dunlop’s brand-new MX33 intermediate-terrain tires.

The sheer amount of aftermarket products available for older two-strokes today is mind-blowing, but we are more than pleased about that.
The sheer amount of aftermarket products available for older two-strokes today is mind-blowing, but we are more than pleased about that.
The engine was rebuilt without performing any major internal modifications using a kit from Wrench Rabbit.
The engine was rebuilt without performing any major internal modifications using a kit from Wrench Rabbit.

For the staff here at the magazine, it is getting harder and harder to test these project bikes when they are completed. Why? First, they look so good that we don’t want to get them dirty or scratch them up. This feeling passes fairly quickly, but still, there is a slight hesitation. Second, there are so many more aftermarket options available for these bikes today than when they were actually in production that we are often testing items for the first time. Third, everyone on staff has a different opinion about how good or bad the bikes were brand new, so comparing them to what we remember is getting harder as the years go by. Fortunately for us, the most important factor in a successful rebuild is the amount of fun we have in the process, making memories and enjoying time at the track with friends and family. Therefore, this build was a complete success in our book. Now, it’s time to find another project. 

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