RIDING THE NEW YAMAHA WR250F: THE WRAP

With the Coronavirus shut down, the 2021 new model season will be later than usual. In fact, there are still some new-for-2020 bikes that were late arrivals. One of them is the Yamaha WR250F. This bike replaced an aging model by the same name. The new version is based on the latest YZ250F motocross bike, meaning it got an all-new frame and motor. We picked up a 2020 test bike three weeks ago, and have just enough seat time to get to know it.

Traditionally, the WR250F has been an off-road adaptation of the YZ250F motocross bike. That’s still the case, but since 2015, Yamaha has offered another bike between the YZ and WR. The YZ250FX is sold as a closed-course, off-road race bike. Yamaha is cutting thinner and thinner slices of the pie, allowing you to choose a bike that’s already tailored to very specific needs. Here’s a quick run-down of the three Yamaha 250s and how they differ:

YZ250F MOTOCROSSER:

2020 Yamaha YZ250F: 227 pounds without fuel, $8199 MSRP.
  • Competition muffler
  • Competition cams
  • MX suspension tuning
  • Five-speed gearbox
  • 1.6 gallon fuel tank
  • Programmable ignition w/MX settings
  • WiFi EFI connectivity w/ Smartphone app
  • 19-inch rear wheel
  • For a full test of the 2020 Yamaha YZ250F, click here.

YZ250FX CROSS-COUNTRY RACER:

2020 Yamaha YZ250FX: 231 lb without fuel, $8499 MSRP.

 

  • Competition muffler
  • Competition cams
  • Off-road suspension tuning
  • Six-speed gearbox
  • 2.2 gallon fuel tank
  • Programmable ignition w/ off-road settings
  • WiFi EFI connectivity w/ Smartphone app
  • 18-inch rear wheel
  • Kickstand
  • Skid plate
  • O-ring chain
  • For a full test of the 2020 Yamaha YZ250FX, click here.

WR250F TRAIL BIKE:

2020 Yamaha WR250F: 241 lb., $8599 MSRP
  • Quiet muffler
  • Off-road cam timing
  • Trail suspension tuning
  • Six-speed gearbox
  • 2.2 gallon fuel tank
  • Fixed EPA-approved EFI settings
  • 18-inch rear wheel
  • Kickstand
  • Skid plate
  • O-ring chain
  • Headlight
  • Taillight
  • Odometer
  • Radiator fan
  • Throttle stop
  • Removable Inner baffle

Everything is different from the previous WR250F; the reverse-head motor now has the electric start integrated within the cases more cleanly, and weight has been shaved off almost everywhere. The frame is quite different as well, although it still is a twin-beam aluminum design, and the suspension is still all KYB, with the SSS coil-spring fork in front. The main point of the WR is that it’s quiet. For reasons that we have never understood, the WR is delivered to dealers with an inner baffle within the already-quiet stock muffler and a stop that only allows half throttle. We removed both of those before riding the bike, and it was still wonderfully quiet. 

The WR’s exhaust is so quiet that the traditional Yamaha intake noise seems louder.

It’s as quiet as any dual-sport bike–at least when you hear it go by. The pilot might not realize how quiet the bike is, because he hears the intake noise of the upward-facing airbox. You get used to that quickly and the noise that everyone else hears is a whisper. If you’re expecting the miracle of a quiet bike without a horsepower penalty, though, you’re going to be disappointed. The WR pays a steep price for its silence. The bike has a smooth, linear power delivery, but it’s no thrill-maker. Low-end power is much lazier than the competition models. It starts to catch up in the mid-range, but on top it falls off quickly. It still makes enough to be a good trail bike, which is the whole point. For most tight trails, too much power is a much bigger curse than not enough. The WR never stumbles, hiccups or stalls. It just goes forward without fanfare. To put it in perspective, it’s not quite as powerful as a 125 motocrosser, but has a much longer, flatter power delivery. 

The WR is imported as an off-road bike, as recognized by the EPA, but is not a green-sticker bike in California.

The first questions are always about modification. The stock bike is perfect for some applications, but it lacks a certain fun factor. The people who designed the bike know that and have mapped out a whole agenda for those who want a little more spark. The first stop is the CPU from the YZ250FX, which Yamaha’s accessory division sells for $160. The stock unit is locked with EPA’s settings, whereas the competition status of the FX allows it to be tunable. The default settings are still off-road oriented, but are designed to work with a less restrictive muffler, which is stop two on your list. Even if you don’t want to go competition loud, there are a number of aftermarket pipes on the market that are less aggressive. Next, if you really want to do some experimentation, you might think about the WiFi transmitter that allows you to remap the bike with your smartphone. This is another $300, but it’s no gimmick; we have come to love that capability on the YZ competition bikes. There’s also a little more performance to be had with YZ cam timing. If you’re going to do all that, why not get the YZ250FX in the first place? For us, the WR provides you with more overall capabilities. You can keep the stock muffler for riding in sensitive areas, because no aftermarket system will ever be that quiet. We hope to have our WR long enough to play with all the different options. A full test will appear in the August, 2020 print edition of Dirt Bike.

SUZUKI RM250 REBUILD

In case you don’t already know, the final generation of the Suzuki RM250 was an incredible bike. For years they didn’t bring much on the used-bike market, but that’s slowly changing. We still consider it the best used bike bargain, which you can read about there.  We finally got to ride a 2007 Suzuki RM250 project that’s been in the works for months. It was built by Jay Clark using a Wrench Rabbit rebuild kit. Pete Murray got to spend some time on it and loved it. He looked just like the Pete Murray of 15 years ago; all that was missing was the Sinisalo gear.

This particular RM was built as an off-road project with some very interesting twists. You can read about the project in Two-Stroke Tuesday

MOTOCROSS SEASON FIRMS UP

MX Sports has been feeding us regular updates regarding the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series, which will be heavily modified because of the Coronavirus. Here’s the latest plan: the first outdoor National will be held on July 18 in Crawfordsville Indiana. The final race is said to take place on October 10 in Pala, California. Everything in between is less certain. Unadilla, Washougal, Budds Creek, High Point, WW Ranch, Southwick, Thunder Valley, Spring Creek and RedBud all are in the running at this point.

SRA IS BACK!

We know that racing is up and running in most of the cournty, but we have been a little slow to get started in Southern California. SRA will be one of the first off-road racing organizations to start up and the offical date is June 21. Check out their website at sragp.com

IT’S HOT!

In case you didn’t notice, it’s summer. We have a bad habit of boiling virtually every test bike we get. Half the time, we forget to refill the radiator before the next ride, and that can lead to bad stuff. The easiest solution is to replace the O.E. radiator caps before we even swing a leg over the bike. The guys at Moto Hose have caps that test to 2.0 bar,  whereas the stockers are anywhere between 1.2 and 1.6. You still have to let your bike cool off when it overheats–you should know when that is, because you’ll be overheating as well. But with a stiffer cap, you won’t lose coolant. Check them out at www.motohose.com.

Keep cool!

–Ron Lawson

 

 

 

 

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