As our reigning champion, Kawasaki took on all comers in 2007. Suzuki finally stepped up and re-joined the fray and the Japanese Lites machines are one seriously fun group of bikes.
Our society, men in particular are completely sold on the idea that bigger is better. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the motocross lifestyle. We constantly struggle to attain status by having the fastest bike with the most horsepower, and a bigger truck to haul the fanciest Weekend Warrior.
For all we know this phenomenon could be provoked entirely by waves of male-enhancement spam pouring into our e-mail inboxes. Regardless, no matter how inundated our sport is with this oversized mentality, the secret to finding your moto Zen is realizing that it's all a bunch of crap.
We tried to beat the stereotype by stepping down from the monstrous open-class machines of our 450 MX Shootout and saddle up a crop of 250F two-wheelers. The battle for Lites class supremacy has reached the boiling point, with each of the OEMs manufacturing its own version of the best 250cc 4-stroke motorcycle available. No longer is the class potential marred by failed joint operations or excuses of any kind. What we have now is a full-blown smack-down of Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue technological trickery, engineering genius and mechanical might. Amid our quartet of Japanese equipment are the Honda CRF250R, Kawasaki KX250F, Suzuki RM-Z250 and Yamaha YZ250F.
The 2006 model year was a huge season for technological upgrades, with almost every bike overhauled and revamped in an effort to achieve superiority. Only the Suzuki was left behind as it postponed a major redesign until 2007. As you might have guessed, the result this year was an inverse of '06. Suzuki caught most of the pre-season hype with a radically changed, aluminum-framed RM-Z, while the rest of the OEM's tweaked a few things here and there.
To begin this contest, the first thing we did was run each bike on Area P's
dyno to scratch horsepower and torque curves across our charts. After spinning the dyno drum, Pirelli
Scorpion MX 454 tires went on to standardize any traction issues and keep our five testers from trying to interpret the machines through a mishmash of stock treads. Finally, to make sure we had a good grip on these babies, we took them for a spin at each of the three most common racing applications: motocross, supercross and arenacross.
Since our testing was performed in the Northwest, logic demanded we call up one of the most well-known riders from this region over the last decade, Ryan Huffman. Always a threat at his hometown race at Washougal, Huffman has quit racing full time but keeps himself entertained at his private testing facility in Roseburg, Oregon. The 300-plus acre parcel hosts a natural terrain/man-made MX track and an SX track along with play-riding areas and a network of trails. With the notoriously inclement Oregon weather in full swing, we sought refuge under the cover of a burgeoning arenacross series.
Interestingly enough, many of the comments scrawled across our notepads were very similar to what we found with the 450s. All the 450/250 combos from the OEMs are going to share many of the same traits, but the way they present them on the track are surprisingly different. The results of this test are much different than our big-bike shootout a month ago.