If you read nothing else, read this: These bikes even with all their shortcomings and lack of refinement are a blast!
Bigger, faster and stronger is the trend in motocross and off-road riding these days. While bikes like the Honda CRF450R, Yamaha YZ450F and their small bore MX brethren live in the spotlight, there still exists a collection of bikes on showroom floors that are made for people who don't need fistfuls of arm-wrenching, wheelie-inducing power. Instead they want ease of use and a reasonably low entry price along with their dirt excitement.
First and foremost these motorcycles don't have the newest industry technology, nor all the bells and whistles that come with the latest models on the showroom floor. The lack of features may seem like a negative aspect, but in reality most people riding for leisure on trails don't need the best of the best, which is where our three test machines are a perfect fit.
We took possession of the Honda XR250R, the Kawasaki KLX300, and the Suzuki DR250 to see if it was possible these bikes that are seemingly undersized, underpowered, and under the radar would function in an era where aluminum perimeter frames and titanium valves dominate the headlines.
If you read nothing else, read this: These bikes even with all their shortcomings and lack of refinement are a blast! We won't sit here and pull your chain and tell you that they can run with the latest crop of motocross Thumpers, but they will take you just about anywhere you want to go while saving a pocketful of cash in the process.
These small bore four-strokes were designed with trail riding in mind, and all performed admirably.
When the bikes were unloaded and awaiting their first respective rides, the Kawasaki stood out as aesthetically as the most motocross-like, boasting liquid-cooling, an inverted fork, and perimeter frame. Neither of the other two competitors looked as though they were fully outfitted to do battle with the Green Machine. But don't let the small displacement and headlights fool you. These bikes can rip and we have the pictures to prove it.
The first thing we did was give the trio a fighting chance to prove their mettle by removing all the restrictors federal regulations require. Rubber baffles, congested pipes, and other assorted items that help these machines adhere to stringent emission standards were ceremoniously eliminated.
Once we unclogged the windpipes, we fired up each machine to get the oil flowing. Herein lies the first source of derisive comments. Anyone who has spent significant time on older generation 4-strokes knows kick-starting one can be as frustrating as quantum physics.