When it comes to the current crop of 250cc 4-stroke motocrossers, there are at least three undeniable truths that come to mind. The first undeniable truth is that everybody wants to know which one is the best, as this is the most highly anticipated motocross comparison of the new century. The second undeniable truth is that if you race the 125cc class and don't ride one of these bikes, you must be an amazing and fit rider who doesn't mind giving up free power and handling. And the third undeniable truth is that these bikes are just plain fun to rage around the track.
Since Yamaha's inception of the potent YZ250F 4-stroke motocrosser in 2001, the rest of the manufacturers have been on a design-and-develop scramble to come up with their own. It seems that Honda just took its time to make sure it did it right. You could even argue that two of them, Kawasaki and Suzuki, joined forces to topple the mighty Yamaha's stranglehold on horsepower in the 125cc class. As for KTM, well, they had one in prototype form racing the early World Championship GP rounds this past year, but put it back in the Austrian factory due to poor results and performance. We expect KTM to have its 250cc 4-stroker ready next season. Whichever way you slice it, it's downright warfare out there and only going to get better.
The established leader in this emerging class has the inside line on the shootout but is swarmed by new contenders.
MCUSA's 2004 250cc 4-stroke motocross shootout took place in late November in Southern California at the Lake Elsinore Motocross Park and at the new Pomona Fairplex Motocross facility. The conditions were perfect with clear skies and temps in the high 70s. The MCUSA test crew consisted of new pros Dennis Ewing and Brent Line, intermediate Mikey Mandahl, novice Mike Kittell, and the author, a vet novice. Test riders rode timed sessions and took notes after each session before the results were tallied in several categories, including: motor, suspension, handling, clutch/transmission, brakes, rider layout, and overall.
An interesting fact about these motocrossers is that they all weigh within a pound of each other, between 216 and 217 pounds, with all fluids except fuel. On the same note, the White Bros. Dynojet dynomometer shows that the bikes are really close in peak horsepower numbers, churning out between 33.3 and 34.3 horsepower at the rear wheel (click on the dyno charts for detailed info). Statistically, things are very close, and on the track it was just as tight.