We waited and waited, first for the big bikes and then for the holidays, and still we waited. Why? What could possibly justify delaying our 250 Motocross Shootout to such a degree? Nothing, as it turns out. Originally it was the promise of a major breakthrough with Suzuki’s all-new fuel-injected RM-Z250
– a bike that left us out to dry. As they say, the show must go on, so we piled up our gearbags and strapped in the 2010 Honda
250 SX-F and Yamaha
YZ250F. (Currently on limited availability, Suzuki has since acquired RM-Z units for testing. Although it escaped our shootout, we’re getting one right now to put up against the winner.)
Last year saw the Honda emerge as the best 250F motocross bike in our 2009 shootout
. Those results mean squat for this season with a brand-new CRF from top-down, a heavily revised YZ-F with shiny new chassis and updated models in the KX-F and SX-F. Once again we enlisted a top female racer from the professional ranks for test riding duties. Elizabeth Bash finished the 2009 AMA WMX series in fifth and brings a long-legged feminine perspective. The rest of our crew is a mishmash of skill and size, though none topped 180 pounds, which is getting pretty heavy for targeted riders in this class. Some are closer to retirement, and others to puberty, but they all spent time with factory technicians getting to know these four machines.
One of the most striking comments from our testers was how close the performance spectrum is for these 250F machines. Half of our crew had sampled the enlarged versions in the 2010 450 Motocross Shootout
, and all agreed that the small bikes are harder to rank. Each stands out in its own right with traits and quirks we’ve come to expect, but overall performance is extremely competitive meaning our testers had to bear down and make some tough decisions once the fun part was over.
We hit three of Southern California’s premier motocross tracks following a week of torrential downpours. That equals excellent conditions in SoCal, and once the bikes were loosened up from riding and collecting hard data with our V-Box at Piru Motocross Park, Glen Helen and Racetown 395, we headed off to Mickey Cohen Motorsports
with some street tires for a stint on his dynamometer. We also used a standard stationary sound test and digital scales to measure what kind of numbers these quarter-liter monsters are putting out.
Finding ways to objectify motocross testing is much harder than it seems. Maybe a couple hundred bucks on the sticker price doesn’t make a difference to you, but it does to someone. Sound testing is critical - quiet bikes let us ride more. Weight obviously makes a difference, but so does having enough fuel to ride long motos - which is why we measure the bikes without fuel so as not to penalize them for holding more gasoline.
The same goes for our subjective reasoning. We’re visual creatures, and to say a person would buy an ugly bike as long as it runs well isn’t necessarily true. It’s the reason manufacturers spend so much effort on styling their machines. The point is, we put the full results of our findings out here for you to utilize. Criticize or celebrate it, depending on your loyalties, but take this information, factor in personal needs, and make your own decisions. The undeniable truth about the 250F motocross division is that it’s chock full of awesome machines.