The CRF was test rider Bryan Minter's favorite, and this photo demonstrates one reason why. Right after landing on this downhill, the Honda tracked absolutely straight through the rough braking bumps at the bottom.
We've all seen those Coors Light "Twins" advertisements, and now it's Honda's turn to take advantage of flaunting its twin aluminum cans. Both corporations run enormous, industry-leading operations. Both feature shiny aluminum objects and dispense something smooth and refreshing when cracked open. And both products when used assertively incite rowdy behavior that may or may not place the consumer in a hospital or jail. However, before we get too far, let's make perfectly clear the primary difference between the two conglomerates: Operating a pair of Coors Lights is known to the crappy beer drinking crowd as double-fisting, something we know nothing about. However, those interested in manhandling two aluminum cans from Honda
require the use of only one wrist.
Honda is onto something with the whole dual exhaust on its CRF250R. Sure, the whole equal side-to-side balance thing (which no one can actually feel), and the potential for minimizing sound decibels is a cool enough gig, but there's just something about a set of exhaust pipes stemming from a single cylinder. Some guys love 'em and others don't, but if nothing else, Honda got its money's worth out of the buzz alone.
Everyone knows about the dual exhaust for 2006, but lots of theories have been tossed around as to what the real advantage is. The sound that emits from the twin-piper is pretty quiet as is, and the potential for even more muffling action is definitely there. As far as weight distribution and balance, we couldn't tell much of a difference.
None of our testers bitched about the exhaust, nor did we pretend to notice the claimed balancing improvement. The CRF250R is an extremely well-balanced machine, but as far as we could tell that was a result of the low center of gravity and perfectly matched suspension. The Showas were super easy to dial in and each tester felt very confident charging through rough stuff. With the most experience with aluminum frames, it's no wonder the Honda's is so good. As were its brakes, another feature we've come to expect from the red giant. The 240mm discs front and rear get the job done, especially the twin-piston caliper attached to the fork.
The CRF's drivetrain is good, with a strong clutch and fairly smooth shifting. But long downhill descents showed an odd aspect, as third gear seemed to wind out too quickly for me, necessitating a quick upshift to fourth. Otherwise, the tranny works well but occasionally misses a shift or two.
At the other end of the speed spectrum, Steve Drew thought that the Honda didn't have enough low-end for him. As far as our testers go, he's heavy and he's fast. He also has a bunch of R&D testing hours on the CRF for his regular job at Two Brothers Racing. Still, when we got the Honda over to White Bros for the dyno session, sure enough, the CRF made as much or more low-end power and torque as any other 250F.
The Honda is like a pumped-up YZ250F in that it's a great package but nothing really stands out performance-wise. It has a great motor, but one that isn't matched to the gearing quite right. Clean styling but nothing too sharp, and a chassis/suspension combination that is complementary but needs to be fine-tuned. It's just a little bit short of the top.
MSRP - $6299
Final Ranking: 2nd
Tale of the Tape - Torque
Honda topped the torque charts, but couldn't reproduce the effect in our shootout standings. Close, though. Very close.
The CRF led the horsepower war, cranking out 35.8 hp at 11,000 rpm, narrowly beating out the KX250F's 35.7 hp at 11,500. While we had the street slicks hooked up to our batch of 250Fs, the computer also spit out some torque numbers. The Honda was the clear winner in this category, cranking out more torque everywhere while also posting the highest peak figure of 19.5 lb-ft. The Kawasaki was close behind with 19.1 lb-ft, while the Yamaha showed good midrange punch that flattened out to a peak of 18.9 lb-ft. The KTM wound up on the bottom with a maximum of 18.3 lb-ft, though we again offer up the caveat that our KTM's dyno numbers aren't representative of a typical SX-F.