Our testers judged the CRF250R to be the best looking bike of the 250cc 4-strokers. It's basically a mini version of the CRF450R, which means it comes with power, refinement, handling, and excellent stopping power.
The Honda CRF250R is beautiful to look at we just can't help but say it. It is a work of art, mostly because of how cool all of the CR aluminum frames look. Some of you may scoff at them and say they don't handle, but if you haven't ridden the third-generation aluminum frame you just don't know. They handle and feel every bit as good as the rest of the bikes.
The CRF250R's motor is just a smaller version of Honda's 450, which means it utilizes the unique, 4-valve Unicam design. Only the two intake valves are titanium, and the bore is slightly larger than the other three manufacturers by 1mm, so the stroke is 1.4mm shorter. Another unique thing about the CRF motors is that they have two separate oil supplies one for the transmission and one for the motor. This cuts down on contaminating the motor oil with the dirtier transmission oil. Like the rest of the bikes in the class, the motor is fed by a 37mm Keihin FCR carburetor with a throttle-position sensor.
The suspension components are made by Showa. The fork is a 47mm twin-chamber unit, and the rear shock still features the high-speed compression adjuster like the Yamaha (The KXF/RM-Z shock do not have this). The ergonomics are roomy and comfortable, and we again applaud the use of adjustable, rubber-mounted handlebar clamps for versatility. If we applaud the clamps, we have to do cartwheels over the fact the Honda is the first Japanese manufacturer to supply Renthal aluminum handlebars as OEM equipment.
The third generation aluminum perimeter-frame handles as well or better than anything else on the market.
As for riding it, the first thing we have to get out of the way is the fact that the Honda was the easiest bike to start in the shootout whether it was cold, hot, or crashed. Usually, a kick or two was all it took and we, of course, pulled in the hot-start lever when the bike was hot or laid down (the proper starting procedure). The CRF motor doesn't have the most power in any one category, but rather, just has a good, solid spread of power from bottom to top. It is very user-friendly, but not in a lame kind of way. It is still high-performance and can be hustled around the track very easily.
The suspension and handling are pretty good on the Honda, and our test riders rated it second overall in both of these categories. No headshake, extra vibration, or gripes were reported. As for the feel and ergonomics of the little CRF, test riders said things like, "It just feels right." The brakes were typical Honda, which means "very good," and the CRF topped this category with the test crew. The men and women who built the bike at Honda definitely did their homework on this little gem.