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2009 Honda CRF250R First Ride

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
With all the attention doted upon Honda's all-new 2009 CRF450R, it can be easy to overlook its smaller, Lites-class relation. But then again, all it takes is one moto on the new and improved CRF250R to think, "gee, who needs an extra 200cc's, anyway?" That was my thought after a morning blasting around Piru MX Park.

With its snappy powerband  and super-light clutch  getting out of the corner couldn t be easier on this years CRF250R.
With its snappy powerband, and super-light clutch, getting out of the corner couldn't be easier on this years CRF250R.
After thoroughly annihilating the competition in last year's 2008 250F Motocross Shootout, we were surprised that Honda even bothered making any changes to such an over-achieving platform. But for 2009 the CRF250R is back and its going to take you around track faster than ever.

The first thing you notice on this year's quarter-liter CRF is its white and red plastics. Besides the new colors, however, other changes inside are a bit more difficult to notice. A discerning eye might observe the reshaped 240mm braking discs with matching vented plastic guards, darker colored magnesium engine covers, and even the 3mm wider handlebar grips. What you won't see though is the reshaped cylinder head combustion chamber and the longer exhaust header, which function together to improve low-to-mid-range engine performance. You're also going to overlook the four new transmission gears and updated shift drum and arm designed to improve shifting feel and action - that is until you ride it for a few laps.

As you move through the bike's five gears you can notice how much tighter the gearbox feels. Complementing the positive transmission mesh is a shift lever that is more sensitive when your foot dabs for a gear. Gone are the days of missed shifts or transmission hang-ups when you're trying to clear that jump in front of you.

Rap the throttle for a minute and you'll be amazed how much power Honda engineers have managed to extract between those petite aluminum engine cases. As with all 250F engines, the name of the game is rpm; fortunately this Honda engine spools up incredibly fast. Mid-range performance is snappy, but keep holding the throttle pinned and you'll be rewarded with a strong top-end that never signs off.

"The Honda's engine rips," said our resident pro-level tester, Matty Armstrong. "There always seems to be plenty of power. Mid-range is snappy and up top it just keeps pumping out power - it's a really strong motor."

This year s CRF250R comes in at a claimed 227 lbs. fully-fueled and ready to ride. MotoUSA s test rider Matt Armstrong demomstrates how easy it is to get it sideways.
This year's CRF250R comes in at a claimed 227 lbs. fully-fueled and ready to ride. MotoUSA's test rider Matt Armstrong demomstrates how easy it is to get it sideways.
However, the Achilles heel of this almost-perfect power package was a persistent bottom-end jetting issue. Although fueling was nearly spot-on through the majority of the rev range, it did have some hesitation down low, especially when grabbing a fistful of throttle in low rpm. With the revs high one might have a hard time noticing it, but as you short shift, then take a big stab of the gas, occasionally the CRF will bog—even when the engine is good and hot.

Fortunately, the CRF's clutch has an exceptionally light pull so all it takes to get the engine zinging again is a quick slip of the fingers.

One of the biggest attributes of last year's CRF250R was its well-sorted chassis and accommodating ergonomics package. This year is more of the same. In the saddle you'll be amazed at how slim the CRF feels. While the stainless-steel footpegs could be a bit wider, the Renthal 971-bend aluminum handlebars are placed at a reasonable height to accommodate a wide variety of riders. Case in point: both our 5-foot, 8-inch test rider Armstrong and my 6-foot tall self fit without complaints.

Out on the track the CRF exhibits cat-like agility. Very little rider input is needed to get it pointed into that deep inside rut, and once inside it tracks through with incredible precision. A dirt bike that turns in this sharp tends to be a little flighty when the track gets rough, but with the CRF250R that's simply not the case. In fact, it can get away with its aggressive steering geometry though the use of Honda's Progressive Steering Damper (HPSD). Tucked away behind the front number plate, the damper attaches between the lower triple clamp and the steering head and helps resist handlebar deflection in the rough stuff. At low speeds you can't even notice it, but as soon as you charge through some chop, you'll be thanking the Honda chassis engineers.

"The Honda's engine rips!"

Although Showa suspension components front and rear haven't been touched for '09, the suspenders are still a sound choice. While action isn't the smoothest, suspension is balanced front-to-rear and the harder and faster you load it the better it seems to work. There's also a wide range of adjustment and even a small spin of the clickers makes a noticeable difference on track.

In the tire department, Dunlop's versatile 742 medium-soft compound is shod up front while a 756 medium-hard terrain rear tire handles things out back. Both tires worked well throughout our day at Piru, offering excellent grip in the morning when the track was damp and in the afternoon when it dried out and was slightly hard-pack.

While action isn’t the smoothest  suspension is balanced front-to-rear and the harder and faster you load it the better it seems to work.
While action isn’t the smoothest, suspension is balanced front-to-rear and the harder and faster you load it the better it seems to work.
Despite the fact that both front and rear brake rotors are new, stopping power doesn't feel much different from last year's bike, though it has never been an area of concern. There's still plenty of power to get you slowed down, and the front brake lever has a good deal of adjustment for riders with different sized hands. After a day of blasting around Piru, the biggest thing that stands out isn't its ripping engine or nimble, responsive chassis. It's just how easy the bike is to ride. This year's CRF250R is so smooth and refined that when you're out doing laps at your favorite track, you'll lose track of time. A 20-minute moto turns into 30, a 40-minute moto turns into an hour, and that in essence is the splendor of an excellent motocross bike.

Will the new CRF have what it takes to hold on to the crown of best 250F motocross bike in next month's shootout? Stay tuned...

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2009 Honda CRF250R Specs
Engine: 249cc liquid-cooled Single, DOHC, 4-valves
Bore x Stroke: 78 x 52.2mm
Compression Ratio: 12.9:1
Fuel Delivery: 40mm Keihin flat-slide carburetor
Transmission: 5-Speed
Front Suspension: Showa Twin-Chamber 47mm fork, 16-position compression and 16-position rebound damping adjustability, 12.4-in. travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link equipped Showa shock, 13- position low-speed and 3.5-turn high-speed compression damping, 17-position rebound damping and adjustable spring preload; 12.4 in. travel
Tires: Dunlop D742 80/100-21, D756 100/80-19
Curb Weight: 227 lbs. (claimed)
Wheelbase: 58.2 in.
Ground Clearance: 14.2 in.
Seat Height: 38.0 in.
Fuel Tank Size: 1.9 gal.
MSRP: $6549

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Comments
jbas43   June 15, 2011 03:01 PM
I got a 2009 CRF250R and it's an amazing bike! All I did was throw an fmf megabomb and slip on's onto it and it runs like a champ. All y'all hatin on it can meet me at the track and get nice and familiar with the back of my Honda!!!
that dude on the honda who just crashed -2smokes vs 4strokes  December 13, 2010 06:54 PM
ok, i currently ride a cr125 and while i think its a great bike, and i have ridden a crf250r and raced against 250 4strokes and although i love 2strokes but its pretty obvious how much more power the 4strokes produce, now on any day a great rider can straight up rip it up of a 125 or 250 pinger (i dont im just kinda there). i hate to say it but in my case and opinion (even though i love screamin my 125) the 4 strokes are faster and far more advanced, so there
jacob -2 stroke VS 4 stroke  August 29, 2010 02:45 AM
ok just to try and end this thing about 2 stroke and 4 stroke. it all depends on the rider if you ride better on a 2 then ride a 2 if you ride better on a 4 ride a 4. they both have their pros and cons and yes you do have to re-build the 2 strokes motors quite often. and yes the 4 strokes dont have as much exceliration. but it all just depends on the rider.
Jordan -I hate my bike  July 17, 2010 11:57 AM
Dude i got the New 09 250 Honda and it sux ass!! not only is the appearance not worth a damn the motor gets too damn HOT! too damn quick I need to sell it FAST! I wanna Yamaha :)
JUDDY -YZ125  June 23, 2010 06:18 PM
I OWN A YZ125 AND I WAS RACING AND I BET a crf250 they r nt that gud
juddy -2 stroke  June 23, 2010 06:08 PM
two stroke r so much beter then 4
w -w  June 23, 2010 03:31 AM
four strokes NEED AND GET A HANDICAP enough said
Brown Sugar -250 over 450  June 9, 2010 05:35 PM
the Honda 250r is probably the most gorgeous bike ive ever driven,it has a great amount of power just easily enough so you can control it but still tear it up, unlike the 450r's they hall ass dont get me wrong but they just have an uncontrollable amount of power.
Peter -4 Strokes Way Better and more Reliable!  May 5, 2010 07:14 PM
Yo 4 strokes way better 2 strokes are always breaking down the 250r kills the 2 stroke 125 dalalallala sucked in bitches :)
Dan -My Opinion  March 1, 2010 09:26 AM
Look, im reading your comments of the 4stroke vs. 2stroke. Im 63Kgs, and I rather the 250R because of its weight and power. The bigger the bike and heavier, I feel more stable around corners and can near drop the bike through sand. I used to own a 2stroke, omg, the damn crank cases and just break at a rock. The bog and the powerband difference is horrible and yeah, just overall it seems shit. I've jsut bought a 2010 CRF250, Annnnddd and CRF450R 2010, theyre both amazing bikes and kickass compared to a light weigh, bogging 2stroke.
brodie edwards -crf250r v 250 two stroke  December 8, 2009 06:30 AM
well of course the 250 two stroke will blow the 250f away on a straight or just bush riding but when it comes to the track and were it really matters the 250f's will always dominate , no matter wat rider , simply because out of the coners , straights , and just all over . a 250 2 stroke will never stand a chance agaisnt todays 250f's . Trust me i know.
moto man -honda crf250r  October 26, 2009 10:52 AM
The hondas are junk compared to the others.The other bikes are faster and are better and cheaper maintenance.
brodie edwards -hahah 2 strokes are bad now  July 13, 2009 03:21 AM
lol i just recently brought my CRF250R 09 model and it owns up. i had a cr125r 07 model 2 banger before i got this beast and i can tell u it is the best move i have ever made but i mainly do freestlye and this is alright but 2 bangers are better for freestlyer but for the track this bike will make the 2 strokes PISS THERE PANTS!
jono15 -yup  July 9, 2009 11:38 AM
2 stroke bike of the same cc is usually 10 pounds lighter and 10 more hp, also working on a 4 stroke is not difficult i would pull the valve cover every other weekend or every weekend if I felt like it to check out tolerances and jazz amd that takes maybe 45 min.
nathan -2 strokes are better than 4  July 1, 2009 06:27 AM
2 strokes are far better they have 2 time the power if you think of the strokes there cheaper to run that a moden day 250fr 450fr and there parts are way way way way way cheaper and bikes are 4 fun and competition and there the 2 qualitys a 2 banger has so in the end you know who is the winner and 125s are killing the 250f's two banger forever ps ask your self the question of why KTM and YAMAHA are the only ones still making 2strokes .............. just ask yourself???
mac -crf250r  June 29, 2009 08:43 PM
i have one i am thirteen and i nhave raced that bike and i dont see how they said its all that to me i would rather ride a 125 cr and i have raced 4 7 years
Evan- Honda -Nice Analogy  June 20, 2009 01:40 PM
Hey Mike D just want to say that that is a sick analogy
crf250r-ellis -honda  June 16, 2009 03:54 PM
i have a 150r and my dad has a 250r and we are pro my dad can do a back flip and i could do a super man when i was 11
gib -4 stroke  June 8, 2009 11:07 AM
4 strokes r better there will onws 2 strokes and they dont break as easy
Devon -hey 831 rider  June 1, 2009 07:39 PM
for your information a 250 2 stroke will DESTROY a 250 four stroke no matter what the bike, that is why 125's are racing against 250 4 strokes, because a 2 stroke has only 2 strokes of the piston for every power stroke, and a 4 stroke....well obviously it has 4. And ultimately that gives 2 strokes...2 times the power as an equal displacement 4 stroke. The only reason 2 strokes are a rare sight on the motocross track is because of the emissions in this damn country. If you look deep enough into it, in Japan ...where the bikes are designed and built, TONNES of guys are still rockin the 2 strokes...why??? BECAUSE THEY ARE BETTER! P.S. i didnt have to replace the piston in my 125 for 3 years!
foxrider -which is better  May 23, 2009 04:40 PM
which is a better all around bike a 250r 4 stroke or 2 stroke
831 rider -all you 2 stroke people  May 18, 2009 12:17 PM
If you think a 2 stroke is better than these bikes your retarted it pulls way faster out of corners and you dont have to by a stupid 85 dollar piston every month and rebuild the bike they also last wayyyyy longer sure their faster and nice top end but its all about the rider if a person is fast with a 2 stroke then why would you have them switch to a 2 stroke?
this bike rocks -honda  May 18, 2009 10:21 AM
this bike is ausom and it catwalks forever
leandro ovalle #108 dominican republic pro -l.ovalle o+ pro  May 10, 2009 06:59 PM
honda is the best bike and most easy for tide thak you honda
jack -honda  May 6, 2009 08:31 AM
you all dumb they both rock
coby smith -this is killer  May 5, 2009 09:58 AM
i wish i could have one but i cant my mom says it is bad for my helth but i disagre will the bikes look really good and ceep going honda your bikes r the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
tj -4 strokes  April 28, 2009 10:45 AM
Just look at the start line at any major mx event u dont see any of those old smoky 2 strokes anymore, the big red dont even make one,enough said eyes think
nipples -honda crf250r  February 26, 2009 01:31 PM
what cc is your dirt bike and how long have you had it what year is it and what color is it.
dakota -radiator  February 24, 2009 09:37 AM
has anyone had any problems with the radiator
david guillory -4 strokes??  February 16, 2009 05:15 PM
All you guys out there that are wetting themselves over all these four strokes, you just wait until you have to rebuild one because of a blown crank or snapped valve. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA......it takes about $300.00 bucks to rebuild my YZ250. The last guy I talked to that put a crank and valves in his CRF250 spent almost $3000.00 doing it....too freekin' funny. He punted that POS right out of his garage, took the beating on the repair like a man and went out and bought him a new YZ250 2 STROKE.......you'll still be wetting yourselves over your oil burners but it'll be tears from crying and urine from you pissing your pants when the shop calls you with the repair bill...HAHAHAHAHAHA.............
Anthony -4 strokes slower...  February 12, 2009 07:21 PM
LOL! They may feel slower because of how smooth they ride, but if you think a 2 stroke 125 is faster or quicker out of the gate or to the lip of a jump your dreaming. A CRF250R will smoke any 125 anytime any place...Ya you can ride it like a lazy rider and still be fast, but if you ride it all out like a 125 it is going to be faster then a 125. I had an 05 yz125 and this thing blows it out the water my lap times are faster and I ride it hard not lazy...
joe -best bike  February 11, 2009 08:54 AM
The new 2009 crf250 is soo sick just bought a new 1 i went from a 2001 to a 2009 the tork is way better and soo much faster outa the corners
robert wells -dirt bike honda crf250  February 10, 2009 04:19 PM
what size tire do you need for a 2009 honda crf250 (paddle tire)
John -Honda  February 9, 2009 09:06 AM
4 strokes are the way to go! they might be a bit heavier but unless your an A rider you wont notice the diffrence, if you can do simple math and use measuring tools and know how to change oil and filters, they arnt that hard to maintain
Mike Walter -sweet bike  February 2, 2009 05:57 AM
dude I am pretty fat and this bike can hold up it is really fast I also like to hydroplane on it.
Mike D -Depends on your Definition of Fun......  January 18, 2009 04:23 PM
If riding lazy and less tehnical is your idea of fun than the four stroke is for you. There is no doubt with the additional torque they are better out of the corners and on tracks with hills...(no argument there). I will greatly debate the maintenence needed to keep one running. My 06 YZ125 is a breeze to take care of and weighs 18lbs less AND YOU CAN FEEL IT! If the four stroke was of equal or almost equal weight than maybe I might feel different. The power is different on the two strokes...I personally love that crazy powerband that demands the rider to be on their game.....four stroke has the power but it does not deliver it the same way...the two stroke power delivery and the sound of the bike is just more exciting..... The four stroke is like the rest of our society...too easy to ride..like pulling up to the drive through to get a cup of coffee..the two stroke you have to get out of your car and get off your fat ass and go in and get a cup.....
I wanna fuel injection -Feul injector  January 3, 2009 02:23 PM
Why put a feul injection in the 450 but not the 250
joe -13.1:1  January 1, 2009 10:13 AM
don't you think the high Compression will make the motor life short
4-stroke -crF250 smooth  December 18, 2008 02:20 PM
wow. ridden 2 stroke's and 4-stroke's....!!4-stroke's!!! WAY MORE POWER + LESS WORK + MORE FUN = (FASTER LAP TIMES)Do you like to go slow?????
2 stroke -honda  November 17, 2008 08:35 AM
although the new 4 bangers are improving, there is no way in hell i would change back to 1. ive ridden plenty and they are only heavier and slower than a smoker