In a nutshell, all of these bikes make you feel like a hero when you’re riding one. The throttle is pinned most of the time as they dance through turns with ease. Any one of us could buy any one of these bikes and be happy with them whether we race or play ride. Now that may sound like a magazine cliché but it’s the truth. You can see for yourself on the dyno charts that the motors are really closely matched. In countless drag races ranging from MX-style to roll-on starts, we noticed that each bike would win and lose at different times with different riders. Not one bike was dominant. However, after having the bikes all together for a while at different tracks, comparisons are inevitable and our job. Here’s the shootout breakdown.
Unfortunately for Yamaha, the mighty, omnipotent YZ250F has been dethroned from its reign in the 125cc class. It enjoyed three unchallenged years of dominance, but now there are some new toys on the block. Don’t take us wrong, though, as this is a great motocross machine. If you want the bike with the best spread of midrange and top-end power along with snappy throttle response, the YZF is for you. With our group of varied test riders, the YZ could only manage to win one category overall suspension performance due to its killer fork. Basically, it received mostly third-place votes in the rest of the categories and, consequently, was relegated to the same position in the shootout. Like that old, trusty GI Joe we used to love, kids always want the new toys.
The 250cc 4-stroke MX class has a new leader and it’s cloaked in red. The CRF250R is a better overall package than its competitors.
The Kawasaki KXF250/Suzuki RM-Z 250 took second place in comparison. It is a great first-effort collaboration from the two Japanese companies. The motor is a grunt-monster that does a fine job propelling that sweet chassis down the track. It posted the best horsepower number in our shootout (34.3), and test riders love how the bike feels and handles. Aside from some occasional starting problems when the bike is hot (which is why we suspect James Stewart won’t be riding one just yet), they work and perform very well. As mentioned earlier, by wining two categories (handling and rider layout) and taking second place in most of the rest, the KXF/RMZ earns a respectable second.
That leaves the Honda CRF250R as the new and undeniable champ of this competitive class. It’s beautiful, friendly and fun. Its motor has the widest spread of power and it revs out nicely on top as it keeps on pulling to 13,200 rpm. The CRF is designed and built very well, and took first place in four categories. Hardest to argue with was the CRF’s top ranking in the Overall category in which testers rank the bikes in the order in which they would spend their hard-earned dollars (see table below). The only problem we see is that the Honda is priced at $5,799 while the rest of the class goes for $200 less at $5,599. Combined with waiting lists, that just may be $200 too much for some buyers.
MotorcycleUSA.com’s Individual Rankings:
Test Rider: First: Second: Third:
Dennis Ewing Kawazuki Honda Yamaha
Brent Line Honda Yamaha Kawazuki
Mikey Mandahl Kawazuki Honda Yamaha
Cam Coatney Honda Yamaha Kawazuki
Mike Kittel Honda Kawazuki Yamaha
Rob Barnum Honda Kawazuki Yamaha