Everywhere we took the CRF it performed almost flawlessly. If Honda could clean up the 40mm carb to eliminate the bog we’d be completely out of things to complain about.
The list of tweaks for 2007 is relatively small. Changes were limited primarily to a revalving of the 47mm Showa fork, and a new front brake master cylinder that features a link-type connection to the lever. While Honda claims a 15% increase in braking power, none of our testers made special mention of a monster binder. While it may not have slowed the bike any faster for us, the link-style lever gives excellent feedback to the rider. The only real negative comment we heard was a matter of vanity. All of the 250Fs have wave- or petal-style rotors now except the CRF. We’d like to see Honda make the switch just for a bit of visual appeal. The performance, however, isn’t compromised by retaining a smooth curve, as only the Yamaha scored higher in overall braking. Like the 450 class, all four 250s were very close in rear brake performance.
One more change for ’07 is a new accelerator pump and linkage in the carburetor. All four Japanese 250Fs come with Keihin flat-side carbs, but Honda plays the one-up game harder than the rest. The CRF’s 40mm unit is easily biggest with an additional 3mm over the remaining three. It also has the biggest bog in the engine. The hiccup rears its ugly head most during heavy throttle application at low rpm and on jump landings.
Our pro tester, Horban, raced 2006 Hondas (which have the same 40mm unit) extensively over the past year and had major problems attempting to nail down the bogging problem with alternate jetting. The best solution he found, and one that’s common in the pits, is to completely switch to the 2005 carb – a 37mm Keihin. We didn’t have an older model to try out, but our best results at preventing a massive endo was accomplished by simply raising the idle speed. The benefit of this oversized feeder is in the mid to upper rpm range when it can dump a lot of fuel into the cylinder.
Honda gave its perfect chassis a good set of Showa suspension and abundant motor to wrap things up. Whoop sections were one particular area where the CRF could shine.
The Uni-cam motor is an excellent overall mill and ranked second only to the wild Kawasaki. The range of usable power spreads wide and far, but most of us felt the bike is better suited to outdoor racing where its 35 hp can run wild. Delivery characteristics were described in terms such as long-lasting, reliable and explosive. Some testers were more influenced by the low-end stutter than others, but common ground was literally found in the middle. Minus the bog, the CRF pulls as hard or harder than the YZ-F or RM-Z down low but kicks the pants off those machines through a broad, reactive mid-range.
Last year’s big news for the CRF was the twin-muffler exhaust that claimed to centralize mass, balance the machine and stifle the decibel output. None of the other OEMs have jumped on the bandwagon since, and you’d have to be one sensitive mo-fo to feel the balancing effect of two cans versus one, but the CRF is undeniably proportionate. Despite having the tallest seat height (38.0 inches) and longest wheelbase (58.2 inches), it feels tight, nimble and proportionate for even our smallest test riders.
The dual exhaust easily falls under the AMA sound limit for MX/SX. Interestingly, though, our test bike put out 94 dB from both sides at the Motorcycle Industry Council’s standard 4300 rpm. However, when the revs increased to 5500, the clutch side was two decibels higher (98-96). Either way, it’s under the 99-dB mark, but keep that tech guy and his sound meter on the throttle side just to be sure.
- Utility player
- Perfectly balanced chassis
- Stays looking fresh
- Largest fuel tank
- Needs a smaller carb
- Highest MSRP ($6349)
- No skidplate
The CRF250R took top honors in our 2004 comparison and has since topped plenty of other magazine shootouts. The little red devil failed to lift our skirt quite far enough last year, but it’s easy to see why it was enough for some. The beauty of this machine is how damn well-rounded it is. Much like the 450R, the small-bore has a good motor, comfortable ergonomics, powerful brakes and competent suspension – all centered around its tremendous aluminum chassis. It’s a bike that can adapt to any environment and do well – probably one of the reasons why so many privateers ride Red.
“The Honda feels smooth and complete,” says Huffman. “It’s consistently good all the way through and is the most diverse. It just works on all tracks and conditions.”
Overall Rank: 1st
Check out the following links for some extra tidbits about our shootout.
– Rider Bios
We ride, therefore we are.
– For My Money
See what each rider would do if they had to drop six grand out of their own pockets.
– Full Score Sheet
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