Each and every year we round up the full class of 250cc motocross bikes and put them to the test to find out which model will rise to the top. And each and every year the competition gets stiffer and the difference between first and last gets more minuscule. This year we have a field of six machines that run the gamut from hardly changed to high reworked. Right from the get go we knew the margins would be slim and that one flaw in any bike could mean the difference from being the champ to resting at the bottom of the pile.
This year we moved our 250 Motocross Shootout to Perris MX for two days of photography, video and all-out testing. The crew from Ghetto Action Sports that cares for the iconic MX track laid down one of the best prep jobs we’ve witnessed in some time, and our enthusiasm on the tracked showed. They had to kick us out at the end of both days or we would have just run motos until the street lights came on. An epic stage was set for our yearly throwdown.
Joining the ranks of our 2013 250 Motocross Shootout for the first time is the 2013 Husqvarna TC250R. Last year we felt the TC250R was just a tick off the big boys in the field, but after sampling the revised model in the 2013 Husqvarna TC250R First Ride we felt this BMW-engineered Lites racer could be a contender. New EFI settings complemented with a hotter ignition have really woken up the Redhead powerplant, and the chassis worked well during our first outing on a fairly simple track.
Suzuki took the top honors last year in the 2012 250 Motocross Shootout, but Team Yellow didn’t take a break in further refining the 2013 RM-Z250. The frame has been stiffened, a second generation Showa Separate Function Fork has be fitted to the front, and a slew of engine changes have been made to the ‘Zook’s mill for more mid-range power. After testing the machine at Suzuki’s private Supercross test track we were impressed, but were anxious to see how it would fair on a more traditional MX track.
The 2013 Yamaha YZ250F comes into our shootout as the least changed in the group with just some cosmetic freshening, but it needs to be noted that last year the engineers went whole-hog on the Lites machine. The 2012 model got a new fork, a new frame and a laundry list of engine changes. The one thing that the YZ250F brings to battle that no other bike does is a carburetor. That’s right, the fueling is still managed by a tried and true 39mm Mikuni FCR flat slide.
The Kawasaki KX250F missed taking down the RM-Z250 last year by just a couple of points, and it will once again be gunning for a first place finish in our shootout. For 2013, Team Green tweaked the motor for more power everywhere with a new intake tract, cylinder head and exhaust. The chassis also received some work with a narrower and stiffer mid-section. During the 2013 Kawasaki KX250F First Ride we found the changes upped the Kawi’s game – will it be enough?
While the 2013 Honda CRF250R didn’t receive a massive amount of changes, small refinements are set to make a marked difference on the Red Racer. At the 2013 Honda CRF250R First Ride we felt the revised fuel injection settings and suspension tweaks made for a better CRF, but could it be enough to vault it from it’s third place finish in the 2012 250 Motocross Shootout? As mentioned before the competition will be close, and it’s entirely possible the small changes could make a big difference.
The most changed machine for this season is the KTM 250 SX-F. It receives some of the same changes that helped the 450 and 350 SX-F models move up the ladder in our 2013 450 Motocross Shootout. KTM’s engineers coaxed more horsepower from the Austrian powerplant and the suspension gets a better balance front to back. It will be interesting to see if the orange Lites racer can jump up a few spots like its bigger brothers.
When it came to round up the crew for testing, we included many of our usual suspects such as Road Test Editor Adam Waheed (who is getting fast on bikes with knobby tires), and our veteran Pros Nick Thiel and Matt Armstong. Our AMA Pro hotshot Chris See joined in the fun as well. Once again we were graced with the presence of two-time X Games Women’s Moto X gold medal winner Vicki Golden. Finally we talked Troy Lee Designs working stiff and all-round fast guy Nate Verdugo into getting away from his office and stepping into ours. I would also be going in for the fun, bringing our test pilot count to seven.
With the test crew dialed in we slapped on Factory Effex numberplate backgrounds and headed for the track. We used the same testing layout as the 450 test, structuring the day with 15-minute motos on each bike to ensure that they received equal time in the hands of each tester. We also ran our Super Lap testing with Chris, Vicki and Nick laying down a single flying lap for the fastest time possible on each bike. Once the times were in they would be averaged to account for small mistakes and track inconsistence to see which bike was the fastest around the Perris facility. Of course we couldn’t forget the holeshot and 3rd gear roll-on times gleaned from the use of our GPS data acquisition system.
Back at the MotoUSA office each machine was weighed with a full tank of fuel, sound tested and put on our Dynojet 250i dynamometer to ascertain the peak horsepower and torque numbers of each machine. We then input all the hard numbers into our scoresheet along with our rider’s subjective rankings and dole out the points – 10 points for first, 8 for second, 7 for third and so on. The one with the highest score at the end is crowned champ.
One thing to remember when viewing the scoresheet is that in some of these tests the difference between the full points for first and last place is fractions of a second or perhaps two riders picking a bike as the best in category rather than one. The scoresheet is there for you to use as you please. If one of the categories doesn’t matter to you, take it out and do the math. You may find the end result will be entirely different based on your wants and needs. As it stands, we give you as much as we can and let you be the final judge.
So with the formalities out of the way, let’s get into the meat of it and find out which 250cc machine is the king of the hill in 2013.