The exciting all-new Yamaha WR250F shares nothing with the old carbureted WR, it is now based on the YZ250F motocross bike, utilizing the rearward slant engine, bilateral beam frame, KYB suspension and YZ body styling. The all-new WR250F is adorned in off-road necessities like a six-speed transmission, headlight, taillight, 18-inch rear wheel, skid plate, quiet muffler, enduro computer, tool-less air filter access and, of course, electric start. To better suit off-road riding, the YZ250F motocross KYB suspension spring rates are changed (4.7 N/mm in the front to 4.4 N/mm and 56 N/mm in the rear to 54 N/mm) as is the valving. Sharing almost everything with the motocross YZ250F and the new off-road YZ250FX, the WR250F uses fuel injection, differently mapped to meet with EPA and green sticker regulations. Can you say hassle free high-altitude riding?
(Above) The WR comes with a cooling fan, which is worth its weight in gold! (Below) The skid plate is easy to remove for oil changes and does a great job protecting the frame and lower portion of the engine.
Thanks to the electric start, firing up the WR250F is pretty easy, but it comes to life quicker when in neutral. This slight hesitation in starting can be fixed with a more powerful and lighter aftermarket battery. Lithium-ion batteries spin the starter faster and the bike fires up easier. There is no longer an ignition switch on the WR, just hit the starter button and go. If for some reason the battery is low or dead, there is a reliable kickstarter backup. Yamaha always goes the conservative route when it comes to the EPA regulations and making a green sticker-legal complainant machine (green sticker registration is required for California). The 2015 WR250F comes with a throttle stop, a small sound reducer in the already minuscule muffler outlet and an intake snorkel, all to fall well within the parameters of a legal trail bike. We removed these items, which improves the power but still keeps the WR250F perfectly legal. You cannot change the ECU on the WR with the GYTR power tuner, it is locked as part of the compliance with green sticker legality. If you want the power and tuning of the YZ250FX you can get an ECU through GYTR, but you no longer have a green sticker-legal machine.
On the trail the lean tuning of the engine, mixed with a lot of exhaust restriction is felt mostly in the lower rpm. The WR250F has decent torque and is quite capable of lugging through technical terrain but it requires covering the clutch and careful attention to not let the rpm drop too close to the already low idle where the lean mixture can cause flame out. Proper technique rewards decent traction at slow speeds but it isn’t beginner-friendly power delivery in technical terrain. Get into the mid and higher rpm and the WR250F is much happier, delivering exciting power that has surprising overrev. Chopping the throttle from higher rpm and then getting back on the gas quickly sometimes reveals a small hesitation thanks to the lean mixture. The lean characteristics are livable, once accustomed to them, especially by more experienced riders.
This is a trail bike and Yamaha’s suspension changes to the WR250F work well. It is nice and calm over rocks, roots, chatter and G-outs. If you want one word for the suspension it is plush. A bonus is that the KYB suspension handles G-outs and resists bottoming surprisingly well given its ability to soak up rough terrain and remain plush. Compliant suspension and a great chassis allows all day rides in comfort on the WR. Having an 18-inch wheel helps absorb sharp hits and the sidewall flex increases traction. With suspension softer than a motocross bike and extra weight from the off-road necessities, the WR250F gets a bit of a wallow feel at very high speeds. The WR has a tendency to dive coming into corners at speed and when negotiating steep down hills. When the WR250F gets out of line, the reminder that it weighs 258 pounds and is a trail bike comes quickly.
The WR250F is a front steering bike and the front wheel feels anchored to the ground. Flinging the WR around on tight and technical trails is more work than the YZ250FX. At 258 pounds, it’s not exactly a featherweight. Part of the front wheel feeling so planted is the soft power delivery. In contrast, the YZ250FX feels much lighter in the front due to the responsive power and the ability to loft the front end with a twist of the throttle. The WR250F requires more planning and a stab of the clutch for significant front wheel lift. The Dunlop MX51 tires are decent but after going back to back with the YZ250FX, we prefer the Dunlop AT81 tires.
If you are an off-road trail rider at heart, the WR250F is the way to go at only $100 more ($7990) than the 2015 YZ250FX. The WR comes with a cooling fan, which is worth its weight in gold! While the headlight is minimal, the WR puts out strong electric power thanks to the EFI system (160-watt generator) so it can power an aftermarket headlight, increasing trail time fun into the night. We aren’t sure why the YZ250X doesn’t come with the skid plate found on the WR250F but it should, the plastic skid plate does a great job of protecting the frame and lower sides of the engine, plus it is easy to remove for oil changes. The WR enduro computer is easy to read and offers up speed, mileage and elapsed time. On the fence between the WR250F and YZ250FX? The WR250F is only an ECU and exhaust away from the same engine as the YZ250FX, pumping out the same exciting power. So if you want a trail bike with power like the YZ250FX it doesn’t require much, but keep in mind, once you change the ECU you are no longer EPA/Green sticker legal. The WR250F is a great trail bike with a racers heart lying in wait!