In the 250F MX class horsepower holds high rank and, of course, the more power, the better. Shortcomings in handling can often be overlooked if you have the most powerful engine, spraying roost and pulling you ahead of the competition. The heated debate over air fork performance doesn’t resonate as loudly in the 250F class as it did in the 450F class (read more in MotoUSA’s 2016 450 MX Shootout), since only two machines come equipped with forks lacking springs in 2016. However, the competition in the 250 ranks is just as fierce, with six bikes battling in MotoUSA’s 250 MX Shootout.
The most radically changed 250F machine for 2016 is the KTM 250 SX-F ($8399). The KTM isn’t revised, it is completely new, with more power, better handling and seven pounds lighter than it was in 2015. The extremely high-revving engine (14,000 rpm) puts out the second-highest horsepower numbers in the 250F class and much to the delight of riders, the 250 SX-F features electric start.
The other all-new 250F for 2016 is the Husqvarna FC 250 ($8499). The 2016 KTM 250 SX-F and Husky FC 250 are extremely similar, even more so than the KTM 450 SX-F and Husky FC450 featured in our 450F shootout. They both come out of the same factory and use nearly all the same components. The Husqvarna engine also revs to the moon, squeaking out the title as the most powerful engine in the class on MotoUSA’s in-house dyno.
Next in the lineup for most changed 2016 model is the 2016 Suzuki RM-Z250 ($7699). While it might not appear much different than previous year’s bike visually, there are a number of key changes. The engine is all-new and the RM-Z250 now features KYB suspension. The chassis also received some revisions aimed at improving comfort but retains the same geometry, maintaining its impressive cornering prowess. The RM-Z uses the KYB PSF2 air fork, one of two bikes in the shootout using an air fork.
In the never-ending quest for more horsepower and better handling, Honda made a number of changes to the 2016 CRF250R ($7599). The engine changes were aimed at more horsepower and higher rpms, giving the CRF a much needed boost on the top end. The CRF250R comes equipped the Showa SFF TAC air fork and for 2016 the forks are 5mm longer with changes improving overall performance.
The 2016 Yamaha YZ250F ($7590) received minor revisions to boost bottom-to-mid power and reduce vibration. The KYB suspension received minor updates aimed at better overall chassis balance and improved rear wheel traction. The YZ250F still uses the much loved SSS spring fork. With a number of all-new and revised bikes in the shootout, the YZ250F has some serious competition.
The least changed bike in the shootout is the 2016 Kawasaki KX250F, ($7599) which received only updated graphics, a green rear fender and a minor engine tweak to improve durability. The Kawasaki KX250F uses Showa suspension and the SFF Type 2 fork. SFF stands for Separate Function Fork, housing the spring in the right leg and the damping in the left. The KX250F is notorious for its potent engine and stable handling.
All the 250Fs in this year’s shootout were prettied up with Dirt Digits pre-printed backgrounds before testing began. To dissect the strengths and weakness of each 250F in the shootout, MotoUSA tested at multiple tracks around southern California. Every 250F was tested as they come in stock form and weighed with a full tank of gas. To provide even more data each bike was dyno tested in-house on MotoUSA’s DynoJet. We also utilized test riders of variable age and experience, with skill levels ranging from novice to pro. Test riders scored each bike (on a scale of 1-10) in a number of performance categories like engine power, cornering, stability, suspension, handling and more. Totaling and averaging those points gave a final ranking. And after tabulating the scores, the first- and second-place finishers in the 2016 MotoUSA 250F shootout were unbelievably close.
Our test riders throughout the weeks of testing were pro-level Kai Mukai, Trevor Stewart and fast intermediate rider Gordon Keck. Vet pro guys Lars Lindstrom and Matt Armstrong were joined by senior vet motocrosser Scot Gustafson and myself, MotoUSA Off-Road Editor and vet intermediate Adam Booth. As mentioned above, test riders scored each bike based on a number of performance categories and after points were assessed we arrived at a final ranking. MotoUSA’s goal is to provide readers the most comprehensive shootout available. The winning bike might not be the best choice for your size and style, so use the info to help decide what might be best fit for you. All the bikes in this shootout are fine machines and with a little personalized setup can be made to work great. But in a shootout there can only be one winner, so without further ado, let’s find out the winner for 2016.
2016 250 Motocross Shootout
2016 Suzuki RM-Z250 Comparison
2016 Kawasaki KX250F Comparison
2016 Honda CRF250R Comparison
2016 Husqvarna FC 250 Comparison
2016 KTM 250 SX-F Comparison
2016 Yamaha YZ250F Comparison
2016 250 Motocross Shootout Conclusion
All six bikes at Piru Motocross track, also known as MX-126 during one of our many test days.