With its well sorted chassis, power sliding the WR250R couldn’t be easier.
Yamaha’s WR250R sports an up-to-date look with it resembling the Tuning Fork company’s line of fantastic YZ-F dirt bikes. The blue plastics show off its flat lines which also help keep the rider’s body from getting hung up during aggressive maneuvers on the trail. The only thing we’re not really fond of in the looks department is the traditional appearance of the rectangular headlamp - especially when compared to the trick piece employed on the green machine.
“Looks-wise it’s a tough call between the Yamaha
and Kawasaki,” comments Gauger. “Overall though I prefer the WR’s appearance. I like the aluminum frame and the shape of the plastics. Up close the attention to detail and overall craftsmanship appears of higher quality too.”
Ray’s right, the build quality of the Yamaha is on a level that the other bikes simply can’t match. But there is a reason for that - 2190 reasons to be exact. That’s the amount of additional dollars it will cost compared to the reasonably priced Suzuki. Against the CRF and KLX, the price discrepancy is reduced to the tune of $1391. But all those extra dollar signs don’t seem quite so bad after you’ve spent some time at the controls.
Swing a leg over it and you’ll notice how tall the seat height is with a measure of 36.6 inches above the ground. That’s almost five inches higher than the DR and CRF and a little over an inch and a half taller than the KLX. This makes it the bike of choice for tall riders. Dare, however, complained that it was a little too tall for his 5’7” frame. The steel handlebar feels like it has a slightly taller bend as compared to the Kawi. However the rider triangle is balanced nicely, and the WR feels the closest to a full-on dirt bike.
“For sure the WR feels the most like a dirt bike. From the shape of the seat and body panels it feels like it’s all designed to help you better control the bike when riding off-road,” explains Garcia. “You can tell Yamaha designers put some serious thought into how the bike should fit the rider.”
With a full 2.1 gallon fuel load the Yamaha weighed in at exactly 299 pounds, which is identical to the KLX. Fuel mileage saw the yellow low-fuel light more often than the Kawasaki due in part to its thirstier engine that netted 53 mpg which equates to a slight reduction in theoretical range. If you’re easier on the throttle we’re sure that you can achieve even higher fuel economy.
Powering the WR is a fuel-injected and liquid-cooled 250cc Single. This means that firing the engine is as simple as flipping on the key and thumbing the electric start button. Where the other bikes had to be warmed up for a few minutes before they would carbureted cleanly, the WR can be ridden immediately without any sort of bog or engine hesitation. Just a steady, albeit subdued (due to altitude) stream of power. The engine is mated to a 6-speed transmission and cable-actuated clutch that performed perfectly everywhere we traveled.
In our sound test the WR registered a 75 dB reading. This is a full three points higher than the ultra-quiet Honda and Suzuki. And you definitely hear the difference as long as you’re standing within a few feet of the bike. At speed the Yamaha belted out 90 dB which was again three points higher than the KLX and CRF, however it didn’t sound that much louder to our ears.
On the dyno the WR pumped out the most amount of peak horsepower (24.11) and torque (14.93 lb-ft). That’s nearly double the amount of horsepower as the DR200SE! But it’s important to note that the engine needs to be revved out to achieve its peak power numbers. Although it pumped out the most power it made use of only one radiator as opposed to the dual setup on the KLX.
In the zero-to-30 mph test the lightweight and grunt-happy CRF actually accelerated faster than the Yamaha by 0.1 second. But when you allow the WR to stretch its legs it zips to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, almost twice as quickly as the red machine.
“The Yamaha’s powerband is the exact opposite of the Honda’s,” comments Garcia. “Where you would short-shift the Honda and use its low-end torque to pull you forward, with the WR you need to keep the thing pinned like you’re riding a 250F motocross bike. The engine revs so high you think you’re going to blow it up, but it just keeps on pulling, and pulling and pulling. Believe it or not it’s actually really fun to ride the bike this way.”
On flat pavement nothing could touch the WR in terms of outright speed. It was the only bike to be able to accelerate to 90 mph under its own power without any draft. Add in a downhill and tow and we almost hit 100 mph.
The Yamaha also received high marks in the handling/suspension category. Even though it’s the tallest and heaviest bike in this test it carves a corner with ease both on the street and dirt. At a banzai street pace the suspension can’t quite keep up, but it still does a much better job than the other bikes. However, like the ergonomics and styling suggest, riding off-road is where the suspension really shines.
Up front the inverted fork offers both compression and rebound damping adjustment. A gas charged shock absorber suspends the rear of the bike and has spring preload, compression and rebound damping. Overall the suspension settings are well calibrated and the WR has a phenomenal amount of balance even on the fastest dirt trails we encountered. Another plus is its 11.8 ground clearance which made it that much easier to hop over obstacles on the trail.
Braking performance was just as impressive. Similar to the Kawasaki and Honda, the WR employs hydraulical front and rear disc brakes. For the most part the brakes felt similar to the Kawi’s, but the Yamaha did have just a hair more power. This could possibly be attributed to the stiffer fork damping settings which complement the brakes to lessen stopping distance.
If you want the most high-performance 250 dual sport on the market, Yamaha has it covered with the WR250R. You’ll have to pay for it, but those dollars bring a very high quality piece of machinery that can out accelerate and out maneuver the competition.