The 2009 CRF450R had trouble filling the shoes of the 2008 model and there was speculation that the 2010 CRF250R would struggle to outperform last year’s version. After a day on the new Honda I can safely say to Honda fans that there is no need to worry.
This bike is practically a twin of its big brother, the CRF450R. They now share the same plastics, swingarm, subframe, suspension components, bars, clamps, grips, pegs and seat. In fact, there are only a few small differences in the frame between the two. And just like the bigger bike last year, the changes to the bike internally are just as sweeping. The engine has a longer stroke but still turns 13500 RPM’s [bore and stoke 76.8mm X 53.8mm]. It also has higher compression at 13.2:1. The crankshaft center has been lowered by 10mm, lowering the center of gravity and giving the bike a quick, light feeling. The cylinder head has been tilted back 5 degrees to improve mass centralization. The top end of the engine has Moto GP inspired valve spring materials, longer valve springs and new cam timing for better performance. The crank has been reshaped and lightened, the clutch inner and outer is Kashima coated and the gearing ratios have been changed to match the new engine characteristics.
One of the most exciting features is the EFI system. It has a 50mm throttle body with a 12-hole injector that is specific to the 250cc throttle body. The single muffler is lighter and further forward to improve mass centralization. Honda boasts that the new CRF250R is the lightest bike in its class at 226 lbs.
The suspension is also new from the ground up. The new Showa shock is lighter with a smaller reservoir and new internals for improved initial harshness and more mid-range control. The shock center of gravity is also lower and forward to improve handling. The new 48mm Showa forks improve initial and mid-stroke feel for better tracking.
If all that doesn’t interest you I guarantee your first ride on the bike will. The very first thing you notice is how easily the bike kicks to life. No more do you need to say a quiet little prayer under your helmet or make sure the stars and moon are aligned perfectly before taking a chop at the kick-starter. Even when the bike was hot it fired right up. I even started the bike in gear once during the day! The next thing you notice is that the trademark bog of every 250F you’ve ever ridden is gone. I don’t mean that it was minimized or only did it occasionally… the bog is gone. Throttle response is instantaneous and when you land hard all you hear is the sweet sound of the bike building RPM’s again. The lower center of gravity is also quickly apparent. The new CRF250R can cut tight turns with the best of them and in the air it feels remarkably light. Nimble is the best word I can use to describe the way it feels on the track.
The suspension is much more plush than in the past. There was a harsh feeling the old bike had that turned slower riders off. This setup swallowed up the small chop but still took hard landings without a problem. The new motor definitely revs longer than last year’s bike. This made it easy to leave the bike in a gear longer without shifting, much like a 450.
Another really cool announcement that Honda made was the offering of HRC hard parts to the public starting later this year. The very same pieces you see on the works bikes in Europe and Japan can be purchased through your Honda dealer. Their line of products include triple clamps, full exhaust system [titanium header with carbon muffler], FI tuning kit, clutch cover, rear brake clevis, front brake line clamp, engine cover inspection plug, axle blocks, rear master cylinder cap, handlebar holder [upper/lower], wheel spacers, ACG cover, oil dipstick, front master cylinder cap, rear master cylinder guard and oil filler cap. Many of the products come in various colors including black, red, brown and a very cool powder coated white with the HRC logo etched on all of them. These are all available at your dealer starting in September.
The best way to bottom-line this introduction is to say that I couldn’t find a fault with the new CRF250R. Honda made a bold move by abandoning a machine that worked so well for them for so long. It looks like this time it might just pay off for them.