Better, but is it the best?TransWorld Motocross took delivery of its 2004 Honda CR250R test bike last week, but thanks to a horrendous spill aboard the machine by TWMX Web master Steve Giberson, we haven’t had much quality time aboard the machine until now. While GuyB underwent surgery and had some synthetic bone grafts, titanium plates and screws installed in his left leg, the CR250R got a new subframe, handlebars, levers, fenders and triple clamps. Needless to say, the CR250R looks brand new again—sleek, sexy and super fast. GuyB, meanwhile, looks a lot like Buddy Holly after he got mugged by a pack of rebellious teenagers at 4:20 p.m…
Enough of the lighthearted jabs at GuyB already; you wanna know about the bike!
At first glance, the 2004 CR250R appears to be the same machine as it was in ’03, save for some deeper red plastic and fancy new chrome graphics. However, Honda engineers have added a long list of refinements to the CR’s case-reed induction powerplant, all designed to give the Honda 250 a more potent powerband. If you’re looking for a long list of technical details, check the Honda web site. If you want to know how the new bike works on the track, though, read on…
We must admit that we have come to love the ’03 CR250R, in spite of its lack of low-end power and finicky jetting tendencies. The ’04 bike pumps out better power everywhere, with a stout mid-range punch and an ungodly top-end pull. Still, however, it is the down-low throttle response that the CR250R lacks, as it simply doesn’t have the snappy low-end response of the new Suzuki RM250 or Yamaha YZ250. This isn’t a problem when riding the bike on a loamy, wide open track like Cahuilla Creek, but in hard-packed conditions that have Supercross-style obstacles immediately following tight corners (Lake Elsinore), the lack of roll-on power can be reason for concern. Our intermediate and pro test riders like the engine the best, while the beginner and novice testers on our staff tended to struggle with the advanced power delivery. We’ve yet to really dive headfirst into carburetor adjustments or gearing changes, but we’re sure that the CR can yield some better bottom end with some tweaking…
The suspension and handling of the new CR250R drew rave reviews from each and every test rider who rode the bike. The suspension on both ends provides a plush ride, yet is stiff and compliant enough to handle anything thrown its way. The stiff, precise ride of the aluminum chassis is something that some riders need to get used to, but we love the bike’s aggressive personality on the track. You never realize just how much a steel frame flexes, until you spend some quality time on a Honda. The differences are astounding.
So, is the 2004 Honda CR250R the hands-down favorite to take the TWMX 250cc Shootout honors? To be honest, no. The Honda is a race-bred machine that requires an aggressive rider to make the most of what it has to offer. Because of the engine’s lack of smooth, torquey power, lesser skilled riders may struggle more aboard a red bike than some of the others.
As always, however, there is plenty of hop-up potential in the new machine, and getting it dialed in perfectly only takes a dose of dedication, time and patience to find the right settings for you.
To see video of the bike in action at the hands of Mitchell Bailey, visit the photos.video area of the site and hunt for it (along with the rest of the videos in our arsenal), or simply click the related link at the top of the right hand column.