If we had a dime for every time someone accused us of having plush jobs (testing bikes, hanging with the pro racers, shooting photos of hot chicks, etc...), we would all be well on our way to being millionaires and wouldn’t have to work at TransWorld Motocross at all. Truth be told, being an editor at the world’s largest motocross magazine is a tough, arduous job and we get just as burned out and beat down as anyone. We’re not complaining, mind you, as we all love our jobs more than anyone could imagine. Last week, however, a snide comment from our friend Danny Dobey from One Industries caught us in the right mood, and we challenged him to spend a day testing with us out at Lake Elsinore MX Park. Three out of four of the new 2004 250cc four-strokes were on hand, the track was freshly prepped, and Dobey had himself a brand new set of (gasp!) size 36 Thor riding pants. All of the key ingredients were on hand for a fine day of comparison testing for our newest guest test rider.
Here’s Danny’s personal take on the new small-bore thumpers...Editor.
(Editorial disclaimer: Dobey’s “test” in no way represents the opinions or conclusions of the TransWorld Motocross staff; the official 250cc four-stroke shootout will be published in the February 2004 issue, which drops in December.)
It’s been a few years since I’ve ridden on a regular basis, but when Donn called me out and said I could try my hand at riding three of the new 250cc four-strokes, it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Only minutes after accepting his challenge, I realized that I needed to check and see if my old riding gear still fit. After lying down, greasing up my thighs with butter and sitting in the steam room for three hours, I still couldn’t get comfortably into my old 34s, so I called up my boys at Thor. Beeker and the rest of the crew were cool enough to hook me up with a new set of riding gear, head to toe, and I have to say that I was very impressed with the fit, feel and construction of all of it. But enough about the gear...let’s get to the bikes!
First, I have to say that I had a freaking’ ball trying out all three bikes. This little “test ride” was a great way to get out of the office for a day, and I knew that I was in an enviable position as someone who got to ride three of the most sought-after bikes of the season. Granted, I wish I were in a little bit better shape so I could have gotten a few more laps in on each bike, but nonetheless, Donn told me this was just an “average Joe’s opinion,” and not to worry about burning 20-minute motos. As a 6’2″, 205-pound, slow vet rider, here is my take on the fresh crop of 250Fs. Of course, to be politically correct, there isn’t a loser amongst these, but I did have my personal favorite.
My third-favorite bike is the Suzuki RM-Z250. This is a really fun bike and it was also the first one I rode. It fells as if you are sitting inside the bike (read: low seat height) rather than on it. The power was good, but it seemed to be mostly mid-range, which is perfect when you are in a nice timing section. The suspension felt a little soft, but it should have for me since bikes in this class come set up for a 145-lb. kid. The RM-Z is a good jumper (Yes, I got it off the ground, see the photos!) and all-around stable-feeling bike. The RM-Z is ideal for the smaller tiddler class rider. If it were mine, I would add taller seat foam.
My second favorite was the Yamaha YZ250F. The veteran of the bunch is definitely up for the challenge posed by the new bikes. The YZ has, I believe, the best stock motor in its class. Power comes on early and keeps revving out, further than the others do. It was comfortable, but not quite as stable as the RM-Z. The ssuspension was very balanced and offered me a bit more confidence coming into corners. This was my pick until…
…That Honda just did everything a little bit better. My first-place prize goes to the CRF250R. It just seemed to do it all, in stock form. From starting on the first kick to giving me the most confidence on the track, the Honda was IT! The motor is smoother compared to others, but very easy to ride. Power starts down low and pulls hard, all the way through the rpm range. Now, I did hear a few others say that they felt the Honda signed off to early on top, but I don’t think I got it there, I was the slowest guy riding that day. Ergonomically speaking, the Honda fit me to a tee. A nice seat-to-tank transition allowed you move around on the bike with hardly any effort. The suspension was spot-on for the pace I was riding: not too soft and not too firm. The Honda just felt like the best fit for me.
So that is my take on these three tiddlers. Yes, with one or two bolt-on accessories, each of these bikes could’ve been on top, but this was “one 6’2″ 205-lb., slow vet’s” opinion.
I really want to thank Donn, Garth and the guys at TransWorld Motocross for a great a day; I had a blast. The next test I get invited back for will probably be the 110cc four-stroke shootout. I promise I will pick up the pace, guys.
-Danny Dobey, “head janitor” at One Industries