By Brendan Lutes
It happens every few years--bikes get updated and old models go the way of the Dodo. And for 2014, that is exactly what happened with the Honda CRF250R. After seeing only limited improvements to the 2013 model while its big brother the CRF450R received an all-new dual-exhaust, chassis, motor, and suspension package, we knew big things were in store for the upcoming '14 release of the CRF250R.
As we had hoped, the new machine is all-new this year and a spitting image of the CRF450R. In fact, the two bikes share many parts, including the plastic and subframe. As for the other new accoutrements, the motor on the 250R is updated with a new cylinder head, piston, and a higher compression ratio all with the goal of adding more low-end hit while retaining good top-end over rev. The bike also features a new Duel-Timing PGM-FI fuel injection system that sprays twice during the engine cycle rather than being equipped with two sprayers. The goal of this was to improve throttle response and low-end hit. The bike also was given a new beefier transmission, while the clutch assembly carriers over from the 2013 model. Perhaps the biggest update, though, is the most apparent, which is the chassis and bodywork. Like its big brother, the CRF250R's chassis is designed to improve handling by moving the mass of the bike more to the center. The radiators are new and mounted lower, while the dual exhaust helps to further improve handling. Unlike the CRF450R, the forks are standard Showa spring forks rather than air forks. The rear shock is also a Showa model. Other updates to the bike include a new revised footpeg position and a larger capacity fuel tank--up from 1.5 gallons to 1.66 gallons.
ON THE TRACK
While the conditions at the initial intro weren't the most ideal--dry and dusty would best describe the track--we were still able to get a good feel for the bike. The motor is indeed improved over last year. Down low, the bike hits harder and pulls into the midrange much stronger, while the top-end over-rev isn't hindered at all. On the Chaney Ranch track where the intro took place, there were a few fast straights with big jumps--the bike performed flawlessly. It's also worth noting that in the deep sandy corners, the machine pulled very well and put power to the ground instantly. While we didn't get a chance to test it yet, using an aftermarket system from Honda can reprogram the EFI. We expect to try a few different maps throughout the course of our testing.
Handling is very akin to the CRF450R, however, with a much lighter feel. On rough straights, the bike remains planted and inspires confidence, while in corners it begs to be thrown in with authority. While we've only ridden the bike one day, and on one track, we can say that the handling is good and it doesn't have a front-end bias like the previous model did, as the chassis and suspension feel very well balanced. Lastly, the overall feel of the chassis and ergonomics are open and comfortable, and we didn't change much aside from bar and lever position between test riders.
We still have plenty of testing to do aboard the all-new CRF250R, however, our initial ride aboard the bike is impressive and exciting. From what we can surmise, the power is improved, the handling is predictable, and the new chassis gives the bike a very comfortable feel. For more information on the bike, though, pick up a future issue of TransWorld Motocross.