In a real battle of the 250s, we have to include the current king. The Honda CRF250R won the 2009 Dirt Bike
250F shootout. It also won the 2008 version, it’s the
biggest seller, and it’s a perfect example of where technology has taken the 250F. In this contest, it stands to
defend all four-stroke honor.
While the other two bikes have inched forward in
recent years, the 250 four-stroke has changed radically.
The most telling aspect is the weight. At 215 pounds, the
Honda is actually lighter than the YZ250 by a smidgeon.
How is that possible? It’s all a matter of priority. If Honda
(or Yamaha) had sunk this much development into a two-stroke, it would almost certainly be under 200 pounds.
The Honda CRF250R has a conventional carburetor, of
SORTING IT OUT
course, but the new FCR represents the absolute peak of
carburetor technology, whereas the 38mm Keihin carbs
on the two-strokes have been around for a very long
time. Even in chassis technology, the
CRF250R is a benefactor of the lat-
est, greatest stuff available, like the
Honda Progressive Steering Damper
In the battle of two-stroke motors,
the Yamaha and the KTM were more
equally matched than we thought. We
have come to expect anything with a
KTM motor to be an absolute rocket.
But the development of the SX motor
has taken it to a happier place; it has
actually become milder, smoother and
easier to use. The Yamaha has a little
more top-end hit now, but we’ll still
give the edge to the KTM because the
power works good everywhere, even if
you try to short shift it and (dare we
say it?) ride it like a four-stroke.
But for racing, both two-stroke
motors are superior to that of the
Honda CRF. In sheer power, the four-
stroke isn’t even close; it produces
about 37 horsepower where the Yamaha and KTM are
both over 45. The four-stroke does carry the peak power
number much longer and rev higher than the two-
strokes. It starts making useable power at about 9000
rpm and keeps on going well over 12,000. The two-
strokes start at 7000 and have packed up and gone
home by 9000. But frankly, that’s plenty. Dragging a 250F
from ground level all the way up to where it starts making
power is demanding and takes skill. The two-strokes
snap to attention so fast that the shorter powerband is
But where the Honda CRF250R shines is in handling.
The suspension just seems to work better. We don’t think
the Showa fork and shock are that much more advanced
than the YZ’s KYB hardware and the KTM’s WP stuff. But
there are gyroscopic forces at work that we barely under-
stand. The four-stroke goes straighter and is affected
less by track impacts than the two-strokes. We’ve seen
In a battle of the 250cc two-stroke motocross bikes, only the KTM 250SX and the
Yamaha YZ250 remain. They’re both better than you think.
KTM knows how to build motors, two-stroke or four. The
SX has incredible low-end power and flawless jetting. Yamaha got the YZ250 motor into a happy place several years ago. The last major change for the bike was the aluminum
frame in 2005.
DB OLD WORLD VS NEW TECHNOLOGY