A definitive guide to the red racer
In the auto world, there was the Mustang. In aviation, it was the P- 51. For bicycles, there was the Schwinn
Stingray. There are timeless classics in each sport, and,
in the dirt bike world, there’s no other that has reached
iconic status like the Honda CR250R. Even though it’s
been out of production in the U.S. since 2007, the CR
has probably won more combined amateur and professional races than any other motorcycle in the dirt world.
And CR250s are still out there winning. CRs are a hot
commodity on the used-bike market, and on start lines
across the country, they still outnumber many current
Over the course of its 34-year run, the Honda evolved,
completely changing its identity several times. The early
models are sought after in vintage racing, and the later
ones are still competitive against four-strokes.
THE RECORD BOOKS
In terms of championships, the Honda CR250 is the winningest dirt bike in U.S. history. Here are some facts:
• Supercross Championships: 15
• Outdoor National Championships: 12
• First title: Gary Jones — 1973 250 National
• Most recent title: Ricky Carmichael — 2003 250 National
The list of riders who won on the CR250 is a who’s who
This spy photo appeared in Cycle Guide in 1971 and was the first
real evidence of the coming Honda two-stroke. This bike had a
strong resemblance to the 1971 XR250 four-stroke, but earlier versions actually looked more like the final production 250 Elsinore.
When Honda came out with the CR250M Elsinore in 1973, it
changed the motocross world. There was no difference in
1974, and, in 1975, the top of the fuel tank was red.
of American motocross: Gary Jones, Marty Tripes, Marty
Smith, Bob Hannah, Donnie Hansen, David Bailey, Johnny
O’Mara, Rick Johnson, Jeff Stanton, Jean Michel Bayle,
Danny LaPorte, Chuck Sun, Jeremy McGrath, Doug Henry,
Mike LaRocco, Ricky Carmichael and many, many others.
In fact, it’s interesting to note that since Honda switched to
the four-stroke CRF450R as its mainstay, the factory team
has only earned one Outdoor National Championship: R.C.
in 2004. So it goes.
On the off-road side of the coin, the Honda 250 was
incredibly successful on the local level, but not nationally.
Honda never promoted the bike for off-road use, instead
concentrating on the XR line for GNCC and Baja racing.
The only time CR250s got attention on the National Enduro
scene was when Kevin Hines raced them under the CRE
name, which lasted a number of years in the late ’90s.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME
It seems odd, but the Honda CR250 can trace its roots
back to the RC166 six-cylinder 250cc road racer that Mike
Hailwood rode in Europe. Terry Good’s website,
MXworksbike.com, has an excellent history of how all this
came about. Soichiro Honda was fanatical about winning
races at any cost, so he put together a team of the best
engineers to go GP racing. Within a few years, the team
had achieved all its goals. The cost of doing this was
incredible, so after winning in 1966, Honda pulled out of
GP racing in 1967. That left a team of very talented and
energetic engineers without much to do. At the time, Mr.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE