It takes two cams to make revs; everyone knows that.
Everyone except Honda. The CRF250R revs like crazy and
does it with a single overhead cam. Honda’s Unicam
design is still working well enough to win both regional
Supercross titles at the pro level. This year, Honda did very
little to the CRF250R, yet it continues to be popular. Only
mild suspension and electrical details were changed,
whereas the bike got new linkage and a smaller (but still
large) throttle body in 2012.
STRONG POINTS: The Honda might not be the lightest
250F at 222 pounds, but it certainly feels light. The bike is
fun to toss around, and it falls into turns very easily. All of
the bikes gained weight when they went to EFI—except,
of course, the Yamaha—but it seems to matter less with
the Honda. There are no problems in the suspension
department, either. The Honda’s fork is an old-school,
48mm Showa with two fork springs and no air valves, but
it’s very tough to beat for novices and beginners. In the
rear, the CRF is as good as anything. Both ends are set
up soft for riders under 150 pounds. The fast and the
heavy will want stiffer springs.
Honda also scores big in comfort. The grips, lever, seat,
new footpegs and all the parts that actually touch the rider
WEAK POINTS: You know it’s a tough room when test
riders fail to mention the Honda’s motor as a strong point.
In stock form, the Honda’s output is good but doesn’t
stand out. The bike runs absolutely clean and never hiccups or bogs, and throttle response is good. But, the
motor is smooth to a fault; you have to wait around for it
to hit its peak, which is average.
In the past, the Honda has been criticized for a lack of
stability. This has become less of an issue since 2010.
For most riders, the Honda goes fairly straight when the
suspension is set up properly, but faster riders complain
that the CRF250R still wanders slightly in rough stuff,
and they can’t list stability as a strength. The Honda
also lacks premium handlebars and has unimpressive
BOTTOM LINE: The Honda has no weaknesses that are
big enough to kill its chances. But, in a year when other
bikes made major strides, it stood still. The Honda finishes
mid-pack once again—although in the hands of a good
tuner, it can be great.
The single-cam express
250F MX SHOOTOUT
;;;;;; The Honda CRF250R weighs 222 pounds without fuel and sells for $7420.
The Husky TC250R weighs
and sells for $7199.