2014 250F MOTOCROSS SHOOTOUT
SCREAM FACTOR FIVE
Honda made the second biggest investment in 2014.
The CRF250R looks completely new, with a redesigned
chassis, twin pipes and new bodywork, but there’s much
of the older CRF just below the surface.
The frame is, indeed, new…to the 250 class, but it
debuted on the 2013 450. The only difference is the cradle
around the motor. Honda didn’t go so far as to give the
250 an air fork like the 450’s; instead, the CRF250R still
has a Showa two-spring fork. The rear suspension linkage is also different from that of the 450, which results in
a flatter rising-rate curve, a slightly lower ride height, and
small differences in rake and trail. The motor has more
compression and injection alterations, and most noticeable
of all, it has twin mufflers.
STRONG POINTS: When all the testing was done and
all the comments gathered, one thing was perfectly clear—
the Honda handles. Handling has always been the bike’s
strong point, but this year the results were clearer than
ever. In the past, the Honda’s light weight got praise, but
there were still complaints about instability. Not this time.
Testers unanimously approved the bike’s overall manners.
The CRF still feels light, although it gained some weight
this year. It also got high marks for the clutch, gearbox
and overall comfort.
Lighter riders gave the Honda’s suspension higher
marks. The general trend in the 250 class is that bikes are
getting stiffer. Honda has resisted this trend. The CRF is
still aimed at riders who weigh about 150 pounds, which is
perfect for a 250F.
WEAK POINTS: Despite upping the compression for
2014, Honda is behind the power curve (literally) in the
motor department. The CRF has good low-end power
but starts falling behind the other bikes in the mid-range.
By the time you reach the rev zones where bikes like the
KTM are going crazy, the Honda is climbing on the bus for
home. The brakes aren’t especially strong, and the bars
are small in diameter.
BOTTOM LINE: Having a lot of power is no guarantee
of success, but not having enough power can end the
game early in the 250F world. The Honda generally got
glowing remarks from test riders, but there was always a
big “but.” The 2014 CRF250R simply needs more steam.
The twins return to action
The new Honda
CRF250R was voted
best-handling bike in the
shootout. Could it really
be the twin pipes?