BY: Ed, PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Ed and Fraser Davy
The Yamaha WR250R was the Ed’s steed at this year’s Yamaha Lakes and Mountains Safari Rally. So, how did it hold up?
- Fuel injection
- Economic and clean running
- Comfortable to ride
- Torquey engine and excellent gearing
- Solidly built
Small-bore enduro bikes are simple, useful and fairly inexpensive considering the range of use. The Yamaha WR250R fits the bill spot on.
At this year's Safari Rally the little WR took me up mountains, through rivers and down some pretty knarly routes, and didn't once complain about my technique.
The WR250R was created to be versatile, properly accommodating and practical, but Yamaha also tries to set it closer to YZ models and I reckon it does a damn good job.
Packing Yamaha's first fuel-injected, four-valved trail bike engine, the WR is the epitome of smooth and easy. It has got a decent amount of poke, and the power comes on gently and predictably, which is part of the reason it's such a fuel miser. It's also a bonus for those who do a more or less even mix of road and trail riding, as the WR won't chew through rear tyres at a ridiculous rate.
On the road the WR is quiet and it's a comfortable bike to sit on with barely a hint of vibration. The standard suspension set-up is pretty good for the tar, although if you overcook it into a corner it does tend to squat, which is no surprise given the overall plush feel of the WR. It's impossible to get a perfect mix between road and trail performance because they demand very different things at very different times, however the WR is as good as anything else I've ridden.
The gearing is also the other area where it has to share the spoils between the on and offroad needs. It's a trail bike in first and second gear, but after the huge leap to third it becomes more of a road bike. It chortles along at more than adequate road or motorway speeds and, believe it or not, it will sit on a comfortable 120km/h all day. I pushed it up to 155km/h along a straight bit of tarmac out the back of Methven, just to see how fast I could get it to go - not bad for a 250 with me on it!
On the dirt the WR is a pleasure to ride as long as you keep in mind that it weighs over 120kg and you don't go looking to bust berms or monster any triples.
It's comfortable enough to ride for a long period, but if you are looking to do that on a regular basis, some might like a seat cover fitted.
It has a torquey engine that has no trouble hooking up on loose stuff, and that initial low gearing will get you up and over most things. Those that tackled the big hill climbs during the rally had much less hassle getting up the rocky escarpments than those on the bigger bikes. The low seat height is also a plus for any learner or those that visit the bush infrequently.
The WR's tank, quite roomy at 7.5 litres, proved its worth, and I discovered that once the light comes on the bike will still take you over 30km before it starts coughing.
OK, so it does a hell of a lot for what it is. I grant you, it's a lot more expensive than the competition, but it's a better bike in many regards. It's an economic, very clean running motorcycle. It exceeds exhaust emission levels set across the globe.
It's a solid build, with room to add bling if that's your thing and has a funky look that leaves the other trail bike looking decidedly average. The bike is put-together well, comfortable, reliable and surprisingly effective. Anyone can ride it and have fun, which was exactly what I ended up having.
There's a couple of contenders in the Yammy's group, namely Suzuki's DR200SE, Kawasaki's KLX250S and Honda's CRF230L.
Suzuki's DR200SE is a tried-and-true air-cooled dual sport machine that is the veteran motorcycle in this quartet. It has been around for over a decade in its current configuration, and besides the colour of the plastics, it is basically unchanged since being released in the mid-90s, something that helps to keep its $6500 price tag in check.
Released as a new model in 2008, the CRF230L is Honda's solution for the would-be dual sport rider. It's designed around the brand's entry level air-cooled offroad bike, the CRF230F, but incorporates the necessary equipment (headlight, taillight, etc) to be legally operated on the road. RRP is $7155.
Kawasaki enters group with its recently-upgraded KLX250S. As opposed to the Honda and Suzuki, Team Green's motorcycling Swiss Army knife is powered by a liquid-cooled engine and costs a still-reasonable $9995.
Out of the four the Yamaha is the most expensive at RRP$12,490 but is the only one that's fuel injected.
See the Yamaha WR250R for sale.
Engine Liquid-cooled, four-valve, DOHC
Bore x stroke 77 x 53.6mm
Compression ratio 11.8:1
Fuel system Electronic fuel injection
Final drive Chain
Frame type Semi double cradle
Front suspension USD forks, fully adjustable, 270mm travel
Rear suspension Monoshock, fully adjustable, 270mm travel
Front brake 250mm disc
Rear brake 230mm disc
Wet weight 125kg
Seat height 929mm
Fuel capacity 7.5L
Colours Blue, White or Black