The 2018 Honda CRF250R is a kind of uncommon instances the place a brand new bike truly is new and fairly actually redesigned. It isn’t nearly a bunch of recent elements. The very philosophy that drives the Honda is new and marks a definite change in considering. The earlier bike had gone by means of a collection of modifications because it was launched in 2004, however the underlying thought was all the time a bit of offbeat for a 250 four-stroke motocross bike. It had a single overhead cam motor, a design that favors much less weight and extra low-end torque. Each different bike within the class had a double overhead cam design for revs. Now the outdated bike is gone, together with the outdated considering, changed with a brand new machine that inherits no recognizable options from the previous.
THE NEW WAY OF THINKING
There are a number of key areas the place the 2018 Honda CRF250R reverses course from the earlier one. The primary is the valve practice. Together with the double overhead cam design, Honda turned to using finger-followers. These are tiny levers between the cam lobes and the valves that enable extra linear motion and get rid of standard valve buckets. The engineers say that in addition to making for a lighter valve meeting, this enables extra radical cam profiles and, accordingly, the brand new motor has extra elevate and length on each cams. Subsequent, Honda shortened the stroke and elevated the bore dimension considerably. Now the Honda has the shortest stroke of all of the 250Fs by a large margin. That enables bigger valves and decrease piston speeds. Then there’s the electrical begin. Honda went all in by including the starter motor and eradicating the kick-starter in a single step. There’s no place for a kick-start lever even in order for you one. There are different incidental modifications brought on by the inclusion of a starter motor; for instance, the cam chain needed to be moved to the opposite aspect of the engine. There’s no capacitor to energy the EFI system anymore as a result of that perform is dealt with by a lithium battery.
Although it’s nonetheless cable-actuated, the clutch acquired consideration too. It makes use of two various kinds of friction plates and 5 coil springs. The first gearing is significantly decrease, though every gear ratio is taller. Between these two modifications and the 13-48 last gearing, the underside line is barely decrease gear ratios (numerically larger) in comparison with final yr. One concept that Honda is sticking with is the dual exhaust system. The concept behind that is to maneuver the mufflers ahead and make them smaller for extra centralized mass. There are a few added twists this yr. It’s not nearly two totally different mufflers; now the left and proper sides are utterly separate programs, originating from two separate exhaust ports. Honda says that makes for extra environment friendly airflow. One other twist is the truth that there’s a resonator on the best aspect however not the left. Honda engineers haven’t actually defined the logic behind this, however hypothesis is that it has to do with the truth that most sound assessments are carried out on the best.
Just like the engine, the chassis is all new to the 250 this yr, however it displays most of the identical concepts that have been launched on the 450 in 2017. Honda calls this the “Seventh Era” aluminum body, and its most distinctive characteristic is that it routes the engine’s consumption move excessive of the shock. That enables a downdraft consumption and a steeper valve angle. It additionally pushed the highest shock mount decrease, making for a decrease total heart of gravity. A lot of the body geometry is, actually, similar to the brand new 450’s, that means it has a shorter swingarm and a shorter wheelbase in comparison with final yr’s 250. There are additionally very slight variations within the rake and path, from 27.Four levels/118mm to 27.5 levels/116mm. This yr the gas tank is manufactured from titanium and has a barely smaller capability than final yr’s.
One other merchandise that represents a giant change in philosophy is the entrance suspension. Honda has formally deserted the air fork and moved to what it calls an A-kit-style Showa coil-spring fork. This isn’t actually an A-kit, after all, which is the time period used for works suspension on pro-level bikes. The fork does, nonetheless, makes use of some A-kit design options, like a 39mm piston and a 25mm rod. The shock is new, too, and is positioned 39mm decrease.
One casualty that got here with all these modifications was weight. The electrical starter and the coil-spring fork, particularly, are accountable for making the brand new Honda the heaviest bike within the 250 class, at 229 kilos with out gas.
PRIMARY MISSION OBJECTIVE ACQUIRED
It’s no secret that the earlier mannequin was down on energy. So far as peak output is worried, it wasn’t even within the hunt in comparison with the KTM. So it’s clear that closing that hole was the first goal, and that meant the brand new bike must rev. Honda engineers can pat themselves on the again as a result of the brand new bike is a screamer. It builds increasingly energy because the revs climb to a peak that’s as excessive as something within the class. The bike hits the rev limiter someplace earlier than 15,000 rpm, however by then it’s made sufficient energy to stroll away from the 2017 mannequin in addition to most different bikes within the 250 class. It isn’t nearly revs, both. Honda has given the bike a really responsive, willing-to-go nature that doesn’t present up on a dyno chart. Whenever you open the throttle on the Honda, even in impartial, it responds proper now, with none engine drag or hesitation. That’s the character of short-stroke motors, however Honda additionally nailed it with the EFI settings, crank weight, friction loss and all the opposite components that translate into an instant-on really feel.
As you would possibly count on, the brand new Honda’s low-end energy isn’t something particular. That is perhaps dangerous information for some riders, as a result of that’s one space the place the 2017 mannequin actually excelled. On the observe, although, most riders by no means obtained to make use of that low-rpm torque. It was thus far down within the basement that you’d blast by means of that zone with out even noticing it. No 250 four-stroke has sufficient torque to permit a rider to linger round 6000 rpm, not even the 2017 Honda. The 2018 mannequin’s working vary is from about 9000 rpm up. Not like the KTM, the brand new Honda encourages you to shift earlier than you hit the redline. It makes its peak energy properly earlier than the digital rev limiter places an finish to issues, and, consequently, you aren’t doing the high-rpm stutter as usually.
Should you’re used to the outdated Honda, it takes a while to regulate to the brand new powerband. You upshift later and downshift sooner. The powerband is definitely broader than it was once, just because the bike gained a lot rev on prime, however when you try to torque your means across the observe, you’re simply losing your time. The Honda rewards those that are aggressive.
IS THIS A HONDA?
There’s a really huge distinction in the best way the brand new CRF handles too. It used to really feel mild and twitchy, however now it’s extra planted and steady. The CRF seems like a giant bike for a 250. Although it’s shorter and narrower than it was once, the CRF has a protracted, big-ship really feel. On most tracks, that’s factor. It’s very steady in tough stuff, and the entrance finish tracks a lot better. The older machine had a bent to wander round, particularly when there have been criss-crossing strains and small chop. The brand new bike holds its course properly and makes its personal traction. It does, nonetheless, really feel heavier. Honda misplaced a bit of of that lighter-than-air feeling that it was recognized for. The bike is round 10 kilos heavier than the lightest machines within the 250 class, and that reality doesn’t escape unnoticed on the observe. We wouldn’t say that it’s an actual handicap, however the additional kilos are simple.
Within the fork division, we’re okay with the additional weight. We made due with the Showa triple-air SFF fork on the outdated bike, however we by no means actually favored it. The three separate air chambers have been sophisticated, and we by no means appeared to complete dialing it in. Having a coil-spring fork makes life a lot simpler. The bonus right here is that we just like the fork as delivered! With all of the take a look at time on this planet, we might by no means get the air fork to work this properly, notably on small curbs and holes. On smoother tracks, most riders left the settings alone, however some required a bit of extra compression damping, notably for soar landings. The rear finish was a bit of trickier. At first, it appeared to unload an excessive amount of when braking for turns, making the entrance finish really feel divey. It turned out that the majority riders most well-liked much less shock spring preload than ordinary. Relatively than set the sag round 100mm, it labored greatest at 108mm or much more. Then you possibly can settle down the rear with some further high-speed compression damping, from 1/Four flip to a half. When you dial within the Honda, you possibly can overlook about it. We love that.
Lately it looks like we’ve seen lots of new bikes that weren’t actually new. There have been updates, refinements and enhancements, however nothing that basically pushed the entire sport of motocross ahead. The Honda breaks that custom. It’s a brand new bike and a brand new mind-set for Honda, and it’ll change the established order. It’s sooner and has higher suspension than its predecessor, and it’s clearly extra of a pro-level bike. Will that put it on prime of the 250 class? That’s a query for subsequent month’s 250 shootout.
• Glorious top-end energy
• Electrical begin
• Plush coil-spring fork
• Steady total dealing with
• Three-setting EFI map swap
• So-so bottom-end energy
• Small handlebar diameter
Engine kind: DOHC, electric-start, Four-valve Four-stroke
Bore & stroke: 79.0mm x 50.9mm
Gas supply: Keihin EFI, 46mm
Gas tank capability: 1.6 gal.
Spark arrester: No
EPA authorized: No
Working weight, no gas: 229 lb.
Wheelbase: 58.three″ (1481mm)
Floor clearance: 12.9″ (328mm)
Seat top: 37.eight″ (960mm)
Tire dimension & kind:
Entrance: 90/90-21 Dunlop Geomax MX3S
Rear: 120/80-19 Dunlop Geomax MX3S
Entrance: Showa coil spring, 48mm, adj. reb./comp., 12.zero″ (305mm) journey
Rear: Showa aluminum piggyback, adj. prld, hello & lo comp., reb., 12.Four″ (315mm) journey
Nation of origin: Japan
Instructed retail worth $7999