MotoOnline.com.au rides and rates Honda's all-new 2014 model CRF250R.
The Honda CRF250R has been one of the most popular mounts for motocross riders of all levels since it’s inception in 2004, and for good reason. It does everything a rider asks of it, with no major weaknesses or quirks, and for the ever image-conscious younger motocrosser, it has always looked the goods too.
With a list of pros such as Wil Hahn, Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac racking up AMA 250 SX and MX titles aboard the CRF250R in recent years, the Honda has plenty of runs on the board when it comes to race wins and championships, including the US East Coast Supercross Lites and outdoor national titles this year.
Don’t forget that on the domestic scene, this is also the bike that is both the reigning champion and current points leader in the Terex Australian Supercross Championship, thanks to Carlton Dry Honda’s Gavin Faith. Last year saw Ford Dale win the MX Nationals title for Honda as well.
2014 sees Honda’s quarter-litre contender receive a ground-up rebuild, with an all-new engine and rolling chassis, which according to Honda, has been designed for ‘generation scrub’.
With the kind of track record mentioned above, it is safe to say Honda probably knows a thing or two when it comes to building a machine to meet the criteria of this new age tag line.
MotoOnline.com.au recently hit up the Appin complex in New South Wales to put the new bike through its paces. Along with myself for the test was longtime Australian motocross and supercross front-runner Cody Mackie.
The first thing you will notice on the 2014 CRF250R is the new CRF450-inspired styling. Aesthetics are a personal preference type of deal, but I think it looks great – a fresh, futuristic theme, without getting too ‘space age’.
Mackie tended to agree, albeit one concern with some of the sharper styling, however that quickly faded once we hit the track.
“I got a little worried about catching legs on those number plates and areas like that,” Mackie explained. “But once you ride it its not even a factor. As a racer you look at things like that, but it wasn’t even a problem out there.”
Items such as this are testament to an area Hondas have long been known for, which is quality and attention to detail. This theme carries throughout the bike’s ergonomics and controls. Everything from the levers, to the pegs and gripper seat, along with Renthal ‘bars, are comfortable and of high quality.
“Controls were all awesome as usual,” Mackie continued. “Levers felt good, throttle was good and overall it’s a package that is easy to adjust to.”
Once we began to put a few laps in, Honda’s ‘generation scrub’ theory quickly came to mind. 2014 sees an all-new frame, which is designed to lower the bike’s center of gravity. It also incorporates a dual-muffler exhaust system like it’s big brother, that aims to further sharpen handling by centralising the bike’s mass.
These changes are definitely noticeable. The bike is just so nimble, and will steer anywhere you want it to go. Anyone who has ridden at Appin will tell you that the hard pack surface is not renowned for traction or general confidence in your front wheel. On this day however, confidence was at a high.
When you lean the 2014 CRF250R over and turn it around a corner, it just does it, and feels incredibly planted in doing so. While we are yet to sample the competition’s 2014 offerings, this bike will prove a very hard package to beat in this department.
On the topic of handling, the Showa suspension package does an amazing job, no matter what level of rider you are. The bike tracks straight through bumps, both under acceleration and braking, and can soak up bigger hit without any bottoming.
“The handling was awesome once we set the sag and changed a few clickers,” Mackie explained. “It tracked well and I really felt it handled the best while under acceleration. It didn’t ever skip out through bumps or anything like that.”
During the test we had GASD (Glenn Allerton Suspension Developments) on hand to assist with the set-up process and work to adjust the bike to our exact likings.
As mentioned, we both found that going a few clicks stiffer made the bike feel even better again, but even when it was standard, it never once blew through the stroke or dove hard under brakes.
Steering and overall handling is arguably the one area that needs to be perfect from the get-go, and Honda have got it spot on with this machine.
Another area that Cody was really happy with was the brakes and I definitely agree. A solid package front and rear, with a great blend of power and feel.
“The brakes were very impressive, I didn’t think they were going to stop as well as they did,” Mackie said. “They definitely impressed me a lot.”
The CRF250R has never been known as the king of power, but always provided a strong, linear spread. The new model has received some revisions in the engine department, all aimed at adding more mid-range punch.
2014 sees a new cylinder head, new piston, higher compression ratio, plus a new dual-timing fuel injection system and also a new transmission.
Honda engineers have achieved their goal here, in the sense that the mid-range is definitely the strongest area of the power curve, but you do have to work a little to keep it there.
“The bottom-end could do with a little bit of work, mid was awesome and the top-end was good, which seems to be similar to when I raced one in 2011,” Mackie commented.
For 2014, the Honda CRF250R presents a great option. Whether you are a clubman level rider looking for a fun weekend ride, or a racer looking to do the national series, this bike has the tools you need.
Overall quality of the bike is great, the geometry and handling is absolutely amazing, and it is all wrapped around a strong, easy to use motor. As a package it’s a perfect platform for more success in the ultra-competitive world of 250cc motocross and supercross competition.
The 2014 CRF250R is now available at Honda’s newly-introduced Ready to Ride pricing set at $9967.