MotoOnline.com.au tests the updated 2018 Yamaha WR250F.
Words: Guy Streeter
Yamaha’s WR250F is evidently one of the manufacturer’s most versatile and popular models in the enduro fleet and for 2018, the quarter-litre machine has received a host of upgrades. MotoOnline.com.au was recently invited to the official media launch of the 2018 Yamaha WR250F, hosted by Yamaha Motor Australia in Bathurst, New South Wales.
At first glance, the 2018 WR250F’s appearance doesn’t differ too much from the 2017 model, but with the previous model being an already impressive package, it’s a much more refined motorcycle for the new year. For 2018, Yamaha has gone about closing the performance gap between its rivals, with engine advancements seeing a 15 percent increase in power, resulting in benefits with better acceleration and pulling harder in the mid-to-high rev range.
Like the WR450F and the previous model WR250F, you can make adjustments to the power for all types of trail conditions with Yamaha’s Power Tuner, which is an optional extra. Getting back to the overall look of the bike though, the 2018 model WR250F has a few key changes that are quickly noticeable.
In a push to shed weight, more and more manufactures have been removing the conventional kick-starter altogether and opting to use the electric leg as your one and only option. With battery life and technology, reliability with electric starters has been improving rapidly over the last few years so it only makes sense to drop the kick-starter from the bike. For traditionalists, the kick-starter is available as an extra, but at a weight saving of near one kilogram, is it really necessary?
With the weight-savings in mind, the bike tips the scales at 113 kilograms wet (106kg dry). Keeping with the rest of the 2018 Yamaha theme, blue rims are a neat addition, while stopping power has also been improved with a new front disc, which is now 270mm and an increase of around 20mm over the previous model.
First up on the finer details, the chassis has had some refinements for 2018. There are subtle changes to the frame’s torsional rigidity, with the new frame now 12mm wider near the swing-arm, which has improved handling and stability. The engine mounts have been adjusted for the WR250F using different size brackets to help with the handling of the bike.
Accompanying the new changes to the chassis, KYB has developed the front and rear suspension further on the 2018 models with less oil in the Air Oil Separate (AOS) forks in order to give the rider better feedback and stability, plus further developments with the factory settings have also been made.
The internals of the WR250F’s power-plant have been tweaked significantly based upon the all-conquering YZ250F, boasting a new high-efficiency reverse cylinder head, larger intake valve diameter, revised intake and exhaust port shape, higher lift intake and exhaust camshafts and a new piston and pin. To compliment the upgrades, the engine also features a new valve spring design, newly-designed con rod and revised throttle joint.
The track we tested the WR250F on was made up with a lot of off-camber, tight turns and a decent uphill climb to really get an idea of the bike’s power. Yamaha has done a brilliant job, especially with the 2018 WR250F – there’s plenty of grunt right off the bottom, but it really keeps pulling hard up top. Not much input from the cable-pull clutch was needed to get the bike revving either, which is something Yamaha has stuck to their guns with as well. The clutch action has a light and precise feel.
It’s hard to tell exactly how much faster it feels than the 2017 model if you haven’t tested the new model back-to-back against the older model, but the power of the 2018 WR250F stands out against other brands, that’s for sure. It is fast and more assertive right off the bottom, more so than in previous years. We were able to test the 2018 model with an FX exhaust and that alone made a significant improvement as well, especially in the lower rev range.
Riding the single track is really where the WR250F comes into its own. Long straights and burly up hills aren’t a huge suffering point, but tight and flowing single trail is where this bike feels at home. Sunny Corner has endless single trails littered throughout the network of fire trails in the area and sitting amongst the other riders on other brand bikes with larger capacity engines, I found myself wondering why would you bother with that much power unless you came to ride fire trails all day? And that hasn’t always been my opinion.
The handling overall is great, exactly what has been delivered from Yamaha on an ongoing basis – a confident, stable feel that makes you feel like you can push that little bit harder and not be surprised by something out of the ordinary. The suspension is set slightly firmer, which really affects the way the bike handles larger hits and G-outs in a positive way. The larger front disc gives a little bit better feel and stopping power, which is not normally the first thing you look for in a new bike, but it certainly does not go unnoticed.
Yamaha has been well known for coming with wraparound hand guards, but they have been dropped for 2018 and are replaced by , which are a popular option that most riders end up applying.
Australia has the option of an off-road kit, featuring a new lightweight Polisport headlight, ever-popular Barkbuster hand guards, a brake snake and modified rear hanger. The 2018 WR250F is available from mid-late October, and is valued at $12,199. Visit www.yamaha-motor.com.au for more information on the its off-road range or added technical details are available in our recent Bike post.
Engine type: Liquid cooled, four-stroke, DOHC, four-valve
Seat height: 965mm
Ground clearance: 325mm
Weight: 113kg (wet)
Fuel capacity: 7.5L
More details: www.yamaha-motor.com.au