When we decided to do bike testing in 2018, we wanted a rider that would tell it like it is, regardless of the outcome, and be true to the Motoplayground readers. It was clear that there was only one guy to call… Time to break down the 2018 CRF250R with this guy...
The success of the 2017 and 2018 Honda CRF450R has certainly paved the way for the brand new 2018 Honda CRF250R. The two bikes are practically identical in many ways, most notably including the “Absolute Holeshot” philosophy, as well as the chassis and geometry. The largest difference between the two is the introduction of the dual overhead-cam system as opposed to the unicam cylinder head that has appeared on previous models. Instead of two header pipes joining into a dual exhaust, the system is totally separate from the port to the muffler. The reasoning behind the modification is all about squeezing as much power out of the 250 as possible by reducing friction between the exhaust gasses, allowing more airflow in and out of the machine. The new system changes the power delivery of the motorcycle quite drastically, but it also improves the peak horsepower by nine percent compared to the previous model. The bike is more comfortable in a higher rev range, and a higher red line has been achieved through a more oversquare bore and stroke while a reduced cylinder offset results in decreased friction. Therefore, the bike is capable of pulling more power with the engine wound up to fit the characteristics and riding style of a 250cc machine. Honda has also made an effort to drop as much weight as possible from the new bike, doing away with the kickstarter entirely; electric start now comes standard on the 2018 Honda CRF250R, following in the footsteps of the 450. Another weight saving effort is the introduction of a titanium fuel tank (the first one ever produced on a Japanese motocross bike), as well as a lighter subframe that helps to improve the handling of the motorcycle. If the new 2018 CRF250R receives anywhere near as much praise as it’s bigger, older brother -- you’re going to want to take this thing for a spin.
MAJOR CHANGES FOR 2018 CRF250R
All new dual-overhead-cam engine uses a finger rocker arm with Diamond Like Coating and has larger titanium valves with increased lift, narrower angle, and oval cross-section springs. The result is a significant increase in power, particularly at high revs.
Two totally separate exhausts, from port to muffler, for centralized mass, improved throttle response, and increased power.
Meticulous vehicle packaging, with a downdraft intake providing a straight symmetrical air path for maximum efficiency and increased power.
The piston has a bridge-box design, a first for a production Honda MX bike.
Oil pump, drive gear moved to the right side of the engine for simpler, shorter oil path.
Titanium fuel tank and lighter subframe help improve handling by concentrating mass and lowering center of gravity.
Electric starter, powered by a small lightweight, lithium-iron phosphate battery, is now standard.
Superb rear-wheel traction and reduced front-end lift contribute to a significant improvement in acceleration and a three percent improvement in start-performance.
New Showa coil-spring fork contributes to plush suspension feel.
Dunlop Geomax MX3S tires are derived from top-level AMA Supercross and Motocross racing for superior grip.
Seventh-generation aluminum frame is revised for optimized rigidity, improved front-end stability, and reliable feel.
Lower, more centralized shock location improves stability and lowers CG while lighter swingarm reduces unsprung mass.
Slim, smooth cockpit to ease rider movement.
When we decided to do bike testing in 2018, we wanted a rider that would tell it like it is, regardless of the outcome, and be true to the Motoplayground readers. It was clear that there was only one guy to call…RYNO!
Two-time Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Champion Multiple 125cc Outdoor National Wins Multiple 125cc Supercross Wins Three-time Motocross des Nations team member (1995, 2000, 2003) Motocross des Nations winner (2000) 1994 125 MX Championship 3rd place 1995 125MX Championship 2nd place 1995 SX West Championship 2nd place 2003 125 MX Championship 2nd place
WHAT RYAN HUGHES THINKS of the ENGINE.
“My first impression on the bike -- when I got to the track, it was very deep so I was thinkin’ I was gonna be luggin’ this thing, that I wasn’t gonna have much bottom. But, I was very impressed with how much bottom it had, how easy it came off the bottom, how quick it came off the bottom. Anywhere I was out on the track that was real deep -- it had the power to get out of it, it had the power to kinda cut and dice around the track, it had the power to kinda be creative. I could hop around the track, but also I felt when I was revving it too much then I’d go into the same corner, the same section, a gear higher and the bike would pull it there too. So, this bike has a lot of good bottom to pull a higher gear, but also a lot of top end to be able to pull a lower gear. So, I had a little bit of this gear or that gear? If it were my bike and I was racing then maybe I’d change the sprocket, change the pipe or something, and then I’d say that gear instead of being a little bit in between. But, it’s a good thing to have that option because in the beginning of the day, the track was much deeper, and at the end of the day it started getting harder, so a higher gear wouldn’t lug the bike down as much. That’s one little thing there, but it’s not a bad thing -- it’s just the rider finding out where they like the power band. Some people like to rev the crap out of it and some people like to lug it, so when you get the bike you can taylor make it to yourself with pipes and sprockets and all that stuff, so that was my only little issue. Also with that power, it feels like I’m on a 250 two-stroke where you just go bap-bap-bap-bap around the track. Most four-strokes kind of have a whoop-whoop, but this has a little more of a 250 two-stroke feel to it where you can hop around the track, be creative, and blip it around the track, and that works for me ‘cause I like to be creative but also, I like to hammer it too. Those are two different styles of myself and this bike can handle both sides. So, engine-wise I was very, very impressed where you can run a lower gear and it has a a lot of over-rev or you can run a higher gear and it has a lot of torque to pull that higher gear -- very impressive, it was good.”
WHAT RYAN HUGHES THINKS of the CHASSIS.
“You know, the chassis is what holds the wheels and the suspension, very important -- almost like the core of the body. As you know, Honda has always had a lot of front end dominance where the bike would turn a lot, but that made the back end wanna come around, dance around, or feel pretty skatey. So, what Honda did is move things more to the center and by doing that it seems like it put weight on both ends of the bike, so it felt a lot more balanced around the track. It didn’t have a lot of tuck from having too much weight in the front end and it didn’t want to come around under acceleration from not having enough weight in the back end, or it didn’t wanna dance around in the rougher parts of the track. They did a very good job on balancing the bike out and I felt very good coming into the corners -- big long sweepers: I had a lot of speed and as all you guys that are racers know, when those sweepers started getting a lot of hooks in them, that front end gets in them and it wants to tuck a little bit. But, this thing felt very stable through there and I didn’t have any of that. Also, when I’m going through a flat corner and I’m slidin’ it sideways, as you guys know, the bike wants to wallow sometimes -- this thing stayed stuck and drove out of the corner. I was very impressed with how consistent it was in different types of corners with different types of speeds, and I think they did a very good job by bringing some weight more to the middle, kind of like the Yamaha. They put weight to the middle to put weight towards both wheels and the bike feels very balanced chassis-wise.”
WHAT RYAN HUGHES THINKS of the SUSPENSION.
“When I got on the bike, they checked the sag and they put it to 105 which was good, that’s about what I used to run too. At the beginning, I felt that they needed to go a bit stiffer with the fork because I drive hard into things and the fork being stiff will keep the bike up, so I’m not in a constant push when I’m going into the corner, or when I get into big braking bumps the bike won’t kick more because it’s balanced. When I went out there, I felt like the bike was balanced and even when the track started getting rougher, it felt good. Now that the track got even a little bit rougher and a little bit slicker, I felt that there was a little harshness in the beginning of the stroke, front and rear, so I’d like to go a little bit softer and maybe stiffer towards the end. The track today had a lot of good traction, there were a couple little slick spots, but the bike handled good in both those conditions. Just when it started getting a little bit skatey is when I felt that it was a little bit harsh in the front. I’m the type of person that likes to ride a little lower air pressure also in the tires, so that could be something, too. But, just going off their bike set-up, I thought the suspension was very good. The landing was very clean -- if you landed sideways it didn’t wanna spring back, it was very consistent that way. I think Honda did a very good job with the new fork, they got away from the air fork and that was probably the best decision anybody could ever make.”
WHAT RYAN HUGHES THINKS of the GEOMETRY.
“Another big thing that I like about Honda, and I’ve always liked it, since the first time I rode one back in 1991 (most of you guys weren’t even thought about), is the geometry -- where the handlebars are, the cockpit, where the footpegs are -- it just suits my style very well. Every time I’ve ever got on Honda I’ve felt comfortable automatically and that’s a big thing for me, and that’s a big thing for every racer. If you’re on a bike that doesn’t feel comfortable to you, then maybe you need to look at a different brand or something like that. There’s a brand out there for everybody -- not every brand works for every person’s style, every person’s way of riding. Each brand I get on, I always have to change my way of riding, change my technique, change where I’m putting weight, because every bike is based differently, and the Honda has always been really good for me in that area also.”
WHAT RYAN HUGHES THINKS of the TIRES.
“Now the most important part to me -- you can have a factory bike, factory suspension, factory everything, but if your tires aren’t good then you’re not gonna be able to ride that bike to it’s true potential. So, with the new Dunlop Geomax MX3S tires front and rear, I’m a big Dunlop lover. I’ve been with them for probably thirty years and I’ve always been a big fan, so you know what I’m gonna say. The tires were very good today -- in the soft stuff, the hard stuff, the choppy stuff, so Dunlop does a very good job. They’re always supporting this sport, so you can’t miss with that.”
“I wanna give Honda a big thanks. You know, I’ve been in this sport for thirty-five years, and I’ve seen Honda at the top and I’ve seen them fall off a little bit, and the support they put out today to have these bikes and promote these new 2018’s was impressive. What they’re going to be doing in the amateur ranks next year and following is also going to be very impressive, so I’m very happy and I want to give Honda a little round of applause for jumping back into the amateur ranks and really pushing their brand, because they have a great brand and when I was growing up they were the ‘Gucci.’ I think you’re gonna see them back on top soon. I’d also like to give Zaca Station another big two thumbs up as always -- they have one of the best layouts for a track, it’s very safe too. For me, I don’t get to ride or have the interest to ride as much as I used to, so I go maybe five times a year. So, that’s always a nervous issue for me going to a track with big jumps. I can do ‘em, but I just don’t wanna risk myself anymore like that. I come out here and they have some really fun jumps, some cool jumps to whip it, and it’s super safe. Plus the dirt is deep, ripped up, and also the location -- so Zaca Station, thank you very much for having myself, Motoplayground, and Honda out here.”
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