Sunday, May 8, 2011

2008 Yamaha WR250X First Ride

A high low beam halogen headlight also increases the safety factor.
Those new to supermoto will appreciate how the WR250X makes a rider focus on technique in order to go fast.
2008 Yamaha WR250X
MSRP: $5999

The X model looks much different than its sibling with most changes emphasizing its supermoto styling. Generous application of black anodizing on the semi- double-cradle frame and swingarm, fork downtubes and 17-inch supermoto wheels are the most noticeable difference. The removable steel engine cradle and subframe are blacked-out to match the engine covers. A larger front brake disc is necessary for a supermoto-style machine so it swells to 298mm. Spring rates are identical to the R front and rear in the suspension department, and steering geometry is slightly sharper with the X as a result of the smaller wheels (25.3 deg. rake and 3 inches of trail vs. 26.7 deg/4.4 inch).

Spinning laps aboard the 250X at Grange Motor Circuit is a real blast. Because the bike doesn't have a monster motor, riders are able to focus on other aspects of riding supermoto like corner speed, body positioning, line selection and braking. As a journalist it's great fun to ride the bejeezus out of a bike like this, but from the consumer's point if view it might be a scary proposition to flirt with the 11,500 rpm rev-limiter so often. Recommended valve adjustments are every 26,600 miles (compared to 310 miles for the high-potency WR-F and YZ-F), so it seems that the bike can handle it if you can. But again we have to remember how this machine will be used in the real world. Cruising through town on a commute or jogging outside city boundaries for a weekend escape won't tax the small motor like we did at Grange. Also, since X owners are unlikely to ever really use the bike off-road (otherwise they would have bought an R) the propensity to stall at low-speed off-road shouldn't be such an issue. Additionally, 1.4 inches off the seat height (35.2 at highest, 34.3 lowest) will make the X much easier to mount and touch ground for short-legged riders.

We had no problem muscling the bike around Grange's 14-turn circuit. Obviously top speed wasn't eye watering, and acceleration never once stretched our arms, but there was still plenty of room to go fast on the 250X. The BT090F and BT090R meats stuck to the track surface at all times and as a SuMo newcomer, our tester was thoroughly happy to use the X's strengths to make him a better rider. Steering geometry felt spot on and never wanted to tuck the front while remaining stable at the end of the straightaway. Clamping down on the oversized front brake gave excellent stopping power and we were still braking deeper into the corners by the time our day was finished.

One thing we did notice during our group ride is the wide LED taillight and sizeable blinkers offer plenty of visibility from the rear, and a high/low beam halogen headlight also increases the safety factor. The seats and rider layout are comfortable on both machines for lengthy stints on your rear and the standing position is agreeable as well. Mirrors work well, but efforts to keep the machines under $6K are noticeable in the steel handlebars. Fortunately, Yamaha mounted them to the forged aluminum triple clamps with replaceable bar clamps so a buyer could easily purchase YZ-F style mounts and use oversize bars such as the ProTapers found on the motocrosser.

All things considered equal  the 250R will do more off-road and manage street duty better than the X will master dirt.
Handling on the 250X is light and nimble, despite its claimed weight. The real highlight for us though was the oversized front brake.
Our tester would rather turn the ignition on the R model for it's higher versatility. All things considered equal, the 250R will do more off-road and manage street duty better than the X will master dirt. Either way, Yamaha has brought some new flavor to the small-bore dual-sport market and it has generated significant interest already. Time will tell whether or not that translates to the sales Yammie is looking for, but we've already seen them on the streets, most recently during Daytona Bike Week. Even though it didn't exactly fit in, we'd bet dollars to dog turds that finding parking between all those hogs was pretty easy with the slender WR-X.

Riding either of the new WR models is a one-way ticket to carpal tunnel syndrome in your right wrist. The bikes offer enough performance with the all-new aluminum chassis, suspension and wave-style braking components to accommodate everything the engine can dish out. Talk about feeling like a hero, the only guy who consistently pins a Blue 250cc thumper this hard is probably going to win the West Coast Supercross Lites division this season. We think that for riders who are getting back into motorcycling these bikes will be fun, economical and practical, and the X is a particularly good way to get into the casual supermoto scene. Someone that's brand-spankin' new to riding might have trouble with the tall seat heights and if you plan to hit the dirt, it would be a good idea to invest in some alternate gearing to help make the motor a bit more usable in technical off-road situations. Overall Yamaha has done a good job of making a small-bore dual-sport that can bring out a bit of hooliganism on the track or trail, but still get you to work on time.

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