Motorcycle Types Adventure / Dual-Sport 1973 Honda Elsinore CR250M

1973 Honda Elsinore CR250M

Vintage Motocross Bike

The year 1973 marked a dramatic shift in motocross when Honda released the remarkably trick, production Honda CR250M Elsinore. The revered European motorcycle brands that had dominated the sport were instantly put on alert when the Elsinore broke ground.

The Honda CR 250 M was a serious motocross contender right out of the crate, requiring a lot less modification then most of the racing motorcycles available at the time to make it race ready.

The Honda Elsinore had copious lightweight aluminum bits and pieces; lightweight rims, a decent pipe and muffler, good bars and levers, hefty shocks with cooling fins, etc., etc… the laundry list of standard trick items was substantial.

The Honda Elsinore was scary fast. Saddled with a 2-stroke engine the Elsinore helped coin the term "Light switch powerband" to describe the enormous hit of power when the dirt bike came on the pipe.

I was lucky enough to acquire one of the first two hundred 250 Elsinore motorcycles in the country and can speak first hand about this; the Elsinore was an absolute rocket ship (Being 15 years of age and only weighing about 108 pounds didn’t help to settle the bike).

Honda got the name Elsinore from the famous annual Grand Prix featured in "On Any Sunday." There were rumors at the time that Honda had considered marketing the bike as simply the Elsinore, leaving the legendary brand name off the dirt bike altogether.

Evidently the motorcycle execs at Honda weren’t sure if it would be appropriate to align their brand-which they’d worked so hard to find acceptance with among the public-with the unsavory and wild world of moto. In the end they relented and the Honda name quickly started appearing at the top of results sheets all over the country.

Mighty Honda, already a powerful presence in motorcycle roadracing, immediately set out to conquer motocross.

Not known for half-measures the Japanese giant immediately culled together one of the most impressive motocross race teams in history, signing national champ Gary Jones and teen phenomenon Marty Tripes, along with Bruce McDougal, Rich Eierstedt, Gary’s brother Dwayne, Billy Grossi and Mike Chamberlain.

Jones proceeded to win the AMA Motocross 250cc National Title and Marty Tripes successfully defended his Superbowl of Motocross title aboard the silver and green Elsinore.

The Honda Elsinore 250 significantly influenced the evolution of motocross and helped to usher in the Japanese dominance of the sport over the ensuing years. Every motocross bike that Honda has produced since 1973 has its roots-to some degree-in the Honda CR250M Elsinore.

Visit to see examples of some of the motocross machines from the early days of motocross.

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

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