2015 Yamaha WR250F Review
When I was offered the chance to test ride Yamaha’s 2015 WR250F and go with editor Don Williams to check out the Ballinger Canyon OHV area, I jumped at it – though the weather forecast for day was predicting less than ideal riding conditions. In fact, the weather turned out to be even a bit worse than ideal – overcast, cold, and snow, which the WR250 performed admirably well in despite my rusty off-road riding skills.
The WR250 is designed for enduro riding where the demands of the terrain require solid low-end torque, precise handling, and a suspension system that absorbs terrain varying from high-speed runs to rough, tight, single track paths. Fortunately, the Ballinger Canyon riding area contains these terrain variations and the WR250F met these challenges without any issues.
For starters, the Keihin-based fuel-inject engine with the default throttle map allowed me to smoothly and rapidly control the throttle to easily clear obstacles that popped up in my vision. I never felt any hesitation in power when I had to quickly apply more gas and yet felt smooth, evenly metered flow when I needed to ease the motorbike through technical single track sections.
The WR250’s front suspension consists of the KYB inverted shock using Yamaha’s Speed-Sensitive System; dampening is determined by the speed the piston moves through the cartridge rod instead of the position in the stroke of the fork. The result is a very stable front end with a 10.6-inch travel that never really seems to jarringly bottom out while also soaking up washboard terrain at a fast pace.
Likewise, the single-shock based rear suspension’s 10.6-inch travel was easily up to the task managing the varying conditions finding the right comfortable balance that allows quickly going through shallow, choppy sections while providing a softness that does not turn into a mushy, overstuffed easy chair feel.
In addition to the importance of a good suspension setup, the braking system needs to inspire the rider’s confidence for solid control. The WR250F’s brake system meets this expectation by allowing controlled, rapid stops without feeling like the bikes is going to nose dive or uncontrollably lock up the rear wheel.
One feature important for enduro and trail riding is that the WR250F is equipped with both an electrical starter and kick starter. However, I never did kick started the engine since the electric start feature was so easy to use, especially when I stalled the engine on a couple of uphill sections.
The WR250 comes outfitted from the factory with Dunlop’s Geomax AT81 RC tires, which performed well on both hard pack dirt road surfaces as well as the soft sand/gravel mix found in the washes and ravines that I traversed through. According to Dunlop, these tires are designed for all-around performance plus higher levels of ruggedness for off-road racing and riding and I felt like this claim was met.
With respect to operating the WR250F, the clutch was easy to use, the seat-to-foot peg distance comfortably accommodated my 36-inch inseam while sitting down, the seat was firm without feeling like riding a brick, and the shifter’s position allowed for quick power shifting.
Although the WR250F has a claimed wet weight of 296 lbs., which is on the heavier side for a quarter-liter motorcycle, the weight distribution is so well balanced that the bike feels and handles about 60 lbs. lighter. However, one major criticism is that the handlebar height is rather short for a 6—foot plus rider, which results in being leaned over a bit too far when standing. This makes for an uncomfortable position for long stretches that require standing, which caused me to back off my speed in areas that I would have normally been charging through.
The biggest impression I came away with after riding the WR250 for most of the day is how well the suspension is designed. In spite of not making any adjustments, such as preload or modifying the compression and rebound settings, I never felt any harshness through fast rough terrain or bottoming out in deep whooped sections.
The next favorable impression is the throttle response – when I had to quickly open up to clear a fast approaching obstacle, the WR250F effortlessly accelerated in spite of my somewhat ham-fisted technique.
The biggest surprise? How light the WR250F felt in handling in spite of its listed rather heavy weight. Overall, Yamaha’s latest WR250F can easily match their competitors in the enduro arena at a bit lower cost without sacrificing quality.
2015 Yamaha WR250F Specs:
• Engine Type: 250cc liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke; 4 titanium valves
• Bore x Stroke: 77.0mm x 53.6mm
• Compression Ratio: 11.8:1
• Fuel Delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI) Keihin 44mm
• Ignition TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
• Transmission: Wide-ratio constant-mesh 6-speed; multiplate wet clutch
• Final Drive: Chain Drive
• Front Suspension: KYB Speed-Sensitive System; inverted fork; fully adjustable, 10.6-in travel
• Rear Suspension: KYB Fully adjustable single shock; 10.6-in travel
• Front Brake: Hydraulic single disc brake, 250mm
• Rear Brake: Hydraulic single disc brake, 230mm
• Front: 80/100-21M/C 51P
• Rear: 120/80-18M/C 62P
• Overall dimensions: 85.6” L x 31.9” W x 48.4” H
• Seat Height: 38.6 in
• Wheelbase: 55.9 in
• Ground Clearance: 11.8 in
• Fuel Capacity: 2.1 gal
• Wet Weight: 295 lb
• Color: Team Yamaha Blue/White