2015 Honda CRF250R Review
Since its radical redesign last year, the Honda CRF250R received incremental changes drawing from feedback from Honda’s factory race teams – including Factory Connection/GEICO/Honda – as well as consumers.
Justin Bogle piloted the 2015 CRF250R to a race win in the 250SX Supercross East Region Main Event in Detroit, and scored several podium finishes on the new 2015 model, proving that the changes work well indeed.
The 2015 CRF250R receives three different ignition modes, a new Showa 49mm Triple Air Chamber (TAC) Separate Function Fork, a larger-diameter exhaust system, a 260mm front brake rotor, and Dunlop Geomax MX52 tires.
Honda’s single cam (Unicam), four-valve, 249cc engine with a 13.5:1 compression ratio starts effortlessly with the kickstarter at top dead center and a consistent kick. It fires to life on the first try nearly every time. The meat of the powerband on the Honda is found in the bottom end to mid-range.
When exiting corners, the 2015 Honda CRF250R makes smooth, tractable bottom-end power into the mid-range. The CRF makes such good mid-range power that I found it was best to shift before reaching the higher rpm. The power is extremely user-friendly, and is easy to race for anyone of any skill level.
Three ignition modes come stock on the 2015 Honda CRF250R; to switch between the ignition maps, the bike must be running and the maps are toggled via a button on the right side of the handlebar next to the throttle. After pressing and holding the button, it blinks a code signifying which map has been selected–one flash for the stock map, two for the mellow map, and three times for the aggressive map.
I tried the mellow map, but never found much of a use for it, as I was looking to get the most power out of the CRF250R as possible. However, I can see it being utilized on a dry, dusty, slick track. The stock map makes good all-around power, and does well in most conditions. The aggressive map makes better power all across the board. After testing all of the maps, I left the CRF on the aggressive map, as that was my favorite.
The five-speed transmission on the CRF is flawless, smooth, and effortless. The gears are methodically spaced for tight, technical tracks or wide-open, high-speed courses. A track that combines all of these conditions is Pala Raceway (a former National track located in Pala, Calif.), where I spent the majority of my time testing the bike.
Second gear is best when maneuvering a tight inside line, while third gear works great for railing an outside berm. I found myself utilizing fourth gear on some of the high-speed straightaways, and even fifth gear if I wanted to keep the revs low at high speed.
The Showa SFF Air TAC forks feature three air chambers. The inner chamber air pressure is accessed at the top of the left fork while the balance chamber Schrader valve is located under the left fork leg. The outer chamber valve is not accessible as Honda recommends leaving the outer chamber at the set air pressure from the factory.
Before adjusting the air pressure in the forks in order to make adjustments, it is best to adjust the compression clicker at the top of the right fork. With that being said, I found that the stock settings of 174 psi in the inner chamber and 163 psi in the balance chamber worked great for my weight and skill level.
The new SFF Air TAC forks feel stiffer than the standard Showa forks found on the 2014 model, which faster and/or heavier riders will like. However, a rider who is looking for softer fork settings can easily adjust the new forks to accommodate that via adjusting either the compression clicker and/or air chambers.
On last year’s standard Showa fork, I maxed out the compression clicker stiffness and would have had to send the forks out for revalving if I wanted to go with a stiffer setting. Luckily, the 2015 CRF250R forks are stiffer to accommodate faster and/or heavier riders from the get-go and can be further adjusted thanks to the compression clicker and air chambers.
The Showa rear shock is impressive. It tracks well in corners and settles into ruts easily. It does not bottom out upon harsh or flat landings either. I never had the CRF250R kick out on me, or do anything unusual when faced with braking bumps in corners or on big downhills.
Acceleration bumps prove to be the same story. The CRF250R’s rear end refuses to kick or swap out, and I am able to get a great drive when exiting a corner. This is especially helpful towards the end of the day when the track becomes rough and rutted. Overall, I am impressed with how well the rear shock felt from the beginning and pleased with how it works in a variety of different tracks and conditions.
The 2015 Honda CRF250R’s handling is its most notable and praiseworthy characteristic. No other bike handles as well or is as flickable as the CRF250R. The bike’s cornering ability is fantastic due to how nimble the bike is and the same can be said when whipping and scrubbing off the faces of jumps.
Thanks to how nimble and light the CRF250R is, I found myself pushing harder and longer throughout the course of a moto. All levels of riders will love the lightweight, flickable characteristics of the bike and find themselves shaving seconds off their lap times because of it.
In the braking department, the new 260mm front rotor is a welcomed change, as the front brake is much more powerful than that on the previous model. While the brake is stronger, it still maintains a progressive feel. Both the front brake and clutch lever have an agreeable bend that most riders will enjoy.
The CRF250R comes standard with the Renthal 971 handlebar, which offers a comfortable feel for the average sized rider. The Dunlop Geomax MX52 front and MX52 rear tires hooked up well at all of the tracks I tested at, and that included multiple types of terrain ranging from soft and loamy to a more intermediate, harder packed track. Both the front and rear rubber held up well and maintained a sharp edge after many rides.
The dual muffler exhaust system is louder than the 2014 model due to the larger diameter exhaust system. This is a welcomed change as the 2014 model is extremely quiet and the new exhaust allows the engine to breathe more and produce more power.
Maintaining the CRF is simple. Air filter changes are effortless thanks to a roomy airbox. The air filter lines up perfectly in the airbox and is easy to secure in place.
When changing the oil, it is important to note that Honda separates the engine and transmission oil on the CRF250R. Changing the engine oil involves removing a 12mm bolt on the bottom of the engine while changing the oil filter requires the removal of two 8mm bolts on the crankcase cover located on the left side of the engine in front of the shifter. The oil filter slides in and out easily thanks to the rubber spring facing the engine and the rubber grommet facing outwards towards the oil filter cover. Changing the transmission oil calls for the removal of a 12mm bolt on the left side of the engine and is refilled on the right side of the engine right above the clutch cover by removing the oil filler cap.
Riders who will enjoy this bike most in the stock configuration include beginners and novices due to how light the bike is and the predictability of the power. An intermediate or pro level rider may want to modify the engine to coax some more power out of it. However, they will love the lightweight and flickable qualities of the CRF, which is evident as nine of the Top Fen finishers in the 250SX main event at the Indianapolis Supercross this year were racing Honda CRF250Rs.
The 2015 Honda CRF250R’s refinements from last year’s model have proven to be a positive step in the right direction. The CRF250R’s handling and engine make it the easiest bike in its class to ride. While the handling is the CRF250R’s strongest point, the engine offers a linear powerband with no surprises from bottom to top. Honda has certainly found their niche in the 250 class by producing an extremely lightweight, flickable 250cc four stroke that is an absolute blast to ride.
Supercross photography by Don Williams
Andrew Oldar is sponsored by Moose Racing.
- Engine: 249cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
- Bore x stroke: 76.8mm x 53.8mm
- Compression ratio: 13.5:1
- Valve train: Unicam; four-valve: 30.5mm intake, titanium; 25mm exhaust, steel
- Induction: Dual-Timing Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), 46mm throttle body
- Ignition: Full transistor with electronic advance
- Transmission: Close-ratio five-speed
- Suspension Front: 49mm inverted Showa SFF-Air fork with 16-position rebound and 16-position compression damping adjustability; 12.2 inches of travel
- Suspension Rear: Pro-Link Showa single shock with adjustable spring preload, 17-position rebound damping adjustability, and compression damping adjustment separated into low-speed (13 positions) and high-speed (3.5 turns); 12.3 inches of travel
- Brakes Front: Single 260mm wave-style disc with four-piston caliper
- Brakes Rear: Single 240mm wave-style disc
- Tire Front: Dunlop Geomax MX52F 80/100-21
- Tire Rear: Dunlop Geomax MX52 100/90-19
- Wheelbase: 58.6 inches
- Rake: 27 degrees
- Trail: 4.6 inches
- Seat height: 37.4 inches
- Ground clearance: 12.7 inches
- Fuel capacity: 1.7 gallons
- Gate weight: 231 pounds (includes all standard equipment, required fluids and a full tank of fuel–ready to ride)
- 2015 Honda CRF250R MSPR: $7599
2015 Honda CRF250R Test Photo Gallery