2015 Yamaha WR250F Review

2015 Yamaha WR250F Review | Tolerant Dual-Sport Personality
2015 Yamaha WR250F

One of the joys of off-road riding is finding a bike that makes you better than you are, inspiring you to take on bigger and tougher challenges, which in turn expands your riding opportunities. The better you ride, the more fun you have. The all-new 2015 Yamaha WR250F is one such bike, and would not have been an option for me without the electric start button.

In my years of dual-sport riding and several experiences in off-road racing, I was a passable kickstarter at best. At 5’ 6” with a 29-inch inseam, I have to slide my butt of the side of the WR250F’s 38-inch high seat (minus sag) to get a boot completely flat on the ground. There is no way I’d be able to kickstart the 2015 Yamaha WR250F on flat ground at my height, so I consider the inclusion of the push button electric start essential.

Still, with an unladen 38-inch seat height, I am not casual about throwing a leg over the WR250F. I slip a leg over the motocross-style almost-flat seat and slide myself into place. With weight aboard, the bike settles a few inches, enough that I can touch toes on both sides. That’s enough to work with.

If it were my bike, I’d look for softer springs from someone such as Factory Connection to suit my 115-pound weight. Also, Yamaha will soon be offering a shorter seat for the WR250F (along with the YZ250F, YZ250FX and YZ450F).

The 2015 Yamaha WR250F has a light clutch that engages smoothly so getting underway is easy and fluid. Once I’m moving along, the bike’s height is not an issue – in fact, it’s one of the best things about the WR. The excellent, supple suspension soaks up the typical rutty roads found around SoCal’s heavily used OHV riding areas, encouraging you to kick it up a gear or two and make dust out into the hills in search of fresher trails.

Ergonomics work well, both sitting and standing, with clutch and front brake levers falling within the grasp of my fingers naturally. The gear shifter is easy to engage from both positions with my Alpinestars Stella Tech 3 boots, and the rear brake is similarly easy to activate.

2015 Yamaha WR250F Review | Tolerant Dual-Sport Personality trailThe WR250F’s 249cc engine is quite tolerant, allowing a less than optimum gear selection without a grumble or hesitation thanks to excellent EFI calibration. The WR is quiet, as well as Green Sticker and EPA legal (so the emissions and sound are capped), yet it runs perfectly.

The forgiving nature of the wide powerband inspires confidence, which encourages me to try out a hillclimb I might previously have shied away from. With plenty of power on tap, and EFI keeping the WR’s heart beating, I have plenty of room for error. As I am often traveling at a relatively slow speed and ride in the hot California summer, the radiator fan is a welcome standard piece of equipment.

On one particularly epic single-track ride up a technical trail – Tejon Trail in Los Padres National Forest – strewn with good sized stones, hard-edged rocks, and exposed tree roots, the 2015 Yamaha WR250F suspension soaked up the uneven shifting terrain without a sweat.

Twisting the throttle to keep the bike skimming along the debris, the WR reliably went where it was pointed. With forks and shock tuned for Enduro riding, imprecise line choices simply do not faze the 250F. The handling is brilliant – nimble, light, and responsive; it makes carving your way through tricky trails exhilarating, instead of stressful.

Adding to the security needed when stretching your comfort zone, the front brake system is perfectly dialed in. At speed, the 250mm convincingly slows the WR250F quickly, without any snatchy overbite, and in low speed situations it can be nicely finessed. While dropping down a narrow cupped out trail along the edge of a hillside, a light touch on the front brake lever smoothly kept the speed under control while allowing the suspension to soak up the descent.

An item that is missing on the 2015 Yamaha WR250F is handguards. Fortunately, Yamaha offers various models of Cycra guards as options. Also, I’d put on some of the Sunline V01 MDX pivoting levers, as I’m not immune to falls.

Scampering back to camp on a paved road as twilight moved quickly through dusk to darkness, the WR250F felt secure, no squirming along the gently curving road. The headlight is decent enough on the road, and even helped me along on a single-track long after the sun had disappeared.

2015 Yamaha WR250F Review | Tolerant Dual-Sport Personality Off RoadIf I did more high-speed riding in the desert, rather than concentrating on technical single-track, I’d add the GPR V1 Steering Stabilizer out of the Yamaha accessory catalog. Associate Editor Jess McKinley is a go-fast guy, and he definitely is a steering stabilizer fan.

I didn’t do the maintenance on the WR250F, but was assured by those who do that it’s easy. The 2015 Yamaha WR250F now has the YZ250F design and chassis, so the air filter is where the fuel tank would normally be. The shroud covering comes off easily enough, making the air filter highly accessible.

Oil changes are easy, though I am told that the recommended valve checks weren’t done. I don’t ping the motor off the rev limiter, but some of the guys doing the test riding are known to do that. Regardless, after many hours, the WR250F motor sounds as tight as it did on day one. Oh, one thing I didn’t like is how the fuel cap seems to self-tighten, making it hard to get off for refueling.

Being on the lesser-skilled end of dirt riding – yet still wanting the power, suspension, and handling of a real dirt bike – the WR250F’s tolerant personality is all the encouragement I need. The 2015 Yamaha WR250F makes me want to spend a bit less time on the pavement and more time taking on some black-diamond rated trails.

Photography by Don Williams

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2015 Yamaha WR250F Specifications

  • Engine type: Liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke; 4 titanium valves
  • Bore x stroke 77.0mm x 53.6mm
  • Displacement: 250cc
  • Compression ratio 13.5:1
  • Fuel delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection Keihin 44mm
  • Ignition: Transistor Controlled Ignition
  • Transmission: Wide-ratio constant-mesh 6-speed; multiplate wet clutch
  • Front Suspension: KYB Speed-Sensitive System inverted fork; fully adjustable, 12.2 inches of travel
  • Rear Suspension: KYB fully adjustable linkage-assisted shock; 12.4 inches of travel
  • Front brakes: Hydraulic single disc brake, 250mm
  • Rear brakes: Hydraulic single disc brake, 245mm
  • Front Tire: 80/100-21 Dunlop Geomax MX51
  • Rear Tire : 110/80-18 Dunlop Geomax MX51
  • Dimensions: L x W x H: 85.2 x 32.5 x 50.4 inches
  • Seat height: 38.0 inches
  • Wheelbase: 57.7 inches
  • Ground clearance: 12.8 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 2.0 gallons
  • Wet weight: 258 pounds
  • 2015 Yamaha WR250F MSRP: $7990

2015 Yamaha WR250F Test Photo Gallery