2016 Honda CRF250R Review
While the 2015 Honda CRF250R proved itself by taking five of the top 10 places in the AMA Supercross 250SX East final points standings, Honda engineers did not rest on their laurels after all of that race-proven success.
The 2016 Honda CRF250R features several changes to the engine with the goal of achieving more power. Besides the slight changes to the single cam, four-valve engine, the other main revisions on the 2016 Honda CRF250R were made to the Showa Triple Air Chamer (TAC) fork.
Beginning with the engine, Honda changed several key components in an effort to free up the engine and produce more horsepower. The changes include: a new piston; a lighter connecting rod; a revised compression ratio; new titanium exhaust valves; reshaped intake and exhaust ports; a modified camshaft and valve lifter; diamond like coated (DLC) intake valve buckets; a different shift-drum stopper; an additional exhaust resonator; a revised muffler end cap and inner pipe; a new airbox boot; and a larger left-side radiator.
After firing the bike on the first kick and spinning some laps, I immediately felt the increased power. The bottom end is increased slightly, while the mid-range comes on noticeably stronger and reaches the top end much quicker than the previous year models. The stronger mid-range power suits my riding style well and was very evident at Cahuilla Creek MX (a practice track located in Anza, Calif.), where several uphills and an elevation of 4,000 feet put all engines to the test.
The CRF250R likes to be short-shifted as the top end power is not where the meat of the power band lies. As I ride mostly in the mid-range power, the revised engine suits my riding style well.
In the suspension department, the 2016 Honda CRF250R features an added Schrader valve on the inner chamber of the TAC fork (the 2015 model had an inner chamber that could not be adjusted), a 5mm longer fork, an improved inner fork seal, revised fork damping adjusters, and reworked damping settings in both the forks and shock.
The 2016 Honda CRF250R suspension changes were very apparent after my first half of a lap. The hilly layout of Cahuilla Creek MX makes for the development of braking bumps early on in the day. While navigating my way over these, the suspension was a bit on the stiff side and not moving all that much underneath me. After coming in after my first moto, Showa suspension technician Ryo Okuda went to work making some fine-tuning adjustments to the SFF fork and shock.
The initial change we made to the Showa SFF fork was altering from the standard setting to the soft setting, as recommended by the owner’s manual. The changes included readjusting the inner chamber from 156 PSI to 149 PSI; the outer chamber from 12 PSI to 10 PSI; the balance chamber from 156 PSI to 149 PSI; and adjusting the fork compression clicker from seven clicks out to 11 clicks out.
Adjustments to the rear shock included a half turn less of preload on the shock spring taking the sag measurement from 105mm up to 108mm; two clicks out on the low speed compression clicker from 10 to 12; and out on the high speed adjustment from three to three and a half turns out.
These initial changes made a world of difference on the track as the 2016 Honda CRF250R absorbed the braking bumps with ease and maintained a balanced straight-line stability on the long downhills and straightaways.
The last thing I noticed was that the front end seemed to dive and want to wash out in some of the higher speed corners. Okuda suggested stiffening the steering damper two clicks (going from 10 to eight) to increase traction by putting more load on the front end. This last change put the package all together – the front end settled more in the corners and I felt very comfortable on the very diverse layout that Cahuilla Creek MX offers.
The two changes made to the chassis are a new footpeg bracket design and a smaller chain roller. With that being said, the handling on the 2016 Honda CRF250R feels very similar to last year’s model, which is a great thing. The CRF is incredibly light and feels that way thanks to its very nimble chassis. The bike slices through corners with ease and changing lines is effortless. Tight corners are no match for the lightweight, nimble chassis of the CRF250R.
The 2016 Honda CRF250R is a noticeable improvement over the previous year models. The plethora of engine modifications result in an even meatier mid-range power, and makes riding the lightweight, nimble bike that much more fun.
Thanks to the three air chambers, and the high- and low-speed compression clickers, the Showa TAC fork and rear shock can be set up for riders of all different heights, weights, and skill levels, I cannot wait to take this bike to some other familiar tracks and continue dialing the bike in to my liking. The 2016 Honda CRF250R is improved and more fun than ever.