2017 Yamaha WR250R Review | Dirty and Street

In recent years, the dual sport motorcycle market has undergone quite a change. On one end you have the race-ready street-legal dirt bikes from Beta, Husqvarna, and KTM, and at the other end you have commuter- and street-friendly bikes from Japan, such as the Yamaha XT250, that can be ridden off-road.

Hanging around in-between is the 2017 Yamaha WR250R.

Despite the WR designation, the WR250R is not based on the WR250F off-road bike at all—the 2017 Yamaha WR250R has a completely different chassis and motor from the WR250F. So, starting with a nearly clean sheet, the WR250R is a purpose-built dual-sport motorcycle.

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2017 Yamaha WR250R test

As it turns out, the Yamaha WR250R is a more balanced dual-sport motorcycle than anything in its class. Not only can it be used for urban and commuting chores, it is also function quite well off-road.

With an impressive fuel-injected, liquid-cooled DOHC motor, the WR250R is willing to put out decent power—around 27 horses or so at its peak. EPA restrictions choke the motor down quite a bit, so there’s probably more power in there if you’re willing to flout the law to get it.

On the upside, the WR250R has much longer service intervals than a WR250F, and that’s a good thing for a bike you might be using every week on the street, as well as pounding the trails on the weekends.

Given that it’s not a hard-core dirt bike, the 2017 Yamaha WR250R will certainly attract street-oriented riders. Pump the decently knobby Bridgestone Trail Wing tires up to street pressures and the WR250R is a blast to ride on the pavement.

If you can handle the WR250R’s 36.6-inch seat height, you will appreciate the bird’s eye view it gives you. You can see over any car and plenty of SUVs. The tall seating makes it easier for the rider to assess any situation, as well as making you more visible to those driving four-wheeled vehicles.

2017 Yamaha WR250R for sale

The seat height is only a negative at stops and slow speeds. Dirt bike riders won’t even notice, but those coming from street bikes will feel as if they need a ladder—at least initially. Still, the WR250R is shorter than the race-oriented dual sport bikes from Europe.

With over 10 inches of nicely damped travel at both ends, urban irregularities such as potholes, speed bumps, and dips are seen more as opportunities than obstacles. Standing up helps, but it’s not necessary. The suspension easily handles anything thrown at it, as any street shortcomings are nothing compared to what the WR250R will see off-road.

Working your way through traffic is effortless. The 2017 Yamaha WR250R is narrow and weighs under 300 pounds—light for a street bike. The tires are also narrow by street-bike standards, further enhancing its agility on pavement. Geometry numbers such as rake, trail, and wheelbase also add up to flickability on the street.

You will have to rev the WR250R’s motor a bit for clean getaways from stoplights, but that’s not really an issue. The six-speed transmission shifts flawlessly, and you don’t need a rev counter to figure out when to shift. That’s a good thing, as the digital dash’s primary function is letting you keep tabs on your speed.

Hop on the freeway and the 2017 Yamaha WR250R still performs. As long as the traffic is moving at legal speeds, you’ll be fine. However, as you near 80 or so, the performance flags, so staying out of the fast lane is usually a wise choice. The WR250R is great on urban freeways where the speeds are lower and agility is a huge plus. You can make great time in town, on any road you can find.

A big temptation on the Yamaha WR250R is to go hooligan. You can pull wheelies, execute stoppies, and jump curbs—all at a moment’s notice. It’s fun to ride a motorcycle with long-travel in the city, as you’re constantly looking for undocumented shortcuts that will get you where you want to go as quickly as possible.

2017 Yamaha WR250R review

That, of course, leads us into the 2017 Yamaha WR250R’s off-road performance. Expectations will vary—street riders will think it looks like a full-on dirt bike, while dirt aficionados will recognize the limitations of the dual sport form.

Off-road, compared to the European dual sport motorcycles, the WR250R lacks sophisticated suspension, a potent motor, and aggressively knobby tires. Those may seem like insurmountable limitations, but the WR250R is really about riding to its strengths and around its weaknesses.

Ergonomics are good—the bike is narrow, but you pay for it with a tiny two-gallon fuel tank. That limits how far you can go between fuel stops, which can be a problem in the backcountry. Aftermarket tanks that more than double the fuel capacity are available, should you need them. The seat is fine, though you may want beefier pegs for serious dirt riding.