2011 Honda CRF250R
Honda based its early success in the motorcycle marketplace by establishing itself as a four stroke only manufacturer in sharp contrast to its Japanese competition of Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Bridgestone and others which featured primarily two stroke engines for both their street and dirt bikes. The motorcycling universe couldn't have been more astounded when Honda premiered the Honda CR250 Elsinore with the company's first two stroke engine under its jaunty chromed Honda wing tank in 1972. The entry of Soichiro's original two stroke quickly cemented Honda's position in the leadership of motocross and enduro technology and many a tear was shed in 2007 when the last two stroke CR250 was produced. Many motocross riders still consider the 2002 CR250 to be the finest motocrosser ever built.
The lynchpin of Honda's return to four stroke motocrossing is the outrageously fast and nimble CRF250R. If someone in the two stroke days had said that there would be a liquid cooled 250 four stroke MXer that weighed 226 pounds at the starting line and cranked out 35 horses out of the box, they would likely have been committed. However, the CRF250R meets those specs and provides a ride that can win any race any time, limited only to the rider's skillset.
The 2011 CRF250R is a technological feast. Honda has continued to refine the model for this year and has included a cornucopia of benefits and improvements too long to list. Among them a completely new, more compact engine with Programmed Fuel Injection; an enlarged AC generator; new transmission ratios; a higher-capacity airbox; a twin spar aluminum frame equipped with a Progressive Steering Damper; a new single-muffler exhaust system; a totally revised Showa front and rear suspension, including a shock body developed exclusively for this chassis; and the whole package is wrapped up in completely redesigned bodywork.
The proof of the pudding is always in the eating, thus the bottom line has to be how the CRF250R works on race day. If you're anything but a Supercross pro you will likely never find the limits of the outstanding CRF250R. There is literally nothing that can be done with any motocrosser in the known universe, including the privateer and factory prepared rides, that can't be at least closely matched with a CRF250R in standard spec. Yes, it's that good. It's more than that good. It can turn a mid-range rider into a national champ. If you come up short on race day, you certainly can't blame your bike if you're aboard a CRF250R.
The 2011 Honda CRF250R may actually be too great of a motocrosser. It's not a forgiving ride, and it will amplify any rider's faults. It demands being ridden by a professional and will not tolerate fools lightly. Given that caveat, if you're up to the job, the CRF250R will never let you down. Now if only we could pit a 2011 CRF250R against a 2002 CR250 to determine the greatest motocross motorcycle of all time!
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2011 Honda CRF250R At A Glance
Base MSRP: $8,299
Engine Displacement: 249 cc
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore & Stroke: 76.8 mm x 53.8 mm
Compression Ratio: 13.2:1
Valve Train Type: Unicam, 4-valve
Transmission Type: Close-ratio five-speed
Final Drive Type: #520 chain; 13T/51T
Front Tire: 80/100 - 21
Rear Tire: 100/90 - 19
Wheelbase: 1,493 mm (58.8 in.)
Saddle Height: 955 mm (37.6 in.)
Curb Dry Weight: 102.5 kg (226 lb)
Fuel Capacity (US): 5.7 litres
* Specs/pix apply to 2010 model, updates as released