Friday, May 15, 2009

Honda CR250R Race Test

Sometimes a bike takes on a magical, Alice in Wonderland aura before it even appears on the marketplace. First, it is rumored to be almost ready for release.
Secondly, the word spreads that it is an exact replica of the works bike. Then everyone is saying that it htas 40 horsepower. And finally, when one shows up in the hands of some super-psyched local expert, with the eyes of every eager potential consumer on him, he goes out and wins. He reports that it is the greatest thing for motocross since Deep Heat rub, and the pits go ga-ga.

Sometimes a magazine helps this sort of craziness along by getting a pre-production prototype and taking of somewhere secretly and testing it. Editors and test riders are not immune to star worship and motorcycle deification. There used to be an automobile ad that said, « Ask the man who owns one. » Nobody who just plunked down 1500 oysters is going to tell you his new bike is a squid.
The Honda CR250R is not the lightest 250 motocrosser on the market. It doesnt come close to touching the lightweight Kawasaki KX250A4. The Honda isnt the fastest 250 on the track. The Can-Am 250 MX4 will pull it out in the tully weeds on any straight. The Honda isnt the best-made 250 on the showroom floor. The European brands still win out in the use of quality materials. It isnt the cheapest 250 on the market. Its damn close, though.

So if you take the dreamland ramblings away from the starting gate peanut gallery, what are you left with ? The Honda CR250R is the best 250 buy on the course today.
Winning the categories of speed, light weight, material, price and suspension doesnt mean much unless you can win every one of them with the same bike.
The Honda CR250R may not win every category, but it comes in close to the top of each one, an dis never way out of the running in any individual honor, like most of its competition.

The Honda CR250R is totally red with the exception of the seat, pipe, bars, carbs and fork boots. The frame is japanese chrome moly an dis a sturdy and rigid piece of metal sculpture. The swingarm is long, and rides on roller bearings. The distance from the swingarm pivot to the countershaft sprocket is short enough that Honda elected only to go with chain guides and rollers instead of the industry standard chain tensioner. The chain itself is a good 520 D.I.D, and in contradiction, by japanese terms, is run off the right side of the engine.
The front suspension has 11,5 inches of travel, and has innovative cartridge-type damper inside te sliders. The tubes are strong, well-made and have enough tube/slider overlap to maintain the minimum level of flex-free travel. The eara suspension is made by Showa. The 17 ½ -inch shocks are gas-charged, but lack any fancy reservoirs or fins. Travel at the rear was 11 inches on our machine.
The shocks have accessory springs available for them in both heavier and lighter rates.
The engine is red. Behind the red facade is a carefully designed set of gears, levers and bearings wrapped in a set of aluminium cases that lokks like i twas vacuum-formed to the internals.

The cylinder and head are interesting for several reasons. The head is a true radial. The total finning is generated from the area of the combustion dome. There are no useless fins mounted outboard on the head. The aluminium alloy cylinder has a hard chrome liner, instead of the conventional steel sleeve, which is light and dissipates heat better. The intersting part of the porting is that behind the six-petal reed there are two auxiliary ports that feed the transfer ports directly.
This allows Honda to use a larger, more full-skirted piston without losing precious charge time to the bottom end. The caburetor is a 36 mm Keihin that feeds the 70 mm bore and 64 mm stroke engine. The piston has two rings. The larger bore than stroke tells you a lot about the characteristics of the power.
The engine weighs 56 pounds when sitting on the work bench, but the bike will hit the track with gas in it right at 230 pounds.

The seat height is 37 inches, and the bike looks and feels tall. When it is brand spanking new there is not much sag ineiither end and yor feet dangle above the ground. Later on the suspenders take some horrendous sags an dit is just like sitting on your old short-legged scoot. The bars are too wide, but they are sano chrome moly.
The throttle is quick and slick. The levers arent so great. The warm setup is to have power-bends, but they do have dust covers. Down by your feet things arent so groovy. The brake pedal isnt adjustable for height. Tall riders with gunboats for boots hated the brake pedal.
Smaller tootsies were satisfied. The pedal is forged aluminium, which is high-society, but should be made amendable to the obvious differences in both feet and boots that abound in America.
The shift lever sticks out on its lightweight hollow shift shaft and required some careful placement to get good shifts. The shift lever is prone to damage in its current location, especially with its stiff aluminium forged frame.
Bringing the engine to life means findingg the kickstarter. It is on the wrong side, based on previous Oriental machines, but Husky owners will ove it.

It works better than the Swedish left-side kickstarter, too. Choke the Keihin and kick the devil over. It fires with a cold-hearted murmur and then begins stroking nicely.
It shifts like an old Honda CR250. The lever throw is not too far, but the movement is indecisive. The tranny doesnt give off any clues as to wether you got the gear or not This would be great if you got every one, but the Honda does miss an occasional gear.
The shifting is mysterious, but 95 % effective. We’d rate it with a Yamaha gearbox.
The ratios are right-on, though.
The engine is snappy and runs on the high side of the rpm band, due in part to the over-square bore and stroke. The power is so good. If you interviewed a hundred Honda CR250R owners, the key word about the band would be that it is crisp. If you arent cooking down the track the ponies just lie there, and you know who’s at fault. The bike demands to be ridden power-on ; it makes lovely cracking snaps and dirt flies off the rear whell like a machine gun. A Suzuki or Yamaha will pull it out of a lazy, slow corner and a Can-Am will rat-a-tat-tat it down the straight, but nothing will stay with it from the middle on up. The bike isnt pipey in the dynamometer sense of the word, but in practical application, when you are doing it right, really right, the margin for error is slim.
The suspension will forgive you most of your transgressions beyond common sense. The forks are first-rate. The travel is long and supple.

After you have had the bike for two weeks or so the forks will go soft on yo. The sag can get a smuch as two inches. Honda has heavier fork springs available. Buy them and use them. The forks sont use air and we think that Honda should offer at least six different spring rates to ts customers to ensure the proper rate for every rider and application. Everybody said the rear shocks were junk, and every Honda at the track was running Fox Airshox. The Fox shocks sell for 290$ and are the ultimate setup. Even the Honda team uses them. We dont think that you need them, unless you cant bear the weight in your wallet, or are apprching the quasar speeds of Marty Smith and company. Everybody also told us that the stock springs were way too stiff, and that the Honda accessory soft springs were the only ones that worked.
Pure crap. The soft springs are so soft taht a good, fast rider clanks metal over every jump. The stock shocks are not the perfect suspenders . They work on a par with the stock shocks found on a Suzuki, and better than the stuff on a Kawasaki.
You’ll change them and feel a lot of improvement, but be prudent. Try riding the shocks until they go south. Play with a couple of springs. Use the preload adjustment. At 1495$, the Honda CR250R IS A GREAT BIKE FOR THE PRICE.

No comments:

Post a Comment