A: You don’t need Sherlock Holmes to solve this
mystery. It runs just like the 2016 CRF250 did. But, that
doesn’t help you if you didn’t own last year’s CRF250. So,
here is the full skinny.
The power on the 2017 Honda CRF250 is a double-edged
sword. It is sharp on one side and dull on the other.
The sharp side. The 2016 and 2017 Hondas are the
most powerful CRF250s ever. Compared to the 2015
Honda CRF250, the 2016–’ 17 CRF250 makes 1.6 horsepower more at peak and 2. 70 more horsepower at 12,000
rpm, which is after peak. The 38. 89 horsepower number
sounds good if you limit your scope to a dream-induced
Honda-land, but if you step outside of that insular world,
the CRF250 is in a world of hurt.
The dull side. Making more horsepower than a Honda
CRF250 is not an accolade that any manufacturer should
put on its mantle. Honda’s 2017 horsepower numbers
were competitive back in 2009, but with the exception of
the Suzuki RM-Z250, none of the other manufacturers are
living eight years in the past. They have moved on. For
example, a 2017 KTM 250SXF matches the Honda’s 38. 89
horsepower at 10,600 rpm. And, the KTM isn’t breathing
hard at that rpm. Unfortunately for the CRF250, the KTM
250SXF revs to 14,000 rpm, and at 14 grand it is making
43. 76 horsepower. That is 5 horsepower more than the
CRF250. And, the shocker is that the KTM 250SXF doesn’t
make the most horsepower in 2017. The Husqvarna
FC250 makes 44. 34 horsepower, leaving the CRF250 even
farther in the horsepower dust. In dyno terms, the 2017
Husqvarna FC250 ( 44. 34), KTM 250SXF ( 43. 76), Yamaha
YZ250F ( 40. 93) and Kawasaki KX250F ( 40.06) are taking
candy from a baby.
Q: HOW FAST IS THE 2017 HONDA CRF250?
A: We aren’t telling tales out of school to say that this
isn’t a modern powerband. It turns over very quickly and
runs through its power output in half the time of the stron-
ger and broader engines in the class. You have to shift the
CRF250 constantly to stay in the narrow bubble of power.
Peak ponies are at 11,700 rpm, while the KTM and Husky
peak at 14,000 rpm, the YZ250F at 12,500 rpm and the
KX250F at 12,400 rpm. That is the double whammy. The
competition not only makes more horsepower, it makes it
for a lot longer. This engine is not fighting with Husky,
KTM, Kawasaki or Yamaha for first place; it is in a duel of
death with the Suzuki RM-Z250 to stay out of last place.
In short, it’s not fast. We don’t feel good about bullying
Big Red over its powerband choices, but we would feel
worse if an MXA reader bought the CRF250 thinking that
it was a player in the power wars. Our job is to point
out the good and the bad. We wish that every 2017 test
bike were great, but the 2017 CRF250 is an unremarkable
machine. It is, however, a decent entry-level race bike in
the hands of Beginners and Novices. It has charms that go
beyond the dyno chart.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF THOSE CHARMS?
A: Here is a quick list of attributes that the MXA
wrecking crew likes about the 2017 Honda CRF250.
Handling. Remember up above where we said that
Honda lengthened the fork legs by 5mm in 2016? They
did that to calm down the chassis, which had gone a little
too far into oversteer territory. The 5mm-longer fork legs
lifted the head tube, slackened the head angle, moved
the weight bias rearward and increased the CRF250’s
trail. The result was a calmer chassis at speed and on the
entrance to turns. It was the poor man’s frame fix. Every
MXA test rider felt at home on the CRF250 chassis. It felt
light; it felt right.
Map switch. Honda has three ignition maps that can
be selected by pressing a button on the throttle side of
the handlebars. Depressing the map button for one second
switches the ignition curve to the mellow map. This is dis-
Thanks to R&D budget constraints with
the all-new 2017 CRF450 and CRF450RX
enduro bike, the CRF250 didn’t even get
the courtesy of BNG. It’s still a fun bike to
ride...if you don’t mind going slow.