This is how we set up our 2017 Honda CRF250 for
racing. We offer it as a guide to help you get your own
bike dialed in.
SHOWA SFF-TAC FORK SETTINGS
When SFF-TAC forks first appeared on the CRF250,
the owner’s manual suggested 174 psi in the inner
chamber, 170 psi in the balance chamber, and they
didn’t even include a Schrader valve for the outer
chamber. For 2017 they recommend 156 psi in the inner
and balance chambers and 8 psi in the outer chamber.
These new numbers are right in the ballpark. Our test
bike came with a sticker on the left fork leg that listed
the recommended air pressures. But, more important,
the sticker had a glyph that must be used to determine
which air pressure goes where. Without the picto-gram-style glyph, you will most likely put 156 psi in the
Schrader valve that requires 12 psi. For hardcore racing,
these are MXA’s recommended 2017 Honda CRF250
fork settings (stock settings are in parentheses):
Outer chamber: 8 psi ( 12 psi)
Compression: 6 clicks out
Rebound: 18 clicks out ( 24 clicks out)
Fork-leg height: Flush with top clamp
Notes: Focus on getting the air pressure dialed in
for your weight and track. Leave the clickers in the
stock positions until you have the perfect spring rate,
then move on to the clickers. Don’t obsess over the air
SHOWA PRO-LINK SHOCK SETTINGS
Here is what the MXA wrecking crew ran in its 2017
CRF250 (stock settings are in parentheses):
Spring rate: 5. 3 kg/mm
Race sag: 105mm
Hi-compression: 2-3/4 turns out ( 3 turns out)
Lo-compression: 10 clicks out
6 clicks out ( 8 clicks out)
Notes: The shock is very sensitive to high-speed
compression. Every rider should go in 1/4 turn on the
high-speed compression. Heavier riders should set the
sag at 100mm instead of 105mm. ❏
This is a Novice engine. No shame in that. The vast majority
of riders are Novices, they just don’t want anyone to know it.
Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?
A: The hate list:
(1) Chain. From whence the phrase “weak link” comes.
( 2) Head-shake. When the CRF250 gets twitchy in the
rough, it will require your best jazz-hands imitation to keep
up with it.
( 3) Frame cradle. Imagine a motorcycle that doesn’t sit
flat on a stand. The frame cradle is to blame.
( 4) Engine. When you see the list of changes that
Honda’s engineers made to the 2016 CRF250 engine and
the added top end on the dyno chart, you automatically
assume that good things will naturally follow on the racetrack. Strangely, they don’t.
( 5) Side panels. It’s tough enough to install preprinted
numbers on a flat number-plate panel, but two side panels,
both with complex curves, defy putting on wrinkle-free
number-plate backgrounds. Good luck.
Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE?
A: The like list:
(1) Novices. The 2017 Honda CRF250 is at its best in
the hands of Beginners and Novices. Obviously, faster riders will either abandon the CRF250 or break out the credit
card to buy real power. We suggest not spending money
on hopping-up a CRF250, because your bank account isn’t
big enough to make it as fast as a KTM is on the showroom floor.
( 2) Front brake. At 260mm, it is big, but size isn’t
everything. The Honda front brake is not up to the standards set by a KTM brake.
( 3) Forks. The only major quibble about the Showa
SFF-TAC fork is that the average rider will not fully understand the intricacies of setting and checking multiple air
pressures before every ride.
( 4) Engine Mode Select. Options are always nice, as
are brightly colored flashing lights.
( 5) Durability. The CRF250 takes a licking and keeps
( 6) Steering stem. We go all in on the HPSD steering
damper clicker, but don’t be afraid to crank down on the
steering-stem nut also. Tighten it until excess slop is gone
when applying light pressure to the bars.
Q: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK?
A: There was a time when Honda owned the motocross market. It didn’t matter what flaws a bike had; if
it was red and said “Honda” on the tank, it sold. All that
changed in 2009 when Honda replaced the fabled 2008
CRF450 with an ill-conceived set of frame-geometry numbers that must have been drawn out of a hat. Eight years
later, Honda’s reputation has yet to recover from that
faux pas. The CRF250 went down with the ship because
it didn’t gain a single solitary horsepower from 2009 to
2015. And by the time it did up the ponies, it was 5 horses
and 6 pounds down to bikes with better brakes, stronger
clutches and electric starters.