MXA’S 2018 HONDA
CRF250 SETUP SPECS
This is how we set up our 2018 Honda CRF250 for
racing. We offer it as a guide to help you find your own
SHOWA A-KIT SPRING FORKS
Honda hit the nail on the head with the valving and
spring rates on the Showa A-kit coil-spring forks. The
initial settings were almost spot-on, although the forks
rode down in the stroke a bit. We added a few clicks
of compression to hold them a tad higher. Some of the
riders also dropped the forks in the clamps 2mm to
lessen oversteer. If you are experiencing oversteer, the
Mr. Fix-It steps are to first drop the sag and then drop
the forks. For hardcore racing, these are MXA’s recommended 2018 CRF250 fork settings (stock settings are
Spring rate: 4. 6 N/m
Compression: 7 clicks out ( 9 clicks out)
Rebound: 13 clicks out ( 14 clicks out)
Fork-leg height: 3mm (5mm)
Notes: The forks worked well for 140- to 210-pound
riders. Ride with these forks before you send them to
your suspension guru. You might just be surprised how
well these forks work for your weight and skill level.
They are much better than the comparable forks on the
SHOWA SHOCK SETTINGS
We set the race sag at 107mm to lower the overall
bike height and stiffened up the low- and high-speed
compression a few clicks to make it ride higher in its
stroke. For hardcore racing, these are MXA’s recommended 2018 CRF250 shock settings (stock settings are
Spring rate: 52 N/m
Race sag: 107mm (105mm)
Hi-compression: 3-1/4 turns out (3-1/2 turns out)
Lo-compression: 9 clicks out ( 11 clicks out)
Rebound: 7 clicks out ( 8 clicks out)
Notes: The shock is consistent. It doesn’t do anything
out of the ordinary. Lighter riders under 140 pounds will
want to stick with the stock settings.
The Honda was able to lose weight in the engine
and frame for 2018, but then it gained weight everywhere
else. The math does not balance the books. The weight
lost doesn’t come close to the weight gained on the 2018
CRF250. Last year’s 2017 CRF250 weighed 224 pounds,
which put it next to last in its class. With Honda going
from air to spring forks, adding an additional exhaust port/
spigot/flange and head pipe, adding an electric starter, and
using the double-overhead-cam layout, the 2018 CRF250
comes in at a whopping 228 pounds. That’s 6 pounds
heavier than the KTM 450SXF and 10 pounds more than
the 2018 KTM 250SXF. Honda has a lot of work to do, but
it can be done because the KTM 250SXF weighed 231
pounds in 2014. The Austrians whittled 13 pounds off their
porker 250 in four years.
Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?
A: The hate list:
(1) Engine. We are tickled pink that the new engine has
been hitting the gym, but it skipped leg day. A 250F engine
needs more than just top-end power to be competitive and
user-friendly. This is a one-trick-pony engine.
( 2) Weight. This bike needs its own weight class. There
is no nice way to say “tub of lard.”
( 3) Covers. Both the paint on the ignition cover and
clutch cover become scratched on the first ride. Honda
should switch to brushed aluminum.
( 4) Cooling. Our 2018 CRF250 used water every time
we raced it—at an alarming amount.
Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE?
A: The like list:
(1) Handling. This bike handles intuitively.
( 2) Forks. The Showa A-kit forks work great for a wide
range of riders. They do many things right and nothing
( 3) Tires. We love the Dunlop MX3S front and rear tires
that come standard.
( 4) Maps. The three different maps are all distinctly
different and functional.
( 5) Ergos. Everyone loves the feel of this bike.
( 6) Clutch. This clutch has a soft, easy clutch pull and
can take a beating when compared to last year’s clutch—
although it’s not nearly as durable as KTM and Husqvarna
( 7) E-start. We love being able to start a bike with the
push of a button. Honda just needs to find a lighter way
to utilize it.
Q: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK?
A: We want to love this bike; we really do. It does
many things well and some things great. But, there are
two things that spoil the 2018 Honda CRF250 for us—the
powerband and the weight. Maybe a CRF450 rider can live
with added tonnage, because a 450 has an excess of power
to haul the baggage around. But, the CRF250 doesn’t have
any horsepower to give up. It is already almost four horses
short of the amazingly light KTM and Husky. Finally, we
cannot live with an engine that does not have a usable
powerband. The CRF250 engine is so one-dimensional
that it gives up all the good stuff for a top end that isn’t
good enough. No matter how you slice it, the 2018 CRF250
needs more meat in the middle of the powerband to make
its top-end power efficient from gear to gear. Without it,
the yellow, blue, green, white and orange engines have a
big advantage out of every corner.
This bike is superb at turn-in. The chassis is effortless to get
into corners. Every rider loved the handling of this bike.