WHY DID IT FINISH THIRD?
You should not be surprised to
learn that Honda’s engineers aren’t
the biggest fans of MXA. To their
way of thinking, we have bashed the
CRF250 ever since the bike followed
in the same confusing footsteps as
the CRF450 in 2010. We bashed the
powerband because it is meager, and
by meager we mean it produces 5
horsepower less than the class
leaders. We bashed the CRF250
clutch because it feels like it is made
out of putty. We bashed the twin
exhaust system because it makes no
sense from a weight, cost or
performance perspective. We bashed
the CRF250’s high-speed handling
because this is a loose and busy bike
in the rough.
However, the 2015 Honda CRF250
does have quite a few redeeming
qualities. (1) Testers raved about
the Showa SFF TAC (Triple Air
Chamber) forks, which improved the
handling. ( 2) The bike is svelte, and
the ergonomics make you feel like
you are sitting in your favorite chair.
( 3) All the MXA test riders love
riding the CRF250, even though they
complained about the power, clutch,
exhaust system and sketchiness. The
Honda got third in the “2015 MXA
250 Four-Stroke Shootout” because it
is very likeable.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THE
2015 HONDA CRF250?
(1) Forks. Toward the end of
MXA’s 250 shootout, you’ll notice
that we chose winners and losers of
specific categories. The CRF250
finished second to the Yamaha
YZ250F in fork performance. In truth,
finishing second to Yamaha’s SSS
suspension is almost a victory. The
Showa SFF TAC fork is very good
once the desired air pressure is set.
It is supple and forgiving, with a
plush feel through the entire stroke.
( 2) Ergonomics. The CRF250 has
always had a familiar feel. Kudos to
Honda’s engineers for figuring out
the magical distances between the
handlebars, saddle and footpegs.
( 3) Front brake. Although not
as powerful as KTM or Husqvarna
brakes, the improved CRF250 front
brake is decent. It ranks third among
all brake systems because of its
progressive feel. We still removed the
front brake guard in order to flow
more air to the caliper, lessen brake
fade and improve access to the
balance chamber’s air valve.
( 4) Cornering. There is a caveat
to the CRF250’s cornering ability:
The CRF250 hits lines best if the
sag is set at 105mm, the forks are
lowered in the clamps, the fork air
pressure is set to perfection and the
clickers are dialed in. Fortunately,
the Showa air fork bolsters cornering
performance for 2015.
WHAT’S BAD ABOUT THE 2015
(1) Engine. The CRF250 is as
fast as a turkey in a headwind. It
isn’t just slow—it is the epitome of
slow. However, there’s a silver lining.
Due to its lackadaisical nature, the
CRF250 corners well and is very easy
to ride. The red dog has a modest
bark with no bite. In stock trim, this
bike is best suited to Novices and
( 2) Handling. Cornering is one
thing, but getting the CRF250 to
track a straight line in high-speed
situations is downright scary. There
is too much weight on the front end,
and the HPSD steering damper does
very little to help.
( 3) Exhaust. We detest the
double-muffler design. It is heavy,
prone to damage, expensive to
replace and doesn’t offer a
( 4) Clutch. It’s pathetic. Inefficient
doesn’t begin to describe the soft,
spongy and fading CRF250 clutch.
WHICH SKILL LEVEL BEST
SUITS THE CRF250?
This is a bike for Beginners,
Novices and those who want to
spend thousands of dollars hopping
up the CRF250. It is also the perfect
“professional practice racer” bike,
because it can be neglected without
skipping a beat.
WHAT ARE OUR FINAL
THOUGHTS ON THE CRF250?
The odd thing is that Honda chose
to make the CRF250 slow. They have
the technology to make it blazing
fast but don’t want to use it because
of the misguided belief that riders
need easier-to-ride bikes. We gave
it third in our shootout in spite of
Honda’s oddball powerband choice.