This is how we set up our 2016 Honda CRF250 for
racing. We offer it as a guide to help you get your
own bike dialed in.
SHOWA SFF-TAC FORK SETTINGS
Last year Honda only put Schrader valves on the
inner and balance chambers. This year they added
a Schrader valve to the outer chamber and even
suggest putting air in it. What’s the benefit of air in
the outer chamber? The outer chamber can be used for
bottoming control. Last year’s recommended air pressures were much higher (174 psi inner and 170 psi balance) than this year’s 156 psi. Our 2016 test bike came
with a sticker on the left fork leg that lists the recommended air pressures. But, more important, the sticker
has a glyph that must be used to determine which
air pressure goes where. Without the pictogram-style
glyph, you will most likely put 156 psi in the Schrader
valve that requires 12 psi. For hard-core racing, these
are MXA’s recommended 2016 Honda CRF250 fork
settings (stock settings are in parentheses):
Inner chamber: 156 psi
Outer chamber: 8 psi ( 12 psi)
Balance chamber: 156 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.
SHOWA PRO-LINK SHOCK SETTINGS
Here is what the MXA wrecking crew ran in its
2016 CRF250 (stock settings are in parentheses):
Spring rate: 5. 3 kg/mm
Race sag: 105mm
Hi-compression: 2-3/4 turn out ( 3 turns out)
Lo-compression: 10 clicks out ( 10 clicks out)
Rebound: 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. ❏
Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?
A: The hate list:
(1) 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 assume
that good things will naturally follow on the racetrack.
Strangely, they don’t.
( 2) Dual mufflers. At least they look cool, but they
are more detriment than boon.
( 3) 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.
( 4) Chain. From whence the phrase “weak link” comes.
( 5) Head-shake. When the CRF250 gets twitchy in
the rough, it will require your best jazz-hands imitation
to keep up with it.
( 6) Frame cradle. Imagine a motorcycle that doesn’t
sit flat on a stand. The frame cradle is to blame.
Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE?
A: The like list:
(1) Target audience. Honda isn’t going to tell you
this, but the 2016 Honda CRF250 is at its best in the
hands of Beginners and Novices. Faster riders can muscle
the bike around with impunity, but muscle is what this
engine lacks—in a class that is all about strength.
( 2) Ergonomics. The CRF250 feels comfortable regardless of your stature. The CRF250 ergonomics are quite
pleasing right off the showroom floor. An open cockpit,
narrow frame, neutral handlebars and flat seat profile are
creature comforts that are well-liked by every tester.
( 3) Front brake. Still not up to the KTM/Husqvarna
pedigree, the 260mm oversize front rotor has better bite
than the old brake.
( 4) Forks. The only major quibble about the Showa
SFF-TAC forks is that the average rider will not fully
understand the intricacies of setting and checking
multiple air pressures before every ride.
( 5) Engine Mode Select. Options are always nice, as
are brightly colored flashing lights.
( 6) Durability. The CRF250 takes a licking and keeps
( 7) 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: My how the mighty have fallen. The juxtaposition
of Honda and KTM on the priority scale from 10 years
ago to today is startling. If you believe that the meek
shall inherit the earth, look no further than KTM and
Honda. The top dog is now looking up to the puppy it
used to push around.
Flashing lights: We run the aggressive mode. It doesn’t make
more horsepower, but it feels crisper.