The 2014 Honda CRF250 has the distinction of receiving the second-most updates
for the new model year (the Yamaha
YZ250F is totally new from the
ground up). Honda lowered the
frame spars, increased the engine
dual-timing programmed fuel
injection, strengthened the
transmission, added a secondary
muffler, tweaked the suspension and
tucked the whole kit-and-caboodle
into a modified CRF450 chassis. We
forgive you for thinking that the
sheer number of changes would
automatically result in a bike that
feels supremely different from the
machine it replaced. Wrong. If you
liked last year’s CRF250, you will still
like last year’s bike better.
There is no kind way to say
this—the 2014 Honda CRF250 is the
slowest bike in the class. Luckily for
Honda, slowness has its advocates.
MXA test riders were pleased to
discover that they could ride the
CRF250 as hard as humanly possible
and never get tired. The soft engine
also put less strain on the clutch and
load on the suspension. Though the
CRF250 powerplant isn’t a fireball,
its upside is that it is easy to use.
37. 25 horsepower at 11,200 rpm.
The 2014 CRF250 retains the same
level of comfort and familiarity in
the ergonomics department, along
with the sharp handling and light
feel, we’ve come to expect from
Honda. However, every MXA test
rider thought that Honda took a step
backward with the 2014 model. How
so? Let us count the ways.
(1) Engine. An exceptional
powerband for Beginners, the
Unicam engine is very meager
through the midrange and into the
top end. Apparently, Honda is
catering to slower riders.
( 2) Suspension. The CRF250
retains Showa’s 48mm cartridge fork
and Pro-Link shock, which isn’t a
complaint; however, the suspension
is too soft for anyone faster than a
Novice or heavier than 160 pounds.
( 3) Philosophy. Honda must
know that they are making 4
horsepower less than the YZ250F,
KX250F and 250SXF—and, if this is
true, then they are building mellow
engines on purpose. But what would
the purpose be?
It pains us to rank the Honda
CRF250 last in our shootout, because
not so long ago it won the “MXA
250 Four-Stroke Shootout” (2009). As
it sits in 2014, the Honda CRF250 is
an excellent Novice or Beginner bike.