08 October 2011

Fun Bike - Yamaha WR250X

Two weeks ago, I bought another motorcycle. Yes, I really did and I know it's crazy. It falls under MBS (Multiple Bikes Syndrom), a condition some people have that does not allow them to own just a single motorcycle.

Ah, enough about me, what about the bike? A photo first:

My new to me Yamaha WR250X

I was looking for a bike for dirt riding for quite a while. Didn't admit it early, but I really wanted one. But, I wanted one that is also street legal and a nice ride on back roads. Something versatile and fun, still capable to ride dirt roads, single tracks, trails, fire service roads and so on. It was all about the things I couldn't or wouldn't want to do with my BMW. So, it had to be light weight, not too expensive (when dropped), dirt oriented. 

One of the bikes that came to mind was the Suzuki DR200SE Andrea had earlier. But it has two really big downsides: First, a carburetor which clogs up with the crappy ethanol contaminated gas we have here in California if you let the bike sit for a few weeks - which might happen. Second, it was a bit short on power with it's 20HP (at crank and on paper, big thumb calculation and seat-of-pants feeling says around 15HP at the rear wheel at max on good days). It was sometimes a bit scary on a highway as it would go over 60 mph but it certainly took it's time and it really didn't like it there all too much. All the same is true for the Yamaha XT250 or XT225.

Next a Kawasaki KLX250S came to mind. This also has a carburetor but it scores around 20 to 21 usable rear wheel HP, at least 25% more - getting close. Carburetor still was an issue for me. 

I never considered the Suzuki DRZ400 as I wanted a smoother motorcycle, not a vibrator ... and I also never considered the 650cc class - these are too heavy for what I was looking for and the available models from the Japanese companies in the US are also technically very outdated, you could say "dinosaur like" outdated.

My criteria were:
  • around 130kg wet weight
  • around 30HP (crank, hopefully around 25 to 30 rear wheel)
  • fuel injection
  • not too bad with regard to vibrations
  • high quality suspension
  • good after market support
I immediately discounted all things KTM, Husqvarna, and whatnot as too esoteric.

Given all this, there was actually only a single bike on the market that might do it for me - the  Yamaha WR250R (or X with a second set of wheels). Now, here we are getting close. I would have loved this bike in a 350cc or 400cc package but that's not available and so I was absolutely willing to get a 250. 

The street legal Yamaha WR250 comes in two versions: a supermoto style WR250X with street wheels and tires, slightly tighter suspension setup, stronger front brake, and the dirt style WR250R. I was mostly looking for the R model but as the components are pretty much interchangeable I also included the X in my search. And lucky that I did as there were much more X models available. My most hated dealership around the corner here, the Honda dealer in Sunnyvale, had a 2009 WR250X in black, 5000 miles, $5000. But true to their normal style that was about $800 over Kelly Blue Book dealer retail price for a 2009 model with half the miles and better condition and I told them this. They wouldn't move so I told them to stick ... ah, lets not get into details. But all the better, I wouldn't have wanted to buy from these guys anyways - they always try to rip you off, and proved this all over again.

Kept an eye on Craigslist and suddenly, there it was: a white 2010 WR250X (yeah, not an R, but, so what), 790 miles, lowered with Yamalinks but original links included, stock plus a low seat, Renthal handlebar and softer grips, axle sliders front and rear, Graves free flow exhaust tip (Damn - is there someone out there who wants to sell me their OEM spark arrestor / exhaust tip?) custom decals. All together for less than the older model at the dealer that had 4000 miles more ... 

Only downside: it was sold in Los Angeles. Hmmm, did I say downside? What's better then buying a bike and immediately going on a road trip? Even if it is a short one! So, talked to the seller, agreed on price and what was included, booked a flight to L.A., picked the bike up and rode it home via the beautiful California coast (Highway 1). 

Somewhere along Highway 1 - Big Sur or so

Gave it a first service to make sure everything is nice and in order and now it sits here in the garage happily next to the two GSs. Ha! 

Custom Decals

It really is a surprisingly capable bike. Today I put it through its paces - Black Road, Skyline Blvd, Alice's Restaurant for breakfast, down on Page Mill Road and back home. Chased a Honda 900RR something or other (looked like a very nicely stripped CBR900RR with super bike bars, Ducati hand guards with bar end mirrors, and so on) down Page Mill Road and didn't have all too much trouble keeping up. He wasn't a bad rider or a beginner or so, he rode very technical, shifting his weight for corners properly, but he couldn't use the abundance of four times the power compared to my little one. 

What can I say? The WR250X is an insanely fun bike to ride. Surprisingly powerful and quick, light steering, good suspension (though it got wobbly in some spots on Page Mill, might have some setup to do), good road tires. The tires are now scrubbed in all the way around - not like they were when I picked it up: a one inch strip that was never used and still slippery.

Oh, and one of the best things: so far I'm averaging 3.7L/100km (64mpg). With a best of 3.3L/100km (70mpg) and never really bad. And that was all while not taking it slow.

There are a few things I want to do with the bike though:
  1. Get a set of dirt wheels / tires. 21" front, 18" rear. Something not too knobby, but a 60:40 setup like the Heidenau K60 or Metzeler Enduro 3. Maybe even a Dunlop D606 
  2. Get a rack for soft luggage (very likely Wolfman). 
  3. Get a rear top rack (have one sitting here now, need to install it).
  4. Install some strong hand guards and possibly heated grips.
  5. Maybe make the seat more comfortable. Not sure how yet.
  6. Install a larger fuel tank. What did they think installing a 7.4L (1.9 gallon) tank on that thing? That's ridiculous! 125 to 140 miles range is all.
  7. Install a holder for my GPS.
  8. Get either a Spot Tracker or a Personal Beacon.
Then I plan on some excursions into California's back roads and deserts. We'll see whether I can find some time for it.


  1. Personally I like the Supermoto style (and the fact that I could get my feet on the ground while sitting on it), but you definitely need to dress it up for the desert. Well, if you can't make it there, it will still be an excellent little commuter bike, almost like a Vespa ;-)

  2. Hehehe, yeah.

    But I still try to commute by bicycle. And with a Vespa I wouldn't be chasing sport bikes on Page Mill Road ... I'd scrape the floor board ... (yes, I have done that with my PK50XL)

  3. Nice.

    So have you kicked it over onto the ground yet? Because that's what's going to happen if you really ride it in the dirt... Unless you're the second coming of Cyril Despres...

  4. ;-)

    Not yet. But I probably will fairly soon ...

  5. I have a 2008 WR250X. Downsized from an FZ1 and loving every minute. I can make use of its 100% potential instead of riding cautiously on a 1000cc motorcycle. Handles very well, especially over poor roads but can also keep up on highways. Great around town, as a commuter, or for a fun w/e ride, but not for a 100+ mile cruise. Highly recommended!

    1. That was the main reason why I loved this bike in street outfit so much.