Bike Review

2015 Yamaha WR250F

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Every now and then a bike comes along that you just can't wait to throw a leg over, well to be honest I don't think there are any new model bikes that I would not love to throw a leg over, but every now and then a bike comes along that has a little more intrigue for some reason.

The WR250F certainly fits into that category for myself, which is a little odd as I do not do a great deal of trail riding, not that I don't enjoy hit the bush and the trails, it comes down to the fact that where I live it is much easier for myself to hit a local MX track than it is to travel a couple of hours to the bush to hit a trail.

The only real trail riding I have done over the years has either been racing a round of the South Australian Off-Road Championship, some local pony express races and the occasional bike launch.

So it begs the question, why was I so keen to ride Yamaha's new quarter litre bush weapon as soon as I heard about it?

I think the number one reason, was due to the fact that early signs pointed to it being a YZ250F with a headlight, which in a lot of ways it is, the YZ250F is a bike I have ridden on a few occasions now and a bike I thoroughly enjoyed, mainly due to the amazing engine.

Combine that with the fact that if I was going to buy myself a dedicated bike for the bush I would rather head towards something a little smaller than a 450 Enduro bike, though the few 250F Enduro / trail bikes I have ridden in the past have been a little underpowered to say the least, yet hitting some tighter trails in competition aboard a 250F motocross bike has been a blast.

So before we get into how we actually found the new 2015 Yamaha WR250F, lets have a quick look at what separates this all new small bore four-stroke trail bike from Yamaha's YZ250F



For a full run down of specification for the 2015 WR250F and more technical information https://www.yamaha-motor.com.au/promotions/motorcycle/wr250f-game-changer

At first glance the 2015 WR250F looks exactly like a 2015 Yamaha YZ250F with a headlight, tail-light, side-stand, engine guard / bash plate and a full set of wrap around hand guards bolted on. The bikes also come with all other necessary ADR compliant features including indicators, reflectors, rear-view mirrors and number plate holder, though for our ride they had all been removed.

The bike is a nice looking bike, though the engine guard is a little bulky looking and looks a little out of wack compared to the clean lines of the bike, though it is a good and very necessary addition to the bike, however if you are one that is all about the look of your bike, you will more than likely be hitting your local dealer for an aftermarket bash plate.

Throwing a leg over the WR250F for the first time it felt identical to sitting on the YZ250F which was comforting, with the only difference when looking forward being the tidy looking little odometer along with the switch block on the bars and the all important electric start button!
If you are looking for some epic trail riding adventures hit up Boris and the guys from Detour Guided Trail Bike Tours you won't be disappointed with the variety of terrain you will traverse
We were lucky enough to have two full days of riding to get a feel for the 2015 Yamaha WR250F around Coffs Harbour in New South Wales with Borris and the great guys from the Detour Guided Trail Bike Tours leading us over every type of terrain you could think of.

Setting off from the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour we spent a few minutes heading on the tar before heading into the bush. The first thing I noticed about the bike was how quiet it was and that it felt a little restricted in the engine department. While th engine for all intense and purposes is the same that is found in the YZ250F, the combination of a the stock mapping combined buy a very restrictive stock exhaust left me to think thin initially that this was not quite the fire breathing 250F enduro bike I was hoping it would be, though that would change later in the day.

Hitting the single track for the first time the bike felt very good, it was responsive and certainly hooked up a treat in all conditions, from the dry dusty hard pack, to the leaf covered single trails and the green dirt! While the power was not quite what I was expecting there was more than enough to keep my 100kg frame moving forward. The only negative I could find early on the first day was being caught between gears on a lot of the up-hill climbs and, finding myself continuously flicking between second and third gear quite a bit.

Early on the opening day we also had the opportunity to cut some laps on a fresh grass track at Detour head quarters. The track was a wide open grass track on a hill with plenty of off-camber corners combined with long sweeping bends and high-speed straights.
The Grass Track at Detour headquarters provided to the perfect opportunity to test out the six speed gear box and how the bike handled at some higher speeds - Credit: Ikapture
The track provided the first opportunity to flick up and down through the entire six speed gear-box that is another change from the motocross bike, as the YZ250F runs a 5 speed box. The gear box was flawless, with smooth shifting between gears combined with a very light feeling clutch, maybe the lightest clutch pull I have felt on a cable clutch.

Once again the engine was good without being breath taking and I was still finding myself between gears through a few of the slower turns.

So what was it going to take to turn this solid but somewhat mild 2015 WR250F engine into the powerful engine we found on Yamaha's YZ250F? Well as it turned out all it took was the GYTR exhaust and a slight mapping change from Yamaha's EFI Engine Tuner.

Yamaha had one bike on hand that had a GYTR muffler bolted on in place of the stock unit and was also running a more aggressive power map. I was able to get my hands on this bike early on the second day of riding, and did not hand it back until late on the second day!

The muffler that retails for $495 made all the difference and quickly had the 2015 WR250F moving exactly how I thought it would from the start. The power of the bottom was the big improver and all of a sudden I was able to hold third gear in some of the tighter turns and every uphill sections became either a tight 2nd gear climb or a third gear straight climb, there was no more clicking up and down gears constantly.

At last I had found the engine I was expecting, the same power plant that left me with a huge smile at both the 2014 and 2015 Yamaha YZ250F launches.

The only downside for myself jumping on the bike with the GYTR muffler was it meant going back to the stock suspension settings!
Coming from a motocross background, logs and water crossings are not really my thing, but the WR250F had the confidence levels running high - Credit: IkaptureLog image
The 2015 WR250F is a great handling bike. Heading into the two days of riding with very little riding under my belt after spending the previous month on the couch, I was certainly a little rusty, but from the get go I found the new WR very easy to turn and for the most part a very comfortable bike to ride.

The only issue I was having early was a lot of feed back from the front end, I could literally feel every single bump, especially on the longer faster sections, with quite a lot of chatter coming back through my hands.

At just over 100kg there is no doubt that I am a little heavier than a typical 250F rider and with the relatively soft fork springs the bike was a little soft for myself personally. The good news was it was only a matter of increasing the ride height in the rear and stiffing up the front fork a little and it made the world of difference, with the changes suggested by Dirt Actions Damien Ashenhurst eliminating a lot of the chatter I was feeling and quickly made the riding an even more enjoyable experience.

It was not until I jumped back on the WR250F with the GYTR muffler and stock suspension settings that I realised just how much the changes we made to the shock and fork on my bike had really made which once again highlighted just how good and versatile the SSS fork on the Yamaha really is, there is certainly nothing wrong with the spring fork as far as I am concerned.
Overall the 2015 Yamaha WR250F was a great bike that will have small bore trail bike riders smiling - Credit: Ikapture
Coming from a motocross back ground the majority of enduro/trail bikes I have ridden have always felt a little wider and heavier across the front of the bike. The Yamaha WR250F obviously felt a little wider than normal between the legs, but certainly did not have the usual heavy feel at the front that I have felt with other enduro bikes.

When I say the Yamaha feels wide across the tank, it is not crazy wide and of course no wider than the YZ250F, it is just the natural shape of the new generation Yamaha's and it is not a bad thing as it makes it easier to grip the bike with the legs on the tight technical sections where you need to stand up.

The handling and feel of the bike instilled a lot of confidence and while I am not about to go find any deep rocky water crossings, or waste high logs to launch over, I did not problem negotiating any of the small rocky water crossing that we encountered or the handful of logs which were bigger than anything I had ridden over before.

Conclusion

I would be lying if I said I could grab one straight off the shop floor and be 100% happy, though the changes needed to make me completely happy with the bike are so minimal that I would not think twice about them.

The first thing I would do would be purchase an after market muffler to free up the engine and unleash the power that sits within Yamaha's new WR250F power-plant. From there it would just be a matter of having the suspension set up for my weight, and if I was feeling a little vein, throw in a different Bash plate purely for the cosmetic look, certainly not for function as the standard bash plate proved to be more than up to the task.

Overall the 2015 WR250F was a very confidence inspiring very enjoyable bike to ride, A bike that I could spend days on end riding in the bush and hitting trails on and would gladly add to my shed as my trail bike, with the addition of a GYTR muffler!

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