The Revolution Begins: 2004 250cc Four-Stroke Shootout — Transworld Motocross

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Kawasaki Square Four 2 Stroke Prototype

The Revolution Begins: 2004 Four-Stroke Shootout

By the Testing of TransWorld Motocross

[IMAGE 1]

By a 250cc four-… can easily be the best all-around motocross category for the average rider. in the hands of a skilled racer, enough to haul around rider, and manageable enough for and play riders, a 250cc is, most importantly, a fresh to a high-revving, pipey two-… Perhaps last year’s National Champion James put it best, saying, “I don’t why anyone would ever buy 125cc two-… again,” taking his first spin on the KX250F four-….

The 2004 year is a big one for the small-bore class as not not two, but three fresh new into the class give a variety of choices when it to 250cc thumpers. For the past years, the Yamaha YZ250F has the sole 250cc four-… but this year it is joined by the CRF250R and the twin Suzuki and Kawasaki KX250F models.

Japanese manufacturer now offers a two-… and four-… bike for the class and the undeniable trend the motocross aftermarket is leaning towards the valve-and-cam set. boys and girls, the four-… is upon us.

For our comparison test, we three riders of varied and visited two distinctly different the brutally rough, natural terrain course at Cahuilla MX Park, and the Supercross-style jump-laden El MX Park facility. To create a playing field, the Suzuki, and Yamaha were outfitted Pro Taper AC-1 handlebars the Honda comes outfitted Renthal bars from the

To ensure consistent traction, excellent K742F front and rear tires were on all four bikes. Each was on hand to offer technical throughout our official two-day but we spent several additional at the track to confirm our initial Here is what we found…

2]

THIRD PLACE

Kawasaki and Suzuki RM-Z250

We’ve laughed at shootouts that in a tie, but in this case it be ridiculous to rate either the or Kawasaki ahead of the other. Well, as products of the recent merger, the KX250F and RM-Z250 for all intent and purposes, the exact machine.

Though the two bikes ran different throughout our test to different carburetor jetting is absolutely no technical difference the two, save for yellow or plastics.

[IMAGE 3]

So why did the dynamic duo in a tie for third? Well, it’s isn’t because they’re not bikes! The Kawasaki and Suzuki are machines that possess handling characteristics, great and strong motors, but neither more than third-place from any of our test riders.

the most limiting factor was in the department, as neither bike the strongest motors in the class. As we earlier, the KX250F and RM-Z250 ran different from one another. The was jetted only slightly than stock (see and possessed a fast-revving, hard-hitting that pulled well in gear.

The Kawasaki, meanwhile, further from stock and was leaner overall (again, see The result was a strong bottom-end and punch, with less up top. One thing that we throughout the test was that a two-… has a basic powerband can be idealized by jetting adjustments, a has several personalities than can be by a wide range of different settings, all of which run cleanly.

In set-up the green and yellow run great and are more than of winning athe highest but ultimately it is the red and blue bikes still run a little bit stronger. we’ve encountered some sealing problems on the engine of our test units and have similar reports from and have found that the tend to run hotter than the A switch to Engine Ice coolant alleviate the temperature problem, but more aggressive riders likely need a better solution.

Enough about the let’s discuss the handling and of the RM-Z and KX. The Kayaba suspension graces both bikes an excellent job of soaking up both and large hits, even for and/or faster riders. is definitely the twins’ strong as the bikes have a low-feeling of gravity and can be directed anywhere on the with minimal effort.

Getting the bikes to crank in a rutted corner is effortless, and the are equally adept in flat, turns as well. Both very neutral jumping and maintain a light, flickable both on the ground and in the air. the bikes are on the small side on the and while riding though the but once on the track the compact compartment is barley noticeable, for Sleestacks like Garth.

The and Suzuki thumpers are both choices and we’ve seen a few in action at local tracks and at the Furthermore, we’ve had the opportunity to try aftermarket exhaust systems and can to the fact that plenty of horsepower lurks within the

[IMAGE 4]

SECOND PLACE

YZ250F

With a three-year start on the competition, plus very noticeable improvements for we honestly expected the familiar to deny all challengers. Once back-to-back with the rest, it was the Yamaha’s overall feel kept it from pulling a victory. The undisputed King of the department, the Yamaha has a tall, feel than all three of the bikes, and it was this alone relegated it to second place.

But let’s talk about the They say that power is in the 125cc class, and the YZ250F has the hands down. Throughout the the Yamaha has it all: great torque, a gigantic mid-range and top-end overrev that satisfy even the laziest, rider.

Of the four bikes, the has the most aggressive powerband, and the punch in the upper echelons of the rpm is exclusive to the YZ alone. Jetting was in stock condition for our SoCal and the bike was easy to fire up on the kick, hot or cold. Having with aftermarket exhausts, accessories, and airboxes in the past, we that the YZ250F can be made faster when tinkered And that should be a scary for its competition…

Until the new green, and red competition showed up, we believed the to be one of the best handling bikes made. Using the Yamaha as a however, the competition was able to its overall weight but redistribute it for quicker handling. We’re not that the YZ250F feels it still handles great! In to the others, however, it feels up top and harder to coax through

Perhaps the best description a offered was that the Yamaha as if its mass were between his while the Kawasaki, Suzuki and felt as if it were between his

Suspension-wise, the Kayaba fork and that grace the YZ250F are setup for riders who fall the target weight range, but the others, it cannot be comfortably to accommodate heavier pilots. The especially, has a soft feel on landings that is only over time.

The Yamaha set the standard by which all others been measured, but unfortunately, standard has been raised. Yamaha to come back with a highly refined in ’04.

[IMAGE 5]

FIRST

Honda CRF250R

Honda its time developing the CRF250R–Ernesto first raced a prototype well over a year the highly anticipated bike is worth the wait. As a complete the Honda CRF250R is the best in the newly populated 250cc class, thanks to unparalleled and suspension, a potent engine, and quality of construction.

The CRF engine has snappy low-end throttle and a ton of mid-range power. The Honda has the most mid-range of all four and it can actually be ridden in a gear in some track conditions. the top-end pull is good, is where the Honda engine short to the Yamaha. Where the keeps pulling hard, the tends to flatten out and require the to grab the next gear.

Still, in all of the track conditions we the CRF250R motor was potent to propel the bike over all the with the same ease as the Like the YZ250F, the CRF250R no major jetting adjustments. We did with some richer to see if there was some additional to be had, but ended up returning to the settings when all was said and

We had the opportunity to try a Pro Circuit exhaust on the and were quite impressed the additional power that be had. Still, in stock the bike is 100% competitive in the department, and puts out more enough horsepower for the average

Each and every test raved about the handling and action of the CRF250R, reporting the bike was the best-cornering machine of them had ever ridden. No the track conditions, the CRF’s and rear wheels stick to the and instill nothing but confidence. Of the bikes, the Honda has the lightest, nimble feel, with the right amount of chassis that rewards an aggressive

Both ends of the Showa proved plush and compliant in and acceleration chop, yet firm medium- to large-sized hits. notably, it was tunable to suit the range of riders, from to overweight.

Ergonomically, the CRF is very to hop on and get used to, even for riders who despise the feel of Honda’s chassis. The bike feels and slim, but not too small for taller The control group is top-notch, and is to be commended for joining KTM as a manufacturer to their bikes with handlebars.

Just a few paragraphs we stated that power is in the 125cc (or 250cc thumper) Though the Honda is not the horsepower it is not that far off, and the bike’s suspension and handling are more enough to overshadow its small in the power department. It is with no that we proclaim the Honda the TransWorld Motocross Bike of the in the 250cc four-… category.

MOUNTAIN

Height: 5’10″

140 lbs.

Skill level:

Bikes recently raced/ridden: Yamaha YZ125, YZ250

rankings:

Honda CRF250R

YZ250F

Kawasaki KX250F/Suzuki

PIn my opinion, the Honda was by far the superior It was hard to find anything with the CRF; it cornered a dream and was overall faster any of the others. The motor pulled all the way from low-end to top-end ever losing any speed or

The Honda is also a great-handling Once I dialed in the suspension, the was perfect for me. I was barely out of control on the and it made250F set the standard by which all have been measured, but that standard has been

Expect Yamaha to come swinging with a highly version in ’04.

[IMAGE 5]

PLACE

Honda CRF250R

took its time developing the Fonseca first raced a version well over a ago–and the highly anticipated is definitely worth the wait. As a package, the Honda CRF250R is the bike in the newly populated four-… class, thanks to handling and suspension, a potent and overall quality of construction.

The CRF has good, snappy low-end response and a ton of mid-range power. The has perhaps the most mid-range of all bikes, and it can actually be ridden in a higher in some track While the top-end pull is this is where the Honda falls short to the Yamaha.

the YZ250F keeps pulling the CRF250R tends to flatten out and the rider to grab the next Still, in all of the track conditions we the CRF250R motor was potent to propel the bike over all the with the same ease as the Like the YZ250F, the CRF250R no major jetting adjustments.

We did experiment with some settings to see if there was some top-end to be had, but ended up to the stock settings when all was and done. We had the opportunity to try a Pro Circuit on the bike and were quite with the additional power could be had. Still, in condition the bike is 100% in the motor department, and puts out than enough horsepower for the rider.

Each and every rider raved about the and suspension action of the CRF250R, that the bike was the best-cornering many of them had ever No matter the track conditions, the front and rear wheels to the ground and instill nothing but Of the four bikes, the Honda has the most nimble feel, just the right amount of rigidity that rewards an rider.

Both ends of the suspension proved plush and in braking and acceleration chop, yet under medium- to large-sized Most notably, it was tunable to the widest range of riders, tiny to overweight.

Ergonomically, the CRF is easy to hop on and get used to, even for who traditionally despise the feel of aluminum chassis. The bike compact and slim, but not too small for pilots. The control group is and Honda is to be commended for joining KTM as a to deliver their bikes high-quality handlebars.

Just a few ago, we stated that is everything in the 125cc (or 250cc class. Though the Honda is not the king, it is not that far off, and the superb suspension and handling are than enough to overshadow its shortcomings in the power department. It is no uncertainty that we proclaim the CRF250R the TransWorld Motocross of the Year in the 250cc four-…

BRETT MOUNTAIN

Height:

Weight: 140 lbs.

Skill Novice

Bikes recently 2004 Yamaha YZ125,

Shootout rankings:

Honda

Yamaha YZ250F

Kawasaki RM-Z250

PIn my opinion, the Honda was by far the machine. It was hard to find wrong with the CRF; it like a dream and was overall than any of the others. The motor hard all the way from low-end to without ever losing any or power.

The Honda is also a bike. Once I dialed in the the bike was perfect for me. I was barely out of on the bike and it made me feel a hero because I could it wide open in sections I normally wouldn’t.

This was by far the bike for me.

The Yamaha YZ250F in second over the Suzuki and mainly because of the motor. The and Kawasaki have a bigger hit, but they don’t as hard or as strong as the Yamaha. The is harsh for my weight, and it tends to in the corners.

It isn’t as confidence-inspiring as the Kawasaki or Suzuki in the turns, but it jump and land well.

The and Kawasaki both corner well and the suspension was easy to in for my weight. The motors are good, but not as great as the Honda or Yamaha; I might ride those two I would buy a pipe for the Kawazukis away. Both of the bikes are a hard to shift under and they just don’t as solidly-made as the Honda. Still, I that all four of the bikes are and they have forced me to my opinion of four-… bikes.

I still prefer two-strokes, I did away from this with a newfound appreciation for

JED HERRING

Height: 6’1″

160 lbs.

Skill level:

Bikes recently raced/ridden: Suzuki RM250, 2003 CRF450R

Shootout rankings:

YZ250F

Honda CRF250R

KX250F/Suzuki RM-Z250

For me, the Yamaha YZ250F has the best package. The Yamaha has the best for sure, and power is the most thing when racing the class. The motor pulls and hard throughout the powerband, it seemed to fall off a little bit on tracks.

The YZ250F wasn’t the handling bike of the bunch, but it bad enough to change my mind picking it first. The bike the front end a little bit in corners, but it handle big bumps and hard well. It doesn’t handle as as I want it to in the small choppy but that can be dialed in with a

Overall, I was most comfortable on the throughout the shootout, and I would buy it any of the others.

The Honda CRF250R was the bike by far. The suspension is and predictable: smooth in the small and firm in the big stuff. The bike very well in all conditions and I was the comfortable jumping the CRF. The was good but not great; it was lacking in comparison to the YZ250F. Where the makes up for handling, it loses in

That is why I picked the Yamaha the Honda; power is king in the class.

The Kawasaki and Suzuki ran from each other, didn’t really make I actually liked the way the Suzuki ran than the Honda, but the way the Kawasaki was didn’t really do a thing for me. The handle well, maybe better than the Yamaha.

I rail corners on the Kawasaki and like the bikes were on and jumping them was confidence especially when seat-bouncing

MICHAEL YOUNG

Height: 5’ 7″

155 lbs.

Skill level: Pro

recently raced/ridden: 2003 RM125/RM250

I rate the Honda first because I felt on it immediately. Within a lap or so, it felt it had been my personal bike for months. The thing that out in my mind most is how well the handles and how light it feels. It feel like a big, fat I could whip this further than I have whipped any other thumper, and I lay it over in corners just I would my two-… race

The motor is strong, but it could use a more power. Still, the handles so well that it my hands-down favorite. I could this bike in stock and do well in the pro class.

The Yamaha got only because of the overall of the bike. The motor is still the out there, but I never felt as while riding the bike as I did on the three bikes. The Yamaha is to turn and it feels big and bulky.

how before I rode the new 250cc I used to think that the handled great! In comparison to the new it feels liike a YZ1000 in the and in rough sections.

I like the Suzuki RM-Z250 and the Kawasaki because they handle so The suspension was not as plush and predictable as the but the bikes did work very on the jump track at El Cajon. on both bikes is like a come true; I could up the outside line or slide the inside like Jay Springsteen. I that there isn’t a bad in the 250cc four-… class, and all four bikes can be winners in the hands.

For me, however, the Honda was the that did it all.

Pick a Any Powerband

While the Honda and Yamaha YZ250F seemed to perfectly jetted right out of the we did plenty of experimenting with the KZ250F and Suzuki RM-Z250. though the green and yellow are identical, the carburetor settings each respective manufacturer arrived at produced radically results. For our sea-level location, is what we ran, and what the produced…

Fast-Revving, Hard-Pulling

TK pilot jet

TK needle (TK) position

2 _ turns out on air screw

Kawasaki Square Four 2 Stroke Prototype

Torquey response, big mid-range

TK pilot jet

TK (TK) clip position

2 _ out on air screw

(END SIDEBAR)

like a hero because I ride it wide open in that I normally wouldn’t. was by far the best bike for me.

The Yamaha came in second over the and Kawasaki mainly because of the The Suzuki and Kawasaki have a initial hit, but they pull as hard or as strong as the The YZ250F is harsh for my weight, and it to push in the corners.

It isn’t as as the Honda, Kawasaki or Suzuki in the but it does jump and land

The Suzuki and Kawasaki both very well and the suspension was to dial in for my weight. The motors are but not overall as great as the Honda or while I might ride two stock, I would buy a pipe for the right away. Both of the are a little hard to shift power, and they just feel as solidly-made as the Honda.

I think that all four of the are awesome, and they have me to rethink my opinion of four-… Though I still prefer I did come away from shootout with a newfound for thumpers.

JED HERRING

Height:

Weight: 160 lbs.

Skill Intermediate

Bikes recently 2003 Suzuki RM250, Honda CRF450R

Shootout

Yamaha YZ250F

Honda

Kawasaki KX250F/Suzuki RM-Z250

For me, the YZ250F has the best overall The Yamaha has the best motor, for and power is the most important when racing the 125cc The motor pulls long and throughout the powerband, though it to fall off a little bit on faster The YZ250F wasn’t the best bike of the bunch, but it wasn’t bad to change my mind about it first.

The bike pushes the end a little bit in corners, but it does big bumps and hard impacts It doesn’t handle as well as I it to in the small choppy bumps, but can be dialed in with a revalve. I was most comfortable on the YZ250F the shootout, and I would buy it before any of the

The Honda CRF250R was the best-handling by far. The suspension is nice and smooth in the small stuff and in the big stuff. The bike corners well in all conditions and I was the most jumping the CRF. The motor was but not great; it was lacking low-end in to the YZ250F. Where the Honda up for handling, it loses in motor.

is why I picked the Yamaha over the power is king in the 125cc

The Kawasaki and Suzuki ran differently each other, which really make sense. I liked the way the Suzuki ran better the Honda, but the way the Kawasaki was jetted really do a thing for me. The bikes well, maybe even than the Yamaha.

I could corners on the Kawasaki and Suzuki the bikes were on rails, and them was confidence inspiring, when seat-bouncing stuff.

YOUNG

Height: 5’ 7″

Weight: 155

Skill level: Pro

Bikes raced/ridden: 2003 Suzuki

I rate the Honda CRF250R because I felt comfortable on it Within a lap or so, it felt like it had my personal bike for several The thing that stands out in my most is how well the bike and how light it feels. It doesn’t like a big, fat four-…! I whip this bike than I have ever any other thumper, and I could lay it in corners just like I my two-… race bikes.

The is strong, but it could use a little power. Still, the bike so well that it remains my favorite. I could race bike in stock form and do in the pro class.

The Yamaha got second, only of the overall feel of the bike. The is still the best out there, but I felt as good while the bike as I did on the other three The Yamaha is hard to turn and it big and bulky. Funny how before I the new 250cc four-strokes, I used to that the YZ250F handled

In comparison to the new bikes, it feels a YZ1000 in the turns and in rough

I like both the Suzuki and the Kawasaki KX250F because handle so well. The suspension was not as and predictable as the Honda’s, but the bikes did very well on the jump at El Cajon. Cornering on both is like a dream come I could blow up the outside or slide through the inside Jay Springsteen.

I think that isn’t a bad choice in the 250cc class, and that all four can be winners in the right hands. For me, the Honda was the bike that did it

Pick a Powerband, Any Powerband

the Honda CRF250R and Yamaha seemed to come perfectly right out of the crate, we did plenty of with the Kawasaki KZ250F and RM-Z250. Ironically, though the and yellow bikes are identical, the settings that each manufacturer technician arrived at radically different results. For our location, here is what we and what the settings produced…

Hard-Pulling Power

TK pilot jet

TK (TK) clip position

2 _ out on air screw

Torquey throttle big mid-range

TK pilot jet

TK needle clip position

2 _ turns out on air

(END SIDEBAR)

f the overall of the bike. The motor is still the out there, but I never felt as while riding the bike as I did on the three bikes. The Yamaha is to turn and it feels big and bulky.

how before I rode the new 250cc I used to think that the handled great! In comparison to the new it feels like a YZ1000 in the and in rough sections.

I like the Suzuki RM-Z250 and the Kawasaki because they handle so The suspension was not as plush and predictable as the but the bikes did work very on the jump track at El Cajon. on both bikes is like a come true; I could up the outside line or slide the inside like Jay Springsteen. I that there isn’t a bad in the 250cc four-… class, and all four bikes can be winners in the hands.

For me, however, the Honda was the that did it all.


Pick a Any Powerband

While the Honda and Yamaha YZ250F seemed to perfectly jetted right out of the we did plenty of experimenting with the KZ250F and Suzuki RM-Z250. though the green and yellow are identical, the carburetor settings each respective manufacturer arrived at produced radically results. For our sea-level location, is what we ran, and what the produced…

Fast-Revving, Hard-Pulling

TK pilot jet

TK needle (TK) position

2 _ turns out on air screw

throttle response, big mid-range

Kawasaki Square Four 2 Stroke Prototype
Kawasaki Square Four 2 Stroke Prototype
Kawasaki Square Four 2 Stroke Prototype

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