THE FIRST 250F SHOOTOUT, 2006: THE WRAP

In 2006, the 250 four-stroke class in motocross was finally complete with five separate brands. that year, Kawasaki came out with an all new bike–in the previous year, the KX250 and the RMZ250 were  shared in a short-lived alliance. For the January, 2006 issue of Dirt Bike, we had the first full 250F shootout. Here’s how they stacked up in that issue.

1st–YAMAHA YZ250F
For 2006, Yamaha re-engineered their ¼ liter four-stroke with a new aluminum frame and copious amounts of titanium, complimented by a rejuvenated powerband. The result is flat gnarly. The YZ250F is graced with superb suspension, a newfound lightness, the handling is stellar and the power covers the gamut of usable and competitive juice. There isn’t an F in this division that does it better.

2nd–KAWASAKI KX250F
The KX250F is almost 100 percent new for 2006, and with the new aluminum frame, Showa suspension and motor mods it makes for a combination that is lethal. The motor has a savage hit in the mid and rips all the way to the rev limiter. With all the changes and improvements the KXF nips at the heels of the Yamaha for the win. On the track the KXF250 is just a little soft out of the hole. The result, second place.

3rd–HONDA CRF250R
2006 marks a bold move for Honda. The twin piper has changes to the motor, which focused on reliability and improved bottom-end power. Older guys love the power delivery, but these bikes are being rated as race bikes, and the lack of top-end yank limits the race-ability of the machine. The CRF250R handles great and not one rider had a complaint in the suspension department. The result is third.

4th–KTM SXF250
This motor flat out rips and is no doubt the strongest in the class. If we had to pick a bike to go to the gate based on power alone, the KTM would take it hands down. The suspension is another story; it’s just not friendly and requires way more setup time than any of the other machines. Still, the faster you ride the KTM the better the suspension works. The result is fourth place.

5th–SUZUKI RMZ250
The RMZ250 isn’t a bad bike; it just didn’t get any upgrades for 2006. It did receive a few changes to the motor to improve reliability and some blue accents in the graphics. The steel handlebars sans a cross pad seem prehistoric, the suspension is unchanged and unfortunately we were never really happy with it. The Suzuki, not too far off the mark, tallies fifth.

FORK
1. YAMAHA–Best of all worlds being compliant and firm.
2. KAWASAKI/HONDA–The Showa system offers a great planted feel to the front end.
4. SUZUKI–The KYB dampers provided decent action but were harsh on small stuff, yet blows through on the big hits.
5. KTM–Harsh and falls through the travel on slow speed loads at the same time.

SHOCK
1. YAMAHA–Tractable, compliant and firm. Good stuff.
2. HONDA–A shade soft for the super serious racer, but great action and hook-up.
3. KAWASAKI–Rides a bit low, requires good rider setup.
4. SUZUKI–Run of the mill, too soft for the racer, hacky on the chop.
5. KTM–Linkless may be lighter, but KTM needs to fill-in the gaps between bottoming on low speed and absorbing track hack.

ENGINE
1. KTM–Big hit, slight vibration, lots of internal racket.
2. KAWASAKI–Great mid hit, long pulling but pretty vacant out of the hole.
3. HONDA–The best low power, great for supercross tracks. Needs more yank on top.
4. YAMAHA–Broad power with enough low, a strong mid and a good smear of top juice.
5. SUZUKI-Good spread of usable juice, just a shade off the mark set by the competition.

BRAKES
1. KTM–Strong, intense with decent feel.
2. KAWASAKI–New petal rotors offer great feel, low weight.
3. HONDA/SUZUKI- Good, strong, predictable
5. YAMAHA–Nothing horrible, just not the intensity or progression of the others.

KTM 250F = 39.4 max horsepower
KX250F = 37.8 max horsepower
CRF250 = 36.7 max horsepower
YZF250 = 35.5 max horsepower
RMZ250 = 35.2 max horsepower

HOW FAR HAVE WE COME?

Just for kicks and giggles, here’s a look at the current 250 four-strokes, as measured on the same dyno at Pro Circuit. That’s a gain of 10 horsepower in 18 years. It’s kind of like watching your kids grow up. You don’t notice that much in the moment, but when you look back, it’s amazing.

See you next week!

–Ron Lawson

 

The post THE FIRST 250F SHOOTOUT, 2006: THE WRAP appeared first on Dirt Bike Magazine.

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