Y2K 250 Motocross Shootout
The Main Event!
While a few of the bikes were better in one type of corner, the Yamaha offered a better all-around package for getting quickly through the turns. The YZ will stick in the tightest rut or rail the fast outside berm with ease.
No changes other than raising the forks in the triple clamps by 3mm were made and all the evaluators were impressed with the YZ's cornering prowess.
The Honda came in a close second because some of the lighter testers felt that the front end pushed on fast, flat turns.
The Suzuki was excellent in the tighter turns, garnering comments like "sticks in and rails," but the testers generally regarded it unforgiving on the faster sweepers because the hard-hitting motor made it hard to control.
Everyone felt that the Kawasaki wasn't very solid in the corners and that the only way to get the KX to turn well was to force it into a rut. If there wasn't something for the Kawi to rail against, the KX's chassis never felt settled.
Finishing Order: Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki
|MO Betta Bikes|
Every bike in the test is good as delivered, but even the best bikes could stand to use a little polishing. We've given a few of each bike's strong points and made mention of the weakest part of each bike's performance as well.
Honda CR 250: Has Universally loved motor, Balanced suspension, Best ergos of the bunch. Needs more mid-range snap.
Yamaha YZ250: Has quick-adjust clutch lever, Best cornering bike around, Responsive motor. Needs more bottom-end power.
Suzuki RM 250: Has tight corner carver, Snappy motor, Balanced chassis. Needs Front Fork fix.
Kawasaki KX 250: Has super-plush suspension, Bottom-end monster, Reversible bar-clamps. Needs fix suspension.
We took into account each brake system's build quality, overall stopping power and resistance to fade. The Honda took top honors in this category because the Nissin brakes it has fitted proved to be unflappable in any situation, generating comments like, "industry standard for feel and control," and "stops on a dime." The Yamaha was a close second with excellent, precise feel. However, when the same amount of lever pressure was applied, the Yamaha's Nissins lacked the outright stopping power of the Hondas units.
The Suzuki had effective brakes but, despite the ample stopping power, some testers complained of a soft feel at the lever. The Kawasaki's rear brake was on par with that of the other machines, but the front brake was noted for its inconsistent feel. Two riders even encountered severe brake fade late in the test session at Glen Helen.
Finishing Order: Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki
Before we hand out awards for our Year 2000 250 Motocross Shootout, it needs to be said while even though we have a clear-cut winner, no matter which bike you chose every machine here will put a smile on your face. Each bike is extremely close in performance, and what we've essentially done is nit-pick and split hairs to come up with a single winner in a group of winners.
By this point you've already got a good idea that one bike stands taller than the rest. That machine is the Honda CR250, and every tester was unanimous in this respect. This is especially amazing considering that two years ago, once the aluminum-frame-hype died down, the CR was generally regarded as a mid-pack finisher at best, with the Kawasaki taking top honors.
The CR's fit and finish is top-notch and the only complaints about were from pros who'd like to feel a little bit more hit in the mid-range for clearing obstacles out of corners, as well as from flyweights who couldn't compress the spring on a 20-year old lounge chair let alone the springs in the CR's fork.
The ergos were the most comfortable and it was the easiest in which to accurately adjust the suspension. The entire machine is a well-balanced package -- everything worked in unison.
"Every bike here is a winner and, as one rider remarked, 'pick your favorite color and you'll be happy'."
The Yamaha YZ-250 took second place and nearly matches the Honda in every category, even surpassing it in a few. It is an extremely potent overall package with many cool features and, with minimal effort, is able to go fast under almost every rider. There's no real flaw in the Yamaha's ointment and, with just a bolt-on or two to tailor the bike to your personal style, it's easy to win on any track. The RM250 Suzuki came in third and even though it's a bike that straight out of the crate can win races a few problem areas need to be addressed.
The easiest fix would be to add a bit more mid- to upper-range power and fix the suspension with minor tweaks to the valving. This is accomplished easily with aftermarket mods, but since this is a stock-bike comparison, the RM needs a little work in order to roll with this crowd.
It's a competent package right out of the box and it's only in this tough company that its minor flaws are noticed. At the top of the heap a few years ago, the Kawasaki KX25 now finds itself trailing, even if only by the slimmest of margins.
Don't get us wrong; the KX is an excellent bike that offers more than what vast majority of riders will ever be able to handle, but in this company the stock KX failed to stand out.
The Kawi's main flaw is the suspension: Our evaluators never could quite dial it in. We spent a lot of time chasing the right suspension settings but we were never completely satisfied. Maybe our testers were too picky. Maybe the KX was already as good as it was going to get.
Still, every bike here is a winner and, as one rider remarked, "pick your favorite color and you'll be happy." You might also want to consider dealer support and contingency programs -- especially if you plan on competing.
Numerically speaking, the Honda wins here, but which bike wins under your bum is up to you. Hopefully we've given you the tools to make that decision easier.