2014 Yamaha WR250R review | Dual Sport Motorcycle Review

2014 Yamaha WR250R review | Dual Sport Motorcycle Review
There are few motorcycles that resonate through the generations quite like the quarter-litre dual-sport bike. Yamaha got the ball rolling in 1968 with the iconic DT-1 Enduro, and the 2014 Yamaha WR250R is the latest pole-carrier in the 46-year-old on-and-off-road relay. Neither a dirt bike with lights nor a street bike capable of anything tougher than a dirt road, the Yamaha WR250R does a lot of things well, but one thing is great: creating fun. As a dirt bike, the 2014 Yamaha WR250R can handle USFS Triple Black Diamond Trails-place few adventure bikes, and you can link together trail systems separated by paved roads that require a license plate. On the highway, the fuel-injected little thumper can power through its two-gallon tank while cruising non-stop at 85 mph over flat terrain without a hitch. Around town, the WR250R is a wonderfully nimble machine with a 36.6-inch seat height that gives you a bird’s-eye view of your surroundings. If you need to jump a curb or two, well, the 21-inch front wheel and toe-to-toe ground clearance come in handy. But, there is a flip side to all of these attributes. In the dirt, at 295 pounds wet, the WR250R is light for a modern 250cc dual-sport bike, but heavy for an all-mountain bike (40 pounds heavier than the dirt-only Yamaha WR250F), plus the suspension is smooth and the high gear. Operated on the highway, fuel economy drops and you don’t have much acceleration in reserve at 65mph or more, plus it’s a little jumpy and windy at high speeds. In town, this seat height can be intimidating for the uninitiated under 6 feet tall. So, as with any dual-sport bike, it’s all about managing expectations and playing to your strengths. For city driving, there’s hardly any place you can’t go. Now that’s a double-edged sword, as the Yamaha WR250R tempts you to ride in places that aren’t exactly legal. If there’s that short walking path between streets, especially in a hilly area, it’s hard to resist the urge to take it. Just downshift a gear or two and hit the throttle. The WR250R’s fuel-injected engine runs flawlessly and will take you through those pothole-infested alleys, on the service road for train tracks, up or down a few steps, and between those pesky K-rails that don’t have to. only be there to keep cars out. Narrow, mobile and responsive, plus semi-knobby Bridgestone Trail Wing tyres, mean urban off-roading is great fun – just watch out for the police and don’t mention our name if you get caught. Around town, the suspension is plush enough to keep you comfortable. If you set the sag to the right, which is about 100mm, the practical seat height drops nearly four inches to a more manageable elevation. Bridgestone Trail Wings aren’t supermoto tires, but they’re predictable and comfortable. When they slip, they do so predictably. One of the tests was a high-speed 130-mile round trip on congested but fast highways in Los Angeles and Orange County. Granted, the WR250R can keep up with all but the fastest traffic. Above 85 mph acceleration is sluggish, so you lose some of your ability to dodge sloppy drivers. It leaves you vulnerable, as does the busy feel of the WR and the lack of a substantial bike under you. The seat and frame are slim – a plus off-road – so you feel like you’re on a fast bike rather than a normal street bike. This is great for threading the needle when traffic gets heavy and heavy. Brakes and tires are fine, but you have to keep their limitations in mind. It’s the WR’s weakest point, but that’s to be expected: it’s a 250cc single-cylinder! Perhaps the highlight of the WR250R is its off-road capability. Sometimes we ride dual-sport bikes more on the road, but in the case of the 2014 Yamaha WR250R, we did quite a bit of trail riding. The chassis is cast and forged aluminum, with an asymmetrical cast and extruded aluminum swingarm. Front and rear, the suspension is fully adjustable for damping and spring preload. That all sounds good, but the WR250R chassis is still only “inspired” (to use Yamaha’s word) by the YZ-F and WR-F off-road bikes. . So it’s not in the same class as KTM’s and Beta’s dual-sport bikes—they’re race bikes with lights, whereas it’s decidedly a fun trail bike that’s also street legal. The good news is that you can take it on some very gnarly technical trails. If the routes you prefer have traction issues, swap out the Trail Wing tires for real knobbies, and it’ll be the extra boost you need. There may be times when the WR250R’s EPA-restricted engine isn’t as prominent as you’d like on long, hard climbs, but those situations will likely be very rare for the typical WR250R owner. For sane trail riders not interested in training for a Hard Enduro, the WR250R is perfectly capable of hanging on in inhospitable circumstances. Now, for casual rides on those lesser trails, the 2014 Yamaha WR250R is a joy to ride. The weight is there and it never goes away, but the narrow chassis feels good and the suspension has better damping and action than you’d expect. This means the WR is demanding on technical trails and you can steer it around a turn with confidence. As the trails open up, the WR’s suspension will gobble up everything but whoops—no jumps allowed. On fast, rocky trails, again, it performs far better than any type of adventure bike or low-end trail bike. That 10+ inches of travel comes in handy, and you can tune the damping to your liking. Heavier riders will firm it up a bit – casual riders should resist the temptation to tone things down, as this will take away some of the handling accuracy. Dirt roads can be tricky unless you slip on the reservoir. Try going a little fast without Body English and you’ll quickly lose the front end. However, with your increased weight, the front holds up well, even on hard dirt with a loose layer on top. Braking is good on the street, and completely controllable and linear on the dirt. On loose descents, Trail Wing tires have their limits. Again, if you’re serious about the WR250R in the dirt, real buttons are a must. Engine protection is marginal, so consider a heavy-duty skid plate if rocks and rough riding are the order of the day. Ergonomics are excellent on the WR250R. You get an aggressive seating position, with the narrow seat and frame you want. The pegs are decent and the foot controls are impeccable. We would replace the steel bars with an aluminum pair—any bend changes would be strictly to taste. If you don’t need them for the driving you’re doing, the mirrors remove in seconds. The LCD taillight is more durable and integrated than most, and the turn signals will survive most low-speed drops. Also, a guard for the front wave rotor would be a good idea for the dirt guys. The long muffler is quiet and doesn’t get in the way, but it’s heavy and it’s a small tailpipe. Two brothers, Yoshimura, LeoVince and FMF all make great slip-on replacements. Yosh also makes a rear fender eliminator kit. The magic of dual-sport motorcycles is in their ability to do a wide range of things well, even if they still fall short of a purpose-built bike. In the case of the 2014 Yamaha WR250R, it does a number of things a little better than the average 250cc dual-sport bike. It’s a bit more expensive than the competition, but it gives you fully adjustable suspension, an aluminum frame and a fuel-injected engine—three features you only see on the WR250R. If that’s the kind of dual-sport motorcycle you’re looking for, Yamaha built it.

Photography by Kelly Callan
Driving style
Helmet: HJC RPHA-X Matte Black
Protective glasses: Progrip
Communications: UClear HBC100 Plus
Pants, jersey and gloves: Strike shift
Banana bag: Motion Pro T6 Tool Pack
Knee pads: Alpinestars Fluid Tech Carbon Knee Brace
Socks: Axo MX Keith Haring Flag
Boots: Sidi Crossfire

Yamaha WR250R 2014 Characteristics

Engine…Liquid-cooled, 4-valve, DOHC 4-stroke;
Bore x stroke…77.0 x 53.6mm
Compression ratio…11.8:1
Fuel Delivery…EFI
Ignition…TCI with direct ignition coil
Transmission…6-speed constant mesh with multi-disc wet clutch
Front suspension… Inverted fork; fully adjustable, 10.6″ travel
Rear suspension… Single shock absorber hitch; fully adjustable, 10.6″ travel
Front brake…Single 250mm hydraulic disc
Rear brake…Single 230mm hydraulic disc
Front tire…Bridgestone Trail Wing TW301, 80/100-21
Rear tire…Bridgestone Trail Wing TW302, 120/80-18
Length x width x height… 85.6 x 31.9 x 48.4 inches
Seat height…36.6 inches
Wheelbase…55.9 inches
Ground clearance…11.8 inches
Fuel capacity…2.0 gallons (CA model – 1.9 gallons)
Estimated fuel economy…71 mpg
Wet weight…295 pounds
Color…Team Yamaha Blue/White
2014 Yamaha WR250R MSRP…$6690.

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