When I first learned that 2007 would be the last year for Honda’s CR250R two-stroke, my jaw dropped in utter amazement. How in the world could a manufacturer simply abandon such a legendary machine? After all, the CR250R is the very same bike that Jeremy McGrath rode to his first 250cc supercross win, and it was also the first machine to complete a true backflip, courtesy of Carey Hart. Additionally, the Honda CR250R was the steed of choice for champions such as David Bailey, Jeff Stanton, Rick Johnson, Jean-Michel Bayle, Kevin Windham and Ricky Carmichael, who all recognized the bike as one of the greatest off-road motorcycles ever built. However, the recent proliferation of four-strokes and Honda’s unwavering business plan have deemed the CR250R’s days officially over. Still, I’m not quite convinced that this bike is obsolete enough to be completely written off. But then again, I’m not a financial analyst for Honda, either.Here is where I attempt to prove the remaining value of the bike and all two-stroke 250s, too. After picking up our test unit from Honda, I headed straight to Competitive Edge MX Park in Hesperia, California, for some setup motos. Honda’s stock jetting seemed to fit the bill perfectly on this day, which was a welcome surprise due to the CR250R’s notoriously picky carburetor. All day long, the crisp bark of the 250cc motor was a sharp contrast to the cacophony of rumbling thumpers that monopolize the tracks on a regular basis. Experienced two-stroke riders know that in order to ride this bike fast, you need a generous throttle hand and plenty of momentum-both of which the Honda craves. Aside from some light detonation (immediately fixed by a splash of mixed race gas in the tank), the engine made immense traction, torque and (most important) that sweet, endangered sound of straight-up two-stroke horsepower. Some minor adjustments of the suspension-I set the sag, sped up the rebound one click in the rear and stiffened the fork a click-landed my best settings, and the CR’s aluminum frame provided the familiar combination of stability and confidence. By the end of the ride, I felt right at home on the red machine, and I don’t think I could have gone much faster had I been on a four-stroke. Satisfied with the results, I feel that my hard day of track riding proved that the unchanged-for-’07 250R is still a great motocross bike.Several more rides and two weeks later, I found myself sitting aboard the CR250R on the starting line of the ’06 Maxxis Endurocross. What better way to prove the hard-core trail-riding prowess of a machine than in front of a large crowd? With the help of a trials tire mounted on an 18-inch rear wheel, a Works Connection glide plate, radiator braces and a set of Cycra hand guards, the machine was quickly transformed into a potent woods bike. Not only that, but it also managed to holeshot each one of my heat races with relative ease.Balanced and predictable, the suspension and power are extremely well suited to tackling low-traction logs and massive rocks, with the lightweight action of the bike’s nimble handling bringing the same feeling of control that the 250R displays on the MX track. I managed a third-place finish in the Open 16-25 age-group main event, and not even the smashed pipe could wipe the grin off my face at the end of the race.It was at this point that I laughingly reminded myself that in order to truly evaluate the full capabilities of the 250R, it would be my duty to huck it into a sport that is still completely dominated by two-strokes: freestyle. After mutilating the subframe, seat and airbox of a bike that doesn’t even belong to me, I swapped the trials tire for the stock 19-inch, replaced the bashed-in pipe and removed the hand guards. It should be noted here that the mechanical ease in which the CR can be maintained stands well above that of contemporary bikes (read: four-strokes). There are no valves to adjust, no cam chains to tighten and the chance of putting a rod through the cases on the 250R is about as likely as your being hit by a bolt of lightning while winning the lottery. The bike is simple-just a usable powerhouse inside of a well-designed chassis-and it doesn’t take much to see increased performance through modifications. For example, cutting gaping grab holes in the airbox does wonders for throttle response!After years on the FMX circuit piloting a Honda 250 two-stroke, it didn’t take very long to adapt to the flight patterns of the ’07. The 70-foot gap at the Resen Lab freestyle compound was handled with a fat burst of second-gear speed, and slight misjudgments in distance on my part failed to push the suspension past the point of comfort. And remember that stability I was talking about? The solid aerial stance of the Honda frame provides a great platform from which to swing, hang, fling, flick and stretch in midair. There are reasons that most freestylers prefer Hondas: They are consistent as heck, and I have yet to fly one that didn’t feel right at home on the lip of a ramp. The motocross crowd may have been quick to discard two-strokes, but snatching the bike from the hands of freestylers will require the prying of more than a few cold, dead, tattooed fingers.This test may have been slightly unorthodox, but I feel it helped show that there is still a lot that can be done with 250cc two-strokes. I know they are still hugely popular on the East Coast, and there is no denying that many trail and play riders refuse to quit mixing their gas. Did Honda realize what it was doing when it pulled the plug on its line of two-strokes? Absolutely. If anything, this move shows the confidence the Red Riders have in their four-stroke technology. But this doesn’t make me any happier with the company’s decision. Dealerships nationwide still have plenty of CR250Rs on the floor, yet they have the potential to sell faster than one might think, and there are no replacements in reserve. On behalf of every rider who has ever happily owned a CR250R; Stanton and Bailey, and the countless other champions who have had success on the bike; my fellow freestyle vandals; and the innumerable riders who are sad to see this bike go, I would like to say one last good-bye to Honda’s infamous CR250R two-stroke. At least I still have my enduring hope that someday, somewhere, we may see this noble bike rise to the top once again.What’s Hot
Extremely versatile: works for off-road, moto and FMX.
Solid chassis with great suspension.
Strong motor pulls hard everywhere.
Excellent brakes and controls.What’s Not
Finicky carburetor requires spot-on jetting
Motor detonates on pump gas.
As of 2008, this bike will no longer be made.Specifications
Claimed weight: 213 lb
Actual weight (ready to ride, no fuel): 219 lb
Seat height: 35.4 in.*; 37.6 in.
Ground clearance: 10.7 in.
Seat-to-footpeg distance: 20.9 in.
Fuel capacity: 2.0 gal.
Freestyle seat height