First Test Service Honda2-Strokes
On the motocross track this was the pick: crisp steering, a light feel and a solid hit to the powerband, this is likely what Kawasaki would be building. These engines were always a little prone to pinging under a load, and we heard a bit, but overall this package seemed happy. A KX250F has great, plush suspension, but the feel is very different with the two-stroke engine. We were able to come up with settings that worked well, and that was saying something. Perris Raceway was rough with deep corner ruts on the day we were there. When we hit trails the KX was snappy and nimble, so-like any MX bike-it worked great when there was traction but required ample care in loose rocks or on skatey hardpack.Opinions
Weight: 215 lb
Of these two-strokes, the one I expected to like was the AFX, but the one I actually liked was the KX250AF. I like them all better than any 500cc two-stroke, though. While I had the CR250AFX it required clean air filters and absolutely zero other attention. The tires started to show wear, but it was nice to have a bike that was so well equipped and was eternally ready to run.Ryan Orr
Weight: 170 lb
For me, the KX250AF was the most fun on the track. The engine has good boost, and was actually better than I remember the KX250 being. The handling doesn’t lose that good feel the 250F chassis has, and we were able to dial the suspension in pretty close with the clickers. The Honda was comfortable, and the suspension was closer right out of the box, but the crushed pipe and older engine design shows. Plus, the front end just wasn’t giving me confidence, and we had excellent traction available at Perris Raceway on the day we tested.Pete Peterson
Weight: 160 lb
I rode the two MX bikes on the rough Rynoland lower track. The KX retained the retired stock two-stroke’s handling feel to me, which is that I didn’t trust the front end. The bike felt like it was stinkbugging, a sensation I got with the stocker no matter how much sag I dialed in. Also, the engine seemed a little sputtery getting on the throttle at low rpm. The Honda’s handling was very neutral, and though it vibrated the buzz wasn’t a deal breaker. The engine has power and crisp pinger response, but not so much that the bike is difficult to ride. The bike this AF would go head to head with in my mind’s shootout would be the 2009 YZ250. The red bike responds better to rider input and doesn’t have the YZ’s overly aggressive throttle response, making for an exotic that’s actually easier to ride.
Honda CR250AF And CR250AFX
Obviously, these two red bikes are meant for very different purposes, but they are the same in terms of engine tuning (2001 CR engine with 2000-style Keihin carburetor). Like the Kawasaki, the conversion is very clean, and the bikes look like they could have come from Honda this way. The X even keeps the superfluous battery to help power the lights. Service designed the bikes to take off-the-shelf FMF pipes, but the two first editions we tested needed the header hammer-clearanced to fit, and crushing the header close to the cylinder surely hampered the power. Production units will have a different cradle that will clear a production pipe. On the track the CR250AF was smoother and less abrupt than the KX. Some of the test crew wasn’t sure the two-stroke was as fast as the stock CRF250R as far as overall lap times, but for those of us watching the laps, it was clear that the two-stroke had an advantage in acceleration. When it came down to deciding which bike to keep for a longer test, the CR250AFX was the logical choice. Since all three models cost the same, the standard odometer, big tank, kickstand, easy-access filter and lights make the CR250AFX the best value for those contemplating an off-road mount. In terms of equipment, the bike is a no-brainer. Easy to service and a snap to park, the whole package makes ownership easy. Riding, though, was a little different. For conditions like those found in the East, where the trail is often a mild rut, the bike works great. It feels nimble and willing, and it easily makes a good trail pace. For flat and slippery conditions the front end washes out suddenly at times. We didn’t experiment with tires, but it feels like the bike would like more weight on the front for cornering. It handled fine in the rough and showed a more stable nature and a longer feel than a stock 250X offers.Service Honda: www.servicehonda.com; 219.932.3588
Suggested retail: $9999Jimmy Lewis
Weight: 185 lb
I was really hoping this bike would be the CR250 off-road bike that should be competing with the KTM two-strokes, but it wasn’t. It basically showed how good the KTMs have become and how even an engine as good as the 2000/2001 CR250R has aged. The bike definitely has a home-built feel to it even though the build is very sano. Most of that feel comes from what I believe is a mismatched setup or purpose. The bike has an awesome midrange hit and pull and it is fast. But it also lacks on the bottom and on the very top. The bottom-end hinders during technical riding, and you feel that the gearbox is not a wide ratio. First is tall and fifth is short. It needs a lot of clutch, and there isn’t the torque on the bottom to make it easy. Then when the power comes on it is a little hard to control since it is so fast; spinning is an issue. And when you’re in the power the bike vibrates quite a bit.The handling was just a bit off, too. I wanted more weight on the front wheel, but at the same time I was looking for a steering stabilizer. The bike has a long and stable feel, but it also has a twitchiness to the front end. It loved to go straight but knifed in a little quick in the turns. Overall, the suspension action was pretty good; I didn’t feel like I wanted to change anything here. If you’re a Honda guy and you’re a two-stroke lover, I’m sure this machine would make you happy, but being so narrowly focused will prevent you from seeing that there are better ways available. I could tune this bike into a winner, but it would take a lot of detail work, starting with the engine placement.