On paper, the WR boasts impressive off-road credentials with an aluminum frame, fully adjustable fork and shock (both with 10.6 inches of travel), fuel injection and a low claimed weight of 295 lbs. Yet, specs only tell some of the story.
Immediately, the tall seat height of the bike is apparent when you get on, putting anyone shorter than six feet in tippy-toe land at stoplights. Yet, this is also gives the WR250R’s cockpit a very familiar dirt bike feel. The instrument panel is basic compared to other dual-sports and all the street-bike controls (turn signal, light, horn and run/kill buttons) seem like after thoughts since they look slapped on rather than integrated. The EFI starts the engine well when cold, but out on the trail when WR was getting hot, it didn’t start as easily.
The WR-Rs motor is peppy and is closer to the feel of a motocross bike than expected. The bottom end is hidden a bit by tallish gearing, but the bike pulls hard with a throaty surge of power all the way to the top of the rpm. On flat, dusty fire roads, a quick flick of the wrist could break the back end loose in a fun, controlled power slide. On the street, the power is zippy and has you in front of traffic with ease and the stock tires work well on asphalt as well as the dirt. That being said, the WR’s clutch lever was a hard one to pull, and the shifting wasn’t super smooth – for some reason, third gear was hard to find.
The biggest thing going against the Yamaha is it’s top-heavy feel. Both on the road and the trail, the bike just feels unbalanced and hard to turn, with its high seat height making it worse. And while the suspension would seem like a highlight, it was bouncy and moved the bike around a lot in bumpy terrain and gave it a springy ride on the road.
Overall, the WR is better for someone that spends more time in the dirt than on the street, and one of our staffers prefered the Yamaha, even with the unbalanced feel, because of the strong power and over-rev. With some time tuning and working on the suspension to suite your riding style, there is no reason this bike wouldn’t make a great on and off-roader.
• Aggressive 250F-like power and great exhaust note
• Aluminum frame lowers the weight and gives a more modern feel
• Tall gearing makes freeways and long straights not a problem
• Bright headlight for after-hours riding
• As tall as a normal dirt bike
• Skinny, hard seat – after two hours the butt needs a break
• Unbalanced, top-heavy feel
• Notchy gear box – missed 3rd gear repeatedly