Honda’s CRF250R made a splash last year with its twin silencers. Shortly after the bike reached the eager hands of riders, attention turned to one of the red bike’s only stumbling points: a mysterious bog in the bike’s ambitious 40mm carb. Not all riders felt it, but some complained of an irritating hesitation in the power-particularly on jump landings with quick throttle openings. Some suffered through this condition, more learned to ride around it, and most never felt it in the first place. What everyone agreed on was that the super-size carb wasn’t as snappy and responsive as it could be. The guys at Honda knew this. They also had ideas on how to fix it.The big-throat carburetor got some significant changes. The accelerator pump’s linkage has been redesigned to eliminate lag between twisting the throttle and activating the pump’s squirt. The fill circuit to the accelerator pump has been refashioned to reduce the amount that g-forces affect the gas transfer between chambers inside the bowl and pump.The rest of the engine got its share of attention: a new cam and valve springs to match revised head porting and a redesigned headpipe. A little below these typical refinements something very interesting lurks. The Honda race team has been using a small vent in the bottom end that releases some of the extra pressure developed on the piston’s downward return, allowing the engine to work slightly more efficiently and therefore deliver more-and better-power. The 2007 comes with this race-team trickery.Honda didn’t ignore the rest of the bike. A new front brake lever with a rising-rate leverage ratio replaces the old falling-rate lever. There’s a new front tire, new fork valving, a beefed-up clutch basket and clutch center and a lighter chain guide.On the track, the changes add up to an improved motorcycle. The engine is much more responsive, and the bog seems to be gone. Testers who felt it last year were on the lookout for it at all times. Some felt a little something…sometimes…maybe… If you want to find the bog, you probably can. Move to the Pacific Northwest and you might find Bigfoot, too.The head and exhaust changes-presumably aided by the crankcase vent-make the 250F easier to ride and allow the rider to shift earlier. This can, in some cases, bring a shift point lower in the rpm range, giving the bike a longer pull at things. The new engine also better supports gear-high attacks on whoop sections. Overall, the midrange is healthier and easier to tap, while the top-end feels similar-good and healthy-to last year’s bike.The new front brake lever allows better modulation of already great brakes. The fork revalve makes the whole bike feel more responsive and gives it a firmer, more secure feel. The new Dunlop 742FA front tire has worked great so far on a variety of conditions and is noticeable in back-to-back riding with an ’06 742. And what about that lighter chain guide? Well, now you have less excuses not to pull huge whips off the jumps.Overall, the ’07 Honda is still the same CRF we’ve loved, but it seems more confident whereas last year’s bike ended some statements with a question mark. If you waited for Honda to work out the quirks of a big carb and twin silencers, pat yourself on the back. If anything, it got easier to ride and just one step more refined. If your wallets are thick enough to pop for one of these babies, throw the tiedowns and ramp into the truck and go get your new toy. If you’re still undecided, then wait for our upcoming 250F shootout, in which the improved Honda will defend its title against some exciting challengers.Opinions
Honda hates it when I get off the bike and say, “You made it smoother and easier to ride.” The PR guys would rather me spill out something like, “The new aggressive build of power lets the bike pull harder and really makes me haul around the track.” But I don’t work for the company’s ad agency, despite what the Internet forums claim. Honda tells us how elements like boosting the power, giving the bike a more aggressive delivery and improving the overall performance make the bike faster, greater and able to leap tall jumps in a single bound. Hey, this one pulls a little better a little lower and still has the same good top-end, so it is smoother and easier to ride. Bog? I was that guy last year, and I can’t replicate it this year. Plus, as on our ’07 CRF450R, whatever the engineers did to the fork makes the shock feel better. My biggest issue with the bike is that I really feel the stock rear tire’s carcass flexing. Just goes to show how much feel you get from the twin-piped rear end and through the aluminum chassis. I can easily change a rear tire to a stiffer one.-Jimmy Lewis/5’10″/180 lb/Vet ProI have an ’04 CRF250R and the new bike feels completely different. The ’07 feels like it has a lot more bottom-end and can jet out of a sandy corner as if it were on packed dirt. I also liked the suspension; it handled great in rough straights and fast downhills. The cornering is much improved, sticking better. On my ’04, you have to work a lot harder to corner and stay there. Powerwise, the mid pulled hard, but it seemed like I was hitting the rev-limiter before I could shift-maybe it was because I’ve been riding 450s a lot lately and I just wanted more. The braking on the bike is awesome. The front brake doesn’t lock up; it drags nice and smooth. The rear brake’s not real sticky-it just brings you to a nice, consistent stop.-Chris Dvoracek/5’11″/165 lb/IntermediateSpecifications
Claimed dry weight: 204 lb
Actual weight (ready to ride, no gas): 215 lb
Seat height: 37.3 in.
Seat-to-footpeg distance: 20.5 in.
* Bog is gone.
* Improved throttle response.
* Easier to ride fast and just plain easier to ride.
* New front tire.
* Price keeps inching up each year.
* Springs are on the light side for many of the riders who want this bike.
* You won’t stand out in the crowd.