The Honda CRF250R was all-new last year and was well received for its nimble chassis, plush suspension, and high-revving engine. One of the main critiques about the bike was its lack of bottom-end power, so Honda made some calculated changes to the 2019 engine to try and give it some low-end grunt while maintaining the bike's midrange and top-end power. With the 2019 250F MX Shootout right around the corner, we took the updated Honda CRF250R to Fox Raceway in Pala, California, to give it a first ride shakedown.

Honda CRF250R
The Honda CRF250R was all new last year and Honda made a few key revisions to the bike for 2019, namely the engine.Mark Kariya

Engine

The 2019 engine features new intake and exhaust port geometry, a new cam profile with the valve closing time being reduced by two degrees, and a new 44mm throttle body, all of which are designed to improve low-end power. To help maintain the engine's top-end power, the right-side exhaust pipe has been shortened by 50mm (approximately 2 inches). The final two changes made to the CRF250R powerplant are a new piston oil jet for improved piston-cooling efficiency and an all-new AC generator designed to reduce friction and decrease weight.

DOHC engine
To help maintain the DOHC engine’s top-end power, the right-side exhaust pipe has been shortened 50mm (approximately 2 inches).Mark Kariya

The changes Honda made to the engine did exactly what they were intended to do. The DOHC motor has improved low-end power over the 2018 model, without sacrificing its strong midrange and top-end. The increased bottom-end power lessens the need for the rider to slip the clutch excessively when cornering, especially upon exit while accelerating and grabbing gears. It also makes clearing jumps that are right out of corners easier as well. The meat of the powerband is still on the top-end, but it’s easier to ride and not as much of an all or nothing powerband like the 2018 model was.

exhaust port geometry
The engine also received new intake and exhaust port geometry, a new cam profile with the valve closing time being reduced by two degrees, and a new 44mm throttle body, all of which are designed to improve low-end power.Mark Kariya

Suspension

The CRF250R’s Showa 49mm coil-spring fork and Showa shock are excellent. Both units lean slightly more toward a performance-based feel but also maintain plushness throughout the entirety of the stroke. The fork and shock have a plush feel on small chop and have good bottoming resistance as well. The front end can feel a bit twitchy at times, but we’ve found that going two clicks stiffer on compression helps get rid of this sensation yet doesn’t sacrifice comfort.

CRF250R
The CRF250R powerplant has improved low-end power over the 2018 model without sacrificing its strong midrange and top-end.Mark Kariya

Chassis/Handling

The CRF250R chassis enjoys several revisions in 2019 with an updated top triple clamp with two clamp locations, a new front brake setup, a revised front brake hose, newly shaped footpegs, a black Renthal Fatbar, a new skid plate, redesigned fork guards, and black rims.

Honda CRF250R
The increased bottom-end power lessens the need for the rider to slip the clutch excessively when cornering, especially upon exit while accelerating and grabbing gears.Mark Kariya

The CRF250R is one of the best-handling bikes in the class. It corners phenomenally and can change directions on a dime. Straight-line stability is decent, but it can occasionally be a bit twitchy on very rough parts of the track. The Honda’s ergonomics are arguably the most comfortable in the class. For that reason, the CRF250R is easy to hop on and get used to quickly. The new handlebar has a lower bend than last year’s model that is more agreeable and allows the rider to get forward on the bike more easily.

Showa suspension
The Showa suspension components lean slightly more toward a performance-based feel, but also maintain plushness throughout the entirety of the stroke.Mark Kariya

Conclusion

The Honda CRF250R’s complete redesign was a success last year. The chassis handled better, the suspension was plusher and more simple to set up, and the engine was better suited to the high-revving riding style of most 250F riders. The main complaint was that it lacked low-end grunt. Honda went back to the drawing board, improved the engine in this area, and didn’t take anything away from the other parts of the powerband. The engineers also improved the ergonomics and adjustability with the lower handlebar and two clamp locations. Honda has done an excellent job of taking a bike that was already very good and addressing the areas that could be improved upon.

Renthal Fatbar
The new Renthal Fatbar is has a more agreeable bend and allows the rider to get forward on the bike more easily.Mark Kariya
Honda CRF250R
Increased bottom-end power and improving upon ergonomics that are arguably the best in the class make the Honda CRF250R better than ever in 2019.Mark Kariya

TECH SPEC

PRICE $7,999
ENGINE 249cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 5-speed/chain
MEASURED HORSEPOWER N/A
MEASURED TORQUE N/A
FRAME Aluminum twin-spar
FRONT SUSPENSION Showa 49mm inverted coil-spring telescopic fork adjustable for compression and rebound damping; 12.0-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Showa shock adjustable for spring preload, high/low-speed compression damping, and rebound damping; 12.4-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Nissin single 260mm disc w/ twin-piston caliper
REAR BRAKE Nissin single 240mm disc w/ single-piston caliper
WHEELBASE 58.3 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 37.8 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 1.7 gal.
CLAIMED WEIGHT 237 lb. wet
AVAILABLE Now
CONTACT powersports.honda.com