Third: KTM250: This is a great bike. It makes great power all over and corners great. It sits a bit too high for me. I had to make a lot of changes to the fork and shock; they were way too stiff. The fit and finish on this bike is great, and the air filter is super easy, no tools. Also, it's very quiet when you ride it. Top-shelf with every part on the bike!Second: KX250F. This bike was really good. It had a lot of power out of the corners and was easy to fly over doubles right out of the turns. The fork and rear end worked very well at the stock settings for me. The only thing I think would help this bike is to raise the seat height or lower the triple clamps. I felt like I sat very low on this bike. The KTM and the Honda sit high and I like that.First: CRF250. I owned a 2007 CRF250R, and right out of the box it was the best bike I have had! The 2009 feels very similar to that bike. It makes easy-to-ride power that goes wherever you want and tracks great. The front and rear work well for my weight, and the stabilizer works very well on fast straightaways. Again, the fit and finish on this is much like the KTM, both of this bikes feel more solid than the rest.
Weight: 145 lb
Vet Novice****OPINIONS THAT WERE INCLUDED IN THE PUBLISHED MAGAZINE TEST
When it comes to throwing down my hard-earned loot on one of these machines, it would be the Honda CRF250R. However, this isn't my favorite '09 250F; that honor goes to the Kawasaki. I found the KX-F to be the best overall package of engine performance, handling ability and overall potential, and with a little suspension setup and some time in the saddle I could really get into riding this bike. The Honda is a close second but was held back in my ranking by the soft side of the suspension, which felt like it was valved a bit squishy and was consequently hard to put full confidence into in the turns. However, I'd buy this machine over the KX-F simply because I have more confidence in Honda durability and parts/modification availability.I was expecting the KTM 250 SX-F to do well in the shootout but was still surprised at how darn good the bike felt; you truly could race this machine straight out of the box. The suspension and handling felt better to me than they ever have on an orange model, and if it weren't for a few quirks (such as the somewhat-heavy feel, unfamiliar ergos and slightly far-out clutch friction point), this bike would likely be my top pick.For me, the RM-Z250 sits one spot ahead of the Yamaha because I simply feel more comfortable on the yellow machine. Balance and stability are two words that kept popping up in my Suzuki notes, and at the end of the day this is another one of those rides that, with a little tuning, could be super competitive with anything else on the racetrack.Although I like the Yamaha a lot and feel bad giving it "last," I struggled to get comfortable on this machine. Be it the track conditions on our test days or just the alignment of the stars, I was never able to fully click with the YZ-F. However, I know that the blue bikes are solid in the long run, which would bump the YZ-F up over the Suzuki if it were my money on the line. But as far as overall ranking in terms of hands-down performance and personal preference, my list is green, red, orange, yellow and blue.
Weight: 155 lb
IntermediateWith only slight changes to this year's Honda CRF250R I was a little worried if they would be enough to keep this bike as a top contender. My biggest issue with most bikes comes down to suspension; if it does not work right, you'll get tired or you just cannot use the bike to its full potential. Over every obstacle the CRF's suspension worked great, always maintaining a smooth and confident feeling. Although the Honda did not have the best motor, the handling, feel and suspension made it able to use all its horsepower to its full potential.As soon as you snap the throttle on the KX250F it sounds like a monster; hands down it is the loudest stock bike in the 250F clan, but with all that noise there is definitely power to match. This KX-F will pull harder than all of the other bikes. It is snappy, torquey and just flat out quick. This motor package is what really makes the Kawi shine. Coming off of each bike I would usually have some issue with one jump on each track, but as soon as I hoped on the KX-F I could sail over the jump with ease. Along with such a great motor, handling and suspension, everything else on this bike works awesomely. Right out of the package this bike has all of the characteristics of a race bike.