2013 Honda CRF250R - First Impression

Story By Kris Keefer · Photos By Max Mandell

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With the economy still suffering in the Obama years, bike manufacturers have been feeling the crunch. Yes, we all love brand new models but sometimes a little can go a long way when it comes to re-building one type of machine. Honda had one of the best 250Fs out on the market in 2012 so they decided to "refine" their latest addition, the 2013 CRF250. Honda gave us a call to meet them at Lake Elsinore MX Park (the site of the final round of the AMA MX National) to get our hands on the new and improved 2013 CR 250. Here is what we thought on our first day at the track with the new red Screamer.

Honda engineers didn't want to stray too far away from their solid platform of 2012, so they improved FI settings for increased bottom end and midrange, new front and rear suspension damping, stiffer fork springs, larger piston size from 35mm to 37mm in the fork, rear shock high speed adjuster-bolt seat diameter was increased 9.5 to 11.5 and finally new generation Dunlop MX 51s that are proprietary to Honda. The rear tire itself is almost one pound lighter in unsprung weight than your standard 100/90-19 MX 51.

Out on the track I immediately noticed better throttle response and bottom end compared to last years model. The bike pulled better out of the corners and even doing practice starts I could tell that the 2013 CRF250R had more punch out of the hole. I could actually take some inside lines and clear some pretty decent size tabletops without having to go to wide in the corner. Mid to top end pull seemed to be on par with 2012 unit which is saying something. Usually getting some added power down low leaves you wanting more elsewhere. I will say that it could still use a little more top end pull through 3rd to 4th gear but the trade off is well worth it. I think that changing the gearing could actually help that by tightening up the gap between 3rd and 4th gears. The added power down low (which is just a little) makes the bike so easy to ride and actually feel even lighter. I had a smile on my face whipping it around the track.

With that being said the chassis is so light feeling and ease of direction change is really good. I could bank or pivot off of little bumps or berms to get myself into a different line in a hurry. It also has very good traction in flat hard corners and I feel like I could steer the bike with the front or rear end of the bike easily. The suspension was also really comfortable to my 165 lb frame. There are some decent size jumps at Elsinore with not so great landings and the bike never seemed to have a harsh feeling when landing on flat ground. Suspension feels balanced and it never did kick or do anything funny coming into corners or charging down straights. I will have to say that there weren't any big bumps on this day but we will get this bike on some rougher tracks very soon to give it a more thorough test.

Ergos again are top notch and you feel so comfortable right away on this bike. That is a huge thing when it comes to riders. If you are comfortable you have the most fun and can ride faster. That is important and Honda nailed that part. There is little to no vibration through the handlebars and like I said this is just an all around confidence inspiring machine. Overall the little changes that Honda did were noticeable and the only real gripe I had was that it could use a little more top end pull.

We will be taking the 2013 CRF250R to many more types of tracks and also getting it ready for the 2013 250F shootout coming soon. Be on the look out for more updates and tests coming to Dirt Rider and to www.dirtrider.com