2010 250F MX Comparison - Dirt Rider Magazine

Like the motorcycles that we test, the modern magazine shootout is constantly evolving. It used to be that Dirt Rider's role was to gather a particular class of bike, test each machine until the knobbies wore off and then print a best-to-worst ranking that praised the winner and mocked the loser. Not anymore. These days, we still conduct our shootouts by testing each bike until the knobbies wear off, even then we'll swap tires and ride them some more on different rubber, just for grins. We also still do our best to pick a distinctive winner, but this is becoming incredibly difficult to do as each successive model year is introduced. As you know, any motocross machine with "2010" stamped next to its VIN is a highly developed, thoroughly tested piece of equipment that has been built on lessons learned and feedback provided by legions of loyal customers, sponsored racers and well-trained test riders. Given the enormously competitive market and each manufacturer's relentless yearning for your hard earned money, modern motocross bikes have gotten good. Really, really good. So good, in fact, that we can hardly decide on the "best" of the bunch, much less determine an overall ranking. Because of this, Dirt Rider's function as shootout conductor has developed from that of decision-maker to information-giver. Our job now is to tell you everything there is to know about these bikes, describe who we think they would be best for and then let you make the final call. We still pick a winner for old time's sake based on our personal opinions and those of our test riders, but at the end of the day there's only one person who can tell you what the best bike for you is. Dig in.How We Tested

As is usually the case with a Dirt Rider shootout, our 250F comparison began with five race-ready, equally ridden machines with approximately 12 hours on the engines and fresh tires (Dunlop Geomax MX51) on the rims. Prior to the official start of the shootout, two of these very bikes-the Yamaha and the Honda-had appeared on Dirt Rider's cover, and all had received first tests or riding impressions in the magazine and on our website. Although we knew these bikes well before the comparison we had never ridden them all on the same day, and dawn of shootout morning at Adelanto's Racetown 395 was the first time that all five of these machines had been together in the dirt. For test riders, we had an extremely solid group of proven evaluators provide opinions on the first day: Longtime DR testers Tyler Ruiz, Nick Foister and Alfredo Contreras, Supercross regulars Ricky Yorks and Tye Hames, staffers Chris Denison and Jesse Ziegler, Mini Rider graduate Chris Plouffe, local fast kid Daniel Van Der Ziel and X Games whipper-snapper Myles Richmond. The rest of the DR staff-along with veteran test riders Chris Barrett, Ryan Orr and Kris Keefer-provided additional opinions. Following the main portion of the shootout, the bikes were tested further in order to confirm our opinions and see how they worked in different conditions.

Honda CRF250R

The 2009 CRF250R didn't exactly knock our socks off, but its well-rounded package almost earned Honda the overall '09 shootout bragging rights. This year, the mid-sized Red Rider was completely transformed into an all-new, CRF450R-inspired package that features a surprisingly strong lineup of improvements over the previous year's machine to make it the most wildly altered bike in this shootout. A totally revised engine, single-muffler exhaust, redesigned frame, new front and rear suspension and-wait for it-electronic fuel injection are among the main features to grace the Honda. The CRF looks great on paper and received rave reviews in our first test, but in a comparison this close it's hard to predict how anything is going to fare until you go back-to-back with the rest of the class.Engine

  • The only EFI-equipped machine in this shootout, the CRF250R enjoys flawless throttle response and instant, crisp delivery.

  • "Broad" and "smooth" were two of the most commonly used words by our test riders to describe the CRF250R's powerband. The entire range is exceptionally useable for both novices and pros.

  • The CRF's power pulls well into the mid-range and beyond to the hugely powerful, extremely healthy top end. Throughout all of our testing, not one rider complained about this bike flattening out!

  • A few of our heavier test riders commented that they wouldn't mind if the Honda had a bit more low end pull, though they also pointed out that they wouldn't want to sacrifice the bike's stellar mid-range and top end, nor did they want to alter the engine's smooth behavior down low.

  • As far as gearing is concerned, the Honda has the highly coveted ability to either be short-shifted and pull a gear high or be revved-out in a lower gear. Only one rider-not long out of the 85cc class-felt as though he had to shift it a lot to stay in the power.

  • The Honda has great clutch pull and shifts very well. This tranny rarely fights going into gear under a load.Chassis

  • The CRF250R's chassis is comfortable for riders of all sizes, and the handlebar has a good stock bend to it.

  • On the track, the Honda has a maneuverable, fairly lightweight feel compared to some of the other machines in its class. From carving up jump faces to switching lines, this CRF is certainly compliant.

  • With minimal vibration and just enough flex, the all-new 2010 frame has made the bike, in the words of one tester, "easy to ride."

  • Of all the 250Fs, the Honda is one of the easiest to lean over in corners. It tracks well upon entry and does a solid job of putting power to the ground, even when the tire is leaned over on the shoulder knobs.

  • For some, the CRF250R has a slightly tall feeling, meaning that the center of gravity feels a bit higher than some of the other bikes. It does not have the stinkbug feeling that some felt on the 2009 CRF450R.

  • The adjustable steering damper is a great touch. We hovered right around the stock settings, and found that tuning it makes a difference in front fork feel as well as the expected stability.

  • Not everyone is a fan of the CRF's plastic. The side panels don't offer a ton of room for numbers, and some think that the shroud and front fender make the entire bike look "stinkbuggy". Also, it's possible to catch your boots on the radiator shrouds.Suspension

  • All together, the Honda's "shorty" rear shock makes for a very stable ride in bumps and chop. You can typically plow the bike into some of the bigger bumps on the track without having to worry about any kicking or swapping.

  • Both the fork and the shock have a compliant initial portion of the stroke that lets the machine settle into ruts and turns without blowing through or bouncing out of the line.

  • Slower or lighter riders may find that the front Showa fork feels a little stiff with the stock settings. At higher speeds and through really rough sections, this can translate into a busy feeling in the front end. Stiffening the steering damper helped to diminish this feeling. On the other hand, fast pros may find that the front end dives on abrupt deceleration.

  • Only our heaviest (and, coincidentally, fastest) test riders wanted to stiffen up the shock on the CRF205R. In stock form, they simply described the suspension as "plush".

  • Bottoming resistance is great on both ends of the Honda. Mistimed jumps aren't an issue, and the bike soaked up some pretty hard hits with fantastic results.Why The Honda CRF250R Should Win

  • This bike is lightweight and maneuverable without being unstable.

  • The smooth, strong power is a favorite among riders of all sizes and abilities.

  • Fuel injection. Need we say more?

  • A great stock suspension platform complements the well-balanced frame.

  • Did we mention how great the top-end power is?

  • You can now share parts with the CRF450R!Why It Shouldn't Win

  • Heavier riders wanted more hit off the bottom.

  • This is the most expensive bike in our shootout at $7,199.

  • Front fork can seem stiff for lightweight or slower riders and slightly soft for high-level pros.

  • You either love the plastic or you don't.Should I take a deal on a 2009?

  • If you're thoroughly afraid of FI tuning or have an unnatural fondness for jetting.

  • Remember, the 2010 frame gets rid of the '09's nervousness.

  • Are two mufflers better than one?

||||| |---|---|---|---| |Honda CRF250R| |Fuel Injection|Stock|DR| |FI Setting|Stock|Stock| |SUSPENSION|STK|Int./Pro|Beg./Nov.| |Fork| |Steering Damper:|7|7-9|5-7| |Compression:|13|13|13| |Rebound:|8|8|8| |Shock| |Low-Speed Compression:|7|5-7|7| |Rebound:|10|10|10| |High-Speed Compression:(Turns out)|1 1/4|1 1/4|1 1/4| | Sag (mm):| 105| 105| 105| **Jesse Ziegler

5'10"/ 175 lbs/ Vet Intermediate

Current bike: Hopefully the 2010 Honda CRF250R**It's 2010. Get your checkbook ready and go buy a Honda CRF250R. It's really a no brainer if you ride all the machines back-to-back. While some Honda haters have a weird taste in their mouth from this chassis in the 2009 450, I feel the 250F's design is a perfect fit. It's almost like they built the perfect 250F chassis and used it on the 450, too. The bike doesn't feel nervous, has great suspension and is the most enjoyable bike to ride in the class. If someone tells you it doesn't have power, know that they're not twisting the throttle. Look at the lap times if you still doubt. Oh, and if you remember how much fun a 125 was to ride, you'll freak out when you get that immediate response out of a tractor like this new red ride.Second-through-fifth is a close call although the Kawasaki's motor edges out the Yamaha's stability and consistency just a bit for the second spot. The KX isn't as loud as its older brother but it still has that white-trash rasp and clapped out look much too soon. The Yamaha is a new motor away from winning. Just look at the motor! It honestly looks out of place in the new bike and I'm sure somewhere in Japan there's a nice backwards cylinder that slides right in. Then things will get interesting, eh?The KTM handles better than last year's bike, it has equal or better power and somehow it still didn't win or make everyone happy. I guess if you ride orange already, it won't matter what I say here because the bike is sweet for sure as its quality is outstanding and the dealer loyalty matches it. I simply can't get the balance figured out on the bike just yet and I'm spoiled by their 450.Ah, the Husky. I ride the TC250 for longer motos than all of these MX bikes. Why? Because it's incredibly easy. The bike is my favorite to corner-in any corner-and I even go one-handed through long sweepers because both ends stick like glue. The bike never does anything weird other than get out-paced out of the hole. My first impressions are still the same: Fix the starting and give it some pick-up in the power and I've found a new race buddy. The near DNF from the shootout wasn't very confidence inspiring but that's what product updates are for, I guess.

Kawasaki KX250F

As the winner of the past two Dirt Rider 250F MX shootouts, the Kawasaki KX250F came into this year's comparison with very little to prove. A solid machine with a great track record, the '09 KX250F was simply revised and revamped for 2010, though quite a few small changes took place throughout. Among the most significant revisions are the new piston, radiator, exhaust header and transmission, as well as a host of minor changes to the engine and chassis. But is it enough for a three-peat in this super-stacked category?Engine

  • At sea level, the stock jetting on the Kawasaki is outstanding. This bike doesn't have fuel injection, but some say that it doesn't need it. We changed our jetting a bit for 3000 ft.

  • The bottom to mid-range power is awesome and allows the bike to accelerate hard out of sharp turns and right off the line.

  • Most like the hard initial hit of the KX250F, it is class leading.

  • This machine signs off immediately when it hits the rev limiter, which almost every one of our test riders complained of being too low in the power spread. However, this is more noticeable on wide-open tracks than on tighter courses, and the engine will easily pull taller gears.

  • As was the case last year, the 2010 Kawasaki is fairly loud. We might be able to handle it if the exhaust note was more pleasant, but the tone is raspy and borderline obnoxious.

  • The Kawi can be very hard to shift under power. Although it isn't as prone to mis-shifting and popping out of gear as it was last year, the tranny issues haven't been completed cured.Chassis

  • It can be difficult to strike a decent balance between stability and low weight feel, but Kawasaki has done a great job of finding both with this machine.

  • If you want to learn how to whip, this is a great bike. It truly flicks over jumps.

  • The KX250F corners consistently but not without a slight push in the front end. Even with the sag set properly, this was one of those things that you just have to get used to when compared to the other bikes.

  • The overall ergonomics of the KX-F make it an easy machine to adapt to. One rider who had never been on a Kawi before commented that he felt like he was on his own bike after just a few laps.

  • Be it front to back or side-to-side, the balance of this machine is excellent.

  • Some would say that the Kawasaki's grip compound is too tough and feels a bit cheap.

  • This seat is pretty soft and the plastic seat base can be felt. If you ride a lot and sit down a lot, that can be a bad thing.

  • It doesn't take long for the Kawasaki plastics and components to look beat. Try as you might, you just can't keep the "new" look on this machine for long.Suspension

  • The KX250F fork isn't necessarily soft, but the shock is a tad too plush for most riders' liking. Only our 130 lb test rider felt it was too stiff.

  • It's safe to say that you'll actively use the stroke on this bike, which we consider to be a good thing. The rougher the track gets, the more the fork and shock like to ride in the mid and keep you out of trouble.

  • The front fork on the KX250F is particularly forgiving on hard hits. If you slam a square-edged bump, your biggest worry will be in the rear end kicking-don't sweat the fork blowing through.

  • We felt that the shock had a good feel all-around, though it can be described as "loose" in some spots (as if the oil is starting to get old) and it tends to ride low in the back on acceleration.

  • The stock rebound setting in the rear end really gives the Kawasaki a feeling of grabbing maximum traction. The rear tire hooks up and goes!Why The Kawasaki KX250F Should Win

  • Talk about snap right out of the gate!

  • Balanced, stable, nimble and lightweight-check, check, check and check.

  • The comfortable ergos are easy to get used to.

  • Great traction plus a strong mid-range equals maximum acceleration.Why It Shouldn't Win

  • It doesn't take long for this muffler to go from loud to worse. What is up with Kawasaki MX bikes and sound these days?

  • When this bike hits the rev limiter, you might as well be grabbing the brakes.

  • Not the easiest machine to shift under a load.

  • Visually, the Kawasaki ages in dog years.

Should I take a deal on a 2009?

  • Kawasaki addressed many of the 2009's long-term transmission issues with this year's revisions. Be cautious of a well-used '09.

  • You could essentially modify a 2009 to match the new model, but it would take many, many little revisions to do.

  • The money you save could equal a pretty nice exhaust system!

Kawasaki KX250F
Pilot 40 42
Needle NHJT 4th pos 5th
Main 185 180
Fuel Screw 2 1/8 2
Leak Jet 55 Stk

||||| |---|---|---|---| |SUSPENSION|STK|Int./Pro|Beg./Nov.| |Fork| |Compression:|10|10|10| |Rebound:|9|9|9| |Shock| |Low-Speed Compression:|11|12|11-12| |Rebound:|11|9|10| |High-Speed Compression:| |(Turns out)|2 1/4|2 1/4|2 1/4| | Sag (mm):| 105| 105| 105| **Jimmy Lewis

5'10"/185 lbs/Sr. Expert

Current Bike: 2010 Yamaha YZ450**There are things that stand out about bikes in a shootout and that has never been more apparent with such a closely matched group like these 250Fs. The Honda was a clear winner for me since it works so well and is so easy to ride. The FI is flawless. And as soon as you realize what you thought was snap was really the delayed reaction of the engine catching up with a sudden burst of messy gas and air from the carburetor, you'll quit saying the CRF has no snap. Turn the throttle as far as you would have on a carb-equipped bike and then re-think your position.The Kawasaki feels like a race bike from your first ride but it seems to have a race bike maintenance and replacement schedule as well. The Yamaha does everything well except carburet cleanly and I'd bet it would beat the Honda if it were an FI-equipped machine. The KTM is truck-tough in durability, but was a bit off in suspension and handling for most riders. And the Husky has issues. If its clutch didn't break and if it started easily then it would be right in the hunt, near perfection seems the norm these days in this class. Yet even the TC's impressive handling and slow-feeling-though-competent motor are enough for some riders to use it to be different and they won't complain. The simple, easy fact for me is that I can't go wrong recommending the CRF to almost any rider. From my wife, who raced it at this year's Vet Nationals at Glen Helen and immediately looked right at home after not riding motocross for over a year, to Doc Tarlow who downsized from the 450 class in an effort to slow down a bit (didn't work!). This Honda escaped any of the teething problems the CRF450R struggled with and, other than a few riders and critics who seem very set in their ways, it impresses everyone who comes in contact with it.

Yamaha YZ250F

It's safe to say that the 2010 YZ250F is not the same machine that we tested in our shootout one year ago. Headlining the Yamaha's list of fresh features is a completely new bilateral beam frame, updated suspension, new bodywork and an upgraded engine, though the highly anticipated fuel injection is still... well, highly anticipated. As the first 2010 motocross bike to arrive at the Dirt Rider office, the YZ250F was regarded as a proven competitor with a solid shot at the '10 shootout title.Engine

  • There's a strong combination in the Yamaha of decent bottom, strong mid-range and good top end power. Better acceleration in low RPMs wouldn't hurt, but compared to last year's bike, the powerband is reversed and there is much more downstairs.

  • The Yamaha's motor doesn't make it feel like a race bike, but it is super smooth and easy to ride. There is potential here for some useable race mods.

  • The YZ250F has decent overrev, but some test riders who really opened the bike up and rode it on top wanted more meat up top. Still, it doesn't fall flat as hard as the Kawasaki.

  • Immediately off idle and during quicker throttle openings, several of our test riders noticed a hesitation in delivery. Similarly, the carburetor can be spotty in higher gears, requiring extra clutch use to get the power to pick up. An adjustable leak jet really helps tune this but the carburetion is far from perfect.

  • No matter if the engine is hot or cold, the YZ-F starts easily. Racers rejoice.

  • For most, this bike feels like it's in between gears, requiring a shift up for more speed where other bikes don't. More than one rider wished for a faster third and fourth when rolling through sweeping turns.Chassis

  • The Yamaha was generally regarded as having the most well rounded handling traits of any bike in the shootout. Balance and stability lead to confident, consistent lean angles, and only one rider (a fast pro with an "out the back" riding style) complained of difficulty turning. In tight, rutted corners, the Yamaha is king.

  • The YZ250F feels super planted and, as a result, stays put. Some interpreted the stability as extra weight, but it's still nowhere near as heavy feeling as any 450. Straight-line stability is awesome.

  • The semi-odd new design of the Yamaha's plastic gives this bike a wide, awkward feel. Shorter riders in particular complained about the width of the shrouds.

  • The shape of the Yamaha's seat gives the rider a forward-sitting feeling, which lends itself to the solid cornering.Suspension

  • Much of the YZ-F's planted feel is a direct result of strong suspension performance all across the board. Both high and low-speed bumps are strong points for the Yamaha.

  • The superior performance of the Yamaha's fork leads to great corner entry stability, as well as a straight-tracking feel through ruts.

  • The suspension on both ends was borderline soft for our 180 lb testers, and two of our pros requested stiffer springs for the YZ-F. For them, on high-speed sweepers, the bike can wallow.

  • Despite its semi-soft character, big hit absorption was never a problem with the Yamaha's shock.Why The Yamaha YZ250F Should Win

  • This motorcycle corners like an MX bike should.

  • High and low-speed stability are both up to par with the best in the class.

  • Good power and easier starting are a nice combination.

  • Prior experience has led us to trust Yamaha's dependability.Why It Shouldn't Win

  • The carburetion isn't perfect, and can be a hindrance when really working the throttle.

  • In stock form, the YZ-F can feel as though it's in between gears.

  • The Yamaha's power is strong, but the motor could use some more power and better acceleration before you race it.

  • Husqvarna called. They want their plastic back. Should I take a deal on a 2009?

  • This bike is much different than the 2009 Yamaha, and not a lot of parts carry over.

  • We're substantially more impressed with the way the 2010 turns.

  • The '09 stood up in turns where the new machine does not.

Yamaha YZ250F
Pilot 45 Stk
Needle NDJR 4th pos Stk
Main 180 Stk
Fuel Screw 2 1/4 1 3/4-2 1/2*
Leak Jet 70 Stk
Notes *Changes at every track

||||| |---|---|---|---| |SUSPENSION|STK|Int./Pro|Beg./Nov.| |Fork| |Compression:|8|10|10| |Rebound:|10|10|10| |Shock| |Low-Speed Compression:|9|9|9| |Rebound:|10|10|10| |High-Speed Compression:| |(Turns out)|1 3/4|1 3/4|1 3/4| | Sag (mm):| 100| 100| 100| ****Ricky Yorks

6'1''/ 178 lbs/ Pro

Current bike: 2008 Honda CRF450R & CRF250R**This was the hardest year of shootout yet. At the end it really came down to two bikes for me: The Yamaha and the Kawasaki. I have liked these bikes in years past but have always had a few minor complaints that have kept me from picking them in the top two. For 2010, both manufactures have the bugs worked out on them. I chose the Kawasaki for my first choice because I honestly feel this is the most competitive 250F ever made. I know that is a bold statement but I am truly impressed with the Kawasaki. It inspires confidence on the track. The suspension and handling are awesome and the motor is really where this bike shines! The motor in stock form feels like a full-blown race bike. This is a great all around package for anyone serious about racing.The Yamaha was a very close second only because it lacked a little power compared to the Kawi. Unlike in years past, this bike finally corners up to par with the best. The suspension on the Yamaha is plush yet soaks up the big hits. I felt very comfortable on this bike within the first lap. The bike feels light and nimble and no more getting your boots caught on the shrouds. By far the best Yamaha 250F yet!Third, I picked the KTM, which was a surprise for me. The bike is high quality and has a great motor and tranny combination. Every year the bike continues to improve and creeps up the list. The KTM has so many good characteristics that I think with a little more time and set up on the suspension, that this could be my top pick.For fourth I picked the Honda. It's good, but the motor lacked a little compared to the 2009 carbureted version. The dreaded bog was gone which was nice, but I still think the 2009 had a harder hit of power. The fuel-injected version is smoother, which makes it very easy to ride, but for me being almost 180 lbs on a 250F I missed the more aggressive power. I also noticed that the bike was a little twitchy on some of the faster parts of the track. We went stiffer on the compression and it seemed to help but I think I would prefer a different offset on the triple clamps to slow down the steering.My final choice was the Husky. It lacked a lot of power compared to all the others. When ridden alone it seemed pretty good, but when ridden back to back with the other bikes, it was really apparent that the bike had a lot to improve on. The Husky was really hard to start and lacked reliability as it only made it through a few test riders before having clutch problems.

Husqvarna TC250

Right about the time we found out that Suzuki wouldn't have their 2010 250F available for this comparison, Husqvarna stepped up and asked that their all-new TC250 be included in the shootout as the fifth and final machine to be tested. Having just recently been released to the world, the 2010 TC250 features MXGP-proven engine technology and a new Kayaba fork, along with several other major changes that set it apart from the previous model year's machine and the version we rode in the Canary Islands last year. On the first day of shootout testing, while racing it in our motos, we had a day-ending mechanical problem when the bike's clutch seized onto the shaft due to a lack of oil reaching the junction. The Husqvarna techs were able to fix this in a few hours by machining some oil grooves in the washer and basket to allow more oil flow, thus putting it back into the test. Despite the setback, we have to give Husky credit for throwing this all-new machine into the mix.Engine

  • The TC250 feels vaguely underpowered on the track in the low and mid-range, though the bike is distinctly torquey. This leads to a perceived lack of momentum coming out of turns.

  • The power spread has great overrev that doesn't fall off up top. Like Cab Calloway, the TC250 loves to sing.

  • In the bottom-end power department, the Husqvarna seems like it could use more snap. In stock form, it simply feels less powerful than some of the other 250Fs.

  • Second and third gear seemed oddly spaced and required excessive clutch use. The engine's character doesn't build RPM as fast as we are used too with other 250Fs.

  • An extremely smooth pull characterizes this hydraulic clutch.

  • This motorcycle is very difficult to start, hot or cold. Be sure to pack extra patience in your toolbox.Chassis

  • The overall lightweight feel of the Husky is a nice surprise. Especially in a bike that feels so stable. Additionally, the frame provides plenty of flex, which isn't always a bad thing depending on ability and riding style.

  • Our test riders complimented the TC250's bar bend, but grumbled that vibration is transmitted straight to the rider's hands.

  • Given the shape of the radiator shrouds, it's not too difficult to get your knee braces caught near the tank.

  • The seat is flat and wide and allows the rider to really move around on the bike.

  • Traction on the Husqvarna, both in the front and the rear, is incredible. It sticks to the track well and allows for acceleration where the other machines just won't hook up.

  • The front end feels tucked in and offers precise control with zero vagueness.

  • Strong brakes seem to be a trend among non-Japanese machines. We like that.Suspension

  • We found this suspension to be stiff, yet that's exactly what several of our test riders have been asking for from the other 250Fs.

  • The fork on this machine is a little suppler than the shock, which can cause the bike to buck if you charge into huge bumps with your weight forward. This reboundy feel is amplified at higher speeds, causing the whole bike to feel unbalanced. Slowing the rebound caused the kick to go away, but we were never able to find the balance we wanted.

  • In terms of compliance, the fork is surprisingly good. It's soft initially but has great control through the mid, but when the Husky blows through it has almost zero control at the bottom of the stroke.

  • On hard acceleration, the Husky's shock feels extremely planted. It's also fairly stable and calm for faster riders who really plow into rollers and square-edged bumps.Why The Husqvarna TC250 Should Win

  • The $6,899 price tag is the lowest in this class.

  • This particular machine has come a long way in just a few years.

  • The Husqvarna just feels "different" from everything else in this class.

  • Traction, traction, traction. Turning, turning, turning.

  • Novice riders are not intimidated by the power and can put in really solid laps.Why It Shouldn't Win

  • This engine could use easier starting and more snappy power.

  • Unfortunately, the reliability is unproven and somewhat questionable.

  • Like we said, the Husqvarna just feels "different" from everything else in this class.

  • No matter what your weight is, you'll need to do some tweaking to this suspension to really make it work.Should I take a deal on a 2009?

  • The new machine is wildly different than 2009, and we definitely see it being revised a few more times in the near future.

  • A supportive Husky dealer can make all the difference in owning a "rogue" brand.

Husqvarna TC250
Pilot 38 40
Needle OBDVR 5th pos Stk
Main 190 200
Fuel Screw 1 1/2 Stk
Leak Jet 3.5* 3.5*
Notes *Zip-Ty adjustible accelerator pump

||||| |---|---|---|---| |SUSPENSION|STK|Int./Pro|Beg./Nov.| |Fork| |Compression:|8|8|8| |Rebound:|12|12|12| |Shock| |Low-Speed Compression:|12|17|17| |Rebound:|8|9-10|9-10| |High-Speed Compression:|16|17|14-17| | Sag (mm):| 102| 102| 102| **Chris Denison

5'10"/ 155 lbs/ Intermediate

Current bike: Mid-Back Ergonomic Desk Chair w/ Optional Lumbar Support**For my size (welterweight), ability (varies based on caloric intake) and riding style (does that look like a double to you?), the 2010 Honda is my 250F of choice. All things considered, I really feel like this motor has the most usable power spread for me, and the fuel-injected delivery made for incredible throttle response and starting. I also dug the bike's gear ratio, which allowed me to either carry speed and click a gear higher or just stay in a lower gear and pour on the revs. The bike shifts well and is super maneuverable, and I have a lot of faith in Honda durability and dealers.While it was fairly easy for me to pick the CRF as my top choice, second place was a much more difficult decision. I spent a lot of time on the '09 Kawasaki and feel extremely comfortable on this year's version, but the Yamaha also impressed me with its ultra-solid cornering. In the end, blue wins out over green based simply on the huge amount of confidence that I have in the YZ250F's turning ability, which allows the bike to lean, stay planted and still go wherever you tell it to. The Kawasaki has smooth, strong delivery and a flickable character, but I was on the rev limiter like it was the last chopper out of Vietnam! I know from past experience that a quality aftermarket exhaust system can help bring the KX250F's power up and help it to rev longer, so maybe we can try that fix after shootout.I love KTMs, but I just did not feel that comfortable aboard the 2010 250 SX-F. The bike has more engine braking than I like in a four-stroke, and I almost lost the front end several times in both high and low-speed sections. If I could slap a taller handlebar on the KTM and figure out a way to keep the suspension from dancing around, I'm sure it would help a lot in my final ranking. Still, you can't ignore the punch that the motor has, and the suspension on both ends sucks up hard hits like a champ.Although it wouldn't be the first bike in this bunch that I'd drop a suitcase full of cash on, I would certainly be happy owning the Husqvarna. With some patient testing and a bit of time to dial the bike in, the TC250 could definitely be a competitive motocross race bike. Unfortunately, a few small quirks (such as the difficult starting procedure and lack of pickup) relegate the Husky to fifth place in my standings, but that's certainly not to say that it doesn't belong in this pack.

KTM 250 SX-F

In the history of the Dirt Rider 250F MX shootout, there has never been a more polar bike than the KTM 250SX-F. Each year, our test riders stand fairly divided as to the performance of the Austrian machine, and because of this it has never won our 250F shootout, although it is coming closer with each new set of revisions. This year, KTM improved on the 2009 by giving the 2010 a new triple clamp, revised suspension settings, frame geometry and an updated front brake, among other things. The orange giant has proven its dominance in the off-road markets, but a DR-endorsed credit as the top 250cc Motocross four-stroke has always eluded KTM. Is 2010 the year that this trend changes?Engine

  • The KTM has the largest spread of power of any bike in the 250F class. From the torquey bottom to the powerful overrev, this is one potent engine.

  • The punch and meat of the power down low makes this bike a charger out of turns. It doesn't hurt that the six-speed gearbox is a perfect match for the powerband.

  • You can rev the 250 SX-F to the moon and it still won't flatten out.

  • Though strong off the bottom and easy to control, the power goes slightly soft in the lower mid-range. This is a disadvantage when compared to other bikes in this category.

  • We found that the throttle response on the KTM wasn't perfect, and the bike would sometimes pop under deceleration. When stacked against FI, you feel this.

  • If you've never ridden with a hydraulic clutch, you're missing out. The KTM's clutch has great action and a consistent feel when hot, though riders more used to cable clutches might have a tough time adapting to the SX-F's friction point.

  • Several riders commented that the excessive amount of engine braking put out by the KTM's powerplant was hard to get used to. We found that this can be somewhat relieved by increasing the idle.Chassis

  • Riders who had not spent much time aboard a KTM commented that the 250 SX-F felt wide, but fairly easy to adapt to.

  • The 250 SX-F feels heavy in the air and isn't super maneuverable over jumps.

  • This bike's stock handlebar bend is too low. Compared to the seat, the relationship of the grips and the pegs put the rider in a cramped, forward leaning position that made even our most average-sized riders feel tall. Rotating the bars forward does not fix this feeling.

  • Most KTM's have great brakes, and this bike is no exception. We dig the new brake pads.

  • A strong point of the 250 SX-F's personality is definitely the bike's ability to stay straight and corner well in ruts. Tracking is spot on, and you can count on the rear tire to follow the front no matter where you put it.

  • On flat turns, the KTM has a tendency to lose traction in the front end, causing a "washy" feeling. This issue went away any time there was something to push the front end against.

  • The KTM can feel "twitchy" at higher speeds. This instability is amplified by speed.

  • This stock seat is much more comfortable than those found on previous KTM's; less of the harsh feeling is transmitted to the rider's behind. But it breaks down quickly.Suspension

  • By and large, the KTM suspension has a moderately harsh character in the front and a less rigid (yet still stout) shock in the rear. This can cause the bike to dance around in chop.

  • Despite higher-speed handling issues, the KTM was praised for its ability to soak up big low-speed bumps such as those coming into deep corners.

  • Part of the 250 SX-F's strength in ruts comes from the fact that the shock settles well when you have some weight on it. The bottoming resistance could be better in the rear when slamming big berms, but for most cornering applications the bike works well.

  • This fork is on the stiff side, but if you're a heavier or faster rider, you'll be pretty happy with it.Why The KTM 250 SX-F Should Win

  • The broad powerband is suitable for a wide range of ability levels and riding styles.

  • Our pro riders noted that the KTM is an overall great package for competition use. The solid motor, flawless transmission and great brakes are all race-ready.

  • This bike tracks like a dream and turns on a dime in ruts.

  • We dig the KTM's hydraulic clutch and Euro-styling.Why It Shouldn't Win

  • The riding position felt cramped, even for some of our average-sized test riders.

  • Basically, the KTM needs traction and a decent rut in order to turn properly.

  • Response on the 250 SX-F isn't flawless and the engine braking is rather excessive.

  • KTM's entire package can take time to get used to when compared to Japanese bikes.Should I take a deal on a 2009?

  • Although revised, the 2010 isn't hugely different from the '09. A lot of these mods-such as the new brake pads and triple clamp-could be made with a trip to the dealer.

  • These bikes seem to get better and better every year. Keep that in mind.

KTM 250 SX-F
Pilot 40 Stk
Needle OBEKP 4th pos Stk
Main 175 Stk
Fuel Screw 1 1/2 1 1/2
Leak Jet 50 50*
Notes *Accel pump arm wired down

||||| |---|---|---|---| |SUSPENSION|STK|Int./Pro|Beg./Nov.| |Fork| |Compression:|12|12|12| |Rebound:|12|13|13| |Shock| |Low-Speed Comp:|15|15|15| |Rebound:|24|24|24| |High-Speed Comp:| |(Turns out)|1 1/2|1 1/2|1 1/2| | Sag (mm):| 105| 105-110| 105-110| **Myles Richmond

5'11"/ 150 lbs/ Intermediate

Current bike: 2009 Honda CRF250R**I picked the Yamaha first because this bike just felt awesome. The whole thing felt well balanced and it had an awesome motor in it. I felt like the YZ-F handled the best out of any of the other bikes everywhere from turns to braking bumps-it's an all-around great track bike. The suspension felt great stock. Overall, this is an excellent motorcycle and I would recommend it to anyone.The Honda was a close 2nd to the Yamaha. The motor on the CRF also felt awesome, but handling-wise I felt that the bike was lacking a little in the turns. I just didn't feel like I could put it wherever I wanted, but other than that it handled almost as well as the Yamaha.I had a lot of fun riding the Kawasaki. I kind of felt like Ryan Villopoto when I revved out the motor, as it tops out right where I liked. I could come out of a turn and just wind out in 2nd gear and not have to click 3rd or downshift for another turn. The handling wasn't quite there and the suspension felt a little soft for my liking, though this can easily be fixed.I wish I could say I liked the KTM because I was looking forward to riding this bike, but I just couldn't get into it. The motor felt slowest to me out of all the bikes and I thought this would be KTM's strong point. I felt uncomfortable the entire time I was on the track on this bike, and I would have to change a ton of things such as bars, suspension and maybe even adjust the seat height to suit my style. I think this bike in stock form just isn't my favorite. In my opinion, it would be better for smaller or shorter riders.

Radar Roll-On

The third gear roll on shows how the bikes pull when lugging in third gear and then having the throttle applied as quickly as the bike will allow, without the clutch, till each hits the rev limiter. It is about as practical of an outdoor dyno run as you will get and puts traction into the picture as well. The Kawasaki is the most impressive here with the Yamaha and KTM right behind in pulling feel. Our Honda was right in the middle but the least picky about having the throttle slammed open since it is fuel injected. The Husky takes its time and had a top end pull that really goes on forever.Radar MX START

This is a full-on MX start to top gear. The surprising thing here is how slow the Honda is. Yes, slower that the "slow" Husky even. The powerhouse Kawasaki is just a tad ahead of the Yamaha and KTM (line mostly hidden under the Yamaha) until later in the straightaway, where at about eight seconds in (or near 65 MPH) the blue and orange bikes pop out on top.Specs

With full tanks and placed on our certified digital scales this is how the pounds are placed. Interestingly enough the Honda is the only machine with a front-heavy weight distribution. We'd bet that the steering stabilizer lets them get away with that.Lap Times

Our lap times are done in the most consistent way possible. All of the bikes are on the track running in motos at the same time switching between the same ten riders so track conditions and rider fatigue are spread out evenly. More so than in the past, this comparison really showed that the Honda was getting the job done with riders of all ability levels. On the other side of the spectrum, the KTM was tough for all of our riders to feel comfortable on so lap times suffered.Top Speed

For your bench racing pleasure we bring you the top speeds these bikes can achieve on our flat dirt straight. The three MPH difference is not as much fun as hearing the rev limiters pop when trying to obtain these numbers.Human Impression: Power

This is not a dyno chart but instead what riders feel in different parts of the powerband. Most 250Fs are not super strong on the bottom but the Kawasaki is.

Human Impression: Suspension

This chart shows how good the Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki suspension is. And by being so good it outpaces the Euro brands, especially when the big hits come into play.

Sound Test

Chris Real of DPS Technical, Inc. did our sound testing and did it to a very high level. We sampled the bikes in the most common way: A 20-inch stationary sound test to the AMA recommended RPM. Then we did the new two meter (2M) test which the bike is held wide open for a brief second to maximum RPM with the sound meter two meters away. We also took a reading during the bike's radar runs to show some real world figures so you can see the difference in practical applications and compare them to test numbers. For much more information and help on sound issues, go to www.chemhelp.com.Conclusion

When all of the opinions, lap times, radar charts and manufacturer bribes (just kidding) were sorted out, this shootout was a close one. However, all of our data pointed to one machine as being the all-out favorite: the Honda CRF250R. With its potent engine and redesigned chassis, the red racer gets our official nod as the 2010 250F shootout winner. Is this because the Honda is the only fuel-injected bike in the test? Not necessarily, but it sure helped. Several of the carbureted machines are fiercely competitive without hiccups, proving you can get a lot of performance out of those "old" carburetors. But as an overall package that was a hit with Vets, novices, intermediates and pro riders, the CRF250R simply pulled away from the pack (as evidenced by the lap times, contradicted by the radar runs). Still, we can't discount the other machines in this class, as they are all great bikes. The Kawasaki is a great all-around package, and if it weren't for the overrev issue Team Green very well would have come a lot closer to taking our shootout cake for the third year in a row. The KTM is an insane race bike with tons of potential, and if you can dial in a few handling and cornering issues the bike is simply a speed demon. The Yamaha power plant didn't blow any of our test riders away with performance even though it shined in the radar runs, but all liked the cornering characteristics of this machine. Finally, we've got to give credit to Husqvarna for entering the TC250 in the shootout. This bike surprised a lot of riders-both those who had previously ridden Husqvarnas and those who hadn't-and many came away from the test with a much-improved opinion of the bike. Sure, it might not set the track on fire just yet, but given a few more years of development and the right settings and the TC250 will be a serious competitor. Of course, the Suzuki RM-Z250 could also shake up this final order, but given the late arrival of the 2010 model we just weren't able to include it in our testing. But even without the yellow machine, the 2010 250F lineup is the most solid group of mid-size MX four-strokes we've ever tested.