I spent a lot of enjoyable trail miles on the '03 WRs, mostly the 450. I accumulated hundreds of southern Utah and central Colorado miles and thousands of California miles. The WR did it all without a hiccup, basically. I like that a lot. I'm not so happy about the bike carrying its bulk a little high or how much it has to be stifled to pass a reasonable sound test. Being legal for a green sticker would make me a lot more of a fan. But one thing I cannot deny is the machine's reliability. It never hinted of letting me down. I'm not in this sport to push motorcycles, so that is a very good point in Yamaha's favor, a point I happily vouch for! As far as sheer fun is concerned, the WR250F is a better buy. It is nimble when compared with its bigger brother. I feel a bit too scrunched up on it, but it is a great choice for a smaller or lighter rider. It makes me wish I were one!
Karel Kramer/6'1"/200 lb/B riderYamaha's WR250F is a good trailbike. The suspension is very plush, which makes it easy to maneuver. The motor is a little weak, so it finds soft, steep hills hard to climb. On tighter trails, the bike felt very light, nimble and flickable. Gearing on the WR was a little off; on some hills third was too high and second was too low, and shifting under full throttle was very difficult. The electric start was awesome. You don't have to worry about stalling, because you just press the button and the Yamaha starts without any hesitation. On steep downhills, the bike gripped well and the brakes worked (except on the vertical hills Karel Kramer had us ride down--they were like being caught in an avalanche). The ergonomics felt really comfortable; the bar and levers have a very nice touch. I've never ridden anything but motocross bikes, so the WR's front felt a little heavy; I'm not sure if it is because of the headlight. Overall, I really like the feel of the WR250F and had fun for my first time on trails in the high desert.
Tyler Keefe/5'10"/165 lb/Intermediate MXThe Yamaha WR250F is a little underpowered for my off-road taste, but I live in the high desert, where you can use plenty of power. It is too plugged up, so it requires effort to loft the front wheel over a log or rock. All you'd have to do is put an aftermarket muffler on, and I'm sure it would make a big difference. Once you do get in the upper part of the powerband, it's a fun bike to ride. The suspension is set up soft for off-road, but it actually feels good going over square edges and rocks. If you come to a drop-off or a big slap-down landing, it will feel soft. I would gladly take a WR250F to play around on after a big rainstorm!The WR450F has the same problem as the 250. It needs help off the bottom to make it more fun in the tight sections. I tried to uncork the muffler, but that made it too lean and too loud. I did get up a huge sand hill on the first try! Once you get it going, it will take you up most anything you need to climb. Suspension is quite good on the WR450F. It does not have headshake on long fast roads, nor does it bottom very easily. I had loads of fun on this bike, but I would make a few mods for my off-road needs.
Kris Keefer/5'11"/170 lb/ProIf you are looking for a dependable, fun trailbike for the West, the '04 WR450F is the way to go. This bike has super-plush suspension that is exceptionally well balanced and provides a very comfortable ride on the trail. With electric start, a tucked-in kickstand, an oversize gas tank, cushy suspension and a low-decibel spark arrestor, the WR needs only a good aluminum handlebar and hand guards to be complete for off-road use. However, if you plan to run this bike at race pace, you may need to make a few adjustments.I raced this bike at a local grand prix with some long, fast, sandy straights, which wreaked havoc on the choked-up motor. I'd recommend an FMF Q exhaust, which would provide the same low decibels and forestry-approved spark arrestor as well as some much-needed punch. Removing the GYT-R quiet tip from the stock silencer would provide a little more hit, but keep in mind rejetting would be required and you would then have an annoyingly loud bike. The suspension worked like magic on the tight, choppy ridges, but when attempting sections of fast sand whoops, I found the suspension bottoming shortly after entering the whoops. On the MX section of the course, the weight became a huge factor, and jumping the WR was a little scary, because an over- or underjump with such plush suspension would be a problem. Some stiffer springs and valving adjustments are needed to get the WR suited for race pace in the West. No doubt it would be fine for Eastern-style racing.For a good day of trail riding, I'd choose this bike over any MX machine because of the luxuries of the kickstand and electric start. The suspension works great at a trail pace, and the low-decibel spark arrestor keeps rangers at bay. Overall, this is a great trailbike with the potential to be a competitive race machine. Too bad Yamaha didn't put a little effort into shaving some weight.
Brad Daugherty/6'/160 lb/Intermediate