First ride: Yamaha WR250F
It’s 5-degrees below zero and I’m getting kitted up in a cow shed – but I couldn’t be happier. Normally I'm full of anxiety before a day’s enduro riding, but not today. I’m in the safe hands of the Yamaha Off-Road Experience in Wales and about to test Yamaha’s unintimidating new 2018 WR250F – I can’t wait.
For 2018, the enduro’s got a slight make over, comprising of a new head and piston, modified cams, new valve springs, shorter intake funnel and a new ECU – all to improve the reverse cylinder four-stroke single’s mid-range. The Yamaha is unique in its class as the exhaust exits the rear of the cylinder, which saves weight and allows a shorter, freer flowing exhaust.
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Chassis-wise, the frame’s stiffer, it has had its weight cut and the suspension's settings optimised. To save even more weight, Yamaha have even removed the kick-start, now it’s push-button only.
Immediately the WR’s ease of use shines through. At 118kg, it’s light and manageable and the reversed single is incredibly versatile. First gear is a little snatchy, but in second and third it’ll pull from virtually 0rpm. For inexperienced riders this is ideal for steep banks or dragging you out of a rut, but equally, in more skilled hands, it has more than enough power to pop the front over obstacles with ease.
The brakes are progressive and not too sharp while the revised suspension is plush – there’s a forgiving, soft feeling through the bars. However, faster more experienced heavier riders may want a little more support.
That combination of sophisticated suspension, lightness and unintimidating engine boosted my confidence, encouraging me to tackle terrain I’d normally find too challenging.
And while it doesn’t have any rider modes or traction control as standard, you can personalise the WR via Yamaha’s ‘power tuner’, a plug-in fuel-injection and ignition tuning tool that allows you to adjust fuel and ignition maps. Neat.
The WR250F is an incredibly easy-to-ride, versatile, enduro bike for inexperienced or advanced riders alike who’ve realised their actual level. For most riders, you really don’t need any more.
Engine: 250cc 4v single cylinder.
Frame: Semi double cradle
Seat height: 965mm
Suspension: 48mm USD forks, single rear shock, both fully-adjustable.
Brakes: Single 250mm front discs with twin-piston caliper. 245mm rear disc with single piston caliper
Weight (kerb): 118kg
Tank capacity: 7.5litres