Road or trail
Ian Kerr tries Yamaha's WR 250R
Very much based on the championship winning factory off-road machines, the new road going Yamaha WR250R looks like it will win any race you may want to enter.
The twenty -one inch front and eighteen rear spoked wheels may be shod with compromise trail tyres, but you get the feeling that if you swap these for moto-cross rubber, it could easily challenge for a dirt win. Likewise put in some Supermoto tyres and it will win on the track.
It has all the street credibility you could possibility want and has the potential to be something of an all-rounder. Obviously you cannot include touring in that, due to a narrow seat that does not encourage more than 100 mile stints, or for that matter the lack of luggage carrying capability.
However, as a light flickable bike, that thanks to its high seat height, will provide an excellent commuter and a weekend fun machine it has few equals. Certainly in the almost forgotten 250 class you are going to struggle to find its' equal.
On the minus side the £4,799 price tag keeps leaping up to remind you that this is not a cheap machine.
You can get a whole lot of other bikes at over double the capacity that might lack the development history of this bike, but will do a very passable job and be able to tour as well!
So what causes this seemingly unjustifiable price? Well literally the heart of the matter - the Japanese built engine complete with titanium valves, working similar to an R1 motor. A short stroke, allowing very high revs, gives out 30 bhp, which is not to be sneezed at for a 250 four-stroke, liquid-cooled single cylinder motor.
Add to this, fuel injection and a six-speed box and you have an impressive modern unit that should give years of good reliable service. It is though, like the bike, built in Japan and not in Europe like some of the company's other products and that produces a premium price tag.
The motor is mounted in a frame, which in part looks more like a sports bike. It is only the lower tubular cradle that shows its dirt heritage. A single shock is well hidden at the rear despite the minimalist bodywork, while at the front massive 46mm inverted forks support things.
Wavy single discs at the front and rear provide the stopping power. The front, a 250mm item with a four-piston calliper, would have been de-rigueur on a sports bike some years ago and on its own, is more than enough to stop 126kg's of WR plus rider.
A neat simple multi-function instrumentation pod sits behind the front headlight cowl and includes a useful clock as well as digital speedo. All other controls are as one would expect on any current machine.
Short riders beware, the seat height is a whopping 930mm. No doubt on the dirt it encourages you to ride feet up and on a track the bike will be well canted over for a steadying foot!
Thumbing the starter button causes a pleasant burble from the upswept silencer and you can almost discern every power stroke the engine makes. Let out the light clutch and the first three gears disappear in a blur if ultimate speed is your goal. However, despite the general revviness of the engine, there is also a fair amount of torque and there is no need to play tunes on the gearbox unless it is for fun and ultimate pulling power.
The bike does have a reasonable amount of flexibility at least until you are in the 80 mph region when it starts to run out of puff as it revs out towards it 90mph top speed.
Used in this manner, it drops the 105 mile range form the 7.6 litre tank down to 85 miles which is still good, meaning it is very fuel efficient and cheap to run.
Certainly as a bike to ride, it is a lot of fun, being light and flickable, making traffic congestion almost enjoyable. The high seat gives good vision and the very slim lines make almost every gap achievable and it has the acceleration to get you out of trouble when needed.
The seat and the range are the limiting factors, but contrary to the looks of the seat it is OK for the entire tank range. The suspension is relatively soft and good for the road, but if you were to want to use it for competition you would need to stiffen it up.
This is a great bike for shortish commutes and a weekend blast around the lanes both tarmac and green and has a low insurance group rating. I know if I had the money one would sit in my garage and that is always the acid test!