Moriwaki MD250H Motorcycle

The future of small-bore Grand Prix racing?

By Ari Henning, Photography by Kevin Wing

As two-strokes continue their march toward obsolescence (600cc four-strokes will have replaced 250s in MotoGP by the time you read this), manufacturers are scrambling to find viable options for entry-level roadracers. Moriwaki Engineering is ahead of the curve with the MD250H, a four-stroke featherweight designed to rival the performance of a 125cc two-stroke while being easier to ride.

Introduced in 2008, the MD250H was brought to America in limited numbers specifically for the lucky youngsters competing in the United States Grand Prix Racers Union (USGPRU) 125GP and MD250H spec classes. For '09 the machine was imported en masse and available to the general public for track days and club racing.

Although it's meant to be a stepping stone for new and advancing racers, the MD boasts an impressive spec sheet. The box-section frame and swingarm are custom Moriwaki creations, and come hung with fully adjustable Showa suspension culled from Honda's RS125 racebike. The six-spoke wheels, brakes, instruments and radiator are also carryovers from the popular two-stroke. The engine is a liquid-cooled, electric-start 249cc Unicam unit pulled from the CRF250X enduro assembly line, stepped up with a Moriwaki exhaust and Keihin FCR flat-slide racing carburetor. Although it's a few pounds heavier and slightly less powerful than its two-stroke counterparts, the four-stroke's abundant torque makes up for this deficit.

It's a tiny bike with precious little steering sweep, but if you're small (or determined) enough to fold yourself onto the MD250H, you're in for a treat. Unlike a two-stroke, there's no waiting for the Moriwaki to come up "on the pipe." The MD launches off the line with enough force to lift the front wheel, and with a claimed 190-pound dry weight it gets up to speed in a hurry. The bike dives into corners with urgency and exits with equal haste thanks to the engine's broad power, which starts low and builds all the way to the 13,000-rpm redline.

The MD comes equipped with legit Dunlop slicks, and once warm they're practically unfazeable. The bike's excellent stability and ample engine braking let you enter turns hot and shed speed all the way to the apex, making the Nissin four-piston front brake seem like overkill. The bike's accessible power may make it easier to ride than a two-stroke, but the little pocket rocket still requires precise inputs and good throttle control, rewarding riders who are committed to efficient cornering.

This mini-racer is the real deal for aspiring adolescents, but they'd better have a high-paying paper route because the MD250H retails for a lofty $12,699. Hopefully, the increased import numbers and the USGPRU's age restriction in the spec class (12 to 16 years old) will spur a healthy used market with more affordable Moriwakis in the future.

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