Service Honda CRF250JR-X | First Ride

Long-term solution for short people

By Karel Kramer, Photography by Karel Kramer

No matter what your stature, finding a dirtbike to learn on isn't a problem. But if you're too short for a sky-high 250 or 450, the selection process gets more difficult when it comes time to choose a long-term bike.

The only true off-road option for vertically challenged riders is the Service Honda CRF250JR-X. Why does an off-road mini cost $8000? Because Service Honda melds a Honda CRF150R youth motocross bike with a CRF250X trailbike to make one. The JR-X uses the chassis of the former and the electric-start engine of the latter to create a compact-yet-powerful bike worthy of any backcountry trail.

The typical JR-X customer is a serious off-road rider who stands under 5-foot-6. And for that person, nothing else comes close. We're talking about a 200-lb. bike with roughly 30 quiet, tractable ponies in a package that lets just about anyone plant both feet on the ground. The JR-X lets shorter riders experience big-bike acceleration and power. Yet because it's a four-stroke, that power is easy to adapt to after stepping off of a 100cc or 150cc playbike. For that reason, the JR-X has a stellar reputation among serious-but-compact male and female riders and racers. Service Honda tailors suspension to each order and custom options abound, assuming you're willing to fork over the dough.

We put the JR-X under some young riders accustomed to 85cc two-strokes and they came back dazzled by the power, without any concerns about the bike's size or handling. We also put a variety of female riders on the bike. Michelle Collins of the Women's Motocross League was the fastest of them, and accompanied a gaggle of experienced riders on open-class bikes on a serious high-desert trail ride. Our loops included some giant uphills and some tight and technical downhill canyons in addition to your typical singletrack, but 5-foot-2 Michelle and the JR-X never missed a beat.

As good as this bike is in the open desert, it's even more impressive in tight and technical terrain. That's where the engine's tractable power and low seat height make it a real weapon. Our bike's suspension was well set-up: soft enough for off-road while retaining good bottoming resistance. Likewise, the handling was superb. The CRF150R chassis may be small, but it's as refined and well-built as the full-size racers, and more than up to the 250's power.

If you're too fast for a 150 but need a stepladder to climb on a 250, Service Honda has the bike for you. The CRF250JR-X is by no means inexpensive, but if you're a serious off-road rider trapped in a jockey's body, it's priceless.

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