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.
The CRF150R frame and airbox are modified to accept the larger CRF250X engine. Service Hon
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.
||29.5 bhp @ 9000 rpm
||18.1 lb.-ft. @ 7800 rpm
||Tubular-steel semi-double-cradle with aluminum swingarm
||Showa 37mm fork with adjustable compression and rebound damping
||Showa shock with adjustable spring preload, high/low-speed compression and rebound damping
||Nissin single-piston caliper, 220mm disc
||Nissin single-piston caliper, 190mm disc
||70/100-17 Dunlop K490
||90/100-14 Dunlop K695
|Claimed curb weight
Verdict 4 out of 5 stars
An excellent albeit expensive solution for vertically challenged off-road riders.