Dual-sport bikes such as Yamaha's WR250R are heaps of fun, but they're a compromise between dirt and street. And, well, they're a compromise: It doesn't take much saddle time before you're craving real off-road meats for the dirt and a sweet set of supermoto 17s and a pizza-sized front disc for the road.
An alternate set of wheels truly puts the "dual" in dual-sport, so we set out to find a way to let our little R-model go both ways with equal impunity. We got in touch with Wheeling Cycle Supply, which specializes in supermoto tackle and has taken a particular shine to the little WR250R and X.
They set us up with a soup-to-nuts conversion designed to take the "will-it-fit?" anxiety out of choosing separate components. Wheeling's $1050 wheel set is built up from new stock Yamaha hubs, bearings and spacers, laced to menacing, black-anodized SM Pro 17-inch wheels. In this application, the front is 3.5 inches wide and the rear measures 4.25 inches. For superior road grip, $228 bought a 120/70ZR-17 Continental Contiforce Max for the front hoop and a 150/60R-17 Contiforce SM for the rear.
Braking supplied upgraded stopping hardware in the form of a beautiful STX 320mm disc and caliper-relocation bracket that allows the stock pincher to work with the big disc. The kit costs $354 and allows the brake hose to remain connected, so there's no bleeding required.
The Wheeling components are high-quality bits and bolted in place as advertised, with no cursing and only the addition of a single zip-tie to keep the front brake hose from grazing the tire sidewall. With a bit of practice, the swap from dirt wheels to street wheels (or vice versa) takes a half-hour or less.
Ready for the road: 17-inch wheels, sticky street rubber and an oversized petal rotor comp
With the 17s in place, the WR is transformed, switching character from gangly dual-sport to muscular supermoto. The tall, flighty feel of the larger-diameter dual-sport wheels is replaced with a solid, connected sportbike character. The steering is much more secure, and the increase in grip and traction feedback is spectacular. Highway stability is also much improved, with none of the queasy rain-groove headshake the R-model sometimes displays with its standard 21-inch front knobby.
The smaller-diameter wheels drop the seat height and effectively lower the gearing, making for better acceleration. The upgraded front disc is a big improvement, even with stock pads and hose. The brake is easy to modulate and far more fade-resistant than the stock setup.
Total cost was just over $1600, which isn't bad considering that essentially buys you two bikes. For dual-sport riders looking for some supermoto-style fun and radically better pavement performance, a well-sorted package like this is a solid investment.
Wheeling Cycling Supply Supermoto Conversion
Price: $1050 (wheels only), $1634 (total)
Contact: Wheeling Cycle Supply
134 17th St.
Wheeling, WV 26003
An easy-to-manage alter ego for your dual-sport bike.