2008 Yamaha WR250X/R - Pocket Rockets

As gas prices increase and trail access decreases, dual-sports are more popular than ever. So what better time for Yamaha to release a street-legal, small-bore four-stroke capable of taking on the tarmac and trails? We're actually talking about two new Yamahas: the dual-sport WR250R and supermoto-style WR250X.

When both bikes retain the same bore and stroke as the off-road-only WR250F, you might think they're fundamentally similar. Au contraire. The street-legal versions are fuel-injected, which means smoother delivery. Their casual acceleration may have you wishing for more bottom end, but these aren't racebikes and they are 250s. We'd estimate they're about 20-30 percent down on power from the F.

It's much easier to keep the revs up in the fun zone when on blacktop. Most of the power lives in the mid- to upper-rpm range and there's an incredible amount of over-rev above that. Given its 10,000-rpm power peak, the WR loves being wound out. The top two gears are essentially overdrive, making for effortless 70-mph cruising and a top speed in the low 90s. Going downhill. With the wind at your back. The 2.0-gallon tank permits a range of around 110 miles.

The most obvious difference between the R and X is wheel size: 21-inch front/18-inch rear on the dual-sport; 17s front and rear on the supermoto. The latter also gets a larger front brake rotor (298 x 4.0mm compared to the R's 250 x 3.5mm), black fork stanchions, one less tooth on the rear sprocket to compensate for the smaller-diameter rear wheel and stiffer springs front and rear to reduce chassis pitch.

Yamaha claims the X isn't so much a supermoto as a dirtbike with street tires. If that isn't the definition of a supermoto bike, it sure looks like one to us. Works like one, too. Its soft-compound Bridgestone street tires stick well enough to make grinding footpegs the limiting factor in corners. The powerful brakes, comfortable rider cockpit and smooth power delivery make this bike super-easy and a genuine hoot to ride.

You won't win any Endurocross races on the R, but it's quick enough on- and off-road. The suspension is plush but a little unbalanced-the shock is over-sprung compared to the soft fork. Fortunately the frame is aluminum, complete with removable steel engine cradle, which flexes to absorb bigger hits. Stock Bridgestone dual-sport tires are a good compromise.

This feisty little pair brings plenty of attitude to a receptive mid-sized market. At a price that isn't on the moon, the little thumpers are good candidates for a second bike or an easy-to-operate ride for your significant other.

If you're oppressed by bloated gas prices or bored on your current commute, either of these two 250s is a hot option.

Tech Spec

Yamaha WR250X

A supermoto version of the dual-sport version of the off-road WR250F.

No direct competition, though the $6199 Suzuki DR-Z400SM comes closest.

Price $5999
Engine type l-c four-stroke single
Valve train DOHC, 4v
Displacement 250cc
Transmission 6-speed
Claimed horsepower na
Claimed torque na
Frame Aluminum semi-double cradle
Front suspension 46mm Kayaba inverted fork with adjustable compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension Single Kayaba shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake Single Nissin two-piston caliper, 298mm disc
Rear brake Single Nissin one-piston caliper, 230mm disc
Front tire 110/70-17 Bridgestone BT090F
Rear tire 140/70-17 Bridgestone BT090R
Seat height 35.7 in.
Wheelbase 56.1 in.
Fuel capacity 2.0 gal.
Claimed dry weight 280 lbs.


A lightweight supermoto that's a ton of fun

They say: "The WR250X makes Yamaha's off-road prowess street-accessible."
We say: "Our definition of prowess is 450cc."
Dirt-sized wheels, a smaller front brake rotor, silver fork stanchions and a $100-less-expensive sticker differentiate the dual-sport WR250R from the supermoto WR250X.