Motocross has modified. The 250 four-stroke class as soon as existed within the shadow of the large bikes. They had been known as “lites” and regarded the tough equal of 125 two-strokes. No extra. On the first Supercross of 2023, the highest 250s certified forward of all however three 450s. The efficiency of the everyday 250 four-stroke is so excessive that displacement may not be the defining measure of efficiency for much longer. However, for now, 250s have their very own class at most races, and that begs the query, “Which one is greatest?” Now we have gathered the seven bikes mostly accessible within the U.S. The group is blended. Some are fully new, and a few are unchanged from final yr. All had been left inventory for this comparability, and that features tires, that are a mixture of Dunlop and Maxxis. We’ll go over every bike’s strengths and weaknesses earlier than we provide the official DB 250 MX rating for 2023.
GasGas motocross bikes, to state what has grow to be widespread data, come out of the identical manufacturing facility as KTMs and Husqvarnas. However, for 2023, the GasGas MC250F is totally totally different as a result of it’s based mostly on an earlier platform. The MC250F additionally has a decrease steered retail value than its counterparts within the Husky and KTM traces. Quite a few half suppliers are totally different, together with these for the handlebar and rims. Plus, the GasGas has no resonance chamber within the exhaust head pipe, makes use of solid triple clamps and doesn’t include a map swap. Maxxis tires come on each ends.
The GasGas is a comfortable, comfy motorbike that’s simple to experience. This era of the metal Austrian body is pretty compliant, which helps the suspension do its job. Up entrance, the fork is the WP Xact air fork, just like those on the KTM and Husky, however it’s arrange on the mushy facet, enhancing the MC250F’s identification as an inviting bike for much less skilled riders. It’s the lightest bike within the shootout, coming in at 218 kilos with out gas on our scale. That contributes to the bike’s wonderful general dealing with. It turns properly and could be very simple to manhandle.
GasGas could declare to be an reasonably priced model, however it isn’t cheap sufficient to justify the dearth of a map swap, the funds pipe or the solid triple clamps. The facility is unnecessarily restricted, and the suspension is handicapped. The MC250F nonetheless prices way over the Japanese bikes. The horsepower is softer than that of both the KTM or the Husky. Likewise, the suspension is ready up somewhat mushy for an aggressive rider.
In inventory type, the GasGas is an effective, pleasant bike for the sportsman-level rider. It’s additionally simple to construct right into a pro-level machine, however let’s not lose perspective; this isn’t a funds motorbike by any means.
Final yr Honda made massive adjustments to the CRF250R. It acquired the brand new chassis that the 450 acquired in 2021, and the motor was fully reconfigured. The pinnacle, piston, rod, cams and clutch are new, though it didn’t get a hydraulic clutch just like the 450. Alongside the way in which, it misplaced weight and have become the lightest of the Japanese 250 four-strokes. On our scale, it’s 219 kilos. For 2023, it returns unchanged. It nonetheless affords three maps and three ranges of traction management. The suspension is Showa and the tires are Pirelli.
The Honda has wonderful low-end torque. The facility comes on early and robust, so that you don’t have to make use of the clutch as a lot as you do on different 250s. Even while you do use the clutch, the pull could be very mild. The steering is simple. General dealing with is nice, too, as a result of light-weight and responsive steering geometry. Everybody feels comfy on the CRF250R. The rider positioning is great for many riders, massive or small.
After making such robust low-end energy, the Honda goes flat at increased revs. On prime, it has nothing on the KTM, Husky or Kawasaki. The primary two maps are of little use, as a result of most riders favor essentially the most aggressive of the three. The suspension is tough to dial in. The fork, specifically, is harsh on small chop and bumps. The Pirelli tires had been okay on mushy terrain however much less efficient on hard-packed soil.
Honda has a fantastic bundle that simply wants extra fine-tuning. That was true of the 450 when it acquired these adjustments, too. Within the 250 class, you can provide away somewhat peak energy in the event you make up for it in another place. Honda remains to be in search of that different place.
Every thing concerning the Husky FC250 is new for 2023, however we’ve had a while to get used to it. We first noticed this body and motor within the limited-edition FC250 Rockstar Version final yr. The body remains to be metal, however it’s constructed to be extra inflexible on many planes. It additionally has new rear suspension and an electronics bundle that features Quickshift, in addition to traction management. Despite the fact that the body and engine are equivalent to these of the KTM 250SX-F, the suspension is totally different. Each ends have barely lowered journey to decrease the seat top. The tires are Dunlop MX33s.
The Husqvarna is a robust bike. It gained energy from backside to prime, and that’s an enormous profit in a category the place horsepower is disproportionately essential. Cornering is one other robust level. The geometry is similar because it was final yr, however the brand new body is much less conducive to suspension squat exiting turns. That leads to extra stability general. As for the lowered seat top, it’s a common hit. Even tall riders prefer it, and nobody reported floor clearance points, even in ruts. Quickshift might be efficient, too, despite the fact that not everybody trusts it.
With the brand new platform, the Husky gained weight. It now weighs 227 kilos. The brand new body additionally provides the rider quite a lot of suggestions from the monitor. This places extra of a burden on the suspension, and the WP air fork is already considerably overworked. The general result’s that the Husky isn’t particularly pleasant to freshmen and novices. Despite the fact that the motor makes first rate low-end energy, it really works greatest while you rev it, and that may be a demanding method to experience.
The Husky sends a blended message. On one hand, the decrease seat top makes it inviting to younger riders and people with much less expertise. However, it’s a harsh motorbike with a demanding pro-level energy supply. General, although, it’s exhausting to argue with this a lot energy and such good general cornering traits.
Kawasaki made huge adjustments to the KX250 in 2021 with appreciable fanfare. For 2023, the engineers went in and made selective adjustments virtually in secret. It acquired new valves, a brand new flywheel, a brand new head pipe, new gear ratios, a brand new consumption and various different invisible adjustments. It nonetheless has coupler-based mapping, footpegs that may be relocated and the one hydraulic clutch on a Japanese 250. It’s the identical weight because the Yamaha, Suzuki and Husky at 227 kilos with out gas. The KX250 comes with Dunlop MX33 tires.
The Kawasaki is quicker than ever. Final yr it was the one Japanese bike that might cling with the KTM and the Husky, at the least on prime. This yr, plainly Kawasaki answered the decision and located extra energy to counter the progress from Austria. The Kawie can also be a cushty bike, and, between the 4 handlebar positions and the 2 footpeg areas, it has quite a lot of adjustability. We love the hydraulic clutch, which has the best pull of all.
Despite the fact that Kawasaki made wonderful progress with the motor output, it nonetheless might use extra energy down low. The coupler-based mapping is clumsy and archaic, and not one of the maps supplied assist down low. The motor remains to be somewhat raspy, with a loud bark and appreciable popping. General, the Kawasaki isn’t particularly secure. This strikes us as odd, as a result of the KX450 could be very properly planted with the identical primary chassis. The suspension remains to be very middle-of-the-road. If something, the fork is somewhat harsher this yr.
Everybody likes using the KX250 however comes away wanting just a bit extra of this or that. Typically suspension is the difficulty; different occasions it’s stability or low-end energy. One space the place the KX will get common reward is top-end energy. On a 250, that goes a great distance.
KTM has been pushing the sides of the envelope within the 250 class for years. It was the primary with electrical begin, the primary with a hydraulic clutch and even the primary to interrupt into the 40-horsepower bracket. So, the newly redesigned 2023 250SX-F comes with nice expectations. It has the brand new body and motor that the Manufacturing facility Version acquired final yr and the Husky FC250 acquired this yr. The essential body geometry is unchanged, however the flex traits and the angle of the motor have modified, together with the bodywork. The brand new bike gained some weight and now is available in at 226 kilos. The tires are Dunlop MX33s.
Energy. As at all times, the KTM has nice energy. The brand new motor has extra revs on prime and extra prepared throttle response down low. It has a barely sharper hit than the Husky, despite the fact that the motors are stated to be equivalent. Regardless of being barely taller than the Husky FC250, the KTM corners like magic. The change within the motor angle leads to much less suspension squat below acceleration. The brakes are wonderful, and the hydraulic clutch is nearly as good as ever.
The KTM has a harsh feeling on small bumps and exhausting edges. A part of the blame goes to the WP Xact air fork and half goes to the brand new, extra inflexible chassis. Regardless of having a lot adjustability, the air fork is tough to sq. away. The rear suspension is totally new for 2023 however doesn’t appear to supply a definite enchancment over final yr.
KTM is on a roll. Final yr’s bike was excellent, and with the redesign, it gained much more energy. However, not all of the adjustments are developments. The chassis is heavier and harsher. It is going to take time earlier than the brand new bike’s potential might be absolutely realized.
A number of seasons in the past, Suzuki tapped out of the year-to-year melee of motocross bike one-upmanship. In consequence, the RM-Z250 is the product of an earlier period. It has no electrical begin, no hydraulic clutch, no map swap, and no know-how that wasn’t accessible a decade in the past. Suzuki does have a launch management function known as S-HAC, and lately the RM-Z250 comes with an aftermarket GET mapping system. The bike’s most important function is a value of $7899, which is dramatically lower than any of the others.
The RM-Z250 nonetheless handles properly. It at all times did, and the affect it had on the remainder of the 250 class is noticeable. It appears that evidently most of the different bikes have grown extra Suzuki-like on the subject of cornering. The motor has a easy, linear energy supply, and general the bike is simple to experience and makes you are feeling like a hero. The brakes are good, and the general consolation degree is great.
With regards to outright acceleration, the RM-Z250 is at a big drawback. Peak output is greater than 5 horsepower down in comparison with the others, and that makes it tough to compete at any degree. The suspension can also be very stiff for the everyday 250 rider. As an apart, we’ve got to level out that in the event you stall the bike throughout a race, it’s a must to kickstart it, however you knew that.
We respect the truth that Suzuki is taking a totally totally different method, particularly contemplating that the most typical criticism within the sport is the excessive value of latest bikes. We do want that the Suzuki had been frozen in a barely totally different state. It wouldn’t be any costlier to supply it with softer suspension.
No motorbike has had as a lot success in professional racing as the present model of the Yamaha YZ250F. The bikes of the Monster Power Star Racing crew are legendary within the professional ranks. The manufacturing model has had a fantastic run as properly, and it was the winner of the 2022 Filth
Bike Journal “250 Motocross Shootout.” It returns unchanged for 2023. It nonetheless has the reverse head configuration that has been a Yamaha trademark for over 10 years. It options Yamaha’s Energy Tuner smartphone app for no further cost.
The YZ250F remains to be on the very prime of the suspension heap. Yamaha’s proprietary model of the KYB coil-spring fork is nice on mild chop and excellent in heavy whoops. Identical goes for the rear; the rougher the monitor, the larger the YZ’s benefit. The motor’s most important trait is its throttle response. The YZ rider will get higher outcomes with much less effort. Even in the event you don’t like the way in which the Yamaha runs, it may be altered simply with the Yamaha Energy Tuner app, which remains to be one of the best software within the enterprise for shopper engine tuning.
The YZ is falling behind within the horsepower class. Despite the fact that the motor is responsive and enjoyable, it provides away peak energy to the Austrian bikes and the Kawasaki. The YZ additionally has cramped ergonomics, particularly for tall riders. So far as general dealing with, the YZ doesn’t really feel particularly agile or mild. It weighs 227 kilos with out gas.
The Yamaha has loved a future on the prime of the 250 class, however the time for change has come. It nonetheless has unimaginable suspension, a quick energy supply and tuning know-how that nobody else can match. Within the years forward, nevertheless, which may not be sufficient.
Development is available in surges and waves within the motocross world. This yr has seen the bar raised increased than ever earlier than within the horsepower division, however that isn’t sufficient. A motocross bike can solely be nearly as good as its most limiting function. Normally, it would take one other yr or two earlier than suspension and dealing with can catch up. For that purpose, we’ve got a repeat winner.
FIRST PLACE: YAMAHA YZ250F
The YZ250F remains to be the bike that greatest places all of the items collectively. It may not be the quickest, however it’s quick sufficient. Whereas the remainder of the category will get its act collectively in suspension and know-how, the Yamaha squeaks via with one other win.
SECOND PLACE: HUSQVARNA FC250
Entering into, we felt this may be the yr of the Austrian bikes. With a lot energy and development, it appeared inevitable. However, with massive adjustments come massive dangers. It’d take a yr or two to kind out the FC250’s new elements and see what we actually have. Within the meantime, we admire Husqvarna’s unconventional considering on the subject of seat top.
THIRD PLACE: KTM 250SX-F
As we identified earlier, many of the massive developments within the 250 class have been ushered in by KTM. This yr isn’t any totally different. The 2023 KTM 250 motor is a step ahead. The remainder of the bike will catch up quickly.
FOURTH PLACE: KAWASAKI KX250
Like Husqvarna and KTM, Kawasaki discovered extra energy this yr. The KX250 is quicker than ever. Additionally just like the Austrians, suspension is the subsequent frontier that Kawasaki should face to succeed in the highest of the category.
FIFTH PLACE: HONDA CRF250R
Two years in the past the Honda CRF250R was held again by a motor that was all prime and no backside. Now, the motor is all torque with out sufficient peak. Likewise, there have been dramatic swings in suspension and dealing with. Honda has all of the items, however they’ve to satisfy in the identical place on the identical time.
SIXTH PLACE: GASGAS MC250F
We’ll admit that inserting the GasGas in sixth is considerably arbitrary, particularly contemplating that it’s so mild and the motor has a lot potential. In inventory situation, although, it’s being intentionally held again. It’s a motorcycle that could possibly be a lot extra if solely it had been let out.
SEVENTH PLACE: SUZUKI RM-Z250
The RM-Z250 is a good motorbike however not a fantastic racer. We love the truth that Suzuki is providing a lower-priced different, however on the finish of the day, it’s not our cash. We simply check bikes. You’ll be able to see the worth for your self and act accordingly.