The results speak for themselves: Since the introduction of the current platform, Honda's CRF250R has risen above the competition both indoors and out. Most recently, Team Honda HRC's Hunter Lawrence captured the 2023 250 Supercross East Region Championship in convincing fashion, while his brother Jett was equally dominant en route to the West Region crown. In addition to its racing success, the CRF250R has gained a well-deserved reputation for its exceptional handling, excellent ergonomics, strong acceleration and rock-solid durability. From local racers lining up for the first time to those chasing the top step of the Supercross podium, the CRF250R possesses the ingredients necessary for success on the track.
Just two years after the debut of the CRF450R–Honda's first four-stroke motocrosser–the original CRF250R was introduced for the 2004 model year. Generation 2 followed in 2006, with a focus on achieving balance through careful vehicle packaging. That bike won the AMA Supercross 250SX East crown at the hands of Davi Millsaps, and two years later Trey Canard took that title aboard the same platform.
The 2010 iteration introduced fuel injection, which Canard employed to good effect in earning that year's AMA 250 Motocross Championship. Justin Barcia won the following year's 250SX East crown, and in 2012 Barcia and Eli Tomac dominated AMA Supercross, winning the East and West titles, respectively. In the generation's final year, Tomac earned the AMA 250 Motocross Championship, with Wil Hahn taking the 250SX East crown.
The model's 2014 iteration was noted for its suspension updates, and Justin Bogle rode it to that year's East Region Championship. The 2018 model featured a new dual-overhead-cam engine, and Chase Sexton proved its effectiveness when he rode it to the 2019 and 2020 East Region titles, with Jett Lawrence taking the 2021 AMA Pro Motocross crown. The platform was also raced to AMA Arenacross Championships by Phoenix Racing Honda riders Jace Owen (2019) and Kyle Peters (2020 and '21).
The 2022 model year saw a major overhaul of the CRF250R, with the ambitious design goal of improving engine performance and toughness, while reducing vehicle weight. This latest platform has been raced with success by Team Honda HRC, with Jett Lawrence taking it to the '22 crowns in East Region Supercross and AMA Pro Motocross; in '23, Jett and his brother Hunter earned the West and East Region Supercross crowns, respectively, and Hunter currently leads the AMA Pro Motocross title chase. Meanwhile, Peters has collected his third and fourth consecutive AMA Arenacross titles.
ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN
The CRF250R's 249cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, double-overhead camshaft four-valve engine design achieves excellent performance and durability. Low rpm torque is maximized through the design of the air intake, valve timing and exhaust port, but strong top-end power is also on tap.
The shape of the airbox results in a large capacity, particularly on the clean side of the air filter. The fuel injector's lean angle is 60 degrees, enabling the spray to reach all the way to the back of the butterfly, and the throttle bore is 44mm. Together these features cool the intake charge, maximizing air-intake efficiency and torque at low revs. The air filter features a spring-loaded clip design for easy serviceability.
The cylinder head features four titanium valves (33mm intake and 26mm exhaust), with the former using dual springs (one inside the other) to ensure precise movement at higher revs. The intake camshaft sprocket is press-fit, which enhances valve-timing accuracy while minimizing weight.
The camshaft holder has a rigid design that maintains camshaft-journal roundness, contributing to timing accuracy and minimizing friction at high rpm. Durability at high engine speeds is maximized by a high flow of lubrication to the oil-supply journal and the cylinder head. The bore and stroke are 79.0mm and 50.9mm, respectively, and the compression ratio is 13.9:1. The water-pump gear is thick to enhance strength.
The exhaust system utilizes a single straight exhaust port for good torque and low-rpm drivability. The single exhaust header is routed close to the engine on the right side for a narrow cross-section and good rider mobility, and the single muffler has internal baffling that is optimized for torque delivery.
In order to fully realize the engine's performance potential, the ECU mapping supplies the optimum air/fuel mixture and ignition timing at all throttle positions and engine speeds. HRC-inspired launch control facilitates holeshots.
The clutch pack has nine discs to maximize the amount of disc friction material and minimize the load on the individual discs. The clutch basket is rigid for durability, a friction spring reduces spring load, and lubrication is optimized to reduce wear. The primary ratio is 3.047, and lubrication is optimized to enhance clutch endurance.
When designing the five-speed gearbox, engineers made efforts to enhance feel when making up- and downshifts between second and third gears—a very common operation on a 250 motocrosser. Only one shift fork is operated to execute this gear-change, the countershaft has good rigidity, and the shift drum is light thanks to a large through hole and use of only two lead grooves.
The design results in excellent gear-shifting feel for the rider, and gear ratios are optimized to best utilize the engine power in the low and middle rpm ranges.
CHASSIS / SUSPENSION
The CRF250R is known for delivering reliable tracking, precise turning, exemplary straight-line stability and overall rideability, and it has a low overall vehicle weight to facilitate increased maneuverability.
Wheelbase is 58.1 inches, rake is 27.32º, trail is 115 mm, the seat height is 37.8 inches, and ground clearance is 13.1 inches.
Frame / Subframe
The lightweight aluminum frame has widely curved main spars with small cross-sections, plus optimized rib placement in the backs of the pivot plates. Longitudinal rigidity is optimized for straight-line stability, while lateral rigidity is optimized to enhance handling feel when cornering.
The subframe features a simple design that doesn't require a separate seat support, to minimize weight.
The coil-spring Showa fork is a 49mm fully adjustable leading-axle, inverted telescopic design with 12.2 inches of stroke. The upper and lower triple clamps are designed with optimized reinforcement ribs, delivering flex for handling and feel through a corner. Traction and bump-impact performance are excellent as well, and the bike has an agile corner approach, with sharp handling characteristics.
The Pro-Link® rear-suspension system uses a Showa shock absorber with adjusters on the right side. Rear travel is 12.3 inches. An ultra-light steel shock spring is used, and the swingarm is narrow, providing clearance in ruts.
The black D.I.D rims (21-inch front, 19-inch rear) deliver durable performance and good looks. Petal-style brake rotors (260mm front, 240mm rear) disperse heat.
The CRF250R comes with Pirelli Scorpion MX32 tires, which are ideal for soft and intermediate terrain, and which offer an appropriate amount of sidewall flex for a 250 motocrosser.
Rider-active design is a key feature of the CRF250R. The cross section is narrow in the middle and at the rear, the seat has a flat layout, and the radiator shroud-side panel junction is smooth. These user-friendly ergonomics permit the rider to easily adjust body position when cornering, accelerating, jumping and braking.
Cooling the CRF250R engine is crucial to maintaining performance and overall durability. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) were used to design air-outlet vents in the shrouds, and the radiator grills optimize the number of fins, as well as their angle. Each radiator shroud is produced in a single piece instead of two separate parts.
The seat base has rearward-facing tongues and front-located mounting tabs, an arrangement that eases installation, and acceleration forces keep the seat securely in place. The 1.7-gallon fuel tank is made of lightweight titanium.
Only eight fasteners are used to secure all of the main bodywork components—both radiator shrouds, both side plates and the seat—and all of the bolts for the main bodywork parts have 8mm heads, simplifying maintenance.
The Renthal® Fatbar® handlebar is held by a clamp that can be turned 180º; because the clamp itself has two mounting locations, there are four possible mounting positions for the handlebar, through a range of 26mm.