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Tested: 2018 Honda CRF250R

The new Honda is much improved over the previous model, as the bike has taken a totally new direction. This year’s bike basically offers all the modifications the CRF450 received last year in the way of a new chassis, suspension and even an electric start.

The CRF250 has finally stepped away from its 15-year-old single cam Unicam engine and is now a dual overhead cam like all its 250F rivals. It also has dual exhausts from two separate exhaust ports, a bigger bore and shorter stroke design. As you’d expect, this machine offers something different compared to the previous CRF250. Honda was under pressure to bring something new and genuinely quick to the table for ‘18 which they’ve certainly done.

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I’m a fan of the new CRF as it makes good power, unlike Honda 250Fs in the past. However, this new power curve won’t suit everyone. If you’re a stop-start rider who loves to turn tight then explode out of the berms instead of carrying high corner speed, then you may strange at first to adjust to the bike. It makes all its power from mid to top and if your not revving the bike hard, you won’t get the best from the engine.

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The good thing about this bike is you actually feel comfortable revving it due to the bike being so well behaved. The suspension and chassis really do play a massive part in allowing you to push the bike because it doesn’t feel nervous at all.

Honda has banged on about mass centralisation for years and all the development is starting to starting to pay off. The bike is so easy to move around on and you do feel instantly confident.

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The big negative to this bike is the bottom to mid-range. It’s weak and you can really feel the lack of torque when back-to-back testing it against other bikes. Haviong said that, I have tested some different engine maps which basically give the bike more punch by advancing the timing. Any by giving the bike more fuel, you get extra power in the mid-range which brings third and fourth gear into play. It would be great to really play with the mapping on this bike to get it performing like it is undoubtedly capable of.

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I didn’t feel much slower on this bike against the other brands but it was harder work to keep my lap times on point. But the bike doen’t exhaust you when riding which is strange as you have to push hard on it.

However if you miss your mark, you pay the price as it’s a little slow getting back up to speed. The electric start didn’t effect the ride of the bike and it didn’t feel heavy despite being the lardiest 250F at 104.7kg. In fact, it had the best flickability out of all the 250s on test.

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It’s a solid starting point for the new breed of Honda CRF, but needs a few issued dialling out. But the big things – like the sweet handling and top end power, are all there. It’s a bike that will sell loads, and rightly so.

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