2019 Factory Off-Road Bikes—Tarah Gieger’s Honda CRF250RX

Mark Kariya

2019 Factory Off-Road Bikes—Tarah Gieger’s Honda CRF250RX, by Mark Kariya

It didn’t take Tarah Gieger or the JCR Honda squad much time to dial in the new-for-’19 CRF250RX. In fact, modifications were minimal and aimed primarily at having Pro Circuit tune the suspension for her lighter-than-average weight coupled with faster-than-average speed. (Mark Kariya/)
There are those who shy away from the first year of any new model bike, preferring instead to let others work out the feared "first-year bugs" some of those new rides seem to have. That wasn't the case with Tarah Gieger and the new-for-2019 Honda CRF250RX. Having raced the motocross-focused CRF250R previously, it wasn't a big switch for the Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) Honda team member, who planned to concentrate on the FMF AMA National Grand Prix Championship (NGPC) Series' Pro Women's title this year. The '250RX—like its bigger brother, the CRF450RX—is well suited for the courses that series features since they're usually based at motocross tracks, but with fast off-road sections added. "I run a pretty basic, stock bike," the former motocrosser insists. "I change the triple clamps—run some Xtrig [clamps]. Originally, it was to change the offset, but now that offset comes standard on the [2019 Honda so it's not for that]. I just like the feel of the Xtrig; it's a little softer, a little bit more give. It's really nice in the hardpack and the chattery bumps. "Besides that, a bigger [IMS] tank for the longer races and suspension. Pro Circuit valves the suspension and puts my spring rates in. A Works Connection clutch perch, Hinson clutch, and other than that, it's pretty much stock. I throw some Maxxis tires on there [too]."

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There aren’t many mods to the engine aside from the Pro Circuit exhaust and—in this view—the Hinson clutch riding behind the Hinson cover. Mapping is standard Honda. Gieger likes IMS Pro Series pegs for the control and comfort they afford. (Mark Kariya/)
Pressed for details, she admits her spring rates are one or two steps lighter than standard in back (she wasn’t positive)—not surprising since she’s significantly lighter than the target consumer of this model—but that’s somewhat compensated for in the valving: “I run pretty aggressive valving. I like the bike to sit higher in the front. It’s pretty plush up top and it ramps up pretty good. It reduces bottoming because that’s probably the thing I dislike the most riding is that feeling of it bottoming and kind of deflecting off stuff. “I run, I believe it’s a 0.45 [kg/mm spring rate] in the front.” Part of that may be traced to her motocross background; she muses, “I like riding over the front a lot. I’m a smaller rider so I stand up and put a lot of weight on the front of the bike. I hate when it dives, that diving feeling.” Regarding sag, Gieger states, “I honestly don’t check it a ton. I go by feel. But I think it’s anywhere from 102[mm] to 104, I want to say is right where we run it.” Ground contact is the responsibility of the Maxxis tires; at the NGPC round in Ridgecrest, California, the ’RX sported a 110/100-18 Maxxcross SI in back and matching front in 80/100-21. Nitro Mousse foam inserts are fitted inside both to virtually eliminate flats. “For off-road, I run their harder-pack front, then for moto I’ll run their softer one. It gets a little better grip when it’s soft out, but the hard-pack one works really good for off-road.” Galfer provides the rotors front and rear, though the rest of the brake systems are regular Honda. A plastic Acerbis guard protects the front rotor while a stock plastic Honda piece remains in place for the rear rotor. Gieger keeps the seat foam standard, but throws on a grippier Throttle Jockey cover. “I don’t sit on it too much, but I like it when I do get in the corners that it keeps me up forward and I don’t have to use my arms or legs [as much] to stay forward. I just use the grip of the seat.”

Slightly narrowed to better suit her stature, the Renthal 999 handlebar on Xtrig triple clamps provides comfort, control, and home for the Works Connection clutch lever assembly and A’ME grips. Note, too, the IMS tank and lack of steering stabilizer. (Mark Kariya/)
IMS Pro Series footpegs replace the OEM units, Gieger not sure if they’re slightly taller than stock. Since she’s smaller than the average intended customer, taller pegs allow her to keep seat height and, hence, cushioning stock as well as make it easier to reach the Renthal 999-bend handlebar that’s narrowed slightly, Gieger guessing 5mm on each side. A’ME half-waffle soft grips are her points of contact. While the standard front brake lever/master cylinder arrangement remains, the clutch side assemblies are by Works Connection. A JCR Speed Shop billet kill button sits on the throttle side of the Renthal bar, though it’s wired to function as the starter button. Unlike a number of off-road racers, she doesn’t run a steering damper, also likely a reflection of her motocross background.

For GPs, 13/49 gearing is preferred; for moto, she likes 13/51. Renthal sprockets, D.I.D’s X-ring chain, BRP chain guide, and a Maxxis Maxxcross SI also get the nod. (Mark Kariya/)
Renthal also furnishes the sprockets, with Gieger sharing, “For moto I usually go up two [teeth on the rear] from stock, which is [49]. I just like that pull of second gear out of the turns. I’ve always done that on every bike I had, but in off-road I run stock [gearing] just to get the faster speeds on the straightaways and get everything I can out of the little 250F.” The countershaft sprocket size is the standard 13-tooth, and D.I.D’s ERT3 X-ring chain connects the sprockets with a BRP chain guide keeping things running correctly. Twin Air not only is the air filter company of choice, it also provides the plastic louvers to add a degree of protection for the radiators. An Acerbis plastic skid plate keeps the engine cases and bottom of the frame from all but the most damaging hits. In the CRF250R-derived engine, the JCR team runs VP T4 race fuel. Mapping is stock, Gieger noting, “I always used to remap the bike to lean the bottom to get a little more snap and put a little more fuel up top so it would rev higher, but this year, I’ve just been running the stock map, map 1. I noticed last year when we tested, what I really liked when I went back to map 1 wasn’t a whole lot different, so I didn’t really stress about it this year. “If we get into real technical, rocky stuff, I know map 2 is a little more mellow and it’s pretty nice because it has more bottom. Then if we have really high-rpm fast stuff [at an upcoming race], [I like] map three. It doesn’t have as much bottom—they put [the power] up top—so you need to rev it out longer. The stock maps have come a really long way since they started with fuel injection.”

After testing last year, Gieger discovered the OEM FI mapping was close to ideal with three different modes to choose from, map 1 being the most all-around and useful for her. Pro Circuit’s Ti-6 mufflers put the finishing touch on enhancing overall performance. (Mark Kariya/)
For most GPs, though, she relies primarily on map 1 since she likes to have a little more bottom-end torque: “You do need a little bottom coming out of stuff, especially if it starts getting hard and slick, and you have to come in slower.” Pro Circuit’s Ti-6 mufflers complete the engine performance mods, a Hinson clutch and cover providing more robust replacements for the OEM parts. Pro Honda lubricants are used throughout, and Throttle Jockey also supplies the graphics.

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