CRF vs. YZF vs. KXF - my 250F shootout/ride reports

nikki

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#1
I posted this over at ThumperTalk - thought I would share it here as well:

Just some background - I switched to a 4-stroke last year when I got my '03 YZ 250F. I immediately fell in love with the 250F and shaved a few seconds off my lap times (I came off a '01 YZ 125). There was no comparison from the 125 to the 250F. For comparison purposes, I am a 5'5" 130 lb. intermediate MX rider.

So I was real pumped to hear about all the new thumpers for '04 and I couldn't wait to take a spin on them all. I have zero complaints with my YZF but if I had 2 wishes I would ask for it to (1) magically help me get faster in turns and (2) get even lighter.

CRF - 1ST RIDE - My first ride on the CRF was at my friend's SX style track. Overall after giving the bike back, my thoughts were "it was fun but I'll stick with the Yamaha".

POWER - The CRF doesn't have the low end punch like the YZF so coming out of turns I had to wait for the power unless I clutched it like a 125. And in stock form, second gear on the CRF revs out very fast. There is an uphill double out of an off-cambre turn that I always take in 2nd on my YZF and on the CRF, I slid out in the off-cambre turn a little then had the bike bouncing off the rev limiter to clear the double. But the CRF has a very nice third gear that just seems to keep making power when I could open it up on the tight track.

SUSPENSION/BIKE FEEL/CORNERING - The CRF had maybe 1 hour on it and I found the forks to be extremely soft and the bottoming resistance to be disappointing. I flat landed a medium sized table and the forks easily bottomed. The rear suspension felt pretty good though. The bike felt light and like a Honda in the air. I think the bikes wiegh about the same, but the CRF seems to carry it's weight lower and the YZF is slightly more top heavy. I also had to adjust a little to the bike set-up as my bars are lower on my YZF than the CRF. The CRF front brake was very nice compared to my weak YZF front brake and the rear were about the same. Shifting on the CRF was a little notchy (like from neutral to 2nd) but maybe it's just a new bike thing? The clutch on the CRF was a little more responsive than my YZF which I think is due for plates. Cornering felt about the same on the CRF at this track, I was able to turn a little tigher and get up on the tank easier, nothing too noticeable, but read below about the MX track comparisons for more.

STARTING - Why is the CRF kickstarter so darn small?!? It started okay but I rather kick my YZF. Sometimes I would get hung up trying to kick the CRF in the first part of the stroke. Plus I feel that the CRF sits a little taller and I can get better footing on my YZF to give it a good kick.

So for a tighter SX-style track - give me my Yamaha.... now lets compare on a real MX track!

MX COMPARISON - ALL THREE - I have ridden my YZF, a CRF, and a KXF at my favorite track - Sunset Ridge in Walnut, IL. Sunset is a wide open sandy dirt mix track through natural rolling hills. There are 5 lines minimum in every turn and a bunch of decent sized safe jumps.

KXF - I rode the KXF there like 3-4 weeks ago, and have already posted a review, but the main point was the bike felt like a carbon copy of the YZF. The power was very similar although I found the KXF to be a little less responsive out of a flat turn when rolling the throttle (in 3rd) with no clutch compared to the YZF. The midrange power of both bikes was very comparable (the KXF may have had a tad more) and the KXF seemed to rev high but not keep pulling power on the very top like the YZF. The handling and feel of the bike was very similar to the YZF. I was able to hop on the bike and go full speed on the 1st lap as it felt like a green YZF except with a very strong front brake. It carved through turns nice, but nothing that much different than the YZF. If anything, the turning was a little "quicker". The stock suspension on the KXF was excellent. Starting the bike is very easy due to the huge kickstarter and the longer stroke. I also felt that the KXF sat about the same as the YZF which feel lower than the CRF.

CRF - Here's my lap by lap thinking... 1st lap in the A/B practice... "hey I only got passed by 1 or 2 people... not bad". 2nd lap "I feel really good... this bike is fun... wonder if I can hold off this frieght train of guys behind me". 3rd lap "man I'm pulling on them... this thing is sweet... maybe I need to get a CRF... now!"

POWER - on a wide open outdoor track the CRF rocks! Still it was a little "slow" coming out of corners but with a little clutch work and throttle action, it could come screaming out of a turn. And in 3rd and 4th gear, you just keep making more and more smooth power! 1st lap I hit an 80 foot downhill triple in 4th gear 2/3 throttle like I do on my YZF and I overshot the landing by at least 10 feet. The forks, as I mentioned earlier, got a good clanking on that landing - but there was no unpleasant rebound or kick after the big flat land so that was good. I really like the CRF motor on a wide open track - it's like a mini CRF 450 powerhouse. The YZF seems to hit harder then not keep climbing on power as much as the CRF. One thing I did notice though, on the YZF you can short-shift from 3rd to 4th and 4th will easily be on the power whereas on the CRF when I shifted from 3rd to 4th to early it took a little catching up before the 4th gear power would really kick in.

SUSPENSION/BIKE FEEL - Front forks = too soft, rear = decent, rebound = not too springy and pretty forgiving. I am really disappointed how bad the front bottoms for me at 130 lbs. I have been riding my YZF suspension stock all season and love it on jumps. In the whoops the YZF tracks straight but sometimes the rear end kicks up and sometimes off jumps the rear end kicks out to the side but landing jumps it's perfect. The CRF seemed to track well through the rough stuff too but the front end wanted to dance a little. After a lap or so, I felt very comfortable with the feel of the CRF, much more than I did on the SX style track. The bike feels light and nimble and the new frame is great. Although I was VERY tired after a few hard laps on the CRF compared to the YZF. Not sure if it had to do with the bars being higher or what.

CORNERING! - I tore up that inside line! There is an S-turn section where I normally hit the middle-outside rut/berm on the left of the "S" then cut back in and hit the inside of the right of the "S". With the CRF, I was able to hit the brakes and carve out the tightest inside line in the flat stuff on the left turn of the "S" making a shorter and straight shot to the right turn. What a feeling! It's so easy so slide up on the tank and put this thing where you want to go.

OVERALL - The CRF rocks on a wide open track, however I did not like it as much on a SX style track in stock form. I think I'll be staying blue for '04 unless I get a few more laps on the CRF at some tighter tracks and feel how I did on it at Sunset Ridge. I would also like to know why the CRF made me so tired after a few laps compared to the YZF. I am also curious to see how all of the bikes hold up after a year before I make any decisions on switching teams. But I really do believe that all of the new 4-strokes are just as competitive as one another and it'll boil down to the rider at the end.

What a cool time to be a "125" rider! :thumb:
 
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#2
Thanks for the ride report on the new mini thumpers, Nikki. Sounds like a lot of fun. I’ve yet to ride any of the new smaller thumpers, so I’m curious to get on one myself. I had a YZ400F and I’ve ridden 426s and the new CRF450, but never spun a wheel on the 250s yet. I’ve been riding big bikes all my life and currently ride a 300cc two-stroke in hare scrambles and off-road stuff, but I’m thinking about going smaller next time. Those bigger bikes eat me up in the long two-hour races, but sure are fun when I’m fresh.

No idea why the CRF wore you out more than your Yamaha. Might be the ergonomics, might be the stiffness of the aluminum chassis, or it may be that you were riding it harder? Who knows? I had the first generation aluminum frame, the ’97 CR250, and I didn’t care for it much and it did wear me out. But I know Honda has come a long way with the alloy frames.
 

BEEF706

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#3
Thanks for the review Niki, I am thinking hard about a 250 thumper, ( even though I am probably too big) probably need to figure the price of some new springs into the crf price, got to ride one out back of the dealer on his little oval dirt area but didnt get to jump it, How much messing around with the clickers did you get to do?
 

Yogurt

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#4
Nikki- That's odd that you say the KXF and YZF felt lower than the CRF. I'm not sure what the KXF's seat height is, but the YZF is actually almost 2 inches taller than the CRF. The YZF also has 1 more inch of ground clearance than the CRF. Must be the difference in peg to seat height, and the different ergo's. I've never riden any of the other 250's but I love my new CRF250! I think it has easy starting. The CRF does have a tad more compression than the other 250F's though. The KXF and YZF have 12.1:9, while the CRF is 12.9:1. Not much difference, I don't know if you'd be able to notice it while kicking, but maybe.
 

nikki

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#5
Yeah I'm not sure if the taller seat height feel had to do with the CRF being pretty new still and my 250F suspension pretty worn or what but at 5'5", I'm tip-toeing back and forth while sitting on the CRF and not near as bad on the YZF and KXF. I did measure the CRF seat height out at 37.5 inches over the pegs, but didn't put the tape measure on the other two bikes. I don't 100% trust the seat heights/ground clearances posted on the manufacturers specs because who says Honda and Yamaha measure at the same exact point? I'll get the tape measure on my YZF sometime this week and report back.

Also, Red, Stacy (CRF owner), and myself all thought that the CRF had more compression when kicking it over, so that makes sense with your compression numbers.
 

nikki

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#6
Beef - the clickers haven't been touched so I assume they are somewhere in the middle - factory settings. You never know though, maybe the $8 a hour kid putting the bike together decided to turn on em.
 

BadgerMan

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#7
The new issue of Dirt Bike Magazine has a "comparison test" of the 250F's. They preferred the Yamaha also. They said it had "the most versatile motor".

The gods have spoken!................. ;)

Actually, it sounds like they are all pretty capable bikes. It will be fun to see how the rest of the world rates them and how reliable the bikes prove to be.

Oh, and WHERE'S THE KTM!
 
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#8
The KX250F

Looking for a new 4-stroke and I tend to like kawi's. How well does this bike perform??? any input much appreciated
 
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#9
THESE BIKES RIP!

I have about 6 weekends of trails on mine and I love it. I was die hard kx 250 2 stroke guy before this bike , but now I am 250f rider for life!

it handles insane, feels like a 125 and has power like a smooth 250 2-stroke. It starts pulling hard on bottom and just keeps pulling as long as you keep it twisted.

I found my soul bike!
 

nephron

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#10
Would be interesting to see side by side camshaft specs. "Where" the power is on a 4 stroke is almost exclusively dependent upon camshaft timing.

Hotcams, eg, shows a stage 1 and 2 cam for the CRF450. Why they start with so much exhaust timing is a mystery to me, but they obviously don't feel the need to increase it as they go up to the stage 2 cam, where they're just bumping Intake lift a mm or so and adding 6 or so degrees of gross duration. Lobe separation angle is not listed, but is obviously very important.

The reason I'm saying this, is that in a few years, they'll have as many camshaft options for these bikes, as say Engle has for a BBC. You'll be able to pick your power curve for each track, let alone SX vs. MX....and just like jetting, we'll be fiddling with camshaft, mounting advance, etc. changes before each race. This would be a good time to start an aftermarket dirtbike cam company.

If Rich sees this: Why the huge discrepancy b/t Intake and Exhaust timing? Couldn't be exhaust beyond the head, right? Are we talking valves, exhaust port? What?

Nikki--that's the kind of review we need in the mags. Good job.
 

nikki

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#11

BEEF706

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#12
Thsnks for the reply nikki, I think I'm gonna get to take one out to J-5 (wide open mx track) Sunday, I'll give the clydsdale report then ;) The "push down " fork test at the dealer didn't feel all that much different than my CR but my forearms haven't been calbrated recently, :laugh:
 
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#13
What bike were you riding before you found your yamaha iron horse??? (I'm bored and curious and waiting for the sun to come up to go riding)
 

nikki

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#14
Originally posted by FlyinHawaiin
What bike were you riding before you found your yamaha iron horse???

'01 YZ 125 with every possible mod to try to boost the low end power - including Boyesen Precision Porting motor work (which made a very noticable and positive difference for sure, but just not enough for my liking). If I had to nickname my YZ 125, it would have been "clutch monkey". :confused:
 

srellis

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#15
Nephron....
I hear Clark's in Garden has an RMZ250 they are allowing people to "test" ride.

I haven't been there yet but a friend of mine has. Charles told him to take it out for a spin. He said he went up and down the frontage road for about 15 minutes. If his wife wouldn't leave him he'd get one of those also. He said about 3 minutes after he brought the bike back to the shop the cops pulled into the parking lot. He of course quietly slipped out the side door... :confused: