Yamaha WR250R Motorcycle Review

I bought the Yamaha WR250R almost two years ago now. I wanted a dirt bike that I could also ride on the street to get to the offroad rides. I looked at a variety dual sport bikes, such as the Yamaha XT250, Kawasaki  KLX250S and Honda CRF230L,  but concluded that I didn’t like the offroad performance. These bikes were a little too street oriented for me. Many years ago I had a Yamaha IT175 rigged to be street legal. I wanted something similar, a bike that was tuned to offroad, but was street legal enough to get me offroad. After reading several reviews, and a few trips to the dealer, I concluded that the Yamaha WR250R was just what I was looking for. Read on to get my thoughts after two thousand miles on the WR250R.

Yamaha WR250R Overview

The Yamaha WR250R  was introduced in 2008 to fill a market niche that Yamaha believed existed. That is the need for a offroad performance motorcycle that still meets street motor vehicle registration and licensing requirements.

Most dual sport motorcycles are design to provide an equal balance of both on road and off road riding experience. This makes them comfortable for riding around on the street, and good for taking on camping trips or some simple trail riding. However, suspension and other components are generally not up for some serious off road riding. This is where the WR250R fits in. It is fitted with higher performance suspension, brakes, and other components that are tuned for a riding style more like 80% off road and 20% on road. It also have fuel injection, that is an added bonus. Despite being much more off road oriented, the WR250R still has a street bike maintenance schedule as opposed to the typical motocross bike requirements. All this does come at a price premium, but you get what you pay for.

Performance and Specifications

The WR250R is a 250-cc, fuel-injected, 4-stroke single that puts out about 30 horsepower at 10,000 rpm. It isn’t an YZ250F motocrosser or WR250F off road bike in off road performance, but neither of these bikes are street legal. The WR250R does use quality off road components, so the design is well suited for spending time off road. It has 11.8 inches of ground clearance and 10.6 inches of suspension travel. This makes it very good for serious off-road riding. It has a fully adjustable front and rear suspension so you can dial it in to your specific size and riding ability. At 298 pounds, the WR250R is heavier than a pure dirt bike, but not too bad for most off road riding. With a seat height of 36.6 inches, it is more inline with a pure dirt bike than a street bike. This is great for off road riding, but can be a challenge on the street when you need to get your feet on the ground at stop lights. The seat has about 1 inch of height adjustment, but that doesn’t lower it much. If you want to firmly plant you feet on the ground for street riding, you will need to change the linkage. The 2 gallon gas tank is okay for most off road riding, especially considering the WR250R gets 71 mpg.

The WR250R has enough power to get me up even the steepest hills. The only weakness might be the dual sport tires. You may want better knobbies if you are planning some really difficult off road trails. The WR250R is also quite durable. Although the plastics will get scratched up, they seem to hold up well. Turn signals are rubber mounted to easily withstand a crash or two. Don’t ask me how I know.

Several things originally sold me on the WR250R. The WR250R is about as off road as you can get, and still be street legal. It has fuel injection, so no messing with carburetor jetting. The last point, the WR250R has a typically street bike maintenance schedule. You don’t need to regularly tear apart the engine for valve adjustments.

Street riding versus offroad riding

The primary reason I got the WR250R was that I didn’t want to trailer the bike to local motorcycle parks. This meant the bike had to be street legal. But, I didn’t want to compromise off road performance to make it street legal. There aren’t many bikes that fit this criteria. The KTM EXC is probably the closest dual sport to meet this goal. It is basically a street legal version of their competition off road bike. The other possibility was converting the Yamaha WR250F competition off road bike to be street legal. Either of these choices would have resulted in better off road performance, but would have come with considerably more engine maintenance and repair. For me, I compromised in favor of more street bike like maintenance.

On the highway, the WR250R can easily cruise at 65 mph in 6th gear. It even has enough power for changing lanes and passing. Some people may want to change the gearing to make it a little better for low speed off road riding. This will be at the trade off against highway riding. For me, it seemed like a good balance.

The seat is reasonable for off road riding. But, if you have a considerable street ride to and from your off road ride, be prepared for a sore butt. With a seat height of over 35 inches, reaching the ground at street lights is a challenge. And, it is almost impossible to get your weight off the seat to relieve any pressure points. I actually changed the linkage (YamaLink) to lower the bike another 2 inches. This allowed me to get both feet onto the ground, and relieve a little seat pressure. It compromised a little ground clearance, but I think that handling actually improved with the YamaLink.

The one thing I’d definitely suggest changing if you are planning a lot of off road riding is the tires. The stock dual sports are good for street riding, and moderate trail riding. However, if you are getting into some serious dirt or mud, particularly hilly areas, you may want to get a tire with better off road performance.

Performance Enhancements

There are quite a few performance enhancements available for the WR250R. As a minimum, I’d recommended adding hand guards. Like the saying goes, if you don’t fall down on a dirt bike, you aren’t trying hard enough. Zeta has hand guards that integrate the turn signals, so you can eliminate the standard turn signals. Speaking of eliminating turn signals, you can also get kits to eliminate a lot of the backend clutter with more compact license plate holder and rear signal lights.

The biggest noticeable off road performance improvement will come with good off road tires. The dual sport tires are probably the biggest compromise for street versus off road riding. You can also get high performance  exhaust systems to increase horsepower. The stock skid plate is plastic, so if you are planning to ride over a lot of rocks, you may want to upgrade to a metal plate. Corbin makes a seat that some people say is more comfortable for longer rides. If you are planning a long distance ride, you may also want to get a larger 3 to 4 gallon gas tank. The stock bike is very good, so I’d suggest riding that for a while and then decide where you want improvements.

Is the WR250R right for you?

If you are looking for a very good 250-cc off road motorcycle that you can also ride on street, the WR250R is a great bike. In general, I’m not a big fan of dual sport bikes. I’ve owned several. Most are a compromise for both street and trail. Not great for either. The WR250R has enough dirt credibility to violate this compromise.

What about as a street bike? At 70 mile per gallon, it is a reasonable commute bike. It is actually a lot of fun to ride on the street. It is light and maneuverable. I’ve had a blast riding this bike on twisty, hilly roads. However, the 35+ inch seat height means it isn’t the most comfortable bike for long distance street riding. Also, it probably isn’t a good starter bike, since the tall seat will keep you from getting both feet firmly planted on the ground.

However, if you are a competent rider looking for a dual sport bike, and want higher performance both on and off road, the WR-250R is a step above most other small dual sport motorcycles.

Interested in more details, check out the Yamaha WR250R web page.


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  1. Zac Denton says:

    I bought a HMF competition series exhaust. The company claims I need to rejett, but I noticed you said this is not neccessary. Can you help me with this issue? I am a newbie so this mess is really over my head!Zac

    • I had the stock exhaust on my WR250R, so I’m not sure if you need to change the jetting. It is not uncommon to change the jetting if you change the exhaust. You can always install the exhaust and see how it runs. If it runs fine, you don’t need to change the jetting. If you have trouble starting it, or it runs poorly, you probably need to change the jetting. Even if it runs okay, if the manufacturer is suggesting you need to change the jetting, you may will need to change the jetting to get optimal performance.

    • bknysh says:

      Zac, I contacted HMF to get specific details on their recommendation. Here is what they told me. The WR250R runs lean when using the HMF exhaust system without a fuel controller (i.e., EFI Optimization Kit). There are slight performance gains from using the exhaust by itself. However you are going to be running lean. Lean conditions cause high exhaust gas temps which can cause damage to engine components and exhaust systems. With the exhaust and fuel controller you can expect an easy 3.5-4 HP performance improvement at the rear tire. Although I don’t have experience with the HMF exhaust on the WR250R, if it is running too lean without the EFI kit, you can probably expect idling problems and even hesitation on acceleration. It sounds like if you plan to use the HMF exhaust, you should also get the EFI kit.

  2. wailerintx says:

    What year WR do you have ? The WR250R’s have been fuel-injected for at least the last three model years….(Jetting by INTEL, at a rate of about 200,000 times per minute)

    • Mine was a 2009, and yes it was fuel injected. I don’t think the WR250R ever was carbureted. It was fuel injected from its first year of production which I believe was 2008. When I responded to Zac’s post, I had just rejetted my KTM 450. I had several long discussion about whether I needed to change the exhaust along with the jetting to get best performance. My recommendation was based on what I’d learned about exhausts and jetting for my KTM. I’m not sure how this applies to the WR250R being fuel injected. I suspect HMF were recommending remapping the EFI jetting. I’ll explore this a little more.

  3. Okay, wailerintx got me thinking about Zac’s question in a little more detail. I was wondering if what HMF recommended was a new EFI map, not specifically changing the jets in the carburetor. It turns out that HMF sells an EFI jetting optimizer kit for the WR250R designed to optimize performance with their HMF exhaust. I think that my original recommendation is still mostly correct, if you assume that what HMF was recommending for rejetting was adding the jetting optimizer kit and remapping the EFI, not actually changing the carburetor jets. Zac, if you are concerned about the extra cost for the EFI Jetting Optimizer Kit, you can try running the bike with the new exhaust and original EFI mapping. Adding the EFI jetting optimizer kit may just add even more performance improvements by optimizing the jetting. Since I don’t have first hand experience with the HMF exhaust on a WR250R I don’t know exactly what to expect. You might ask HMF if the bike will run fine without the EFI Jetting Optimizer, just not getting the optimal performance improvements available with the new exhaust. If that is the case, then it is your choice if, and when, to also get the EFI kit.

    • jetting, jetting, jetting, carburetor, carburetor, carburetor. the wr250r has neither, please stop using this terminology.

      • Kyle, if you had read the whole discussion you would have seen that Zac bought an HMF competition series exhaust for his WR250R, and HMF told him he needed to rejet his bike. Rejetting was the term HMF used. I did some research for Zac to see what HMF meant by rejetting a WR250R, and discovered they recommended a new mapping for the fuel injection system. The rest of the response discusses my thoughts on whether Zac should buy the EFI jetting optimizer kit from HMF. Bryan

  4. Has anyone had issues with the front end wanting to wash away all the time, driving on a flat straight dirt road used as a runway my wr250r feels as if I’m in a rut trying to turn out and the front wheel wants to slide out from under me. A mate of mine drove behind me to watch whats going on and said he can see the front wheel washing out from left to right. Has anyone got a solution to this as the shop said there is no problem but did not take the bike for a ride.

    • I don’t think I had your specific problem, but maybe something related. I didn’t like the way my WR250R tracked in corners or turned. It seemed to drop into corners too much, and pushed a little bit. Maybe a feeling like the front end might wash out. In trying to fix a different problem, I didn’t like the high seat, I improved the handling and tracking. I installed a Yamalink lowering linkage to lower the seat height. In adding the linkage, I also had to change the front fork position to lower the front end. This completely changed the riding geometry. The bike started handling much better. Better tracking and handling in corners. I don’t know if this is related to your problem, but it may be worth researching to see if this might solve your problem:


      Hope this helps.

  5. I did lower the front forks by 16mm and dropped the rebound pressure and did soften the rear spring and it did seem better. The other bike it had very little affect so not sure why the second bike handled worse from the start aswell.

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