Reworked Engine And Advanced Suspension For 2018

Yamaha hits the trails with the new-and-improved WR250F. Touted as competition-ready right out of the box, the MY18 ’Wide Ratio’ brings a newly-reworked engine in a new frame with other delightful nuggets like the advanced suspension and optional engine-tuning app that uses your smartphone as an interface for quick and easy ignition/injection mapping. Titanium poppets and electronic fuel injection add even more yummy-goodness to the mix as part of the standard equipment package. Will it be enough for the current market? We’ll see soon enough, but meanwhile we can dissect the thing to see what all makes it tick.

Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha WR250F.

  • 2018 Yamaha WR250F
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    249 cc
  • Price:
  • Price:


2018 Yamaha WR250F
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Sleek, modern and minimal, the WR presents a capable, no-nonsense approach that will definitely fit in at the MX track.

It’s the Enduro that ain’t! Yamaha claims the WR is “perfect for Enduro competition,” but you’ll notice right off the bat that there is a lack of street-legal lighting. Namely, no turn signals, so you can forget about riding on the black to get to the brown, you’ll need a truck or a trailer for this bike or adorn it with some accessories if your local regulations allow it. So it’s okay for actual competition, but not so much for pretending you’re in competition when riding with your friends.

Inverted forks and a 21-inch laced wheel lead the way below a large tripleclamp-mount front mudguard and cyclops headlight. The racy blue-and-white livery starts out in the rims and continues back across the fender and headlight housing/flyscreen to play across the radiator shrouds and fuel-tank cover. A low-profile saddle and razor-thin subframe finishes out the upper lines with an unobtrusive taillight tucked away beneath the trailing edge. The laced rear wheel mounts an 18-inch hoop and sports the same blue rim as the front to tie the whole bike together visually.

Minimal body panels leave nothing at all to the imagination, thus making the frame and engine itself part of the décor. Short-rise handlebars help form a workable rider-triangle that allows for an upright posture when seated with room to stand and shift weight as needed. Conspicuous by its absence is the old kicker, gone in favor of an electric leg, and I bet nobody will miss it, either. Sleek, modern and minimal, the WR presents a capable, no-nonsense panache that will definitely fit in at the MX track.


2018 Yamaha WR250F
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The speed-sensitive variable damping responds to rough terrain by firming up the compression damping for a ride quality far beyond what you can expect with just the regular adjustments.

Yamaha borrowed from its proven YZ250F for the skeletal structure of the WR. The bilateral-beam frame uses a pair of rectangular cross-section main spars with tension pipes to manage the flex. Square aluminum stock makes up the lightweight subframe section that comes easily removable for unimpeded rear access. (No giggety.)

KYB suspension floats both ends of the WR with Kashima Coat treatment all around. The inverted front forks come with speed-sensitive variable damping with the full range of adjustments and 12.2 inches of travel. Small bumps leave the front end feeling supple, but as the hits get harder and the strokes get longer, the suspension responds by firming up the compression damping for a ride quality far beyond what you can expect with just the regular adjustments. The best part is; if you don’t like how it feels, you have a wide range of adjustments to get it tuned up just right.

Out back, a KYB monoshock provides the same level of adjustability as the front with 12.5 inches of travel. Rake and trail are listed as 26.33 degrees and 4.5 inches respectively with a 57.7-inch wheelbase which puts you in the fat part of the curve between agility and stability. A new front-disc rotor beefs up the stopping power, though not by much, with a 250 mm diameter disc to go with the 245 mm disc out back. Seat height is in the nosebleed section at 38 inches off the ground, but that’s the price you pay for that terrain-busting suspension travel and 12.8 inches of ground clearance.


2018 Yamaha WR250F
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It's the 3D-mapped engine control that steals the show here and Yammy thoughtfully programs that with an Enduro-optimized ignition and injection control curve.

The engine was on the receiving end of a pretty major overhaul for the 2018 model year. New heads sport new valve springs, revised ports and higher-lift cams for the light and strong titanium valves. The piston, con rod and wrist pin likewise saw an update to save weight. As cool as all that is, it’s the 3D-mapped engine control that steals the show here and Yammy thoughtfully programs that with an Enduro-optimized ignition and injection control curve.

A push-button starter replaces the old kicker for reliable starts and restarts, and an electric fan serves to force cooling air over the radiators to maintain heat control in spite of slow speeds. A 77 mm bore and 53.6 mm stroke gives the WR a 249 cc displacement with a 13.5-to-1 compression ratio and a 44 mm Keihin throttle body on induction control. The factory stuffed a six-speed gearset in the wide-ratio, constant-mesh transmixxer with a standard wet clutch and O-ring chain final drive.


2018 Yamaha WR250F
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Same price as last year, but with plenty of improvements for MY2018.

Buyers can expect an $8,099 MSRP on the base-model WR250F and you can only count on a 30-day limited warranty. It is a racebike after all, they know how you’re going to use it.


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2018 Yamaha WR250F
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Kawi gets a hit with a larger, 270 mm front brake and more brake authority than the Yammy, and that's one of the complaints in general about Yamaha's current lineup: lack of braking power.

Just about everyone is making some sort of mid-size MX bike, but it’s Yamaha’s domestic rivals that matter the most. With that in mind, I went straight to the KX250F by Kawasaki for my competitor, and it looks to fit the bill nicely....maybe a little too nicely.

The KX follows much the same design as the WR with a nearly flat fuel-tank bump and tripletree-mount front mudguard ahead of a tapered-to-nothing tail section. One notable difference between the two; Kawasaki doesn’t waste any time or weight on anything as silly as a headlight or taillight, so it seems the KX is intended for the track and little else. That’s a point that works in favor of the Yamaha that can serve as more that a racebike/daytripper.

Kawi gets some back with its adjustable ergonomics that allow you to tune and shape the rider’s triangle, and it seems the green machine nearly breaks even in the suspension department with top-notch stems to match Yammy’s, all except for the speed-sensitive damping bit. Kawi gets a hit with a larger, 270 mm front brake and more brake authority than the Yammy, and that’s one of the complaints in general about Yamaha’s current lineup: lack of braking power.

Engine displacement is samey-same at 249 cc and apparently, Kawi likes to keep things hot as well as evidenced by the 13.4-to-1 compression ratio. Water cooling and fuel injection are constants across the board, but the KX sports a launch-control feature that a racer might miss on the WR. The KX leaves a gear on the table with only five speeds in its gearbox against the six-speed Yamaha transmission. Kawasaki gets a slight advantage at the checkout with a $7,749 MSRP, but honestly, if a couple-or-three hundred bucks makes a difference for you, perhaps MX ain’t your sport.

He Said

“The new WR seems to be up to par more or less, but that also means it disappears into the pack. I suppose that’s OK enough for trail riding and even competition, since it should be more about the rider’s skillset and less about the bike, right? All that said, I see why Yamaha is, in fact, regaining its spot as the one to beat.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "The changes for 2018 are very noticeable. There’s 15 percent more power in the low range and the bottom of the midrange so it feels like it is a lot more powerful. If you didn’t know what engine was in it, you might think it was closer to a 400 cc engine. The suspension might seem a little too hard at first — it’s a bit firmer than last year — but once I gave it a chance, I really liked it."


Engine Type: 249cc liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke; 4 titanium valves
Bore x Stroke: 77.0mm x 53.6mm
Compression Ratio: 13.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI) Keihin® 44mm
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Wide-ratio constant-mesh 6-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Suspension / Front: KYB® spring-type fork with speed sensitive damping; fully adjustable; 12.2-in travel
Suspension / Rear: KYB® single shock; fully adjustable; 12.5-in travel
Brakes / Front: Hydraulic single disc brake, 250mm
Brakes / Rear: Hydraulic single disc brake, 245mm
Tires / Front: Dunlop® MX3S 80/100-21
Dimensions & Capacities:
L x W x H: 85.2 in x 32.5 in x 50.4 in
Seat Height: 38.0 in
Wheelbase: 57.7 in
Rake (Caster Angle): 26.33°
Trail: 4.5 in
Maximum Ground Clearance: 12.8 in
Fuel Capacity: 2.0 gal
Wet Weight: 258 lb
Warranty: 30 Day (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color: Team Yamaha Blue
Price: $8,099


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See our look at the Kawasaki KX250F.

TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
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