The Yamaha WR250F is an easy bike to ride but a difficult bike to understand. You could call it a high-end race bike aimed at beginners or a play bike designed by racers. It’s clearly a machine designed to adhere to the letter of the law, but it’s unclear what law that is. The WR is not legal as a dual-sport or a California green sticker bike. It’s a bike that defies any attempt to be categorized or defined. But, if you take it on face value, you find that it doesn’t need to fall into any category or group.
Traditionally, the WR250F has been an off-road adaptation of the YZ250F motocross bike. That’s still the case, but since 2015, Yamaha has offered another bike between the YZ and WR. The YZ250FX is sold as a closed-course, off-road race bike. Yamaha is cutting thinner and thinner slices of the pie, allowing you to choose a bike that’s already tailored to very specific needs.
First things first: the WR250F is wonderfully quiet. Even with the inner baffle removed, it’s as quiet as any dual-sport bike, at least when you hear it go by. The pilot might not realize how quiet the bike is, because he hears the intake noise of the upward-facing airbox. You get used to that quickly and the noise that everyone else hears is a whisper.
If you’re expecting the miracle of a quiet bike without a horsepower penalty, though, you’re going to be disappointed. The WR pays a steep price for its silence. The bike has a smooth, linear power delivery, but it’s no thrill-maker. Low-end power is much lazier than the competition models. It starts to catch up in the mid-range, but on top it falls off quickly. It still makes enough to be a good trail bike, which is the whole point. For most tight trails, too much power is a much bigger curse than not enough. The WR never stumbles, hiccups or stalls. It just goes forward without fanfare. To put it in perspective, it’s not quite as powerful as a 125 motocrosser but has a much longer, flatter power delivery.