NB: Our overseas readers should note that in Australia we can register and ride these bikes on the road.

WR should stand for ‘Weapons Ready’ as Yamaha’s new 4-stroke WR250F is one amazing weapon. 

As far as 250 4-strokes go no manufacturer has an answer to the WR250, simple as that. Kawasaki’s KLX250R, Honda’s XR250R and Suzuki’s DR250R would not see which way the WR went, they all weigh lots more than the Yamaha and their engines are positively anaemic when compared to the WR250F. This is the sickest little 4-stroke 250 ever.

It behaves itself quite well in the lower rpm ranges without too much carry on but get those revs up and the front claws skywards and the back breaks away, this thing goes like a 2-stroke Motocrosser! Redline on the water-cooled 5-valve engine is a dizzying 13,000rpm which for a 4-stroke single is simply unheard of.

To say I was blown away by the little WR is an understatement, I still can’t believe that engine is only a 250. Hard on the throttle out of 2nd gear corners had the front wheel in the air and it was quite happy to stay there for another gear change or two, right through to top if you are game!

But where the opposition does hold advantages over the Yamaha are in practicality. The Yamaha has no locking system whatsoever, not even a steering lock which means if you park it anywhere somebody can simply kick start it and away they go.  Insurance may be a problem when the companies cotton on to this.

This is of course where we come to the realisation that the WR is a race bike with lights, indicators and a side stand. The other 4-stroke 250s on the market can be used as commuters and even for some reasonable distance dirt touring but the WR is a hard core dirtbike with little room for practicalities. I would think that the Yamaha would also prove to be a fair bit more maintenance intensive than the competition, this is the price we pay for this much power from so little capacity. Premium unleaded is a necessity in such a highly tuned engine.

A wide ratio 5-speed gearbox takes care of the shifting with a minimum of fuss but neutral can be a little hard to find.  This is the major mechanical difference between the YZ250F and the WR we tested here.

Kick starting from cold is easy but when hot it is another matter, I resorted to push starting at times. No doubt more time on the bike to learn it’s intricacies would probably sort that out. The seat height reflects the hard core nature of the WR with the measurement coming in at just under a metre. Riders shorter than about 170 centimetres will have some problems here. 

The suspension is excellent, however it must be said that I could not get anywhere near the limits of this bike. On a tight trail with a good rider onboard nothing would get too far in front of the Yamaha, no matter what the other machines capacity.  In fact I think most people would be able to go faster on the WR250 than on its bigger cousins, I know I would.

Braking is very good for this class of motorcycle.  Good feel and good strength, again I am comparing this to its opposition and not the huge and powerful stoppers fitted to sportsbikes.  But too much stopping power can be hard to handle in the dirt.

To put it simply the Yamaha WR250F is not a practical bike to be using for your transport needs but put it in its natural environment, dirt, and the 250 4-stroke opposition haven’t got a chance. 

This bike will revolutionise the 4-stroke 250 dirtbike market.  It is simply the biggest standout performer I have ridden this year.  If I had to name my ‘Bike of The Year’ right now this would be it, simply because it absolutely annihilates anything else in its class.  The WR puts out around 35% more power at the rear wheel than the other bikes in this class.  It is also far lighter than the others.  And anyway you look at it, that is damn impressive!