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ENDURO TEST | 2023 YAMAHA WR250F | Bike Reviews

Been out of the game for too long? This 2023 Yamaha WR250F could be the bike for you. We stick a near-40-year-old on it to find out if it suits!

Brendo, is nearing 40, has two kids and a mortgage. He’s a builder/architect and is currently renovating his own house on the weekend while trying to run his building business during the week. So why not get him to do our review on the 2023 Yamaha WR250F?! He does want to get back into riding, why not throw him in the deep end.

Brendo works hard and with his hands full changing nappies and laying bricks on the weekend, his dirtbike activities have been parked, until now. “I have always owned a dirtbike, since I was about 12 years old and rode right through to my late 20s” Brendo said.

“Life got busy and I ran out of weekends to go away with my mates. Now I have kids and a little family and even the thought of a spare weekend to get into the bush is so far from reality”.

Brendo grew up riding dirtbikes and focused mainly on trailriding in his teens and early 20s. “I loved cutting tracks through the bush. Singletrack is what I enjoyed. I just did lots of weekends away with the guys”.

Brendo even ran a small dirtbike tour company with a mate while he was studying architecture. I asked if he missed riding dirtbikes and Brendo was emphatic in his response, “Oh yeah. Every time I drive down a dirt road I wish I was on the back of a dirtbike. I just love going fast through the bush” he said. The last bike he owned was over ten years ago and at one stage he even owned an early-model Yamaha WR250F.

Brendo asked me what was good nowadays. My initial response was “pretty much everything” but then I realised he wasn’t just asking about performance but also reliability, availability and also where we are at with technology. A lot has changed in ten years.

I considered my answer and seeing as how Brendan would be 80kg wringing wet, about 180cm tall and of average dirtbike ability, I told him the Yamaha WR250F would be right up his alley.

The Evolution

You don’t realise how long ten years is until you have to explain to someone how much technology has changed in that period. In issue #408 of September 2013, ten years ago exactly, we ran our Dirt Bike Of The Year, a comparison of all the best bikes from that year.

We had the 2013 KX250F with its dual fuel-injectors, the KX450F with a pneumatic (air) spring fork and Honda CRF450R, also with the air fork. We had the 2013 WR450F, one year on from the ground-up rebuild it received in 2012, the KTM 250EXC-F and the then Australian Husaberg FE350. All three four-strokes were fuel-injected, something that was missing the last time Brendo was riding dirtbikes. In the two-stroke department, the Husaberg TE300 was there as the solid but unchanged hill-climber and we included the Beta RR300 as it was their first go at a 300cc two-stroke enduro bike.

Fast forward ten years and one of those fuel-injected four-strokes, the WR250F, can now be tuned with your phone. The kickstart has disappeared entirely, and we even have traction control on some four-stroke models. Two-strokes have oil injection and fuel injection not to mention power valves that adjust automatically and map switches that make an incredible difference.

All bikes nowadays are pretty reliable, there’s a million different capacities to choose from, parts are easy to source and dealers are plentiful.

So there’s a lot to talk about when someone asks what’s good in 2023 and what’s changed since 2013.

The bike

Knowing Brendo’s size, fitness and ability made it easier to recommend a bike. The first that came to mind was the 2023 Yamaha WR250F. I knew Brendo wanted to trailride, he wanted a bike that’s easy to ride and won’t wear him out and something that was reliable with good dealer-support. The WR250F ticks all those boxes.

So I hit up Yamaha Australia and asked to borrow a demo bike to give Brendo a go. On the way out to go riding, I explained what is new about the WR250F since he last rode one over ten years ago. I told him the WR250F is now more like the YZ250F but with a bunch of enduro tuning and essential enduro parts like rear wheel, clutch, gearing, suspension settings and mapping.

It still runs the aluminium bilateral beam frame just completely different to 2013 and KYB suspension still takes care of the bumps only they’re much firmer than they used to be. It still has Nissin brakes but it has a fancy new engine map switch on the handlebar. The air filter is right up the top where the petrol lives and there’s this fancy new engine tuning tool called the Yamaha Power Tuner app which allows you to completely change the engine characteristics from your phone.

There have been loads more changes but that’s pretty much all I mentioned because I didn’t want to confuse him. When we hopped out of the ute and geared up, Brendo jumped straight on the WR250F and instantly felt like the seat was higher, the bike was narrower and the perch firmer than he remembered “The seat height is quite high but otherwise nice and firm” Brendo yelled through his helmet.

Brendo hit the button and the WR250F fired into life without any problems. He laughed as he retold stories of kicking over his old bike for 15 minutes in the carpark. It took Brendo a minute to get used to the engine sucking air from in front of the seat and the exhaust seemingly tamer and finer-tuned but once he’d gotten over that he was ready to ride.

He took off and immediately noticed how firm the suspension is and how responsive the throttle pull is. He also noticed how strong the motor feels, “It has plenty of power and cracks nicely when you need it to. It definitely likes to sit at a steady mid-range speed and revs” which I told him was great for riders getting back into riding. Returning riders definitely don’t need a 450cc machine and a two-stroke can be too abrupt.

Once we were up and riding I tried to keep Brendo going all day with minimal stops so he didn’t realise how sore his body was at the time. Despite the bike feeling firmer than he remembers, Brendo was impressed with the ergos and the ride “It’s better than expected as I have ridden a few of the old WR250Fs in the past however none of them feel like this”.

One interesting thing Brendo brought up was that the front wheel felt long. It think he was referring to the wheelbase which has grown over time and Brendo mentioned that it made it feel more sturdy at speed and in a straight line.

The verdict

After a full day riding, Brendo was knackered. All those dirtbike-specific muscles that had gone into hibernation had been rudely kickstarted back into life with no warning but Brendo loved it. I could tell by the smile on his face as he inhaled a post-ride kebab that the addiction was back.

Brendo was already thinking about what he would be buying, “I would probably go back to something that I know. I am used to two-strokes. I have owned 200cc and 250cc two-strokes mostly. Now that I have ridden a new four-stroke though, I really enjoy them”.

One day isn’t enough to get your head around all the changes dirtbikes have had in ten years. “Fuel Injection and electric start” are what Brendo said had come along the most. “Also just seeing the range of electric bikes coming out is pretty exciting. The thought of riding through the bush in relative silence is pretty cool. Everything seemed a little tighter and firmer but that’s probably just because I was riding a new bike”.

Brendo was blown away by the motor on the WR250F and how racey it now feels. I originally suggested he look at the WR250F because it has a reputation for being incredibly rideable and after we played with the mapping, Brendan agreed, it’s an easy bike to ride.

I was excited to get my mate hooked on bikes again but he was still hesitant about getting back into riding. “I’m a little worried about getting hurt” Brendo blurted out. “Seriously! In my 20s there was not much issue with a broken bone here and there but now it could affect my job and my old body”.

Brendo is not a half-arsed person and if he’s going to do something, he’s going to give it his all, “Just having the time and the places to go riding is the struggle. I would hate to gear right up and never use the bike. So it’s either all-in or not at all I reckon. Looks like I’ll have to find some local spots to ride!” Sounds like my job is done.


2023 Yamaha WR250F

Engine                       Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valve

Displacement            250cc

Bore x Stroke            77.0 x 53.6

Compression Ratio 13.8:1

Fuel Management    Fuel Injection

Starter System         Electric

Fuel Tank Capacity 7.9-litre

Transmission            Constant Six-speed

Frame Type              Bilateral beam

Suspension Front    KYB Telescopic forks, 310mm travel

Suspension Rear     Swingarm (link suspension), 317mm travel

Brakes Front             Nissin Hydraulic single disc, 270mm

Brakes Rear              Nissin Hydraulic single disc, 245mm

Tyres                          Dunlop Geomax EN91

Length                        2175mm

Seat Height               955mm

Wheelbase                1480mm

Ground Clearance   320mm

Weight (wet)             115kg

Words & Photos | Mitch Lees