CRF250X vs. CRF250R – Which Dirt Bike Should I Buy?

Looking to buy a red dirt bike but not sure which one is better? While the CRF250R and CRF250X started off on similar platforms, there are some major differences between the two that make each better in its own way. The first question you should ask yourself is, “What kind of riding are you looking to do with it?”

Suspension – Racing or Trails?

Having the right suspension for the job will make all of the difference between two bikes. While this isn’t the only difference, it’s probably the most important. The CRF250R is a motocross bike; therefore it will have stiffer suspension and valving set up for racing on a track with big jumps and whoops. It’s still not going to fit you perfectly right out of the box, but it’s going to be a lot better of a starting point than if you were to get the 250X.

If you’re looking for something more than the typical, boring, air-cooled four-stroke trail machine, the CRF250X may be just the answer. It began production with the same frame design and style of the CRF250R, including the higher performance inverted-fork and shock set-up. While it may have better and more easily adjustable suspension than most other trail bikes, it’s still going to be pretty soft so you can go on long trail rides without getting worn out from stiff suspension bucking you around.

Engine

CRF250R
CRF250R

Do you like a fast-revving, high-horsepower, race engine, or do you want something that’s smoother with a broader power-band so it won’t scare you? For having almost the same engine design, there’s yet again some major differences between the two. The 250R has a larger stroke (smaller bore), a little higher compression, hotter camshaft, a close-ratio transmission, and EFI starting in 2010. These things all add up to making the motocross version of Honda’s 250F more snappy and begs the rider to twist the throttle.

On the flip-side, the CRF250X still has the same basic engine design. A less-radical cam makes it more trail friendly for smoother power, along with the lower compression. A wider transmission ratio also makes it great for trails, both tight and high-speed. A lower-flowing intake and exhaust set-up combine to make this bike tamer for the beginning riders in mind. The exhaust is considerably quieter, and has a spark-arrestor for state trail riding.

Light-weight vs. Trail Amenities

CRF250X
CRF250X

The more trail riding you want to do, the more accessories you’ll want to have on your bike. However, lightweight is the reason why the CRF250R handles so well. The options that are exclusive to the 250X that add the most weight are a kick-stand, electric start/battery, headlight/tail-light, airbox, larger-capacity gas tank, and exhaust system. Most of these mentioned are highly desirable for trail riding, but you will feel the weight difference if you ride both bikes back-to-back.

So the question is, what are the options worth to you, and how much off-road/trail riding will you be doing? A lot of riders that like the race form of the 250R will take it and add a few things to make it more ride-able in the woods and absolutely love it. However, if you are older and prefer E-start, a kick-stand, and soft suspension, you will enjoy the 250X more, even if it is down on power a little.

-Tom Stark

XR100 Vs. TTR125 – Best Beginner Trail Bike?

The Honda XR100/CRF100 and Yamaha TTR125 are among the most popular beginner bikes. Why? Because they are easy to ride, have a clutch, and require very little maintenance compared to a motocross bike. Change the oil and filter regularly, as well as lubing the chain, and these will last virtually forever. So the question is, which one is the better bike?…

There’s No Replacement For Displacement

As you would imagine, the TTR125 has a little more power than the XR100. It has quite a bit of torque for being an air-cooled engine, but nothing that will scare you. The Honda is very smooth and has a linear power-curve, so no surprises there. The flywheels are heavy on both engines, so they are slow to rev and harder to stall, making it great for someone learning how to use the clutch.

2003 TTR125L
2003 TTR125L

Both bikes have a five-speed transmission with about the same ratios, so not much to dispute there. First gears are very low, so you may want to change the gearing (sprockets) once you’re used to riding the dirt bike.

Some people may say the TTR is a bit finicky when it comes to tuning the carburetor. We’ve had a couple of these bikes and the only problem we’ve had is when they sit for months at a time (this happens on any bike when gas is left in it). Just pull the carb off (which is very easy), clean out the jets and passages with compressed air and/or carb cleaner, and we were up and running again!

Suspension – It Is What It Is

Not much to see here, as both dirt bikes are using suspension components that are decades old in technology. This isn’t necessarily bad, especially if you are just a casual trail rider, as it makes these cost very little to buy and maintain. Comparing the two, there’s not a lot of differences in fork and shock set-up. If you weigh over 140 lbs, you’ll want to get heavier springs no matter the kind of riding you’re doing. Jumping is not recommended unless you make some modifications to the frames to strengthen them, but that’s not what these bikes are for. For a younger kid that just wants a dirt bike to ride around and have fun, either is a great choice, as they will teach you all of the controls and skills needed on a motorcycle.

Handling

If you’re brand new to dirt bikes, handling on a dirt bike won’t be as big of a factor as ride-ability and reliability. However, there are some differences between the XR/CRF 100 and TTR 125 as far as handling goes. The Yamaha weighs a little more; particularly if you get the LE model with the larger wheels and Electric start. After riding both bikes, the 2001 and newer Honda feels a little slimmer handles a little better in the tight stuff. The 2000 and older XR100R’s have a wider seat and tank, but are more comfortable on your butt. The TTR front-end isn’t the greatest, as it wants to slide out a little more, but that’s probably because we were pushing it too hard (that’s what happens when you put an adult on a bike like this!).

So Which Bike Would I Buy?

2000 XR100
2000 XR100

Honestly, I would buy either dirt bike if I found a good deal on a clean one, which is the most important thing when looking for a used bike. If I could choose one over the other, it would probably be the Honda. Not because it’s red, but because Honda just knew what they were doing when the built the XR/CRF-F lineup. They’re easier to find, the engine is simple, and aftermarket parts are widely available.

-Tom Stark

CRF50 Vs. PW50 – Best Kids Dirt Bike?

Buying a dirt bike for your kid can be one of the best feelings for both your kid, as well as yourself. Choosing the right one can be a hard decision, but either bike can fit the bill. There’s a few major differences between the Honda CRF50F/XR50R (Same bike, just different body style), and the Yamaha PW50, so lets see what each of them have to offer.

Engine Comparison

CRF50F
CRF50F

For both being 50cc, the engine’s are quite a bit different. The Honda has an air-cooled four-stroke with a three speed semi-automatic transmission, while the Yamaha has a two-stroke, oil-injected engine with a centrifugal-clutch. They are both pretty much bullet-proof as long as you regularly change the oil and keep the air filter clean.

Neither have electric-start, but the Honda engine is a more versatile. In stock form it’s already more powerful and has three gears, making it easier for your kid to get past certain obstacles. The aftermarket has a lot more to offer as well for the CRF/XR 50. It is one of the most popular pit bikes for adults, so there’s plenty of engine, suspension, handelbars, and other hop-up parts available to fit the riders needs.

However, if you want a light and mellow power-band without having to change gears, the Yamaha is a great starting point. It also has a throttle-lock feature that you can set to lock the throttle at a certain position so that your kid doesn’t hold it wide open and get into trouble as easily.

Suspension

Neither have that good of suspension from the factory. The CRF50 is going to be a little better, but still isn’t good enough for racing on. Of course, these are just kids dirt bikes for beginning riders, so they are plenty good for trail and play riding. The Honda once again has plenty of aftermarket options for forks, shocks, and swing-arms if you are willing to shell out the dough though.

PW50
PW50

Size

Size may be the most important factor, depending on how small your little boy or girl is. If you’re looking for the lowest seat height and lightest bike, the PW50 has the CRF beat. Its seat height is only 19 inches, and weighs a shocking 86 pounds when wet with fluids. This is substantially lower than the 110 lbs of the Honda.

In The End…

It depends on the nature of your kid. If your boy or girl is small and barely knows how to ride a bike, the PW50 is probably the better choice, due to it being smaller, lighter, and smooth on power. However, almost all kids grow out of the PW’s within the first year, so there’s a good chance you’ll be needing another bike soon after. Whereas the Honda will last a little longer since it’s a little more powerful, has a 3-speed transmission, and plenty of aftermarket parts for upgrading. You can usually get a couple years out of the ol’ Honda 50 before needing a bigger dirt bike, depending on how fast your kid grows and learns.

What’s Hot?

Honda:

  • Bullet-proof 4-stroke engine
  • 3-speed semi-auto trans.
  • More versatile
  • Plethora of aftermarket parts
  • It’s red

Yamaha:

  • Mellow 2-stroke engine w/ simple oil-injection
  • Low seat height and light-weight
  • Low maintenance engine and shaft drive
  • It’s blue…?

Hopefully this will give you a better idea on which little dirt bike to buy for your kid to get into this awesome sport. Feel free to leave a comment or question. Have fun, and remember to wear proper safety gear!

-Tom Stark

YZ125 vs. YZ250F – The Trillion Dollar Match-Up


Does the monster torque of the YZ250F make it that much better than the light and snappy YZ125? (I would have said million dollar, but that’s inaccurate since that would be like pocket change here in the U.S.) We have to dig a little deeper than what the media and government says. I think we all know that most motocross companies are pushing for the four-strokes because they are “eco-friendly” by not producing as much pollution as the two-strokes, as well as costing much more to repair because there are twice as many parts that can break. But for this battle we will totally scratch those opinionated facts out because they don’t mean a thing in the motocross realm.

I have ridden Yamaha’s YZ250F’s and YZ125’s, and can say that they are two different kind of animals. Both Yamaha motocross bikes have plenty of power and will require some balls to ride fast, but are about as reliable as you can get as far as motocross bikes go. Each bike has its ups and downs, but the question is, “which one is better overall?” Well you’ll have to wait until the next article after I do a little more research on these bikes……. Just kidding.

YZ125

Ahhh, the smell of pre-mix in the morning! Are two-strokes making a come-back? Well, I’ll cover that in a future article… The YZ125 is a serious piece of art. It’s been rated the number 125cc motocross bike in magazines and websites more than any other 125 two-stroke. The light-weight makes it flick-able, the raw horsepower begs it to be revved to the moon, and the suspension is top notch. There’s no question that this bike is ready to race right out of the box. Although you might have to re-jet the carburetor if you are riding in an extreme climate.

How Does It Handle?

Pretty much any modern 125 two-stroke is going to handle well these days, and the YZ is no exception. The handling is among the best in its class. It will ride any berm and the front end will stick pretty well in those pesky ruts. What I like about the 125 is that it has a really low center of gravity compared to the four-stroke, so it made it a lot easier to lay in down in the corners. I am a shorter rider (5’6”), so having a bike that handles well in corners is a must. The YZ125 felt comfortable to ride and cockpit was narrow while the 250F was a little more bulky.

What’s The Suspension Like?

You want good suspension? You got it! The YZ125 suspension set-up is great right off the showroom floor. If you weigh more than 180 or less than 140 lbs then you might want to consider getting some softer fork and shock Springs though. The stock suspension has really good bottoming resistance and can handle a lot. It feels great on any kind of obstacle. Although it may be a little mushy for A or pro riders. The forks soaked up most of the braking bumps and the bike was very controllable in the air and in the corners. It felt stable at all speeds.

What About the Engine?

The engine may be the two-strokes’ greatest set-back against the 250f, but it is no slouch. Any skilled rider will be competitive on this little ripper. The YZ125 may not have the torque that the 250F does, but it has the horsepower to make up for it. Yamaha’s 125 is known for it’s do-it-all engine. It does have more bottom-end power than any other 125 two-stroke I’ve ridden. The mid-range has some punch, and the top-end is never-ending fun. All you have to do is keep this bike on the pipe then you will be able to pass those 250F’s, that’s it.

Additional Notes…

Above are the main topics that riders ask about when deciding which bike to get. I just wanted to give you a few more facts about this bike that could factor into your decision. The YZ125 is a great motocross bike to start out on, and is perfect for younger riders just stepping up from and 85 that don’t want a big four-stroke. This bike is cheaper and easier to maintain. The cost to rebuild any 125 will be less expensive than a 250F just because it’s a two-stroke and has less moving internal parts. That doesn’t mean you will be spending less, because if you don’t maintain it, it will break down eventually. The YZ125 has always been very easy to start. If it’s not, then you have a problem. One of the only extra things you have to do to this bike is add pre-mix to the gas before you put it in the tank and ride.

YZ250F

It’s bigger… It’s badder… Is it too much for the two-smoker to handle??? The YZ250F has been the top selling 250cc four-stroke motocross bike. Is there a reason for this? There must be, so let’s check it out!

Does It Handle As Well?

A simple question, and it will be responded with a simple answer… “no.” You can do anything you want to the bike, such as lowering the radiators, reducing the weight, or shaving the seat, but it’s never going to handle as well as the two-stroke unless you do major modifications. That does not mean it handles poorly. Over the years Yamaha has turned their YZ250F tank into one of the best handling four-stroke dirt bikes. The newer the model, the better it gets. The main difference between this bike and the 125 is that it’s top-heavy, meaning the center of gravity is at a higher location on the bike, causing it to be less stable. This is most noticed in the corners, so laying it down will be a little more difficult for shorter or younger riders.

How About Suspension?

Suspension on the 250F is great for 140-175 lb amateurs, similar to the 125. It has good bottoming resistance and handled jumps with ease. Not much else to say except that the suspension on the YZ250F’s worked well for me.

Does The Engine Make Up For It?

The first time I rode a YZ250F I was blown away. Torque across the entire rev-range was unbelievable. This bike gives you the traction and power down low that you will never get from the 125. The “power-band” is not as fun as the two-stroke. The torque, though, will pull any 2-stroke out of corners. After riding a 250F for a while, the smooth, yet powerful engine just got a little…… I don’t know if I should say it…. boring. It just wasn’t as fun to ride around on as the two-stroke. Racing the YZ250F would be a different story. It’s not exactly about riding whichever bike is more fun, it’s about riding faster and more comfortably than the other riders. This bike helps out a lot on that part, but is it good enough to beat the 125?

Notes:

The YZ250F was the first four-stroke motocross bike in the 125 class, and has been the most reliable 250F the entire time. Take care of it and it will take care of you. The first years, 2001 & 2002, the bike had manual-decompression, making it a little more difficult and time-consuming to start. That can be fixed with an ’03 or newer exhaust cam because Yamaha switched to auto-decompression. The YZF250 is probably the easiest 250F to kick start. I was usually able to start mine in 1-2 kicks when they were cold.

The bad part about owning a 250F is that it can grenade if you don’t maintain it properly. If it does just “happen” to blow up, the cost of repairs can be enormous, especially if you have a shop to do it. This is one of the only reasons why I don’t like the four-stroke motocross bikes, otherwise I would buy more of them.

And The Winner Is….

Neither bike, because they are just as good as each other…… You didn’t want to hear that, did you? Good, because it’s not true! After comparing the characteristics of these bikes that have been rivaling each other for the past decade, there are still pros and cons that each bikes has. My decision would be to go with the YZ125 because I love two-strokes and don’t like big bills when they explode. For a racing scenario where money is no option and the only goal was to win then I will choose the YZ250F. It has the torque and horsepower that will beat the 125 on almost any track, the suspension is great for me out of the box, and it’s just plain easier to ride faster. That’s why the Yamaha YZ250F is still the better bike in most cases for this match-up.

Furthermore, there are so many variables to consider because not every rider is the same and rides similar terrain. If you have a big bank and want to be on par by technology standards then the 250F is the bike for you. If listening to a two-stroke WOT is music to your hears, and you want to learn better riding techniques as well as a bike that’s easier to maintain then a YZ125 is a perfect bike.

Remember… whatever bike you choose, have fun and ride hard! Good luck!

-Tom Stark

What Dirt Bike To Buy For My Kid?

Are you thinking about buying a dirt bike for your kid but don’t know which bike to choose or look for? I will give you some background on name brand bikes for kids to help you make a decision. Choosing the right bike for your young rider is very important, especially if they’ve never ridden before. Kids start riding as young as three years old, so once they are able to ride a bicycle without training wheels they should be capable of riding a dirt bike. And please don’t put training wheels on a little dirt bike, that just defeats the purpose.

There are a few factors that come in to play when finding the right dirt bike for a kid. Age, experience, size, and where you are going to ride all come in to play when looking for a bike. There are 50, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 125, and 150cc four-stroke dirt bikes that are mostly meant for off-road and trail riding. For the smaller two-stroke dirt bikes, there are a couple different 50s, 65s, and 85cc bikes. These are used for motocross racing.

Off-Road Bikes

50cc

There are a few different 50cc dirt bikes, but the most common is the Honda CRF50F/XR50R. This is where dirt biking starts for every little kid that has never ridden before. These things are almost bullet proof if you maintain it properly. If you are looking for a first bike for a kid that is under 7 then this is probably the best choice, unless they are bigger/taller than the norm. There is also the Suzuki JR50, Kawasaki KDX50 and Yamaha PW50; all of which are oil-injected 2-strokes that are very light and perfect for the smallest of riders, and the Yamaha TTR-50 which is about the same as the CRF, so it just depends what color you like best.

70 & 80cc

Honda made the CRF/XR70 and 80cc bikes for kids that are just starting, but a little too big for a 50cc. The 70 has a taller seat height with a little more power than the 50, but the 80 has a clutch which is perfect for training the little ones without letting them ride on a fast bike.

100/110/125/150cc

Honda has been known for their XR/CRF100 which reaches to a variety of riders. It has a clutch and is just right for the older kids to learn on if they are too big for the CRF80F. The 100 is a great trail bike because it has just enough power, and it’s also big enough for an adult, so this bike should be easy to find used, and cheap I might add. Kawasaki and Suzuki decided to make the ultimate pit bike for kids and adults. The KLX110/DRZ110 (Parts are interchangeable) has become popular because of how much power it has, or is able to put out, for its size. The 110 is an automatic, so it’s great for smaller riders that want more power than a 70 without going to a clutch yet. Yamaha also has a bigger off-road bike for kids, the TTR-125. The TTR-125 is a popular model for bigger kids just starting out. It has a clutch with enough power to haul riders around, young or old. Honda also has the CRF150F for riders that want more power and a taller ride height than the 100. Although the set-back for the 150 is that it weighs about as much as a full-size motocross bike. These mid-sized off-road bikes are popular for a reason, and this means that they have usually been ridden a lot and probably abused. So if you’re looking at buying a used one then make sure it is clean, it has somewhat low hours, and has been well maintained.

Motocross Bikes

50cc

There are a couple different name-brand 50cc motocross bikes for kids, and they are both KTM two-strokes. KTM has the 50 SX Mini, which is for the smallest beginning racers. There is also the 50 SX which is bigger and suits a little taller beginning racer. These bikes both have a one-speed automatic transmission and are liquid-cooled. KTM 50s are expensive, but they are perfect race bikes for your little kids that are ready to tear up the tracks. There are also Chinese companies with 50cc motocross bikes, which aren’t made with as much quality.

65cc

KTM and Kawasaki are the only name brand companies that still make a 65cc two-stroke motocross bike. KTM has the 65 SX which is more expensive and usually the racers that are serious buy them. Right from the factory KTM puts aftermarket parts on their bikes, such as VForce reeds on the two-strokes, handlebars, and Brembo brakes. The Kawasaki KX65 is what riders that just want to race buy because they are so cheap. That does not mean that they aren’t fast, they just aren’t always as reliable and don’t have a very high re-sale value. Both are great race bikes for intermediate younger riders in around the age 7-10 that have been riding for some time. These bikes are usually not used for trail riding because they are not as easy to ride and lug around as a four-stroke is.

85/105/150cc

85cc motocross bikes are the start for a young teen aged racer. They have more power than most any kid could use, which makes these bikes a blast for adults or adrenaline-junkies as well. KTM, Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Yamaha all make an 85cc two-stroke mx bike. Honda put a stop to their two-stroke inventory after 2007, but people still buy their late model bikes. Instead, Honda wanted to start a revolution for mini-bikes with their all new 150cc four-stroke motocross bike. It was well talked about, but once it came out it died slowly. They are powerful bikes and are easier to ride than an 85, but the weight and cost lost it for them. Usually these CRF150R’s (Big and small wheel) were bought by racers with money because they also needed quite a bit of maintenance. If you have money and your kid loves the easy ride-ability of a four-stroke then this would be a good race bike to buy.

If you don’t have a deep pocket, then an 85 or 100/105cc two-stroke stroke is a great choice. Your kid will love you for getting them one of these bikes; before they flip it at least once, that is. If you find someone selling a used 85 that hasn’t been flipped, then you’re either lucky or they’re lying. 85s are pretty much race-only bikes. I’ve trail-ridden with one, and it was not very fun because of the lack of power down low. The Honda CR85R and Yamaha YZ85 hit harder and are more snappy than the others because they don’t have a power valve. KTM’s 85 SX comes with aftermarket goodies from the factory like all of their other bikes, so it’s probably the fastest out of the lot. Kawasaki’s KX85 and Suzuki’s RM85 are very similar and are used by many riders that are on a budget because of how cheap they can be. Honda and Suzuki both have a larger wheel 85, which helps those taller kids that quite aren’t ready for a 125 or 250f.

Kawasaki and KTM have a big-bore 85 to compete in the supermini class (86-112cc). Kawasaki’s KX100 is a big wheel and has plenty of power for any young racer. KTM has a 105 SX which is one of the best power-to-weight ratio bikes you can buy, and also has larger wheels. When it comes down to choosing an 85,100/105, or a 150cc four-stroke motocross bike for your kid, it depends how big your pocketbook is, what fits your kid, and what color you like best.

If you know what bike you want to get, check out my article “How To Buy A Dirt Bike“. Thanks for viewing, and good luck buying the right bike for your kid.

-Tom Stark