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

Why Does My 2-Stroke ‘Load Up’ After Sitting A Few Minutes?

“Loading up” is a common problem for 2-stroke dirt bikes and snowmobiles. If you don’t know what it means or haven’t heard the term before, it’s usually when you let the engine sit or idle for more than a minute and when you go to rev it, it coughs and sputters. This feedback makes for terrible throttle-response, and will eventually foul the spark plug.

To temporarily fix this, assuming the bike is fully warmed up, give it a few quick bursts of WOT (Wide-open-throttle). This will clear it out, and should run like normal again. However, for those of you that want to fix this problem long-term, you’re going to have to spend a little more time, as well as a couple bucks…

The reason your two-stroke ‘loads up’ is because not all of the gas gets burned through the cylinder, so it just sits in the crankcase. When you give it some throttle, the fuel/air ratio is too high, causing it to blubber and sputter until it clears out this excess fuel. When there’s too much fuel going through the cylinder at the same time, the spark plug cannot burn all of it, thus resulting in a fouled plug. A spark plug is fouled when the jetting is too rich, and the tip of it will come out black and often wet (Click here to read more about Jetting).

Honda CR125 is a common bike that loads up.

So how do I prevent this from happening? The pilot jet is almost always the culprit. Many two-strokes (Honda for the most part) come jetted rich from the factory. This is probably to prevent engine failures, but it often causes more problems and headaches. A properly jetted dirt bike will have more power, much better throttle response, and no plug fouling.

Since the pilot jet is too rich, pull the float bowl off of the carburetor and unscrew the pilot jet. It will usually have a smaller number stamped on it, such as 42 or 55 (may require a magnifying glass). Go to your local bike shop and buy a couple jets smaller for it. Don’t worry, they’re only a few bucks each. To get an idea of what size you need, first check your manual if they have any jetting specs or recommendations. The internet is incredibly resourceful, so check there as well. In the end, every bike is different, so you may just have to try a few jets to see what works the best. Just remember that a rich pilot jet will cough and hiccup, while a pilot that’s too lean will bog off idle. Either one will have poor throttle response, so having the right jetting will go a long ways.

If re-jetting won’t get rid of the loading up problem, there’s probably something else wrong with your bike. Check and make sure the air filter is clean, the reeds are not cracked, the engine has good compression, and you are using fresh gas that has the right Pre-mix.

Have fun, and ride safe!

-Tom Stark