Tag Archives: Speedo DRD WR250R

Tested: Yamaha WR250R 4000km review

• 4000-km review
• Introduction
• Stage 1 mods
• Tested in Wales
• Ready for the desert
• Morocco trip report
• Mitas MC23 Rockrider  tyres
• Fuel log

The WR250R is the last in a series of 250s I’ve been trying over the years in the search for a light, economical, do-it-all travel bike. Other bikes included the CRF250LHonda Tornados (rentals) and a carb KLX250S in the US.
I used my WR principally in March 2017 for a one-month ride in Morocco, researching new routes for my Morocco Overland guidebook.
After 10 years with few changes, the WR250R is no longer listed on the Yamaha US 2018 line-up. It’s the same story in Australia so it could be the end of the line for the unique WR-R.

Short version
• Vanned the WR to Malaga as I could not face crossing Spain and back.
• Need to cane it to press on (don’t recall CRF-L/KLX feeling the same)
• Light weight is all very well, but even at 6’ 1’’, the tall saddle is a pain
• Suspension is of course, brilliant, compared to stock CRF-L (mine had Hyperpro)
• Amazingly economical: 550km to a tank. Fuel Log
• Still have back pain from the stock saddle months later
• Super build quality explains the price over a CRF-L… almost
• Huge 350-w alternator output for the size and age of this bike
• Fuel pump worries in hot conditions (played up but never went)
• Clearly suited to predominantly off-highway travels

Long version – read on…

I did all the usual things to the WR; protection; tyres; bigger tanks and luggage capacity. See this for the full story.

Comfort
For me the WR was not comfortable when sat on the road at a steady speed. Tooling around off road sees you move around more, so you get tired before you get uncomfortable. I could have improved things by fitting my small Spitfire screen (left) from previous bikes, but figured it’s only Morocco, not the full run across Spain.

And I could have bought an alternative seat from the US, but these can be a gamble; what’s comfy to one is no great improvement to another. I could also have fitted my Aerostich woollen pad (left), but what would have made the seat even higher.
And I sometimes wonder whether leather trousers create less butt soreness than slidier jeans.
I did not do any of these things and as a result my memory of the WR is perhaps unfairly sore. A huge fuel range doesn’t help, as when I  have a job to do I tend to keep going until I’m worn out or the fuel runs out. Months later I still have pain in the base of my back, though that could just be my age.
At my height, bar risers certainly made standing sustainable and I can’t say my legs felt cramped as the saddle is quite high. The Hyperpro suspension also went a long way towards smoothing out the ride.
And one good thing about small capacity singles is there is no vibration to speak of.

Fuel economy
As expected, the WR was very economical for a relatively high-powered engine. Average was 83mpg (29.5kpl). Worst was 71mpg (25.2 kpl) and the best was 94mpg (33.3 kpl). Full details here. Fuel conversion chart here.
By comparison my CRF managed 86.7 with a best of 98.5 (about the same as carb’d XR250 Tornados). The KLX may have been a bit less than the WR – 88mpg was the best. iirc.
So you can safely rely on 25kpl from the WR which, x 17 litres is an impressive, butt-numbing 425 clicks guaranteed, or more like 500.
But, as I ask here: is a small bike really more economical? When you think of the easy cruising speed of a bigger twin for 10-15% less economy, the answer may be not really. What you’re really getting with a 250 is much less weight: my current XSR700 is 195 kg tanked up ready to go; WR was about 155kg.

Oil and water consumption
Zero. I was very careful to ride the bike on the temp gauge mounted off an exhaust header – generally cruising at 100-110°C. If it got much above 120 I slowed down or stopped as hot temps are said to bring on fuel pump woes.

Performance
The WR was supposedly a good 20% more powerful than my KLX or CRF;  it’s lighter too, until I loaded it up with equipment, gear and myself. I have to say I was disappointed by the performance, most probably because I could not bear to rev it hard. In some situations (uphill; headwind wind) I’m not sure it would have made much difference, anyway. Day 1 in Morocco in a headwind gale on the motorway was not a good start. Rarely did I get over a true 60mph which was not uncommon on the other 250s. Some days (some fuels?) were better than others, and there was nothing wrong with the bike other than the bulk of me and my gear.nThe brakes feel pretty ordinary with that load.

Suspension
I never rode the bike on the standard suspension and with Hyperpro front fork springs and a 461 shock with a HPA on the back I didn’t have much to complain about until I came back over Jebel Sarhro with a full tank and souvenir carpets. By then the preload was surprisingly maxed out. I could have fixed that by turning the HPA collar down on the shock body. In fact, I found out months later that HP had fitted an ’80kg’ rear spring – presumably 80kg rider weight? I weigh at least 20% more in my gear. They knew my weight from before. Seems off they went so light knowing what i was going to use it for.

Road riding
With a 21” front wheel, knobblies and modest power, I can’t say the WR ever got a handful on the road. With the big load, it was the brakes which limited speeds.

Off road
Off roading in Morocco mostly involves rocky or gravel tracks, and the Rockriders (right) did the job at full road pressures, but the back wore surprisingly fast. Fuller review here.

Loading
I don’t regret the cost or weight or mounting issues of the Tusk rack (left): it gave a very solid platform for the Kriega OS32 system and a bit more besides, and didn’t miss a beat. Full review of the Kriegas here.
The Giant Loop Fandango Pro tankbag is reviewed here. A handy little pod if you can get it for the right price.

Equipment
The WR’s dashboard is about as basic as they get – just the speed reading and a trip or odometre, plus some warning lights. I fitted a Trail Tech temp gauge (left).

With a DRD correction chip (right) the speedo was spot on and could be changed between kph and mph with some sequential faffing. The odometer was 11% over, but reading were corrected for mpg calcs. The GPS was hard-wired in and I never needed the additional power plugs.

Durability and problems
The 2008 stator recall had been done by the previous owner and I was aware of the fuel pump issues – some early OEs seize and eventually pack up when working at higher temps. I do wonder if it could be down to American fuel which can get quite ropey in my experience. I was using the original pump and didn’t bring my spare (left) which helped make life interesting. After a while, at times when the bike was warm, I heard the fuel pump priming or whirring on turning the key on, but before hitting the button. This should last a couple of seconds; if it keeps going I suspect it’s bad for the fuel pump so I always made sure I got the engine running as soon as I turned the key on with a warm bike. Cold; no such issues and at any times there was never any fuel starvation or hesitancy even when hot, just too much whirring at times.
When I  got back I fitted the few aftermarket pump before selling the bike.
Other than that – no issues with the WR which is why we love Yamahas for overlanding.

Conclusion
Effortless on the dirt, as expected, but me and my gear (130kg?) was too much weight for the WR on the road, so it does not make it the do-it-aller I hoped it might be. I’m pretty sure a WR450R could be that bike, but Yamaha won’t be making those before the Chinese get there first.
You know what, for normal overland travels rather than gnarly, hardcore off-road exploring (not the sort of riding I do) I think I’d almost settle for a latest CRF250L (a couple more horsepowers) with some decent suspension. I’ll have a chance to try one in the desert later this year.

My current bike is an XSR700 Scrambler, a bright idea I had while flat-out at 57mph on the Atlantic coast of Western Sahara. We’ll see how that turns out this winter.

abr7 - 12

Yamaha WR250R Project – Stage 1

WR250R 4000-km review
WR Introduction
WR250R Stage 1
WRing about in Wales
WR250R ready for the desert
Morocco 4000-km trip report, 1–9
Fuel log

wrs11First up for the WR, an 18-litre IMS fuel tank that’s wider than it is long. And at the 31kpl I got on the way back from Holland, that should mean well over 500km, though 400 may be more realistic.
On the forums you read various horror stories about the IMS tank: misalignment, poor fittings, plugs falling out and so on. I was expecting aggro but it all went without a hitch or too much head scratching. The fuel line unclips from the pump, the OE tank lifts off, once unscrewed the pump lifts out of that and the wrs1-8chunky Yamaha tank mounts swap onto the IMS just fine. At the back though, no amount of jiggling could line up the mounts (below right) with the frame if using the locating washers. Without washers it crammed in OK. I didn’t bother with the screw-in stud on the back of the tank to locate wrs1-6the seat front either. It stays on well enough with the seat tongue going under the frame tab.
The IMS comes with a small low-pressure lift pump inside (the grey metal unit, above) to get to the fuel at the bottom. It’s powered by vacuum off some intake hose which you cut and tee into. Once all was plumbed up and bolted down, the bike started first press and ran normally. Hallelujah.
The tank splays out quite widely and the outer edges will get knocked about on falls, but they also protect the radiator better than the OE shrouds so it’s a good use of volume. On the road full up, I can’t say I noticed any unbaffled sloshing as some sensitive riders have reported. Looks like a good, solid unit. The pic at the bottom of the page shows it with 3 litres in and room for 15 more at the servo.


yamaha3d71390710WR250Rs are known for having dodgy fuel pumps (more here) which can behave erratically in hot weather after a few thousand kms, failing to prime (no buzzing on key turn). They might recover once cooled down but eventually will pack up for good. No one really knows what the problem is. One suggestion is fuel varnish coating the inside seizes the turbine when hot.
Early 2008s were very prone, although later WRs pack up too after a few thousand kms. It seems not living in Phoenix, AZ helps, and you do wonder if ropey US fuel has something to do with it or if it’s a case of the squeaky hinge getting all the oil? Don’t know but in the Sahara WR bike will get hot for sure.

A complete Yamaha pump with housing goes discounted for about $300 on amazon, and although the part number changed (from 3D7-13907-00 for 2008-12, to 3D7-13907-10 from 2013-onwards) suggesting an updated pump, some people still report failures on the newer pumps. wrfuelpump
Being a popular bike in US and Au, there are various aftermarket pumps from just £20 cheapies on ebay to £105 for a California Cycleworks unit (left, also made in China). They all require carefully dismantling the white plastic housing as above, to replace the actual fuel pump unit. Not really a trailside job.  Aftermarket ones fail too, especially the cheaper ones, which makes you think it’s modern fuel or an over-pressurised system, as I also read somewhere. I’ve not heard of other efi bikes having hot weather fuel pump issues, but anyway I cracked and bought a Cycleworks. I’ll will get round to fitting it and carry the OE unit as a spare.

wr250-rax

wrs1-11Next job: pannier racks. Long story short, choosing from the above selection, at $170 from Rocky Mtn Adv the US-made Tusk racks (a Rocky Mtn sub-brand, afaik) looked by far the best value for money, and when they turned up I was even more impressed – nice to see chunky ¾”  and the all-important back brace to stop them folding in when heavily loaded on rough terrain. The unbraced Moto and Barrett may rely on heavier gauge tubing to not cave in. That looks neater but I found with the Rally Raid racks on the CB500X it didn’t really work out like that, to be bend-proof and light you need a back brace. Once I removed the unwanted bracketry for mounting Tusk hard boxes, the weight was < 4kg.
The wrs1-10fitting video on Rocky Mtn is especially helpful, but mounting the back underplate (right) could only be solved by cutting away with a red-hot knife. It’s possible my bike’s non-original plastic numberplate holder mount plate thing complicated things. That apart, the rack lined up just right elsewhere and will give something to grab when hauling the WR across a dune. There’s plenty of space behind the non-pipe side too, to stash stuff or mount a container.

wrs1-9I splashed out on some Rox bar risers giving a 2-inch lift and a bit of fore and aft adjustment. Fat bar sized plus with adapters for ⅞s, they can carry over to later bikes, like my old Barkbuster Storms. Talking of which, they can stay in the  box as the handguards that came with the WR look OK. There’s just enough room left on the bars to add my xco-shieldSpitfire screen mounts (right).
I have a nice shiny Flatland bashplate waiting to clamp on, but the old hex bolts on the OE bashplate were not playing ball. Instead they wanted a game of rounders, and so rounded out they now are. One for the shop when they MoT it next week.

wrs1-18I put on my old round Double Take mirror; it helps where I park the bike. But a run to the Overland Event near Oxford proved it vibrates on the WR just like it blurred on other bikes I’ve tried them on. screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-14-37-06The new asymmetric Double Take Adventure model (right) has done away with the stalk to reduce vibration, but now means you have to buy a hefty 6-inch RAM arm for another 20 quid (plus a bar-ball mount for another tenner). As I have those bits I may give the new one a try as it is handy to have one bombproof mirror.
82-cassisPicture left: my original desert bike, the ally-tanked ’76 XT500 I rode to Algeria in 1982. The WR is bike #57. For the first time since the 80s I’ve again had more bikes than birthdays.

wrsi-drdOther jobs include re-fitting my Trail Tech Vapor to give accurate speeds because, according to my GPS the WR speedo reads 12% fast and odo some 4% over. But I’ve also just fitted a Speedo DRD chip (left) from Totally TTRs. I was hoping the WR’s OE kph digital speedo could be reset to show mph, like my XT660ZE from the same era. But annoyingly, it seems WRs sold in kmh markets can’t flip their speedos to mph, while Brit and American mph WRs can changed to kph. WTF WR?
wrs1-spdLike those nifty fuel controllers, the DRD is very easy to programme and can also flip to mph to make the bike UK legit, as well as correct the large speed error, even though the Vapor technically does that job too. As a reminder the Trail Tech Vapor can also display ambient and engine temps – the latter a vital reading on any bike, IMO – as well as a GPS compass and altitude, rpm and, yes even the time of day.

vizxAs for lighting, I’m assuming the standard little headlight will not wake the badgers. Some say you can fit a super-bright $60 HiD bulb and fry burgers with it; other find the cut off is unsuited for road riding. I must say on a travel bike I prefer the idea of a secondary light; a back up should the main one fail.
I’ve had a Vision X 5″ Xmitter narrow beam (left) sitting around for ages. They say this is the best model to get for travel bikes, so now will be a good opportunity it fit it to the WR.

wrs1-tyresWakey wakey! A mate gave me a rear Sava MC23 Rockrider which he reckons are the new black (and round). At 140-80 it didn’t fit his TTR250 and I don’t think oversized tyres work on a WR (120/80-18) any more than noisy pipes make more power. More weight; more drag and over-stiff tyres on light bikes can be counterproductive in deep, soft sand. They’re just too stiff to sag usefully, even at very low pressures, to give better traction, as AMH-Tread-Chooser-Dirt
I found years ago running a Mich Desert on a Tenere right down to 5psi. The MC23 is 4 plies tread and 3 in the sides – sounds stiff. I won’t be that loaded up nor riding hard, and the WR will lack a Tenere’s grunt to hook up, for sure.
In the US they all rate the Dunlop 606 on WRs, but they don’t sell it in the UK. Either way, something from the list on the right will do the job or here. The Mitas E09/10s I’ve been wanting to try don’t come in WR rear sizes. With Sava/Mitas it’s the MC23 or nothing and in the end I succumbed to online tyre fatigue and clicked on a 120/90 Rockrider for £56. It may not hook up in the sands of the Erg Amatlich, but it won’t puncture up on the plateau, either.
To keep it company I also bought a front MC23 Rockrider – £42 from Oponeo, so that’s £98 all shod. This came branded as a Czech Mitas as Mitas have lately bought out Slovenian Sava. Just as well because as tyre names go, ‘Sava’ is even worse than Golden Tyre. I hope to at least mount the rear tubelessly, doing a better job than I did last time on the Tenere. Enough tyre talk.

wrs1-papsUnfortunately, delays in receiving paperwork to complete UK registration (added by my own confusion in how to set about the task efficiently) mean it’s unlikely I’ll have a UK plate and logbook in time for my Morocco tours in a few weeks. I’ll have to rent something down there. Can’t say I’m bitterly disappointed at missing the chance to cross Spain and back in early winter on an untried 250. Last couple of years I’ve been lucky with the rain in Spain. It can’t last and it all gives me a chance to get the WR in good shape for the proper desert trip we have lined up in the new year. It also means those rally tyres won’t get wasted running mostly roads.
wrs1-12hpwrI do wonder if it has been worth the faff and expense of buying a bike from Holland just to get some top-grade Hyperpro suspension (this is the first WR250R to have HP). All I know is if it works as well as my HP X-Country, then the answer will eventually be yes. You just wonder how many trees have given up promising futures to certify the re-registering process of this motorcycle.

wrs1-17Have to say, after having a close look, so far I’m impressed by the WR. The easy disassembly and access to things, nifty hinged air filter door, minimal-sized components where possible and solid parts elsewhere, like triple clamp and subframe. It’s like a Jap KTM, and grails don’t come much holier than that.

One thing I’m pretty sure I won’t be doing is meddling with the airbox flap, EXUP valve, silencer or other stuff to squeeze 3% more power out of it and save a few ounces. Like most things, the WR-R already is what it is: lighter and more powerful than any other Jap trail bike, with a travel workable oil-change interval and excellent mpg. That should do nicely for the next desert ride or two I have in mind.

wr-hpa
On the way to the Overland Event I had a pile of heavy books I was hoping not to bring back. Once loaded up it was great to just crank up the Hyperpro Hydraulic Preload Adjuster (HPA) knob which still fits nicely alongside the new rack. At a pinch you can almost do it on the move, though probably not while texting.
I haven’t yet had the heart to run the WR at the revs it’s supposed to handle. What’s probably a true 55-60mph seems fine for now, but unlike a CRF-L or KLX, you do have a bit of spare oomph when you need it. For the first time in years I’m very much looking forward to getting my latest project bike on the dirt.

wrs1-16