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 CRF250L, Honda 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’s the end of the line for the unique WR-R.
• Vanned the WR to Malaga as I couldn’t face crossing Spain and back
• Need to cane it to press on (don’t recall CRF-L/KLX feeling the same)
• 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
• Back pain from stock saddle lasted months
• 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 tank and luggage capacity. See this for the full story.
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’ve 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 that would have made the seat even higher.
And I sometimes wonder whether leather trousers create less butt soreness than slidier jeans.
I didn’t 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. It took months for the pain in the base of my back to subside.
At my height, bar risers certainly made standing sustainable and I can’t say my legs felt cramped as the saddle was quite high. The Hyperpro suspension also went a long way towards smoothing out the ride (but actually proved to have had a too-light spring fitted.
And one good thing about small capacity singles is there is no vibration to speak of.
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, 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 XSR700 which came after was 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.
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. The brakes feel pretty ordinary with that load.
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. 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 odd they went so light knowing what I was going to use it for.
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.
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.
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 readings 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.
Effortless on the dirt, as expected, but me and my gear (130kg?) was too much weight for the WR on the road, so it doesn’t make it the do-it-all machine 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 much of) I think I’d almost settle for a latest CRF250L (a couple more horsepowers) or even the newer 300 with a couple more – then add some decent suspension.
On getting back and flogging the WR I missed the grunt of a bigger engine and got myself a smashed up XSR700 and made it into a Scrambler, an idea I had while flat-out at 57mph on the Atlantic Coast of Western Sahara. What a nice machine that was.