It’s not as easy as most would think. Climbing a steep incline on the road is relatively easy, but out here on the dirt with continuous undulation and slippage, every action requires finesse.
The idea is to build up some speed, position the bodyweight forward as you hit the start of the gradient head-on, then gas and modulate the throttle all the way as the bike may be moving about off and on course. But you need to ease off the throttle just before the summit, lest you fly into the opposite embankment. Bear in mind if you gassed off too early that at this point, it will most likely result in you losing balance and stalling the bike, consequently sliding backward or tumbling down the hill, if your reflex to stay upright is not timely enough.
When we picked up the WR250F at Hong Leong Yamaha, it had street size wheels and tyres. In fact they were shod with the soft compound Bridgestone BT-090. These tyres are the favourite among the Cubprix riders.
Back at MFG, I decided to experiment anyway, given the dry track. I charged at the incline in 3rd gear with some speed at mid-throttle, while concentrating on not creating any wheelspin from too much throttle. To my great surprise, the WR made it up with hardly any wheel spin despite the street tyres. Impressive! I guessed the soft enduro setting of the suspension being more compliant had attributed to it.
The WR is Yamaha’s line of Enduro motorcycles, built to go anywhere. Enduro bikes differ from their MX cousins by having a lighting coil for the headlight, taillights, and signal lights. They also have cooling fans for their radiators in anticipation of slogging through the jungle or slow moving road traffic road especially in this tropical environment.
Hong Leong Yamaha had swapped the original 21-/19-inch (front/rear) knobbies for the aforementioned 17-/17-inch road tyres, turning it into a motard. It’s a good move, as it shows the bike’s versatility. Plus, the fact that there are still more than 90% of riders who has never ridden on dirt, was probably on their minds too. To us, however, was that this bike would appeal to those who compete in the Malaysian Supermoto Championship.
The bike has some of the signature features on Yamaha’s current family, most obvious being the rear numberplate bracket.
Being lower due to the smaller circumferences of both wheels and tyres, the bike was easy to climb on. Once on, the suspension sat down on its preload sag. Pumping it up and down revealed its softness, as the off road-biased suspension was retained.
The engine fired immediately and was quiet. So was the exhaust note. Getting away was easy and never did it threatened to stall.
I lost my way as I attempted to exit the area and ended up riding through village roads. But it was all for the better as I got reacquainted with the joys of riding a motard. The Yamaha factory had also upgraded the front brake to a larger rotor to compensate for the higher level of the road tyre grip and was I pleasantly surprised of its braking power which caused an accidental stoppie.
The engine’s torque makes the bike eager to charge everytime.
Back at MFG, I tried riding it around in the dirt, like how we did in the supermoto championship. The suspension truly showed its offroad behavior by absorbing the bumps. I got a little too excited at one corner and nearly had the front wash out, but again, like I’ve always stressed, MX training prepares your reflexes for such eventualities. I kept wishing the WR had knobbies, so I could play around the track.
Time to head to a tarmac racetrack.
We’ve secured some time at the ELITE Superspeedway. This track holds a special place in my heart as it was where I first raced a supermoto in the veteran category. With some practice and a bit of luck, I won the race.
It was a rather hot day. We started off with a few easy laps, not pushing too hard. The tyres gripped well initially but started to get squirmy under the sweltering heat as i pushed harder. I could feel the front had the tendency to slip under me as I lean in harder on tight corners. I didn’t feel comfortable at all. I would partly attributed it to the steepened rake in from the smaller front wheel.
I pitted to make some small adjustments as I felt the enduro setting for the front suspension was also way too soft for this occasion, compounded by the extreme heat as we could see the sides of the tyre balling-up just after those 5 initial laps.
We firmed up the front and rear suspension and increased the tyre pressure. I decided to push harder for the next 5 laps.
This time, I stuck out my inside leg, plus sitting up on the high-side as a counter weight in typical MX and motard style, pushing the bike down into the corners, instead of hanging off. And it seems to help on the stability.
On the road and the offroad track, the pliant suspension soaked up the bumps beautifully, but if supermoto competition is your game plan, do consider valving or changing the fork oil to a stiffer suspension setup, plus lowering the rear ride height to compensate for the steeper rake. We run super sticky tyres in supermoto and that needs stiffer suspension setups, otherwise the chassis will be tied up in knots.
But I guess not many riders hit the tracks, so it still serves as a great bike around the city’s pockmarked roads.
I loved the engine. It had tremendous torque for a 250cc, yet linear in its delivery, though I would prefer a taller gearing to stretch the WR’s legs. Still, it managed to hit a 139 km/h top speed.
Hong Leong Yamaha has a huge potential in developing this bike further. It’ll be awesome if they can sell in both enduro and motard guises.
Nevertheless, I had great fun riding the WR250F motard and that’s good enough.
Review by Oh Kah Beng
Pictures by Nicholas Dev and Wahid Ooi Abdullah
|Category:||Enduro / offroad|
|Engine and transmission|
|Engine type:||Single cylinder, four-stroke, liquid-cooled|
|Engine details:||Titanium valves|
|Bore x stroke:||77.0 x 53.6 mm|
|Valves per cylinder:||5|
|Fuel system:||Carburettor. Keihin FCR 37|
|Fuel control:||Double Overhead Cams/Twin Cam (DOHC)|
|Lubrication system:||Wet, multidisc|