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Yamaha WR250R

Less may really be more.

Is the Yamaha WR250R in “Ride Adv” spec the best sub 450cc adventure bike in the world?

I remember when the WR250R came out in 2008. There was some advertising but not much hype. The model seemed in no mans land. It was substantially less powerful and had a lower spec everything then the WR250F, no racer or ex racer would want that.  It was water cooled with a high seat height so it didn’t appeal to the farmers buying the TTR250. Was it a commuter? A single cylinder 250cc trailbike with no windscreen as a commuter? No thanks. I do remember Darren Thompson, Yamaha Motor Australia (YMA) head tech, discussing the new model with me, he mentioned the service intervals were 25 000km for an oil change (!) This had been knocked down to 10 000km for Australian release. YMA told Japan they were going to change the schedule, Japan thought there was no need, 25 000km is what the engine was designed for. YMA stuck with 10 000km oil changes, valve adjustment at 25 000km.

The WR250R was a Japanese domestic model in design, that has escaped out into other markets. It’s a wholly Japanese built motorcycle, unlike many trailbikes we now see from the Japanese big 4 that have a large content or are assembled in Thailand, so it was expensive when released, $10 499 was the RRP from 2008-2013.

At that time, 2012,  Ride Adv was using 660 Tenere’s as pre run bikes. The nature of pre running is exploring trails, trying to join tracks on maps. The 660 were heavy when you get stuck on a hill when the track you thought was there, isn’t there. Greg saw the 250R and requested 2 as pre run bikes from YMA. A chainsaw (originally out of my shed) was mounted on the back of one and Greg reported back that the bikes were actually very good, but the rear shock was so bad the chainsaw kept falling off.

I had worked on a few of them for customers from 2008, with mediocre results. The forks were a 46mm USD KYB that looked like the 1996-2003 YZ units but had cartridges that were the same size as the YZ85, that’s what the YZ range had in 1988. The shock wasn’t much better. It wasn’t a KYB shock, it’s a Soqi, a wholly Yamaha owned subsidiary company that makes suspension units for the more budget models. The shock has a rebound adjuster straight out of my 1983 YZ125K. That may sound dismal. It’s not. These are very few Adventure bikes with stock suspension componentry I’d describe as anything other than rudimentary. This doesn’t stop me from analysing the stock components on the shock (and fork) dyno and making them perform for a different purpose than the factory ever intended.

6 years on and many suspension settings later we now have a very well developed 250R. The forks didn’t turn out to be a problem with the “little” YZ85 internals, I just needed to mount the forks on the dyno and start working. The shock was harder, we tried 2 different main pistons and 30 setting changes in it over 4 years. The problem, in hindsight was a lack of low speed damping control. One of the questions I always get about our shock dynos is “how fast do they go?” as if that’s an important measure of the dynos ability, in the same way you ask the engine tuner how much HP his chassis dyno. It’s about the least important question you can ask.

For Adventure bikes, under $10K purchase price you get very little. At $15K is still quite lean in terms of stock suspension componentry. So the 250R has old MX technology but its advanced from a Trail bike and Adventure bike standing. Why not just start with a 450 enduro bike? We did that, last year. 3 2017 WR450F’s. Tried to tame them, big tanks, mild mapping, better seats. Were they fun for 3 hours? Yes. Were they fun for 8 hours and successive days? No. Can you compare a hard edged WR450F with a WR250R? Yes and no. They are both blue off road bikes with compliance. The 250R is easy to ride all day and don’t need the maintenance schedule a WR-F does.

We have been developing this suspension package since 2012 with Yamaha Australia and RideAdv on their hire Yamaha WR250R's. Suitable for all riders from that use the WR as anything from a casual trail bike to commuter to a 2 day Adventure Sprint bike. All the problems with the shock are solved with our shock dyno developed settings, plus a spring to suit your weight. We usually retain the OEM fork springs unless you are over 110kg, then we fit 0.48kg/mm.  We have tested all our competitors products, we are the only suspension company that uses a shock dyno to develop settings on every customer job. 

Bring your bike in and we will do all the hard work or take the suspension out yourself and bring it in.

Pricing based on new or as new bike.If you need consumables such as seals, bushes,bumper, shock seal, etc, extra costs will apply .Freight options include Aust post and TNT , approx $25-35 road.

Click here to learn more about the upgrade packae for you WR250R.

Yamaha WR250R Forks

The 250R already has 4.6N springs. That’s stiffer than a DR650, Tenere 660, KLR650. Its perfect for a big tank with a rider up to 100kg. We have 4.8N springs for heavier riders. We can thank the road designation of the 250R for the stiff fork springs. Where do we change the fork then? Big changes to the damping character. We still use 3wt oil, it’s a complete reinvention of the shims/valves. Then run the fork on the dyno to ensure it meets the targets. Not every fork is the same so sometimes we need to change our settings a little to meet the targets. A fork is a bunch of parts that all have tolerances. This can result in  “tolerance stacking” where the sum of the in tolerance parts creates an assembly that needs loose tolerances. That’s no good for us, the dyno doesn’t lie, if we need to pull the forks down 4 times to get the targets, that’s what we do.

We do also change the setting a little for female riders or older riders who want more comfort.


One of the many valving configurations we tried in testing. TB has ridden on many sets of forks while we were looking for the right feel to make the WR250R an adventure bike that you can either cruise on or ride as hard as you can, the bike will keep up.

Late nights, many sets of forks later. Once we started using the dyno for fork tuning our tested stepped up another gear to where we are now and have been running the same fork setting for over 18 months with great results.


Stock suspension is very Japanese trail bike in setup, very soft in the front and stiffer in the rear. Traditionally this is for pillion riding. Surprisingly, most of this softness comes from a lack of dampening at both ends, not soft springs. If the rider is under 85kg and carries no gear, we leave the stock springs and just work on dampening. The bikes TB and the RideAdv crew ride only use an uprated shock spring.  RideAdvTest mules. Want to try one out? They can be hired on RideAdv rides.
Another two 250R's getting the fork treatment

For the fork, we have tried a few different settings with TB and Wulfy but have settled on the settings that were a little firmer, as you tend to ride the bike harder, being low powered and light. So we revalve the forks, and change springs if they need it. Stock fork springs are 0.46kg/mm, which is OK for up to 100kg. I have to change quite a lot about the damping on the fork, it's not just a quick throw a few shims in.

Yamaha WR250R Shock

The WR250R shock was the sticking point, we saw many shocks with different valving settings, Gold Valves ect but none were a great answer. The stock spring was ok, 81N. Good for 85kg with no gear or two 55kg Japanese people. We leave the stock spring for women and light men. Most people use a 90N rear but we have a 95N and 100N as well for the heavier folk. Note the spring rate has nothing to do with how fast you ride. A spring just supports a mass, we do everything else with damping. We found we could run a lot more damping character than stock and it didn’t make the shock harsh, it was the opposite. More damping made it more compliant. We modified the rebound adjuster in about 2015 and then we started to get great handling 250R’s. We experimented with lowering the shock and settled on 10mm lower shock length than stock, that’s 25mm at the axle. It brought stability to the chassis, more traction and no situations where the seat hit you in the arse. We do lower it more if you need it. We also, like the forks, give the ladies and older gents a softer setting.

New shock settings for the new shock, 2017 on are finished. It's the gold adjuster model.

  We modify the rebound adjuster in every WR-R shock to get the kick out of it, that's what all the video's you will see on the net talk about. TB has done 8000km in testing so far with no wear issues and no fade. Stock shock spring is 8.1kg/mm. The normal upgrade is is 9.0kg/mm. 

A point to be careful on when lowering WR250R's is the bottom of the shock does run close to the swingarm. Some aftermarket lowering links we have seen make the shock and swingarm collide at half stroke. Shortening the shock can have the same effect. So lowering can be done, 45mm is possible, but you have to know what you are doing.

Our shock re-valve solves every problem the WR-R shock has. Hundreds of dyno runs on our shock dyno's and thousands of km have resulted in a shock no one else can match. You saw on the net some guy fitted a Gold Valve and says it's great? He doesn't know what great is. We also lower every shock we do on the WR 25mm at the guard. We can lower further if you need it.
We also fit a spring to suit your weight, usually a 9.0kg/mm.  Rates are available from 8.0 - 14.5kg/mm.