Husqvarna Steps into the Future

Husqvarna Motorcycles recently launched the all-new, fuel-injected TE 250i and TE 300i machines – with the new models featuring what Husqvarna call “unprecedented advantages in terms of performance, rideability, fuel consumption and ease of use.”

The introduction of fuel-injection by Husqvarna into their 2-stroke range marks a bold new step into the future of offroad motorcycling. We can’t wait to get our hands on the 2018 bikes here in NZ later this year!

For all the action from the international launch of the Husqvarna TE 250i and TE 300i in Canada, grab issue #146 of Dirt Rider Downunder on sale Monday September 11 at all good retailers. 

2018 Honda CRF250R Revealed

Just as was expected after images of Honda test rider Takeshi Katsuya riding a strange mishmash of a bike leaked online, Honda have dropped a new CRF250R on us, complete with DOHC POWER!

Honda’s next generation CRF250R is on its way with plenty of exciting upgrades with the wait for this all-new race beast certainly seeming like it was worth it. It’s now rocking Dual Overhead Cams, baby!

The 2018 CRF250R has more engine power, upgraded stability and traction as well as a re-designed dual exhaust and titanium intake system to help get you that holeshot.

The most notable of changes found in the CRF250R are all to do with that new heart between the frame. A new compact DOHC engine with rocker arms, higher valve lift, larger valve diameter and a higher rev limit mean that there’s an extra 5 per cent power-to-weight and peak power at 2000rpm higher.

A new straight intake layout and dual exhaust system further enhance the power and speed range of the entire engine. The dual cannons looks the business too which always helps! Adapting an advanced Scavenge Pump system reduces engine friction and ‘pumping’ losses at high rpm which results in upgraded engine efficiency. 

The chassis hasn’t been ignored however, with the 2018 CRF250Rs redesigned chassis giving the rider absolute control of the new powered-up DOHC engine.

Changes to geometry and dynamic parameters of the frame’s performance should also give the CRF250R enhanced starting performance, front-end stability and rear wheel traction.

The shorter wheel base on this 18YM distributes riders weight onto the rear wheel for far better rear wheel grip.

Weight reduction from a new titanium tank, lower engine mount and lower rear shock mounts give the CRF250R a lower centre of gravity and greatly improve overall stability and offer anti-front end lift.

Front suspension is now steel-sprung 49mm Showa USD front forks and smooth surface plastics make the CRF250R look more like its bigger motocross brother – the CRF450R.

For 2018, the CRF250R is also equipped with a compact, lightweight lithium-ion battery. Electric Start is now standard for superior start / restart and recovery especially in cold conditions where the lithium battery can sustain temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius. Notably the kick starter has been removed. Sorry die hard one leggers.

The three engine modes; as with the 2017 model are available on the 2018 CRF250R to maintain its versatility whereby riders can select from 3 different Engine Modes to accommodate different riding conditions and riding skills: Mode 1: Standard, Mode 2: Smooth and Mode 3: Aggressive.

Leaked images of this new machine circulated back in May where the 18YM CRF250R made its race debut at the Japan MX Championship in Hiroshima; ridden to victory by four-time 250cc class Champion in Japan, Takeshi Katsuya.

2018 Honda CRF250R, with a new compact DOHC engine with rocker arms, higher valve lift, larger valve diameter and a higher rev limit resulting in a +5% power-to-weight and peak power at 2000rpm higher.

Honda hopes this redesign will ensure the CRF250R achieves outstanding hole shot start acceleration and provide racers with exactly what they need and makes it Honda’s most competitive, durable and formidable 250cc race machine to date.

We can’t wait for a fang!

2017 Honda CRF450RX

Throwing its weight, with full force, into the ring for 2017, the Honda Motor Corporation are set to challenge all and sundry for the Cross Country title with the all-new Honda CRF450RX. Welcome to the jungle

Words: Chris Power Pics: Alick Saunders

It’s been a long time between drinks for Honda and the off-road community – well over 10 years in fact. If you look back at the glory days of four-stroke racing in the 80s and 90s, Honda ruled the roost with the timeless and extremely reliable XR range. From that, spawned the CRF-X model line-up which, after initially making some serious waves, quickly fell short of the rivals of all different colours, shapes and sizes. But with the re-birth of Honda’s off-road line up, commencing with the 450RX, things are starting to look a tad more rosy for the Big Red Shed.

Since the announcement of the new off-road line up late last year, it has felt like a seriously long wait to get to this point of swinging a leg over. This hybrid motocross/enduro bike follows in the footsteps of the OG of the ‘in between’ bike, KTM’s XC range, as well as joining Yamaha in this category that is continually growing in popularity. The best of both worlds scenario really does play into the hand of those looking for a bike that can not only cut laps like Roczen, before his yard sail, as well as crash through the bush like a GNCC nutter. Or simply follow the kids round at your local trail ride. One bike should be able to do more, and that’s where these ‘in between’ bikes make hay while it’s sunny.

For 2017, you can pick between three different 450cc machines from Honda – the CRF450R, the CRF450X and the new CRF450RX. The R and RX are the all-new bikes, while the X is still the old carburetted bike that is yet to get that all-important face lift, but you’d have to think we can expect that to come soon… Now, to say the RX is in between is a little misleading, because it is probably more 70/30 in terms of which side of the fence it sits, as the difference between the X and the RX is a huge chasm width. It’s a completely different bike. Maybe the wheels, brakes and handlebars are the same? And that’s still a maybe. But the difference between the R and the RX, well, is just that little bit e-X-tra…

The RX has all the same engine parts and chassis updates as its motocross brother. It’s got the sleek down-draft intake that scoots over the rear shock mount, the more compact dual muffler and that all-new Honda styling that is more jet than bike at some angles. It is as close as you will get to the R without actually being on the R. And although the subtle changes are few and far between, they combine to make a big difference out on the track. Starting with the electric starting system, a staple for off-road riding this century. The starter unit is compact and hidden nicely out of the way. It comes standard on the RX, where the motocross model sees it as an optional extra for around $1000 plus fitting. The ignition mapping is slightly revised to deliver smoother power compared to the R model and an 18-inch rear tyre replaces the usual 19-inch to help combat bush life when negotiating roots, rocks and edges. Also with the RX, the front and rear suspension was revised to accommodate the larger tank size, the more overall weight and varying terrain found in the bush. The tank carries a further 2.5 litres when compared to the R, you score a plastic skid plate for all your frame rail requirements, the side stand helps for photo opportunities out of the trail and the Dunlop Geomax AT81 tyres should be keeping you rubber-side down while you get a handle on things for the first time.

Engine

In one word: responsive! I could leave it there, but short stories don’t sell magazines. I found the throttle response on the RX astounding. It was very light and had a super-easy pull on the dual cable housing, which was like an electric pulse to the engine and rear wheel. In part this will be exacerbated by having spent a lot of time on my ’09 CRF450R which is getting quite tired and sticky. The engine, while feeling rather aggressive, still had a real torquey nature to its delivery – perhaps too torquey in the stock and the aggressive map. This seemed to keep the rear end from spinning up too much and provided decent forward drive, especially in the nice loam or when locked nicely into a rut. The mid-range of the engine was really meaty, and you could afford to run a gear higher and still punch out of corners. 450s lend themselves towards that ability anyway, but it was really noticeable on the RX.

The mapping options are perhaps the best feature of the engine; having three completely different maps that you can actually notice is a big winner in my books. The kill switch has an extra button that you hold down to change maps. One flash for the stock map, two flashes for the mellow map and three flashes for the aggressive map. I found the stock map really good for the moto track. It had a nice smooth pull all the way through the range and felt strong in any gear. The aggressive map was lot more snappy and often would catch me off guard, putting me off balance and losing some corner speed. A nice deep sand track and a name like Cody Cooper would see this map excel. The mellow map is where I found my home with its smoother delivery and longer pull up top. It’s a 450 and I’m not using everything this engine has to offer. For me, the mellow map made this already easy to ride bike, much easier to utilise on the track. I was able to hit my marks and carry momentum through the turns and power out down the straights without worrying too much about the bike trying to get away from me.

In the bush this was even more evident, where the mellow map made quick line changing and popping over holes and logs virtually impossible to stuff up. Although multi-map engines are not a new idea, it’s cool to be able to change it on the fly without having to head back to the van and plug something in. And hey, if you are out on a trail ride and it starts raining, you can quickly select the mellow map and breeze your way back to the pits.

Chassis

Big Tank – two words this time. However, it is only 8.3litres, making it 0.8l more than the YZ450FX, but only 0.2l less than KTM’s 450 XC-F. All that extra fuel is sitting high and visually it seems a tad bulky. But R&D have obviously done their job as it never crosses your mind when actually riding the bike. The frame itself feels thin through the legs. Not KTM steel frame thin, but it’s got that small Honda feeling Red Riders will be very used to. The changes made to the suspension have created a bike that is very easy to ride and very stable on both slower technical trails as well as the higher speed, open tracks. The front-end sports 49mm Showa spring forks which feels progressive, though a little stiff initially. The rear unit feels a little harder in comparison, but they still work well together. Running a little less sag seemed to even out the ride a bit and make the RX feel balanced through choppy and whooped out terrain. I found the bike performed best when hard on the gas, keeping the front-end light and skipping it off the terrain.

At 118 kilos, you can still flick the RX around the track with relative ease. It loves to dive into corners and can hold a tight line well, considering the bike is trying to run you wide with all that traction. On the harder pack sections of the track, where you’re searching for traction, the extra weight can be noticeable through the corners, so a good body position will help keep the RX from leaning in too much. I think everyone is pretty happy that Honda went back to the spring fork for 2017. Not only is the reliability better for the off-road scene, it seemed to be what the customer was after and Honda have listened. One thing to mention though is the seat. I found it quite hard and not conducive to off-road riding. Maybe it’s because I am a taller guy and sit further back on the seat, but the cushioning just wasn’t enough for me. The foam really thins at the rear and I noticed it by the end of the day.

My only other gripe with the CRF450RX would be the handlebar and the lack of adjustability. Again, for a taller guy, having that option to move the ’bars forward a position in the clamps is a must-have. I found a position I was pretty happy with, but if I was to have this longer term, a different bend would allow me to have the ’bars flatter without them pointing to the sky.

After spending a day with the new RX, I’m happy to be able to confirm that this is the bike Honda riders have been waiting for. I can say that without hesitation. If you’ve ever been looking for a reason to return to red, get out and give this RX a jam. This has the ability to take you to your local club day motocross crown on Saturday (results may vary), then easily follow the family round the trails on Sunday. It’s a bike with just that little bit e-X-tra.

2017 HONDA CRF450RX

Engine Type: 449cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore and Stroke: 96 x 62.1mm
Compression Ratio: 13.5:1
Valve Train: Unicam with 38mm titanium intakes and 31mm steel exhaust
Starter: electric and kick starters
Transmission: close-ratio five-speed gearbox
Front Suspension: Showa 49mm inverted fork with adjustable rebound and compression damping and 305mm of travel
Rear Suspension: Showa shock with Pro-Link linkage that has adjustable spring preload, rebound, compression damping and 312mm of travel
Front Brake: twin-piston caliper with 260mm disc
Rear Brake: single 240mm disc
Seat Height: 960mm
Wheelbase: 1481mm
Ground Clearance: 328mm
Fuel Capacity: 8.3L
Wet Weight: 118.3kg

 

2018 Suzuki RM-Z250 On the Way

2018 Suzuki RM-Z250.

The updated for 2018 Suzuki RM-Z250 is on the way, with the first bikes set to land in Aotearoa in the coming weeks.

For the coming year the RM-Z250 has received a minor update to bring it up to par with the stunning new looks of the 2018 RM-Z450, which stole much of the development R&D focus for the 2018 Suzuki MX range.

Notable updates to the 2018 model are the blue additions to the graphics kit and the seat, mimicking those we saw last month when the covers were pulled off the RM-Z450.

We all know Suzuki are the masters of fine tuning over long periods of development, and the RM-Z250’s engine is no different, having been refined over the years to offer stellar mid-range power and torque is enhanced while maximum power is maintained. Power delivery is smoother and linear for easier control. 

Up front springing duties are taken care of through a 48mm KYB PSF2 Suspension system to give riders total control over the suspension settings. Unlike other manufacturers which have already moved back to oil springers, the RM-Z250 sticks with air-springs, for now… Riders can adjust both air forks with one balanced air pressure setting from a hand-pump. Compression damping is adjustable while rebound damping force is both high- and low-speed adjustable.

Out back the latest design KYB rear shock absorber is connected link style to the swingarm via re-shaped cushion rods and spacers. The nitrogen-charged, piggyback style shock features a new top-mounted integral adjuster system for easy adjustment of the high- and low-speed rebound, and high- and low-speed compression damping force adjusters. Spring preload can be precisely tuned via a threaded collar on the main shock body.

Like the 450, there’s also Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control (S-HAC) so you can nail that launch. The latest, three-stage version of S-HAC fitted to the 2018 RM-Z250 adjusts the ignition map for the initial moment of launch, then re-adjusts timing for the time the motorcycle moves through the starting gate area, then another adjustment is applied during the longer primary acceleration period.

By plugging in either of two additional fuel-setting couplers (still not handlebar mounted button, we might be waiting for 2019 for that), riders can opt for a richer-than-stock or leaner-than-stock fuel setting to make the most of any riding conditions. Included with the bike, these couplers can be easily plugged in trackside.

Suzuki New Zealand say the first shipment of the new look RM-Z250 will be hitting dealer floors in roughly mid-August, with pricing to be announced in the coming weeks.

2018 Suzuki RM-Z450 Revealed

Suzuki have pulled the wraps off the all-new RM-Z450, and all we can say is WOW!

Not only does the 2018 RM-Z have an absolutely killer new look, there are some serious changes under the shrouds and new blue additions to the bodywork. The frame has had a redesign and is now more rigid and lighter, the Showa forks (like many in the industry) have gone back to springs and oil, and there’s even more power squeezed out of the 449cc DOHC engine thanks to a lot of tinkering to the airbox and injectors.

Then there’s the electronics, with the Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control (S-HAC) also getting an upgrade and now gives riders three different settings to choose from.

All in all it is a massive step forward for Suzuki’s MX1 machine and we can’t wait to get our hands on it when it finally arrives in the country in September.

But we’ve only just scratched the surface here, so for the detailed analysis, grab the next issue of DRD – on sale July 10!