Race Shop Build: 2020 Honda CRF250R 1

XPR Motorsports worked some magic on our CRF250R making it one of the fastest AND most controllable 250Fs we’ve ridden.

 

Usually, it is the bikes that have issues in stock form that really transform in project builds. Yet starting with the 2020 Honda CRF250R, one of my favorite machines of this last year, I didn’t expect to get such a drastic change in performance that we did with our XPR Motorsports CRF250R build. 

How It Started...

I like things a little out of the norm so when looking to build up our 2020 Honda CRF250R test bike, I started by reaching out to Chad Braun at XPR Motorsports. This was because, while I had seen Race Tech and Twisted Development build-up either the ‘19 or ‘20 CRF250R, I hadn’t seen much else out there. XPR’s reputation with the SmarTop Honda team is very good, and other publications had great things to say about their 450 builds, but I wanted to see if the magic could be recreated with a 250F. 

The first thing Chad asked me when we started talking was, “Do you think you could get an Akrapovic exhaust system?” As you can watch here (Akrapovic Exhaust Test) I did get one and XPR started to work on the bike based on how that system worked with the Honda powerplant. Chad said he’d been super impressed with the Akro systems on the 450s and was curious about the 250. 

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Mid-Budget Build

Moving on from there we discussed how gnarly we wanted the bike. Pretty much any engine shop can build a fire-breathing beast of a bike, but that comes at a cost. More time, more parts, more work all add up to more performance but can quickly send the budget into outer space. And, I also understand that the word “budget” is relative. 

Essentially, what we settled on was just top-end work on the engine, with a piston, Vortex ECU, Rekluse clutch, and a few other bolt-on parts. XPR could have gone much further and worked on more of the bike, but this is what they wanted to showcase as a lot of bang for the buck. Also, since this bike was built with me as the primary rider in mind (vet speed, just looking to have fun, not race a national), any more work than this would be overkill and not what the average rider could realistically use. 

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I also got the suspension dialed it by Factory Connection, who knows a thing or two about Honda suspension settings. Again, I told them my speed (not fast) and weight (185 lbs dad bod) and they got the fork and shock dialed in. 

Rounding out the build is a super sick custom graphics kit from DeCal Works who preinstalled the kit on the white Polisport Plastic Kit. If you are thinking about getting both new plastics and graphics, just pay the little extra money to have them installed. It is so sweet just to open the box of plastics and have the full kit perfectly installed, saving me a boatload of time and keeping my thumbnails from bleeding. 

We also got protection from Pro Carbon,  a drivetrain refresh with Dirt Works and D.I.D. Chains, a Boyesen SuperCooler, ODI controls, and Ride Engineering’s “handling package,” which includes their triple clamps and link arms. 


On The Track

As primary moto tester, Ping got first crack at the bike. We rode it at Cahuilla Creek MX which is at about 3,600 feet of elevation, which meant that some tweaks to the ECU settings were in order and Chad at XPR was on hand to do so. After Ping found the setting he liked and got his testing laps in, I finally got to ride this beautiful machine. 

This motor package is really, truly something special. As both Ping and I say in the video, there is a smoothness to the power delivery that is deceiving. Most of the time, a rider is expecting some big hit of power out of a modified bike, and while the power is definitely boosted across the RPM range, the connectivity of the throttle to the rear wheel is astounding. It is like the power curve is polished smooth as marble. There are no dips or hesitations or surprises and the motor responds to your throttle hand more than I thought was possible. 

This is what XPR is known for. This is what the SmarTop team use to get great starts at the races. By far, this Honda CRF250R is the fastest and most rideable 250F I’ve ever ridden. The way it delivers horsepower gives me complete confidence in the power of the bike. I can hold a gear way longer than stock, or I can short-shift it and it doesn’t fall on its face. I barely need the clutch at all. 

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If I could point out any downside to this motor package is that it is more demanding than a stock Honda. Meaning, the manual cam chain tensioner (which Chad says is good for about 1 HP) needs to be checked every 1 or 2 hours, the top-end needs to be checked at about 15-20 hours if you are a fast rider, you can’t go back to the stock ECU, and while this motor spec could handle 91 octane pump gas, it would be the best with at least VP T4. 

Since we had the suspension done and changed the triple clamps and linkage at the same time, it is a little hard to decipher which mod is doing what. But, I can confidently say that this is one of the best handling moto bikes I’ve ever ridden. I know I’m saying that a lot with this CRF250R, but it is true. I don’t want to give back to Honda ever!

While my speed doesn’t require much more performance from the stock suspension, Factory Connection was able to keep the performance and add a ton of comfort as well. They messaged out the little harsh hits at the beginning of the stroke and increased the bottoming progression so I could OJ the crap out of jumps without any worries at all. 

Again, the Ride Engineering clamps and link arms definitely helped the handling but how much of it was them working with the FC suspension, it was hard to tell. The triple clamps specifically for the Honda CRF250R are supposed to be a bit more compliant than stock and ad some front-end grip. The longer link arms settle the back end down and level out the bike. 

Overall

Hands down, this Honda CRF250R is the best 250F I’ve ridden, from both a performance and comfort standpoint. I have the confidence to ride it hard, the control to ride it all day, and the extra grunt to have a blast. Would I recommend this motor to anyone with a 2020 CRF250R? Absolutely, with a caveat; be prepared for a little more maintenance than stock. Would I recommend this suspension? Without a doubt, and without a caveat. All the other parts are rad on their own and can be added to as you see fit. Now my only challenge left is to trick Honda into forgetting this bike exists. 

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Parts List

Akrapovic

  • Evolution Full Titanium Exhaust: $1,668.95

Boyesen

  • SuperCooler Kit: $194.95

DeCal Works

  • Semi-Custom Kit: $269.90
  • Polisport Plastics: $119.95
  • Graphics Installation: $79.95
  • Seat Cover: $69.95
  • Graphic Guards: $24.95 

D.I.D.

  • 520 ERT3 Chain: $122.99

Dirt Tricks

  • Chromatic Rear Sprocket: $124.95

Dunlop

  • MX53 Front Tire: $See your local dealer
  • MX33 Rear Tire: $See your local dealer

Factory Connection

Shock

  • Revalve, Shock: $225.00
  • Shock Fluids: $18.95
  • Shock Shaft Nut Cover, Showa 16/18mm: $19.95 (keeps the jam nut from splitting the bump rubber)
  • FC H.S. Comp Adj. Spring Showa: $19.95 (Softer high speed compression spring)
  • Seal Head O-Ring, Shock: $3.00
  • Shock Shaft Nut, 12mm Showa 1.25: $9.00
  • Shaft Guide Bushing, Shock: $11.00
  • FC Updated 1 Piece Shock Seal 16mm: $25.95
  • Shock Total: $332.80

Fork

  • Revalve, Fork: $225.00
  • Fork Fluids, (1.5 Quarts @ $18.95 Per Quart): $28.95
  • Performance Kit: $159.95(This kit includes a different pressure spring, Works Oil Lock collars and a fork spring  guide spacer set)
  • Oil Seal, Fork: $12.00
  • Dust Seal, Fork Showa 49mm: $11.00
  • Fork Total: $459.90

ODI 

  • Podium CFT Ricky Carmicheal Handlebars: $134.95
  • Emig Pro V2 Grips: $28.95

Pro Carbon

  • Skidplate: $174.51
  • Front Rotor Guard: $124.65
  • Gas Tank Cover: $62.32

Ride Engineering

  • Triple Clamps: $549.90
  • One-piece Bar Mount: $104.95
  • Pull Rods: $199.95

XPR Motorsports

  • Vortex ECU: $699.99
  • Custom Map: $250.00
  • Vp pro6: $187 (5 gal.)
  • XPR Custom Piston: $349.99
  • XPR Manual Cam Chain Tensioner: $179.99
  • XPR Spark Plug Holder: $79.99
  • XPR Ported Head: $600
  • Rekluse Torqdrive Clutch Pack: $349.99
  • High Pressure Rad Cap: $45.00
  • XPR/Rekluse clutch cover: $179.99
  • Ceramic Coated Covers: $240.99
  • Labor: $1500.00

Klinger Klinger 6/23/2020 4:14 PM

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