2001 saw the first incarnation of the industry changing WR250F. 19 years on and things haven’t changed much in the industry changing aspects of the bike, - but everything else has. The bike is completely revised for 2020 with a concentration on more power right across the board.

This bike has ties back to Australasia. Australian and ISDE competitor Geoff Ballard alongside Yamaha Motor Australia Enduro riders Steven Cotterell and Peter Payne, as well as our own Josh Coppins continue to development Yamaha Off-Road products. This is just another one.

And now for 2020, WR250F is closer than ever to the industry leading YZ250F and the cross-country racing YZ250FX. All three models are based on the same platform but with significant differences that suit the type of riding for which they have been designed. 

The goal for the new WR250F was to provide superior handling and increased steering precision while retaining high speed stability. And to create a slimmer and lower machine that inspires more confidence with a lighter feeling.

With that, we have our Top 10 significant updates on the 2020 Yamaha WR350F that will really work for the Kiwi Rider in us all.

1. Engine

We have to start with the engine, as that is the area that Yamaha have put a fair chunk of their time into. Based on the YZ250F (which is no surprise), which is also proving to be the class leading engine in the MX scene right around the world. Those who don’t know, it features a rearward-inclined cylinder and reverse cylinder head. Its airbox is situated in front of the rider and the fuel tank located at the centre of the bike – a configuration that contributes to the bike's mass centralisation.

The 2020 WR250F features a new high compression forged aluminium piston, revised valve angle and exhaust cam timing with revised balance factor – all based on the current YZ250F, but with Enduro specific settings to provide a high level of winning performance. That performance is further boosted by the fitment of a dual electrode spark plug and revised exhaust muffler for 2020. Compared to the former WR250F engine, the 2020 design is said to be more powerful at higher rpm, and also delivers stronger power right through the rev range.

Nothing wrong with more power on a 250F - so long as it doesn’t lose that Yamaha reliability that the blue brand are known for.

2. Larger fuel tank

This is a no-brainer really. More fuel is better for longer rides and less fuel stops. That’s more time on the bike. So that’s a yes from us. The newly designed 7.9 litre plastic tank has been sxtended towards the centre of the bike, helping the mass centralisation theme.

It is still well under the KTM 250EXC-F’s fuel range, which hold 9.2 litres but its a start.

3. Lighter, tougher clutch

We all want a lighter clutch - period. But with that usually comes some kind of lack of longevity. The WR250F is equipped with a 6-speed transmission that is designed to handle a wide variety of terrain, from technical rock climbs to full throttle blasting along forest tracks. But the new lighter and tougher clutch is now mated to the box to match the extreme demands of Enduro riding. Featuring new heat resistant friction plates, this durable clutch is said to have a super light lever pull and is built to perform consistently and effectively for long periods in the toughest terrain.

4. More protective bashplate

Always wear protection - that’s what mom told us, right? The new WR250F features a more protective plastic resin engine guard to help prevent damage to the frame, engine, water pump and hoses when running through ruts or from impacts by kicked up rocks. Also, reducing the size of the open space at the front limits the amount of mud and stones entering and so reduces additional running weight.

There was a period of time when alloy bash plates were all the go. But alloy can easily hook up on logs, ruts and rock, and is not a slippery surface. Plastic is the new go-to with its increased build quality and slippery surface.

5. New smartphone tuning

WIFI + Motorbike = Praise The Lord. We are in a world where you can dim your lights with your smartphone and ask your phone to tell you a joke. Welcome to the world of connectivity. On board WiFi means that you can tune the new WR250F to different track conditions using your smartphone. A downloadable Power Tuner app allows you to make fueling and ignition timing changes instantly and upload/share them for the ultimate in track-side tuning. The free Yamaha Power Tuner app also allows owners to record ride/race log information and monitor a range of data such as maintenance and system diagnosis, engine run time and more. 

6. Industry leading front and rear suspension

Yamaha never went down the sir forks route - and thank Jesus they didn’t. Every other manufacturer who went full retard has now come back to spring forks, all the while Yamaha fine tuning what the believed was the correct set up. The WR250F runs the same KYB air-oil-separate closed chamber upside-down front fork as the YZ250F but with model-specific Enduro settings to provide stable damping force. This suspension is acknowledged to be the best available on a production dirt bike and responds particularly well during the transition between the compression and rebound strokes.

The outer tubes are the same as the YZ250F and contribute to a secure feeling of ground contact. The mid-speed valve (MSV) that provides damping in the mid-speed range has been changed from a coil spring type to a leaf spring type. This mechanism responds to even the slightest amounts of oil flow and so delivers excellent damping feel at low speeds. 

The rear shock absorber is also based on the YZ250F unit and features Enduro model-specific settings. It features a coil with a higher fatigue strength than the current model’s and with an 11.5mm wire diameter achieves a weight reduction of approximately 350 grams. The capacity of the reservoir has been increased by 30cc to run cooler and achieve a more stable damping force.

7. Flatter, lower seat

Yamaha bikes have always been tall. Great for the larger rider. Not so much for the shorter one. for 2020, the WR250F has dropped 10mm in seat height, while only losing 5mm ground clearance. A redesigned seat with stiffer seat foam is fitted to aid rider manoeuvrability and to make getting on and off the bike easier. A slimmer design through the shroud/knee contact area helps further improves rider ergos.

8. New forged aluminium sidestand

Sidestands get in the way - fact. Also fact is that they are one of the greatest inventions that has hit the dirt bike. They don’t need to be gnarly either. just light enough to hold the bike up and take some crash damage, and designed in a way that keeps them out of the way during riding. Easy.

A lighter and less obtrusive forged aluminium sidestand is positioned to ensure plenty of ground clearance when riding through ruts and the like. The new stand sits higher and the amount it juts out from the chassis is reduced which helps prevent snagging. The weight of the stand has also been reduced by about 100g. This comes right from the the 2019 YZ250FX.

9. Sharp handling YZ250F bilateral beam frame

The WR250F now runs the same bilateral beam frame as the current model YZ250F. To achieve a rigidity balance with the amount of flex needed for Enduro riding, the engine mount brackets have been altered. The upper-side mounts are the same as on the YZ250F, while two-plate type mounts are used for the front-side mounts. The result is said to contribute to the machine’s excellent feeling of contact with the ground and offers feedback about the riding surface while providing a light feel to the handling.

A compact fuel pump is another new feature. These changes have made it possible to achieve a slim, compact body design comparable to the YZ250F that also results in minimum interference with the riding position.

10. Engine map switch

OK granted, this isn’t a new fancy thing as mapping switches have been around for a while now. However, you are stuck to the preset maps from the factory, which are usually difficult to tell apart in real world riding. But, if this system alloys you to choose which maps are on each setting, plus allow you to tune those maps yourself via the app, then that’s a big deal.

The bar-mounted dual engine map switch has been positioned next to the left lever to enable changes in the engine power delivery characteristics mid-race, on the fly, at the press of a button to cater for changes in the riding environment.

11. Lightweight speed sensor with high-precision display 

So there is actually 11 - sorry not sorry. Remember the speedo drive that Yamaha are renowned for, which is a right pain the the spoke. Gone baby!. The new lightweight front wheel speed sensor connects to a Enduro clock, with the small cable following the line of the front brake cable. Fantastic. This makes the front wheel changes easier, if nothing else. It is a pulse wheel and sensor system known for excellent reliability and provides the detailed speed information essential for Enduro riding. the displays also includes low fuel warning light.

Riding one will be the real test and it is unknown as to when the new 2020 WR250F will hit the shores of NZ. But as always, it wont be soon enough.

CLICK HERE to get even more information about the available 2020 Off-Road range from Yamaha

Recap on the main features of the 2020 WR250F

New engine based on current YZ250F - High performance MX-based engine featuring specific enduro settings for stronger and longer-lasting pulling power at high rpm
New free flow air filter gives linear response - Reduced resistance with increased reliability
New smartphone tuning - On board WiFi allows engine to be tuned to different track conditions using your smartphone
New engine map switch - Bar-mounted engine map button allows mid-ride changes to power delivery 
New lighter, tougher clutch - Easier lever pull with greater longevity
Wide‐ratio 6‐speed transmission - Awesome in tight terrain with high-speed performance for flat dirt sections
Mass centralised starter system - Lightweight starter motor with reduced horsepower loss
Sharp handling YZ250F bilateral beam frame - Frame is based on all conquering 2019 YZ250F but flex-tuned for enduro riding
Lower, flatter seat and slimmer ergos - With stiffer seat foam for added manoeuvrability
Industry leading front and rear suspension - YZ250F spec KYB air-oil-separate upside-down front fork and rear shock sport model-specific enduro settings 
Bigger bashplate - Increased protection for water pump and hoses 
Larger fuel tank - New mass centralised 7.9-litre plastic resin fuel tank 
New forged aluminium sidestand - Lighter and less obtrusive forged stand 
Sleek new headlight cowl - Sits lower and closer to the rider
New stronger front axle brackets - Improved front end grip feeling
Lightweight speed sensor with high-precision display - New front wheel speed sensor connects to a digital display that also features fuel level and engine warning lamps