2020 WR250F: 12 Bang-For-Buck Mods
We’ve ridden, maintained and lived with Yamaha’s much-updated 2020 WR250F for over a month now. And after putting it through its paces in our first ride impression, we’ve been inching to get back out on the trails aboard this impressive quarter-litre rocket, which is now a long-term project bike.
So, it’s obvious we liked the standard bike – which comes with a greater majority of the updates brought out on Yami’s MX models in the past year or two – and that made us think long and hard about the aftermarket parts that would genuinely benefit this all-new machine. Here are a dozen of what we reckon are the 12 most cost-effective mods that make this landmark, new-generation model even better…
The bike’s standard muffler may not look cutting-edge, but it does a very effective job of taking the abrupt edge off this MX-bred engine’s power delivery to create a linear power curve, and exceptional traction in the bush. That said, because the OEM muffler is heavy and long and swings off the back of the bike, we fitted a GYTR Slip-On muffler and header pipe. In addition to looking and sounding better, the GYTR system also saves about 1kg. And even without a mapping change to complement it, this bolt-on adds noticeably to throttle response (which the standard bike lacks at lower RPM) and short-shiftability. In slick conditions, however, this punchier power makes it a little harder to get the rear wheel hooking up. So you do need to marry the GYTR exhaust with the ‘softer’ traction map (and ideally, taller gearing) to retain tractability in tech and/or slippery terrain.
The standard gearing (13/50) works well with the standard exhaust and mapping. But with the snappier power the aftermarket exhaust creates, we found that a taller 13/48 final sprocket combo is really effective. Rather than constantly shifting between second and third gears, the taller gearing allows you to hold second gear for a greater majority of slower corners and draw smoother flowing lines.
The bike’s lower seat height for 2020 definitely helps centralise the machine’s overall mass and makes it easier to control in slop and extreme terrain. But the shorter seat-to-peg distance also makes the legroom a little cramped for taller (and even average-height) riders. And, having really liked the feel of the taller seat on our 2019 WR450F project bike last year, we immediately fitted a GYTR Tall Seat, paired with Ballard’s Seat Cover to the 2020 WR250F. In addition to giving your legs more room, this taller seat also puts you in a more aggressive, more central position on the bike, which helps weight the front-end and keep the front wheel planted better through turns. It also makes it easier to move from seated to standing position and because it’s flatter, it allows you to move around the cockpit more freely. Plus, with more foam, the tall seat is also noticeably plusher on your arse on those longer rides.
NEKEN SFH BARS & GRIPS
Some people reckon the standard bars on the 2020 WR250F are a bit low, but we like their height and sweep and the control they give you over the bike’s front-end, especially through flat turns. So, how come did we replaced them with a set of Neken’s SFH (Smooth Feeling Handlebar) bars with the same (Yamaha 101) bend? Because this Neken bar is claimed to be 40% lighter, yet stronger. And it allows us to fit grips that are way more forgiving than the rock-hard things the WR250F comes with. By using tubing with a 4mm smaller outer diameter (22mm) under the grips, Neken’s SFH bar – when paired with the SFH Grips – is much kinder on your hands. How so? The SFH Grips use more material (4mm wall thickness, versus the 2mm on most conventional grips) to reduce vibration transferred back through the rider’s hands. The things genuinely work when it comes to increasing ‘mechanical’ grip on the bars, and reducing blisters and general hand soreness after long rides. Incidentally, Neken has just released an additional SFH Grip options (with an outer diameter of 28.5mm or 26.5mm) to suit riders with smaller hands. The only downside we can see with the smaller ID of these Neken SFH bars is that they don’t yet accommodate bar-ends or fastening hardware for full-wrap hand guards. Also, with the SFH Grips’ Kraton rubber being softer than average, you do need to use a strong glue (such as Chemtools’ Cyanoacrylate Adhesive 4801) to ensure the grips are on tight.
The standard Metzeler tyres aren’t bad, but Dunlop’s new MX53 hoops offer another level of performance altogether. They are designed to excel in hardpack conditions, but we found the tyres to be very versatile and provided good traction and predictability over a wide variety of terrain. And being an intermediate-hard tyre, they’ll wear better than a soft-intermediate tyre – which is great for trailriders. Racers might still prefer a softer compound combo, such as a Dunlop MX33, but you’ll be burning through hoops more often.
REAR BRAKE DISC
You rarely hear riders complaining that their rear brake is lacking in power, but most admit they’d prefer more feel – especially on slippery grasstrack or when you’re getting a bit fatigued. That’s exactly why we fitted GYTR solid rear brake disc. It retains the OEM disc’s 245mm diameter, but allows you to apply more pressure through the pedal before it’ll lock the rear wheel. The solid disc also reduces brake pad wear, especially in muddy and/or sandy conditions.
When you’re customising a bike, it’s hard to go past tricking it up with a custom graphics kit. It not only looks the goods, but it keeps your plastics in better condition for when it’s time to upgrade. We worked with our buddies at the family-owned Aussie business, Holeshot Graphics, to design the graphics. Holeshot’s kits are well designed and high quality, and are pretty easy to install at home in the shed with the help of a couple beers.
REAR DISC GUARD
If you tend to ride a fair bit of technical terrain or deep ruts, then you’ve probably bent a rear brake disc before. One of the cool things about a Yamahas is that they come with a rear disc guard as standard equipment. Although they offer more protection than nothing at all, we opted for the beefed-up GYTR guard for two reasons: It is made of “ultra high-molecular weight polyethylene” (aka, strong plastic), and when it collides with a rock or tree root, it flexes rather than bends like an alloy guard can.
We thought the plastic countershaft sprocket guard looked a little agricultural. Sure, the standard thin alloy piece behind it would have protected the cases to some extent, but we decided to fit a GYTR billet aluminium Case Saver instead. It not only looks the goods with an anodised blue finish, it’s 16mm thick so it’ll do a better job of protecting the bike’s engine cases if we snap a chain. Plus, it’s designed so you can re-fit the OEM plastic counter-shaft sprocket guard if you want (but we left it off).
The foam filter that comes in the 2020 Yami is adequate. But to ensure peace of mind for our WR250F in the dustiest of conditions, we fitted one of UniFilter’s 02 Rush air filters because they’ve got more surface area and thicker foam than the standard filter. Taking it a step further, the UniFilter crew have hooked us up with the O2Rush Club Pack, where they’ll take care of the cleaning and re-oiling for us, using their legendary Filter Fix mineral-based foam filter oil across a pack of five pre-oiled filters, for the next 12 months.
The WR250F’s standard rigid, metal-encased chain guide is strong, but it is prone to bending when it cops a big hit. Because our project bike sees a lot of gnarly terrain, we’ve stepped it up with a GYTR Plastic Chain Guide. It’s flexible enough to bend, but doesn’t stay bent (which is when you’ll derail a chain). It’s a little chunkier than the standard guide, but significantly stronger.
For extra bling and a little protection, we fitted Ballard’s Carbon Fork Protection sleeves. Yes, it is real carbon fibre, so it adds bugger-all weight to the bike, and if your forks cop a rock or a blow, it’s a little extra insurance.