YAMAHA’S WR250R: TO BE REPLACED BY A WR300R?
It’s hard to notice something when it’s not there. Which is why it took us a few months to twig to the fact that the WR250R was not included in Yamaha’s worldwide PR about their 2022 model line-up. So, seeing as this bulletproof little dual-purpose machine has attracted a cult following from new and experienced riders alike since its release more than a decade ago, we thought we owed it a dignified send-off … or at least ask Yamaha to explain why such a popular model had been discontinued. And of course, that conversation can’t be had without a probing question or two about the possibility of a bigger-bore WR-R replacement – like a WR300R, or even a WR450R!
WHY WAS THE WR250R DISCONTINUED?
Yamaha Motor Australia’s Sean Hawker-Goldhawk confirmed with Transmoto that the WR250R had been discontinued for 2022, but said he wasn’t privy to the rationale behind the decision. Yamaha USA went a step further by explaining that “global production efficiency” was the main reason the WR250R is no longer with us. Yami USA also pointed out that they offer 40 different motorcycle and scooter models in the US alone, which is supplemented by various other models for the global market. And that means it doesn’t always make business sense to continue producing every model while simultaneously adding new ones. And from time to time, difficult decisions must be made regarding which models to keep or drop. So, it seems the WR250R was subject to that process.
And as to whether a bigger-bore WR-R is in pipeline? Yamaha, like most major manufacturers – in particular, the Japanese brands, who tend to hold their cards even closer to their chests – don’t speculate about new models or future product. So, we’ll just have to wait and see. Though, given the sharp rise in dual-sport bike sales over the past couple of years, it would certainly make sense to offer a WR300R. If Yamaha gave their quarter-litre dual-sport model some extra displacement, it’d put it head-to-head with machines such as Honda’s CRF300L and Kawasaki’s KLX300.
WHY WAS THE WR250R SO POPULAR?
When Yamaha’s WR250R was first released in 2008, it brought a sporty edge to the budget-conscious 250 dual-sport market. The bike’s centrepiece was a fuel-injected, liquid-cooled 250cc DOHC four-stroke single-cylinder engine with a downdraft-type intake, high-lift cams, large titanium intake valves, a forged piston that created a 11.8:1 compression ratio, and super-low maintenance requirements (are we right in saying a recommended 40,000km between valve-clearance inspections!?). An up-specced semi-double-cradle aluminium frame and a fully adjustable suspension with plenty of travel at each end were the finishing high-performance touches.
It’s true that, by 2020, the WR250R’s price tag was a bit higher than comparable models from Kawasaki and Honda, but the WR250R was also a fair bit more off-road capable than those red and green machines. Hence the disappointment from a huge cross-section of dual-sport fans who, like renowned WR250R tour operator, RideADV’s Greg Yager, called the iconic little blue 250 “the Swiss Army knife of motorcycles”; a bike that can do everything from singletrail to desert crossings, and do it well!
Like many, we were both sad and surprised to see the WR250R go because it takes with it a unique set of qualities. But we live in hope that it will return to the Yamaha line-up someday – whether as a 250, a 300, or maybe an even larger version. Anyone else like the ring of a WR450R!?