Initial Setup & Test Ride

One thing I cannot deny is that when I get a new toe, I get an itch to go shred it! Unfortunately for my bike but fortunately for the local extreme drought, it had been raining a ton lately. That meant I simply couldn't really take the bike out to a lot of the trail systems, both because they were a soupy mess, but also because the other riders I knew weren't interested in riding in the wet.

First up: The basics. First things first, you always change the oil on a new bike. No owner is going to be completely honest with you about the bike, so you might as well assume the basic aren't sorted. So I dumped the oil, and sure enough it was actually in decent enough shape, reflective of having maybe a few rides on it. Still though, I changed the oil and the oil filter out, requiring 1.3qts (1250ml) of oil to refill after the fact.

Other basics were ordered as well. The air filter was in fine shape, but it's always worth having an extra around so I picked one up as well. I got chain cleaning supplies and chain wax as well, which allowed me to sort the bike chain out and ensure it's longevity. Backup brake pads are also not a bad idea to have around, just so when you do notice that your brake pads are toast you've got a pair right there to just toss on and go.

"Snappables": Next up to sort out and first to "modify" was replacement levers and pedals. What I received on the bike was decent enough and mostly had OEM parts on it. However you should always have extras of any controls on the bike just so as you can sort your bike out and keep going if something happens. For example in the woods once a rider in our grip clipped a tree stump just barely with his shifter and snapped that right off. We were able to get him back to his truck but he had just spent 3 hours of round trip driving to dirt bike for 25 minutes. Had he an extra shifter, he'd still be going. So knowing that, I replaced both the clutch and front brake lever, the shifter lever, and a new brake pedal. I also ordered some aftermarket wider footpegs so I'd have those as well.

Bike Protection: So bikes have it fairly rough out there, and you're going to want to set your bike up so it can take a hit and keep on going. In the case of my WR250F, it had none of the add on protections you generally want to put on a bike. I had the thin and barely existent skid plates, it had no radiator protection/bracing, and while it did have barkbusters that were mounted on 7/8" bars. While better than what you'd get on a MX bike purchase, it was still notably lacking.

First up to order was a skid plate. Easy upgrade, bolts right on and offers vastly superior protection to the frame and the engine.

A personal favorite of mine on the WR series bikes is to get triple tree mounting points for your bark busters. Instead of attaching just to the bars, these mounts bolt on to where the upper triple holds the forks in place. Tieing the bark buster in there really stiffens that all up and means when the bike falls over and the bars take a hit the force is passed onwards via two avenues to the triple tree instead of just through the wimpy 7/8" bars.

Finally, Radiator braces/guards were an absolute essential to have ordered. These protect the radiators in the evnet of a crash, if a rock kicks up, any of that sort of stuff. It's all but essential to ensure the longevity of your bike on the trail. A smashed radiator can pretty much spell disaster, as you'll be left pushing the bike home or hoping somebody has a toe strap.

Suspension: So it's no secret that these bikes come undersprung and under valved for most full sized adults. They are generally setup for 160lb riders, and most adults with full gear on for long offroad rides are well over that. I'm the better part of 250 with full kit on, so the stock suspension wasn't going to fly. While I didn't get my new suspension setup installed for my first ride, I had a locally place figured out and plans made to get the bike resprung and revalved for my weight.

The most refershing part of tackling all of this was the cost and ease of install. After mountain bikes, the prices for this stuff was absolutely dreamy. The parts cost significantly less and there were far more options available to myself. Installing everything was a breeze as well. I forgot just how intuitive these Yamahas are to work on. After dealing with my C5 corvette, this is a dream by comparison!

The First Test Ride / Shakedown

With the bike generally sorted out and enough backups sorted to stay going, I found a window in the weather to go dirtbiking and checked out a local Dirtbike area, Divide Peak OHV just above Santa Barbara CA. The drive to Santa Barbara was only 40 minutes, but I then spent 50 minutes winding up single lane backroads all the way up the steep mountainside immediately overlooking Santa Barbara. By the time I got to the peak and unloaded, I was already sold on the location. This trail travels the crest of the mountians overlooking the ocean. There are spectacular views the entire time, and while the main trail isn't all that exciting, there's a few side sections and side hits to keep you happy and engaged.

I unfortunately wasn't able to find any friends to join me, so I did go out to ride on my own. This meant I generally stayed around 75% of my max, if not lower, as I wasn't looking to get hurt so far from anyone. While there were the occasional other sporadic riders out there, it wasn't enough to safely push myself to any extreme. This of course exacerbated some of the challenges of hill climbs and what not, as instead of blasting through things, which is easier frequently, I tried to keep a moderate pace through everything. Still though, I went and had an absolute blast.

The WR250F definitely has some minor ergonomic details to sort out, but proved to be an ample platform. The suspension was definitely excessively soft and wallowy, but not unbearable by any shade of the imagination.

After I got pretty warmed up and familiar with the bike, I started exploring the side hits more and more. One particular side hit took me off to another valley and ridgeline, pictured above. The trails over here were much more challenging and also had some VERY deep ruts. Recent intense had and left some of the ruts a solid foot taller than my footpegs. Dodging those was interesting, and I got myself over and into the valley. Unfortunately, one of the trail systems out of that valley was entirely overgrown and full of radiator deep ruts. I navigated as far as I could but eventually got stuck and had to turn around, resorting to going out the way I came in.

Takeaways from that... better hand controls would surely have helped, and a pull strap on the back of the bike to help yank the bike out of anything it could get stuck in would also help. Oh and don't chase side trails that far without having a buddy around!

Overall Takeaway from the first ride out: This bike was a prefect purchase to get back into dirtbiking, and likely for riding in general. While it lacks the gusto of my WR400F or the punch of my old YZ250, it was a nice and capable traction focused tractor.

I'm looking forward to finalizing the remainder of the needs on the bike and then getting out on the new suspension to shred again! Look forward to more posts soon!