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2021 250 Shootout

2021 250 MX Shootout | In Depth


Presented by PNG, GoPro, AMSOIL, Maxxis, and 805 Beer

Photos by Creative Vision Digital Media

It’s an exciting time to be a motocross rider and racer, as technology has advanced so far these days that there truly is no motorcycle that cannot win in bone-stock condition. In the early days of our sport, riders raced converted street and trail bikes with headlights removed, swingarms cut, and shock angles relocated. Even in the more recent glory years of the modern two-stroke, bikes needed to be heavily modified to be raced in the upper classes competitively. Well no more! The modern 250cc four-stroke motocross bike pumps out plenty of easy to use power, has adjustability that we could only dream of a decade ago, and is suspended better, and has superior handling characteristics than bikes made even five years ago. 

This year, we’ve been logging laps on the crop of 2021 250s since as early as the first week of September and although we already had a good idea of how the five machines stacked up against one another, we gathered for one final day of comparison testing at Cahuilla Creek Motocross in Anza, California. Yes, the Suzuki RM-Z250 and Gas Gas MX 250 are absent, but neither bike has arrived on US shores as of yet, and we decided to move forward as readers are anxious to see how the available machines compare. For this year’s final day of testing, we gathered the same panel of test riders from 2020 – plus long-time test rider Mike Sleeter – and invited the manufacturers to attend and help set us their machines ideally for each test rider. Maxxis ST tires were installed on all the machines to ensure consistent traction and eliminate tire discrepancies from the influencing factors, while we used AMSOIL lubricants to keep all of the bikes running smoothly. As always, Jared Hicks at Backyard Design supplied numberplate backgrounds for all of the bikes, and they fit perfectly and stayed adhered through all of the abuse.

So, how did the bikes compare? Much of the finishing order was predictable, but there were a couple of big surprises! Read on to see what our panel of six thought of the 2021 machines.

And remember, this shootout is a collection of opinions of a group of riders, and we do not profess our rankings to be the end-all, be-all. If you’re in the market for a new 2021 250 dirt bike, do your own research, take some test rides, and weigh all the factors such as your locale, your ability, your height and weight, and potential dealer support. There is no bad bike in 2021 and each of them can be fine-tuned to suit your unique tastes and preferences. In this feature, we compared them as-is, in bone-stock condition. With a couple of well-chosen mods, any of them could have come out on top!


Donn Maeda

Donn Maeda is a 30-year veteran in moto-journalism, having worked at Cycle News and Dirt Rider before launching MXracer Magazine and TransWorld Motocross Magazine. Maeda is the Editor-In-Chief at Swapmoto Live and you can catch him on a dirt bike or in the saddle of a mountain bike on most days.

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  1. andrew allen November 24, 2020

    The day the 2021 kawasaki dropped i went a got it from temecula motorsports, its by far the best bike I have ever owned.