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2021 Women's 250 Shootout

Girls Ride Too! | 2021 250 WMX Shootout

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Presented by Fasthouse

Every new bike season, it’s fun to gather all of the machines and have a head-to-head comparison to see how each of the bikes stack up against each other. After completing our 2021 250 MX Shootout, the Kawasaki KX250 reigned supreme when the dust settled, as it was liked best by our group of six test riders. As always, our shootout results are offered as opinions of a group of selected test riders and not the end-all, be-all that everyone should agree with. 

You’d have to be blind to have not noticed the huge spike in women riders and racers at the tracks, lately. Each weekend at the AMSOIL Swapmoto Race Series, a dedicated group of females lines the gate in the Women’s class, and we know that the likes, preferences, and desires of female riders can be much different than those of male riders. Last year, we recruited Jaymie Hayjewski to conduct a one-woman 250 WMX Shootout for us and the feature was a big hit. So why not go bigger and better for the 2021 models? That said, we turned to the results sheets from the AMSOIL Swapmoto Race Series and recruited three fast females who have competed with us in the past, and turned them loose on our fleet of 2021 250 MX bikes at State Fair MX Park. Brittany Marcotte, Taylor Heiman, and Viviana Contreras were all kind enough to help us gather some different opinions about the machines

Without further ado…here’s what the girls thought!

 

Brittany Marcotte

Age: 28

Height/Weight: 5’4″, 120 lbs.

Ability: Pro

Bikes recently ridden/raced: 2019 Suzuki RM-Z250

  1. Husqvarna FC 250
  2. Kawasaki KX250
  3. Yamaha YZ250F
  4. Honda CRF250R
  5. KTM 250 SX-F

Husqvarna FC 250

“The Husky truly made me feel very confident in my corners, which is a huge plus for me. I was able to ride it aggressively, but at the same time, it allowed me to have better throttle control throughout the entire track. It was very fun to ride and I felt comfortable on it right away. The FC 250 has a really nice, smooth powerband that has immediate torque on the bottom and plenty of smooth, yet aggressive power. Out of all the bikes, I felt there were no weak points in the Husky motor. 

The bike has a lower center of gravity and for me, this made a huge difference when cornering in ruts. I’m 5’4″ and feeling more comfortable specifically, which made this bike my favorite. The only thing I would add to this bike is an aftermarket exhaust system, but honestly, this is a very fun bike to ride. I could confidently race this bike right out of the box. That’s how balanced and controllable it felt right away.”

Kawasaki KX250

“I really enjoyed the Kawasaki’s power as it made the track feel effortless and I didn’t have to work hard to get the power to the ground. Through the corners I could lug it through the apex, but as soon as I got on the throttle, it was aggressive. The bike handled smoothly and allowed me to really lean into the corners. The power helped me feel comfortable through some of the chewed up parts of the track because the bike had enough power to keep the rpms low. The bike feels very centered, which allowed me to really ride the rear end more. The front fork was a little harsh for me, but not the worst. 

The Kawasaki was very impressive, especially in the power category. It had exactly what I like in power, but it was not overly aggressive. It was certainly an exciting bike to ride!”

Yamaha YZ250F

“I went back and forth between the Yamaha and Honda because I really enjoyed the aggressive power of the Yamaha, but I would definitely need to work on the suspension to get it to work for me. The YZ250F has so much power! From the immediate bottom-end power to the top-end pull, it truly felt like it never ran out. The powerband is on the more aggressive side, which was really nice for some of the rhythm sections of the track. 

The stock suspension is very stiff, which might be great for some but it was bad for me at 120 lbs. I had to make many adjustments to it to get comfortable. The front end was a bit harsh, which made it difficult to get into corners. I would definitely have to invest in some softer springs front and rear to make the bike work great for me. Overall, I really enjoyed riding the YZ250F. The power is aggressive and the handling was great, even if the suspension was too stiff, If I were to completely dial in the suspension, riding the Yamaha would be effortless.”

Honda CRF250R

“The Honda handles amazingly well, but it lacks in the power department. The engine is really smooth with a nice bottom end and strong mid-range, but it lacks top-end. The power is smooth and easy to control, though, and it allowed me to become comfortable on the bike right away. I actually made almost no changes to the suspension after setting the sag, and I felt like the CRF leaned into the corners really easily. Because the Honda’s powerband is so smooth, it gave me the confidence to put the bike anywhere on the track. 

I felt that the bike was very balanced and the out of the box suspension was soft enough for me. I loved the bike’s cornering stability and the geometry of the frame was also very comfortable. The bike is so balanced and easy to ride. I am also pretty short, and I never felt that the seat height was an issue.”

KTM 250 SX-F

“The KTM’s engine is very strong and I feel like it offers a big, yet smooth punch. The low-end power is subtle but it still gives you that snap when you need it. The second map was nice when the track got rough in some spots as it allowed me to work less for power when it was bumpy. I felt like the top-end power started to plateau towards the end of each gear. This was not too noticeable on a technical track, but it would be on a fast track like Glen Helen. 

One of the biggest plusses is the KTM’s clutch. It’s very responsive, which makes it nice in the corners. I felt very comfortable moving the bike in the air. The stock suspension was a little too busy and plush, so sometimes it made entering the corners feel a little off balance. Overall, the KTM feels like a strong, long-lasting machine. There wasn’t anything that really stood out to me, but for someone who wants a solid bike this would be a great choice.”

Viviana Contreras

Age: 17

Height/Weight: 5’7″, 130 lbs.

Ability: Expert

Bikes recently ridden/raced: 2018 KTM 250 SX

  1. Husqvarna FC 250
  2. KTM 250 SX-F
  3. Yamaha YZ250F
  4. Kawasaki KX250
  5. Honda CRF250R

Husqvarna FC 250

“I liked the Husqvarna FC 250 the best because I felt the most comfortable on it and I definitely cornered the best on it. I felt so controlled in the corners, and I think it might be because of the lower suspension. The way it sits in corners is nice, but the rear end felt a little low at times. Still, I really enjoyed the way the Husky handled, and it flew very predictably off jumps.

The engine has a lot of torque, especially coming out of the corners. Map 1 felt like it fell a little flat, and Map 2 pulled further and I liked it better. The mapping system really makes a difference, which I really liked. The bike has good balance, comfort, and bottoming resistance. Overjumping landings or casing was never a big deal. Occasionally, the back end would kick a little in the rollers, but it was no big deal.”

KTM 250 SX-F

“The KTM was a close second to the Husqvarna, only because I felt that I could not corner it as well. The bike felt very stable and predictable in corners and off of jumps. The bike handles very well ad was easy to throw around. Entering the corners, the front end felt low at times which affected my confidence.

“The engine has a lot of torque accelerating out of the corners. I liked the throttle response. As with the Husky, I felt that Map 1 fell flat up top and I preferred the broader spread of power with Map 2. Overall, I think the KTM feels similar to the Husqvarna, but it just does not corner as well. It’s a very good bike, though!”

Yamaha YZ250F

“I really liked the Yamaha for its powerful engine, but the thing that held it to third was its lack of suspension comfort compared to the Husky and KTM. The bike has good bottom-end power but a lack of top-end. It is very smooth throughout the RPM range. It was easy to make good use of the power.

“Overall, the Yamaha felt very stable in the corners, but not as much down straightaways. Still, the bike felt very predictable and I trusted it. The suspension was well balanced but it was a little stiff for me. It felt good when I would over or under jump something, The bike is a little wide in the gas tank area!

“I was very impressed with the way you could control the bike’s power with the app on your phone. That was cool and it really made a big difference!”

Kawasaki KX250

“The Kawasaki has a great motor. The bike has a lot of bottom-end, mid-range, and top-end power and there was nowhere on the track that I felt I was at a loss for power. The engine is a little aggressive though, and hard to keep on the powerband. There is a lot of power everywhere, though, and the harder you rev the engine the stronger it feels.

“Coming into the corners, the bike felt a little unstable for me. The bike also felt heavy in corners but remained predictable. The fork and shock were both stiff, but this was good when going long or short over jumps. Still, the Kawasaki has good front-to-rear balance and control. I like how narrow the bike feels, but the bars felt like they had big risers on them. I could race this bike but it would take some work.”

Honda CRF250R

“To me, the Honda has the least power and felt the heaviest on the track. In Map 1 I felt like the bike was lacking bottom-end and it felt lazy powering out of corners. Map two was even worse, but Map 3 was the best but. it still needed more power. The powerband is smooth and easy to control, but it would be tough to race this bike against the others. 

“The bike felt pretty stable on fast straightaways and in corners. I struggled with predicting what the bike would do in the air as it felt heavy and hard to move around. The bike didn’t respond well to input in the air and I had the hardest time jumping the Honda.”

Taylor Heiman

Age: 24

Height/Weight: 5’7″, 125 lbs.

Ability: Intermediate

Bikes recently ridden/raced: 2015 Kawasaki KX250F

  1. Yamaha YZ250F
  2. Kawasaki KX250
  3. KTM 250 SX-F
  4. Husqvarna FC 250
  5. Honda CRF250R

Yamaha YZ250F

“I put Yamaha as my top pick because I felt the most comfortable on it and you could see it in my riding. You can literally hear the power that the YZ250F makes. If there was a weak point to the Yamahas power delivery, it would be that it hits so hard off the bottom.

“Cornering on the bike was predictable as it flowed through the rough patches like a breeze. The bike jumped perfectly and never caught me off guard as I left the lips. I absolutely didn’t want to give this bike back!”

Kawasaki KX250

“I chose the Kawasaki second because I could literally spin laps on that bike all day. It does not corner as well as the Yamaha but it felt nice and familiar, The power is very smooth all the way through. I changed the mapping coupler to the black one and it made the bike less aggressive and I liked it as it still felt super crisp. Compared to my 2015 KX250 the new bike really tackled the corners well and I felt comfortable on it after only one lap. It felt light in the front end and would dive nicely in the air, coming off jumps. With only a few adjustments the Kawasaki felt perfect. I might go and buy one.”

KTM 250 SX-F

“To me, the KTM and Husqvarna felt very similar, but the KTM felt better in the power department. The bike was easy to control in the corners as the power was nice and smooth, but it was hard to judge how much throttle I needed to clear the jumps. I love the way the KTM corners. At first, it felt stiff in the rear but we made some adjustments and it felt better.”

Husqvarna FC 250

“The Husky felt pretty similar to the KTM, but I felt that when coming out of corners the engine was less effective and aggressive. I felt at times like I would stall the bike in the corners. You have to keep it really revved up in the corners so that it doesn’t cut out.

“I needed some minor front-end adjustments at first, but I felt great on the bike after that. It had good balance and the bike would soak up all of the braking bumps.”

Honda CRF250R

“The bike has a lot of bottom-end power, but it is not as snappy as the other bikes. The power takes a while to kick in as you power out of the corners.

“The Honda has great stability, but the cornering predictability took me a while to get used to. The bike does have good balance and it is comfortable, and I think it is a great bike for those who don’t know what settings they like.”

2021 WMX 250 Bike of the Year

We weren’t surprised that the overall results of our WMX 250 Shootout differed greatly from our initial 2021 250 comparison test. Among the three female test riders, the 2021 Husqvarna FC 250 was liked best, thanks to its smooth, yet strong powerband, great overall handling, and easily tunable suspension. Two of the testers commented that they loved the Husky’s lower center of gravity and cornering abilities, thanks to its 10mm lower suspension setup. 

The Yamaha YZ250F came home second and was praised for its aggressive motor, while the Kawasaki KX250 was a close third ahead of the KTM 250 SX-F and Honda CRF250R. Stay tuned for the 2021 WMX 250 Shootout Video that drops this weekend!

Thank you to our testers, and to the manufacturers for supporting our second WMX 250 Shootout!

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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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