XR250R 1986 - 2004 - 7/4/17 version
With MAR's kind permission, I have made this web page based
on his brilliant collection of XR250R information. I will add
pictures and other information as soon as I can.
Much of the information applies to all years 1986 to 2004. Where information is specific to certain years, it will be so noted. However, some information may be mis-identified due to lack of specific year knowledge. I apologize if this causes confusion. Please let me know if you find any errors and I will attempt to correct them.
NOTE - most of the picture links are broken because the site
they were on is no longer in existence. If you have copies of
the original pictures, contact me < ramz [at] rickramsey [dot] net >
so I can add them to this page. Thanks.
NOTE - I want to clear up a misconception/misunderstanding. Most of the information on this web page is taken from MAR's original web pages, and most of the opinions and comments are MAR's. My contribution has been to add pictures, technical information, and specifications identified as (ramz). Where I venture opinions, I will also identify them as (ramz).
Topics that have not been updated with new pictures
and/or new checked text will have the 'under construction' icon.
(Yeah, I know, there are a bunch of them. There's still lots of work to be done. Mostly tracking down pictures.)
Aftermarket web sites
Other Web Sites
First, a review - XR250R Review
Oops, the review has gone missing; this comparo should serve as a replacement. (ramz)
The XR250R comes pretty choked up from the factory. You can easily modify the intake and exhaust to get more performance.
Remove the exhaust baffle or purchase a less restrictive exhaust baffle.
There are two exhaust baffle designs - A1 and A2 (stamped on outside of end tip).
Here is a picture of the A1 baffle. Notice the entire spark arrestor area is screened as opposed to the A2.
Removal of the A1 baffle. Follow the steps listed in this link: A1 XR250R Baffle removal
You might at this point either replace the A2 with an A1 or
purchase an aftermarket end cap or baffle like the ones listed
Note: If the exhaust is too noisy with the baffle entirely out and you're on a budget, check out Tubo's post on ThumperTalk HERE (scroll to Tubo's post)
Grind the header welds
Loosen the bolt where header attaches to the slip-on muffler
pipe, then remove the four 12mm acorn nuts that hold the header
to the head.
Here is a picture for reference: Ground Header Welds
Modify the airbox by removing the inlet snorkel. Removal of the stock airbox inlet snorkel under the seat will allow your XR to breathe better.
Remove the seat and pull upward on the snorkel.
Find a picture of the snorkel.
Install a free-flowing air cleaner. The stock air cleaner is quite a bit more restrictive than others. Many riders like the Uni Filter with a High Flow cage.
Jet the carb to get the most out of the modifications (mostly ramz)
Stock jetting info as shown in the Honda XR250R Service Manuals:
Float level is 12.5 mm for all models.
Needle clip positions are numbered from top (fat end) to bottom (tapered tip):
A popular change for sea-level jetting is to switch to a 135 main jet if you have opened up the airbox and exhaust; Honda part number is 99113-GHB-1350. 135 is just a starting number. Altitude, temperature, and humidity affect jetting.
Using your riding altitude and temperature, look up the main
jet correction factor. Multiply the correction factor times 132
or 135, as the case may be, to get the correct main jet size
for your riding altitude and temperature.
If the correction factor is 0.95 or below, raise the jet needle clip by one position and turn in the pilot screw 1/2 turn.
Here is a great carb tutorial video post on ThumperTalk.com by Trailryder42. The video shows an XR400R carb, but the XR250R carb is nearly identical.
Although the CRF230F carb is slightly different, many parts compare and work the same way, just different sizes/part numbers:
There used to be a good writeup on setting the float level on an XR400R on the CycoActive web site, but a recent check by me shows that it is no longer available; I have no idea when it disappeared. Here are a few notes that I captured...
The main jet is easily accessed by removing the 17mm hex float bowl plug on the bottom of the carb. The main jet is directly up dead center. Use a 6mm socket and unscrew it. If the jet holder (long brass tube) comes out also, don't worry. Unscrew the main jet from the jet holder. Screw the jet holder back into the carb (use a 7mm socket). Then screw the main jet in. It's not uncommon for them to come out together. The plastic anti-slosh baffle will not come loose with the float bowl still in place.
One note about tightening. Do not over tighten the brass parts or they will break. On the other hand, if you don't get them tight enough, they'll come out, probably while you're riding. I use a 1/4" ratchet and grip it by the head, not the handle, when tightening. I tighten until I hear a soft squeak as the parts seat. Any further and you'll hear another muffled scrunching sound; that's too far for me. (I did break one main jet, back in '81, and have always been extra careful since. -Rick)
Engine/Frame skidplate protection
I recommend removing the stock tubular engine guard and replace
it with a solid skidplate that incorporates side case protection.
This is a great investment as a hard rock can easily crack an
engine case. Here are a few links and pictures:
I use the Utah Sport Cycle skidplate marketed under the Ricochet name. I believe the Moose Racing is by them also.
I prefer to run them as constant boot rubbing will simply
wear off the paint. Granted some do not care but it sure keeps
the bike looking good.
Steel bars are ok but a good set of aluminum bars offer more.
The upgrade to a good set of aluminum bars will get you less
arm fatigue, lighter weight, and generally stronger bars.
From most of my reading and researching, taller guys prefer
CR HI bend or Jimmy Button bend. Being short statured, I went
with Renthal bars in XR250R/600 OEM bend.
Most will agree one of the best mods outside of the freebies is the suspension. I cannot recommend anyone as there are just too many people out there that can do this for you if you can't. I can offer a Spring Rate Guide for you though which may help you determine where to start.
A great way to monitor your XR's temperature on those hot days of hard riding is with a temperature gauge that mounts in the oil fill hole; it's just a two second swap!
I believe the XR's Only instructions say below 300F is good. Many though seem to be running around 250-270F on a hotter day.
The stock footpegs work fine but if you want a better foothold, look at getting wider footpegs. Some like the IMS Pro's (file down the tips a tad or they will trash your boot soles quick) and others like the IMS ProStock (the teeth aren't as sharp). Other have had good luck with XR's Only pegs.
Most I think will agree the stock tires are not the best. I won't go into what might seem to be the best, but I can list the manufacturers for you and then all you have to do is search: "Tires" on the ThumperTalk XR250R-XR400R forum. That will give you an an idea what people have had the best luck with under certain types of terrain.
The stock tire size is Rear - 100/100-18 59M and the Front - 80/100-21 51M recommended
Larger gas tanks
A larger tank will give you more range. Note that some tanks are very wide and others not as wide, so if comfort is a concern, shop accordingly.
I have heard nothing but great reviews about the SRC fork
brace. Best of all you can incorporate it with Mudskins and tricker
looking Fork Guards.
Probably a great choice for the more serious XR rider. By helping to stabilize the front end of your motorcycle, the rear of the motorcycle will track straighter allowing the rest of your suspension to work the way it was designed to. In addition, the stabilizer eliminates that sudden thrust effect of having the handlebars pulled from your hands after unknowingly hitting sharp edged rocks, tree roots, or ruts. It has also been proven to help minimize rider fatigue. Here is a link to Scotts: Scotts Steering Stabilizer
Upgraded hand guards
The stock hand guards are just mud/small rock deflectors.
You can upgrade to heavy duty plastic hand guards or to super
sturdy aluminum hand guards. The later are a good choice as they
offer better protection for your hands and your perches and levers!
Here are a few links although there are many hand guard manufacturers:
For those that may want to change their gearing for higher speed be it for dual purpose or street or the rider who would like to make his 1st gear a walking tractor, I offer up a gearing chart: Ratio Chart
The stock gearing is 3.69 (13T front and 48T Rear). I have researched and found going to the 12 tooth front is fine but, keep an eye on the chain slider on the Swingarm as wear might increase. The stock chain is fine with the 12 Tooth.
For the rear sprocket, you can go up to a 51 tooth using the stock chain guide. Of course, going to a 51 you will need a 2 link longer chain.
I might add it is recommended to swap out sprockets and chain
together although there are many users/riders who do not. I would
simply say inspect for obvious wear and if there is wear, replace
all 3 as a set. As far as sprockets there are quite a few manufacturers
out there. Here are a few manufacturers and some offer chains:
Maintenance (all MAR)
First off if you do not have a Honda Service Manual, pick one
They offer a great wealth of insight into maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.
Online versions are available, but they are not as convenient as a paper manual.
Honda XR250R Shop Manual, 1996-2004 at The Flight of the Platypus
Oil and Changes
I won't get into the "what oil is best debate" but, I will say the best oil is the frequently changed oil.
The Owner's Manual and Service Manual suggests:
API class: to meet or be higher then SG
JASO class: MA
Honda recommends: Pro Honda GN4 or HP4 WITHOUT MOLY
Viscosity: above 32*F use 20w50 and below 32*F use 10w40
Also you can use suggested oils that are equal to SJ but, that are NOT marked Energy Conserving.
As far as how often to change the oil, the manual recommends every 30 days of riding or 1,000 miles.
I personally change mine about every 200-300 miles and use Honda HP4 it is a Synthetic blend.
Whether you choose Synthetic, Synthetic Blend, or Dyno Oil stick with a Motorcycle specific oil.
It is cheap insurance!
As far as Filters go simply using the Stock Honda Filter cartridge is fine.
Note: If you purchased a used bike it might be a good idea
to remove the Oil Screen that is made into the bottom Oil Line
to Frame Banjo Bolt.
It hopefully will be clean. The torque spec is 40 ft. lbs on this bolt.
Do not exceed the 40 ft lbs.
There also is a Square Screen that lays down on inside of the
right side case.
If the down tube screen was dirty/restricted for sure do the Case Screen
The Factory Service manual shows you exactly how to inspect, clean and replace.
Also the specified Oil Capacity for 96-04 are:
1.37 qts at draining
1.47 qts w/Filter
1.79 qts. at disassembly
Checking the Oil
You hear so many ask this question.
Its simple to get an accurate reading by following these steps.
1. Warm up bike (at least 5 minutes)
2. Make sure Bike is upright vertical and not leaning on its side stand (just sit on it for best results)
3. Make sure surface is level.
4. Once warmed up and following steps 2 & 3 immediately shut off bike and unscrew dipstick. Set dipstick back in and pull out (Do Not Screw In).
This will give you a correct reading.
If its on side stand, cold, unlevel etc all these will read an incorrect level.
Simply Clean it after every few rides or if in severe dirt and dusty conditions after every ride.
Simply put just Lube it before each ride.
I usually clean my bike after each ride and then Lubricate the chain.
The Chain should have 1 1/4 -1 5/8 play.
It is recommended you inspect clearance every 600 miles.
Without getting into a long story simply purchase a Service Manual.
You can't beat it.
But here it is for you:
Ensure the motor is cold.
Remove the fuel tank, fuel line, seat and side covers.
Remove the four large valve inspection bolts with a socket the same size as the rear axle nut.
Remove the spark plug, place a clean wooden dowel through the hole and rest it on the top of the piston.
Remove the timing inspection bolt on the LHS engine case.
You want to adjust the valve clearance on the compression stroke, that is when the intake valve has opened and air has been sucked in, then the piston rises up compressing the air. Rotate the motor with the kick starter so that the exhaust valve has just open, and then shut and the intake valve is just about to open. You will feel with the screw driver that the piston is at TDC and the "T" mark will show through the LHS inspection hole. This is not the correct TDC. Rotate the motor a little further and you will notice the intake valve open up. Keep rotating slowly and you will feel the piston rise again to another TDC. This is the correct TDC to adjust the valve clearance from. If you look through the LHS inspection hole now, you should see the letter "T", but it might not be perfectly lined up the groove in the case cause the kick-starter spring won't let it sit perfectly. I used a length of string to hold the kick-starter at the perfect angle to line up the two marks. There should be play in all the valve arms at this point. There are several marks, so be sure you have the 'T' mark.. The key things to remember are the T mark must be lined up, and there should be some play in all 4 of the rocker arms.
With your feeler gauge, (intake is .010mm and exhaust is .012mm), use a smaller feeler gauge finger (ie .005mm) just to see how the clearances are at the moment on the intake valve. If you can't get it in between the bottom of the adjusting screw and the sub rocker arm, the clearances are to tight and need adjusting. If the .005mm fits in and is quite loose, try the 0.010mm. If you can get it in without struggling and there is just a light grab on the finger it is perfect so don't adjust it. If it to tight or loose, adjust it. Check the exhaust clearance using the relevant gauge fingers.
ADJUSTING THE VALVE CLEARANCE: using a 12mm ring spanner, loosen
the locking nut. Using a flat head screwdriver, screw the adjustment
screw out just enough for you to slide in the correct gauge finger.
Screw the adjustment screw back in so it is just applying a small
amount of pressure to the gauge finger. You should be able to
still slide the gauge finger around, but it should feel like it
is grabbing a little. Screw the locking nut down to secure the
adjustment screw. When the locking nut is tightened, it appears
to raise the adjustment screw slightly and reduce the amount of
grabbing on the gauge finger, so experiment and get it all tight
but with the slight grab.
Continue this for the remaining three valve clearances.
Adjust the decompression system if required so it is not affecting the rocker arm action and only touches the rocker arm when you pull the decompression lever. The decompression system cable mount on the cylinder head may cop a few hits and could be bent, so check this, as it will affect the way the decompression system works. Then recheck the clearances for peace of mind
Replace the four large valve inspection bolts and the timing inspection bolt on the LHS.
Replace the tank, fuel line, side covers and the seat.
Swingarm Pivot Bolt and Axle Bolt Lubrication
Simply put a neglected Swing Arm Pivot bolt can and will seize if not lubricated.
Its an easy process and will save you a ton of grief in the long run.
Follow the Factory Manual process of pulling Rear Wheel (great time to lube the rear axle). Remove the two Shock Arm nuts (right side) then remove the Swing Arm pivot Bolt.
Re-install after lubing.
HERE is a picture of the 2 Shock arm Nuts and the Swingarm Pivot Bolt/Nut
The specs are:
Swing arm Pivot Bolt 65 ft. lbs
Swing Arm to Shock Arm bolt 51 ft. lbs
Shock Arm to Link Arm bolt 33ft. lbs.
Rear Axle Bolt for Rear Wheel 69 ft. lbs
The Front Axle is an obvious easy task to Lube.
The specs on it are 54 ft. lbs on the Front Axle Bolt and the Axle Holder nuts are to be torqued to 9ft lbs.
Simply put this is not a 2 stroke and Plug replacement isn't needed often (unless there is a problem).
I would pull and inspect as the Manual suggests every 600 miles minimum.
the Factory plug is a CR9EH-9 or a Denso U27FER9
If you are riding in cold weather (the Manual says below 41*F)
a 1 size lower heat range is ok.
That would be a CR8EH-9 or a Denso U24FER9 (don't forget you are running this plug as Temperature increases).
The manual suggests you Torque the spark Plug to 9 ft lbs. but, I as one do not Torque a spark plug.
It only needs to be tightened hand tight then, a slight tap of your palm while holding the wrench is sufficient. You over tighten it and you WILL strip the Head. The Head is the Softer of the two metals (Plug threads vs Head threads).
Also the recommended gap for the 96-04 is 0.8-0.9 or (0.031-0.035in")
Spark Plug Wire Resistor Mod
This is a simple Mod that replaces the small resistor inside the EndCap of the Plug Wire with a more conductive piece of Metal.
Simple to do try and see for yourself if you think its worth it.
Unplug Spark Plug Wire
Look inside of End Cap you will see a Slotted Screw Head.
Remove the Screw and out will fall first a Resistor then a Spring.
Get a small piece of Brass of the same diameter (great conductor) or steel rod and cut it to the same length.
Put Spring back in then new Piece of Brass cut to Resistor size and re-install the Screw.
This is supposed to offer a hotter spark.
It makes sense as a Resistor makes resistance and even though the Brass rod will have a resistance value it should be far lower.
Aftermarket web sites
Be sure to look at the Thumper Talk Store First (TT Store)
Baja Designs (accessories)
Ballards (XR specific)
BARRISERS Online (risers)
Club Spark Plug (neat link for your plugs)
Cyco Active (tips & accessories)
DeVol Racing (accessories)
Dennis Kirk (accessories)
East Coast Wheels
Eric Gorr/Forward Motion (engine work)
Factory Effex (graphics)
Four Strokes Only (tips & accessories)
IMS (tanks & pegs)
JustXR (tips & etc)
Monkey Butt (accessories)
Moose Racing (accessories, skid plates)
MX South (accessories)
NGK (plug info)
PowerSportsPro (microfiche online)
Powroll (engine work)
Pro Moto Billet (billet accessories)
Rocky Mountain (billet gas cap, accessories)
Scott Summers Racing (accessories)
Scotts (steering dampers)
SealSavers (fork seal protection)
Service Honda (oem parts)
Sprocket Specialists (sprockets)
Thumper Racing (big bore kits)
UNI Filter (air filters)
Utah Sport Cycle (accessories, skid plates)
WER Racing (suspension)
Works Connection (perches, frame guards)
XGX Graphics (custom graphics)
XR's Only (XR specific)
Other Web Sites
MotorcycleUSA (reviews etc)
4Strokes (tips & reviews)
Honda XR250R 1996-97 specifications (actually 95/96)
2004 XR250 vs DR-Z250 vs KLX300R 2/12/2004
3 Honda XR250R Reviews
Web Shots Rides
92 Honda XR250R pictures from motorcycles photos on webshots
Nice chart to identify model Year VIN Chart
If you are looking at a used XR, this can help you determine what year it is.
A good place to find a used XR - CycleTrader
MAR of course, started it all
TT sliderscraper, UK
Honda XR250R Specifications 1996 - 2004
|Engine Type||249cc air-cooled dry-sump single-cylinder four-stroke|
|Bore and stroke||73mm x 59.5mm|
|Valve Train||SOHC; four-valve RFVC|
|Horsepower & torque||Peak HP - 20 at 8600 rpm; peak torque - 14.4 ftlbs at 6700 rpm|
|Carburetion||28mm piston-valve, xx pilot, xxx main '04
30mm piston-valve, xx pilot, xxx main '06
|Ignition||Solid-state CD with electronic advance|
|Final drive||#520 O-ring-sealed chain; 13T/48T|
|Front suspension||41mm leading-axle Kayaba cartridge fork with 20-position compression damping adjustability; 10.6 inches travel|
|Rear suspension||Pro-Link Kayaba single shock with spring preload, 20-position compression and 20-position rebound damping adjustability; 10.6 inches travel|
|Front brake||Single disc with twin-piston caliper|
|Rear brake||Single disc|
|Rake (Caster Angle)||24.8°|
|Trail||3.6 inches (92mm)|
|Seat height||36.0 inches|
|Ground clearance||12.4 inches|
|Dry weight||240 pounds|
|Fuel capacity||2.4 gallons, including 0.5-gallon reserve|
|California version differs slightly due to emissions equipment.|
Torque Values - '86-'95 (ramz)
Right-click and save, then print each page.
Torque Values - '96-'04 (ramz)
Right-click and save, then print each page.