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With the 2020 WR250F due any minute, our ride on the 2019 model lets us take aim at what we want from the new model

Aimed as I was for my bush escape in the Snowy Mountains late last year, I needed to arm myself with some two-wheeled weaponry – partly as a recovery vehicle to gather up any children who may have rubbed their bikes on the ground, and partly to join some mates on an enduro ride to celebrate the end of the year.

With a combination of grass-track shenanigans, enduro-spec single track and various other versatility tests on the menu, Yamaha’s 2019 WR250F was hard to look past as an option. The 2020 model was not yet in the country (stay tuned for our test of the all-new 2020 version soon), and the YZ motocrosser-based quarter litre enduro bike was perfect for the job. The kids thought so, anyway.

First thing we did on arrival at the property was mark out a fun grass track loop. I did that by leading the trio of kids around the paddock for a few laps until we had a basic layout set, then spent five laps on the noise cutting the track in.

In a grasstrack situation, the bike’s YZ background is obvious. Sharp steering, crisp throttle response, firm suspension – they all added up to a wicked ride in third and fourth gear. Paddock riding is fun on this bike!

Once the track was cut in, though, it was all about the kids and their variety of machinery. My youngest, daughter Indie, didn’t have a suitable bike, so she took up residence on the front of the seat with me, holding onto the bars and asking for wheelies. Not by intention, the flat motocross seat was perfect for her to sit on, her feet on mine, chasing her brothers and loving being the fastest on track.

After a morning of that, we dived into the Snowy River, then headed off to meet a mate coming into the property. Again, it was me leading my two boys Jai and Zac, on their machines, with Indie perched in the captain’s seat directing traffic. It was a good feeling trail riding (on private property) with my kids and the WR250F was spot on for such riding – a 450 would have been too much.

Indie was now acting like she owned the thing, sitting herself on it whenever I wasn’t and patiently waiting until it was her turn to have a ride – often when we had to retrieve an upside-down sibling… 

Midway through yet another riding session, play was halted when an echidna wandered onto the track. The kids spotted it early and came to a stop, but not before the echidna picked the best corner on the track to bury itself in the middle of. I tossed up moving it, but the kids had soon mapped out an alternative line and we got back into it. Not long afterwards, the echidna emerged and then ambled away, checking back occasionally until it was out of sight.

As adept as the WR250F is at playing farm bike and tearing up a grass track in a paddock, its real home is deep in the bush, bouncing bars off the trees as it snakes through tight single track. Overall, the 2019 WR250F is hard to fault if you are after a hard-charging bush bike, and it can do paddock duties, too. It is a departure from the traditional WR250F, though, in that it gives away plushness and stability for sharpness and hyperactivity.

How Yamaha continues the direction of this bike will be interesting, and I look forward to finding out for myself with the all-new 2020 WR250F that’s on its way to AMCN soon.

With the 2020 version nigh, there are some deals to be had on the outgoing model, if you can find a dealer with one, that is! If you do, have a chat – it’s an excitement machine!

Check out the full story in the current issue (Vol 69 No15) on sale now.

  Test Sam Maclachlan

  Photography Mark Ninness