Yamaha’s WR250F is the latest evolution of their long-standing 250 enduro thumper that’s been around for the past decade, but has slowly evolved year by year into the high quality machine we see today.
I do quite like that about the Japanese manufacturers; whether by design or necessity these days, the Japanese tend to extend the model life of their bikes by continuously refining and evolving the product. That’s generally good news for customers as it solidifies the resale value of secondhand models, and maintains a good supply of spares for second and third owners.
Though I ought to point out that whilst the current machine hasn’t changed significantly in the past five years, it has changed compared with earlier models. The engine and chassis have both been replaced during the WR’s term - it now sports a beautiful brushed aluminium frame - not to mention modern high quality plastics, suspension, brakes etc, so it’s more a case of Trigger’s Broom - you know the score ‘been using the same broom for years… mind you it’s had four new heads and three new handles in that time.’
What you see here might have that generic Yamaha look that was embodied in the design of the earliest WR-Fs more than a decade ago, but it’s clearly not the same machine. Today’s bike is considerably better…
…and considerably more expensive. And here’s the rub. One of the reasons Yamaha’s 250F isn’t selling in the same sort of numbers as it used to, is purely down to its price. A few years back when the recession properly kicked in, Yamaha UK took the forthright decision to raise the price of all its products to try and stay profitable.
It was an interesting tactic, not universally admired by customers, nor adopted by other importers - or at least, not to the same degree. That pushed the price of a WR up to - and over - the crucial seven grand mark (most people saw that as a lot of money to pay for a 250). Actually, let’s be honest, it was a hike too far for many of their customers (especially when the bike hadn’t changed all that much in the recent past) and that no doubt cost Yamaha market share - though in fairness to Yamaha, part of that is the VAT element (that’s risen to 20percent), and most manufacturers’ products are within a few hundred pounds of the WR’s £7299 (at the time of publishing).
However, Yamaha used the price hike as an opportunity to push their product further upmarket. If like me you’re old enough to remember the days when Yamaha was a relatively cheap and cheerful brand, then think again. They have firmly and quite categorically repositioned themselves within the marketplace as a high-end manufacturer. And I agree, it better suits their modern products which are nothing like the old machines. You can’t compare an old WR-F with one of the new bikes, they’re like chalk and, um… marble. This bike is considerably better built, better specified and better finished than the early machines. It needs to be, for seven grand…