For a change, for today only, this one is going to be a true countdown.
Just like you asked for after the ton up 250’s video, this time it is the search for the most powerful 250cc dirt bikes ever built.
I have included the 15 most powerful 250cc dirt bikes I know, and 2 honourable mentions at the start. These were two bikes that I think set new standards in the early seventies.
As usual some of the bikes are better known than others, but I have listed everything in the order of least to most powerful today with no exceptions.
I hope you still get a surprise or two, and learn a little something too.
As always, I look forward to hearing about the bikes you think I should have included. So don’t be shy with your comments.
I am going to dive straight in, but please try to remember to like the video and subscribe to the channel if you enjoy it. It really helps us in the fight against poor quality, auto-generated content, which I am sure you have noticed seems to be taking over like the creeping death at the minute.
First of my honourable mentions today is the Laverda Chott.
Laverda first showed the 250 cc Chott at the 1973 Milan Show, and the bike entered production the following year.
The Chott featured a completely new 246 cc air-cooled, piston-port, two-stroke single motor with a dry clutch, designed and built from the ground up in the Breganze factory.
The engine would produce around 33 Horsepower at 7600 rpm and with very obvious use of magnesium alloy to save weight on the engine cases, brake hubs and the fully enclosed chain case. It had a dry weight of just 108 kg or 238lbs.
The Chott also had a very nicely fabricated chrome-moly frame with an adjustable headstock . The steering head angle could be adjusted to three angles, 25, 27.5 and 30 degrees. On the steepest setting it had sharp steering and was perfect on tight technical sections. For longer, faster rides, the other two settings offered a more stable, relaxed steering.
The Chott didnt sell well after being crucified by the press. It was replaced by a cheaper model called the 2TR, then a few years later Laverda turned to Husqvarna for the engine of the LH4.
Montesa Cappra 250MX.
Next we have the Montesa Cappra 250MX.
First built in 1971, the Montesa Cappra 250MX introduced a long list of new features. The chassis was made from chrome-molybdenum tubes, it had electronic ignition, three transfer ports, a new exhaust, design and new front brakes. It also had a 5-speed gearbox which was a rarity at the time.
All these developments contributed to significant improvements in the overall performance of the bike. With a major reduction in weight and a maximum power of 34 Horsepower, the Montesa was the bike at the very top as far as performance was concerned.
Later the Cappra 250 MX would be developed further and became the Montessa Cappra VR.
Finnish rider Pekka Vehkonen managed to take fourth place in the 250MX World Championship keeping the Montesa firmly in place at the top of most riders want it list.
Now we come to the start of the list proper.
In 15th place we have the Yamaha WR250F.
It may look like its motocross brother the YZ250F, but Yamaha WR250F has got a personality all its own. If you didn’t know, the WR stands for “Wide Ratio” because this bike is built to tear up the trails, not the track.
An electric start makes life easy and fires the four-stroke single up with the push of a button. The full lighting rig also means you can ride from dusk till dawn.
Yamaha detuned the engine for an explosive hit of low-end torque instead of top end power, but it still revs well and if pushed will get up to around 35 Horsepower.
It will launch you up climbs and throw you through berms with the best. The suspension is plush and controlled so you float effortlessly over rocks, bumps, sand or gravel.
When the trail gets tight, the WR250F’s wide-ratio 6-speed gearbox means you can always find the right gear.
Now don’t get me wrong, the Yamaha WR250F is no motocross racer, but it is a nimble and reliable donkey of a bike that is ready to conquer the back-country anywhere.
You can rip through any trails on this fierce 250-class Motocross bike. The Suzuki RM-Z250 is a powerful and versatile tool.
It all started in 2004 when Suzuki rolled out their first ever 4-stroke MX bike. Now, nearly 20 years later, the latest RM-Z250 has evolved into a formidable race-ready bike.
The crisp 249 cc 4-stroke single powerplant churns out around 37 Horsepower and one of the RM-Z250’s unique features, is its dual injector EFI system. The secondary injector, placed right by the air-box, feeds in more atomized and cooled air for maximum power at higher revs.
Fitted with the latest Kayaba suspension, the RM-Z250 is armed to conquer any terrain you throw at it.
Since its debut, this trailblazing machine has gone through many upgrades, and has become just as important today as its 2 stroke ancestors were in the past.
When you pin back the throttle on Honda’s CRF250R or RX motocross and Enduro missiles you will wonder why everyone has been saying for years that Honda’s are boring.
Whether the R stands for Race or Rally, this lightweight 250cc rocket delivers thrilling performance on track or trail. But the Honda CRF250R likes to be pushed, it is an aggressive ride, built mainly for competition use.
The 249 cc DOHC single-cylinder four-stroke powerplant cranks out almost 38 Horsepower. Combine that power with great midrange punch and 24 Nm of torque and you soon find out how fast the CRF250R can rip out of corners.
Recently fully overhauled, the new Honda gained more precise power delivery while also shedding weight. A new 9-plate clutch assembly also reduced clutch slip at higher revs.
Dare I say the Honda is a great looking bike, with fantastic performance, solid reliability, and reasonable pricing. It’s no wonder the CRF250R has attracted such a strong fan base.
When it comes to well-rounded 250cc dirt bikes, the performance of the Honda is hard to beat. The Honda CRF250R and RX are more than capable of running with the best at the front of the pack!
Aprilia RC 250.
Next at number 12 we have the Aprilia RC 250.
Just imagine, It is 1980, you really can feel the rush of the wind in your hair as you rip through the trails on Aprilia’s classic RC 250 enduro. At the heart of this Italian beast lies an air-cooled, 244cc Hiro single cylinder two-stroke motor with a stunning power band.
The engine is mated to a 6-speed gearbox for maximum effect.
The Hiro engine produced over 38 Horsepower and 34 Nm of torque. In 1979!!!
This agile motorcycle can make any rider look good. It really is a joy to ride. With raw power to spare, the Aprilia RC 250 will tear its way from corner to corner, leaving rooster tails for the rest to fight over.
Quality cycle parts came as standard. They might not seem it now, but 35mm Marzocchi front forks, adjustable rear shocks, and Grimeca drum brakes front and rear, really were the best of their time.
This iconic dirt bike also has the style to match its performance. The Aprilia RC 250 has a unique blend of agility and power that was made for riders seeking serious off-road thrills.
Over 40 years later, this classic motorcycle still delivers an adrenaline fuelled ride down the trails!
You could say that the Aprilia’s RC 250 is the perfect blend of raw power and Italian style.
The trails would never seem the same again.
At number 11 we have the Honda CR250.
The CR250 is another bike with a long history, but Honda’s 1991 CR250 was a two-stroke screamer that packed 40 Horsepower of arm stretching grunt into a 115Kg package of reliable Honda parts.
You can rip through muddy ruts and rocky climbs with ease thanks to the CR250’s fantastic low-end torque. The power-band is wide and strong to keep you in the zone without the risk stalling on technical sections. Just stay on the gas and tractor it up.
While newer bikes might pamper you, this classic Honda proves comfy enough for long rides without any frills. The suspension gobbles up bumps better than most old-school motocross bikes and it can still show a clean pair of heels to many more modern bikes.
You can lay it down around corners with confidence, knowing it will come up smiling. The wide pegs, well set bars and light weight, make it easier to attack tricky terrain. You get the assurance that comes from knowing the bike can make it, even when you can’t.
This motorcycle defined off-road durability when it was unleashed in 1991. Even after miles of muddy trails, the CR250 keeps answering the call.
Gas Gas MC 250F.
At number 10 we have the Gas Gas MC 250F.
The Gas Gas MC 250F is a dirt bike with a racing pedigree. Yes it is based on the KTM, but it is flavoured by that particular brand of lunacy that Gas Gas are famous for.
It really is built to give you the best feedback when it is being ridden flat out. It has a well-balanced design and feels naturally at home whether you are cornering in the trails or jumping on an MX track.
A bigger 44mm throttle body is used, rather than the 39mm version used on the KTM. This gives a more aggressive throttle response, but it helps to get the best performance at high rpm from this 250cc KTM derived engine.
It is tuned to produce 40.3 horsepower and 26Nm of torque, and it weighs in at just 102Kg dry. That is 225lbs for my friends in the USA. It also has all the same power map settings as the KTM, to make it one of the top contenders in any list of 250 cc dirt bikes today.
KTM 250 XC-F
One surprise today might be that we have the KTM 250 XC-F down at number 9.
The aim of the KTM 250 XC-F was to make KTM motorcycles more accessible and trail friendly. The KTM 250 XC-F and KTM 250 SX-F are almost identical except for a few changes that convert the motocross bike into a dual sport terror.
The XC-F is designed for long distance cross-country riding and so has a larger fuel tank, an 18-inch rear wheel, a 6-speed gearbox, and suspension set up for trail riding.
The Engine, which spins up to an incredible 14,000 rpm, will produce slightly more than the Gas Gas at 40.5 Horsepower, but if you can feel that difference you are psychic.
The XC-F is a more user-friendly bike than the race prepped XC-W and it is engineered to make it easier to ride, especially for novice riders.
The closed cartridge front suspension with tool-free adjustment is as good as you will find anywhere. It allows riders to adjust the bike’s response on the go, making the most of every ride.
For high octane trail riding the Husqvarna TE250i is hard to beat in many ways. This innovative machine merges 2-stroke simplicity with the best cutting-edge tech.
Huskies have always been revered for premium build quality, and the TE250i is no exception. The WP suspension will soak up the worst terrain you dare tackle. Electronic fuel injection feeds this 2-stroke terror via twin injectors and 2 inlet ports and uses twin power valves to deliver a precise mixture across the whole rev range.
This gives the bottom end enough punch to tackle the steepest climbs, but still gives you the top end power to hold it at the redline when needed. The slightest twist of the fast action throttle will unleash the power of this solid, pedigree motorcycle.
From dusty trails to Alpine peaks, this bike, bred from Swedish, Italian and Austrian ancestry, will take it all in its stride.
Yamaha has always been known for its lightweight dirt bikes, and their modern designs are just as good as ever. They have completely redesigned the YZ250F in recent years, with an upgraded engine, a new lightweight frame and top grade suspension, to give you exceptional handling.
At the heart of the bike lies the same 250cc liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke engine used in the WR 250, but in the YZ it is tuned for top end power. The YZ250F is capable of producing over 42 Horsepower and around 27Nm of torque and the power is delivered in a sinuous surge that just keeps on giving.
The Yamaha YZ250F is a true racing dirt bike and the stability of this motorcycle in the most extreme conditions is almost surreal, making it a winning choice for riders of all skill levels.
Now at number 6 we have the Kawasaki KX250.
The Kawasaki KX250 has a long history behind it. It was first introduced in 1974 as a 2-stroke and won many championships across the globe, but Kawasaki finally had to pull the plug on the two-stroke engine in 2008.
The engine was replaced with an all new powerful 4-stroke 249cc single-cylinder DOHC engine, which now produces over 44 Horsepower.
The updated 2023 model has further improved the performance of the bike with an even stronger midrange pull. Making it a competitive motocross racing bike as well as a king of the dual sport market.
The engine now has better performance across the whole rev range. It pulls harder from low revs but still revs out really well, allowing the bike to get that silky smooth power to grab in the deepest ruts.
With a strong, extended mid-range, it is just as happy tearing along trails as it is taking off over jumps at the local MX track.
Now this is where I start to feel like I should have the riff of a certain old Led Zep track playing away in the background but I’m sure YouTube wouldn’t like it.
Husqvarna FC 250
The first bike in our top 5 is the Husqvarna FC 250.
The Husqvarna FC 250 is possibly the ultimate four-stroke for riders who want unbridled power, precision, and agility on any MX track.
The updated 250cc double overhead cam engine now has a larger bore and shorter stroke, allowing it to rev out faster and crank out almost 46 horsepower and 26Nm of torque.
The 2023 model has fully revised steering geometry, and more centralized mass for better balance. These changes have made this beast of a bike even more lethal, and more than capable of conquering the most challenging tracks in the world.
The high-performance engine, lightweight frame, and precision handling make the Husqvarna FC 250 a prime choice for any budding racers.
The nimble handling package is wrapped up with premium brakes, a hydraulic clutch and buttery smooth WP suspension. All that, makes every ride a winning ride.
KTM 250 XC-W
Now KTM may well have stolen the tag line from Husaberg, but the KTM 250 XC-W really is ready to race. It has a stellar reputation, and stands out from the competition with many of its premium components.
It has a lightweight hydro formed chassis and handles beautifully in tight technical terrain as well as on a track. This means less fatigue for the rider, whether racing or exploring, and the high tech suspension keeps the bike planted in all conditions.
This 250cc battle hardened bike will produce an explosive 47 Horsepower and over 40Nm of torque from an engine that weighs less than 25Kg or just 55lbs. It has masses of low end power. So no matter how gnarly the track gets, the KTM XC-W will help you find a way through.
New 39mm throttle bodies and a redesigned power valve system mean top end power is equally as impressive as the power you get at the bottom of the rev range.
You also have the advantage of multiple engine maps, so whatever the conditions, you can set the bike up quickly and easily to suit the occasion.
Aprilia RX 250
Down at number 3 we have the Aprilia RX 250, which maybe a complete surprise to many of you.
Six years after the introduction of the RC 250, in 1985, Aprilia gave us the RX 250. It had a liquid-cooled, two-stroke, 246cc, single cylinder powerplant mated to a six-speed gearbox and produces in excess of 47 horsepower at 8000 rpm.
Now let us put that into perspective. Yes it is a 2 stroke, but that is the same power as the very latest KTM two-stroke, and around 20% more power than the latest Husqvarna TE250i two-stroke, from a motorcycle that is almost 40 years old.
Just think about that achievement for a moment.
With a dry weight of just 100Kg or 220lbs the single front disc and a progressive drum rear brake made stopping almost as good as the go button, but the go button on this bike was like lighting the fuse on a ballistic missile.
It would give you 0-40mph in less than 3 seconds and if you kept feeding it go juice it would do 0-60mph in less than 5 seconds, and that was in the dirt!!!
What may be even more of a surprise is that at number 2 we have the Maico GP250E,
A year after the Aprilia in 1986, the Maico GP 250E took over as the most powerful 250cc dirt bike. It featured a single cylinder, two-stroke engine with a capacity of 247cc and a compression ratio of 15.5:1.
This delivered a level of power never before seen outside of the big bore dirt bikes. Maximum power was 49 Horsepower, which came in at around 8,000 rpm.
Fuel was delivered via a Bing 54 by 40 oval carburetor and it used a MOTOPLAT electronic ignition system.
The cable-operated clutch ran in an oil bath to aid cooling and a 5-speed gearbox helped get that power down to the ground.
The frame was a twin link mono-shock design built from Chrome-moly tubes. The rear shock was Ohlins and the front suspension had 42mm telescopic forks. It had around 350mm or just under 14 inches of wheel travel front and back.
Overall, the Maico GP 250E was an expensive but powerful, fast and reliable bike, that was the dream of most MX racers in the late 1980s.
Finally we have reached the number one slot, but we have to go back to 2014 to find the most powerful 250cc dirt bike ever made.
Maico Cross 250
That motorcycle is the Maico Cross 250.
The most striking feature of the Maico Cross 250 is its sheer power. This bike has to be ridden hard, and cornered with the power on. That’s the way to ride the Maico. As long as you keep the power on, you will be fine. There will be lessons, but hopefully the lessons aren’t too painful.
Fist made in 2014, this monster two-stroke took the technology of the old Maico and dragged it into the 21st Century. It delivered a jaw dropping 54 Horsepower straight from the factory from the new water cooled engine. But it was a more refined bike than many gave it credit for.
The 250cc Maico was smooth and predictable, even in the rough. The steering was slow compared to some modern bikes, but at this level of performance, that can actually be a blessing.
The Maico is as exciting to ride as any dirt bike ever made. The power is addictive. It maybe just seems less fast than it actually is, because there is so little drama.
Whether you are talking about brakes, suspension, or anything else, everything just worked as it should.
It may not be the best at anything else, but the Maico wins hands down on sheer, brutal power. Taking the top spot with a whole 5 Horsepower to spare.
Thoughts From The Shed
Well that about wraps it up for another week at BareBonesMotorcycles.
Did you guess that a motorcycle over 35 years old would come in second on the list?
Or that a bike almost ten years old would be the winner?
What was the biggest surprise for you?
As always, thanks for watching, and I look forward to hearing your comments about the bikes I have inevitably missed.
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Ride Free everyone.