Jan 14, 2013

Despicably Tempting

In the eternal search for the UM (Universal Motorcycle), the Yamaha WR250X is pretty damn close to perfect: decent (if not great) economy, great handling, decent (again, if not great) comfort and ergonomics, excellent suspension, great motor, and general all-around competence. Like all UM bikes, the WR250X is pretty good at everything and great at . . . commuting in heavy traffic, except for the mileage thing.

One thing the WR is not great at is deep sand, clearing trail obstacles, or rolling through sticky mud because the fat (110/70R17) 10" front tire doesn't roll over stuff it attempts to roll into obstacles. I know, I've had my ass kicked (yes, my titanium $50k ass) on deep sand a couple of times and playing trialer with the 17" wheel isn't great fun, either. (Ask my nuts. That plastic tank is harder than you'd think.). So, the solution is either give up on most of the dual purpose stuff that I love or admit I'm old and lame and buy a less capable street bike with better off-road capabilities or . . . spend some money.

I hate spending money, but a "COMPLETE FRONT WITH BILLET ALUMINUM HUB, STAINLESS STEEL SPOKES, 21"X1.60 BLACK RIM AND STOCK SIZE WR250X ROTOR" is pretty tempting.Is it $346 tempting? I still have 18 days and 6 hours to decide. It takes me about 15 minutes to take off the front wheel and reinstall it. Turning my supermoto into an enduro in 15 minutes is a pretty cool option.

The question afterwards would be, "When do I ride the stock 17" wheel and when do I swap to the 21"?" If, for example, I decide to ride the WR to Alaska, which wheel do I travel on?" Most of the trip will be on asphalt, but some of it (even 1/3 or it) will be on dirt roads and barely-improved surfaces. In Montana, there could even be some deep sand, since I experienced a few hundred miles of that on my V-Strom in 2007. I don't think there is a question about which wheel is best for around town, but touring is a whole 'nother world. At least, when I'm touring.


RichardM said...

Forgive my ignorance but what would be the advantage of a smaller wheel? Lower ride height and CG? Less angular momentum for quicker handling?

Trobairitz said...

Decisions, decisions. Sounds like a good decision to have to make.

Will the stock 17's get better gas mileage than having a 21 on the front?

T.W. Day said...

Good questions, guys. The advantage to 21" would be purely off-road. That 21" wheel rolls over stuff easily, where the 17" wheel runs into stuff. Especially in soft sand, this is the deal. I suspect the 17" sport bike tires are better for mileage and I know they are better handling on pavement. Decisions, decisions.