Last year, like the year before, Yamaha was the only bike
in the 250F class that didn’t have fuel injection. This year it
returns completely unchanged. That could be an advantage. No one has shown any real performance increase with
The YZ’s motor has a strong resemblance to the first 250F
motor of the modern era: the 2002 YZ250F. It still uses the
five-valve head design and has an oil sump located under the
motor, whereas the original sump was in the frame. In 2012,
Yamaha redesigned the dual-beam aluminum frame in an
attempt to sharpen the YZ’s handling. It was already the lightest bike in the class by a large margin, and that gap widened.
The new YZ250F weighs 218 pounds, more than 10 pounds
lighter than several of the others.
STRONG POINTS: Good, old-fashioned carbureted
motors have a fun factor that can’t be denied. The YZ250F
gives you a nice little kick. Right off the bottom, there’s a
distinct giddy-up that has been smoothed out and covered
up in its fuel-injected rivals. This is just a cheap thrill,
though. It doesn’t show up on a dyno, and it probably
doesn’t help you get around the track. But, every rider felt it
and every rider liked it.
There’s no arguing with the scale, either. The Yamaha’s
weight helps it in many ways that you might not expect. It
helps the brakes, especially on steep hills where a heavy bike
with strong brakes (aka KTM 250SXF) might just lock up the
wheels. For that matter, the Yamaha has strong brakes too.
Some riders made the argument that the Yamaha has the
best overall suspension in the class. This is certainly subjec-
tive, because the Yamaha is set up for a slightly heavier rider
than the Honda and a lighter rider than the Suzuki. It lands in
a good place. The balance is good and complaints are few.
WEAK POINTS: Peak power remains the flaw in the
package. The Yamaha begins to taper off when the
Kawasaki and KTM are really going strong. That’s not the
carburetor’s fault. There are lots of fast bikes with carbs,
but the Yamaha exhibits one classic carburetor glitch: it hiccups on hard landings. There are ways to cure this. R&D
Racing specializes in that.
We have mixed feelings about the Yamaha’s overall handling. In the past, YZs were super stable and required
aggression in the turns. This new-age YZ has lighter steering, but is less forgiving of body position and can be taken
off its game in rough turns.
BOTTOM LINE: Everyone liked the Yamaha, but it got no
votes for first place. Good suspension and a fun powerband
combine to make a bike that’s enjoyable, but no help on long
straights or steep hills where faster bikes pull away.
The fun factor still counts