Yamaha introduces the off-road
bike we thought they would
ENTER THE YZ250X
The 2016 YZ250X is an off-road (meaning not motocross) version of the YZ250, much like a two-stroke
version of the FX. It’s in a slightly different state of
tune than the YZ motocrosser, but it has off-road stuff
like an 18-inch rear wheel, a wide-ratio transmission,
a more tucked-in pipe and a kickstand. If you were
around in 1997 you remember the last time this happened. Back then Yamaha had a 250cc two-stroke
off-road bike called the WR250. Since those days
the EPA and the California Air Resources Board got
involved. The government started asking if a bike was
intended for closed-course competition or not. If the
manufacturer said “not,” then the bike had to pass
The result was the end of trail-oriented two-strokes,
at least as far as Japanese bikes go. Europeans, on
the other hand, kept right on importing them. It’s
taken this long for the rank-and-file engineers and
test riders at Yamaha to convince upper management that they can do the same thing. A bike can be
designed for off-road racing and be imported as a
closed-course competition bike; the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
Design-wise, the YZ250X is somewhat conservative.
It isn’t an electric-start 300 as some pundits speculated. Yamaha was already risking a lot without the
massive retooling that an all-new motor would have
required. But if the X is successful, it could lead to
more of its kind.
Someone at Yamaha is angry. It might be everyone at Yamaha. They’re apparently sick and tired of
standing in the background while KTM is eating up
the whole off-road market. Last year’s YZ250FX was
the first evidence that they actually care; that they
want to be involved with dirt riding beyond motocross. The FX is an off-road race bike that makes no
apologies for leaving the track and being what it is.
Now, Yamaha is picking another fight, and this one
will give hope to the faithful. For 2016 Yamaha has
another new off-road race bike, and this one is a two-stroke!