For $100 more than the FX, the WR gives you a headlight, fan
and skid plate. And, oh yes, emission compliance.
cally a WR stripped of all its noise and emission restrictions. That means no intake restrictor, no throttle stop and
an MX muffler (from the quieter, Euro-spec YZ). The fuel
mapping in the black box isn’t fixed, and its default settings are much richer than the WR’s. They aren’t quite the
same as the YZ’s settings, but you can alter them with the
GYTR Power Tuner. The FX version is further dialed in to
its target buyer with stiffer suspension and a front number
plate replacing the headlight. It has no skid plate and no
radiator fan, although the mounts for both are still there.
Another way of looking at the FX is to compare it to the
YZ250 motocross bike. The performance is very similar to
that of the YZ. In case you don’t remember, that means it’s
fast. The YZ won our motocross shootout by virtue of its
incredible motor. It had more low-end and midrange power
than anything in the class. Only the KTM made more on
top, and that was almost entirely by virtue of a higher rev
limit. The FX is fast, too, although it signs off a little bit earlier than the motocross version. This might be because of
the Euro-spec pipe or because of mapping, but you don’t
really notice unless you have the bike pointed straight up
a big hill. The power is never in short supply on the trail. At
the very bottom, the FX is a little jerkier than we like. It has
unusually strong engine braking for a 250, and that makes
it difficult to feed in little doses of power. Once the throttle
is open, though, the delivery is smooth and sweet. The
YZ250FX is a great trail bike. And, it’s still a good racer.
This is one of the first 250 four-strokes that can really do
both. All the previous 250Fs were either one or the other,
but the Yamaha will chug along at low rpm willingly. Then
it will scream when the time is right. We know 250 four-strokes aren’t the most popular bikes in the off-road world;
two-strokes and 450s still rule the kingdom. But, the KTM
350 has had a serious impact on the pecking order, and
we have a feeling that the new Yamaha will further change
the balance of power. The bike handles great. It feels
lighter than anything this side of a 125. The FX is 9 pounds
lighter than the WR, and while that’s still heavier than most
two-strokes, you would never know it. There might be
something to all of that talk about mass centralization.
Both Yamahas have outstanding suspension. The FX
has stiffer valving in the fork and a stiffer spring in the rear
compared to the WR. We don’t know which we like bet-
ter. It all boils down to how fast you’re going. In first and
second gear, the WR’s suspension is unbeatable. It sucks
up rocks and keeps you on course in comfort. In third gear
and higher, you appreciate the stability that the FX suspen-
sion offers. It doesn’t dive when you brake hard and main-
tains a fairly level riding attitude.
In the end, WR owners know who they are and what
they want, just like YZ250FX owners know who they are.
But, this isn’t a mutually exclusive deal any more. In the
past, if you bought a WR, that was the identity you had
to live with. Now, the two bikes are so similar that you
could easily convert the WR into an FX. We’ve already
started down that road by giving our WR a DR.D slip-on
exhaust and a YZ black box, making it a closed-course
motorcycle. Frankly, the reason we did this is because the
temptation is too great. In stock form, the WR is harshly
limited. The lean mapping is especially frustrating if you
ride the WR back to back with an FX and discover how
well it could run.
The YZ black box and DR.D pipe actually made the WR
run better than the FX. It had less jerkiness at the bottom,
and the peak power was better. This is probably due to
differences in fuel mapping, although the pipe is certainly
a contributing factor. We don’t recommend using a YZ
black box, though. To our surprise, it disabled the electric
starter, the lights and the electric fan. That’s okay, though.
By the time this reaches print, there will be FX black boxes
available at a price just over $100. In theory, you should be
able to program the FX mapping to be identical to the YZ’s
with the GYTR Power Tuner, although it will doubtlessly
require some trial and error.
If you never have a need to ride on public land, the
YZ250FX is the easy choice here. It’s $100 cheaper and it
runs like it was just scalded with a branding iron. But, for a
little more money, plus the cost of a pipe and an ECU, the
WR gives you the option of changing identities and having
two bikes in one. And for the record, it’s still cheaper than
a KTM 250XCF-W. ❏
Both bikes have enough power to be good rock hogs.
WO-BIKE OFF-ROAD TEST