2016 MX TEST
There are about 10 changes in the Yamaha motor for 2016.
The only chassis changes are the suspension settings and the
larger front brake rotor.
LIFE AT 14,000 RPM
Let’s start off with what isn’t different. The YZ250F is
as fast as ever. The bike makes excellent low-end power,
and on top it still screams like a Stuka. The motor is the
bike’s strongest single asset, and it remains that way. It
has no weak points anywhere along the way to its impressive power peak. There are usually trade-offs involved with
a 250 motor; if it makes good torque, it won’t rev and vice
versa. The Yamaha is strong everywhere, but its top end is
what gets the job done. As a result, you often find yourself
flirting with the rev limiter, and that brings us to the biggest improvement of the year. Last year it would run strong
right up to the point where it wouldn’t run at all, and riders
ended up in that max-rpm zone of sputtering and hiccuping that was annoying, if nothing else. Now the bike ends
its run more gracefully. It still refuses to go past the same
redline, but there isn’t as much electronic chaos.
In the 250-class rankings we already know that the
Yamaha’s chief competitors will be the KTM and nearly
identical Husqvarna 250Fs. The KTM had the most peak
power last year, and we know it has more for 2016. We
also know that it had a lot of ground to make up when it
came to low end and midrange, so we’re very anxious to
get both bikes head to head to see who the new horsepower king will be. Honda and Suzuki also found more
power, so everyone is gunning for the Yamaha, and it will
be interesting to see who comes out on top when the
smoke clears. But for right now, we still love the Yamaha
motor as much as ever.
Number two on the Yamaha hit parade is back as well.
The suspension is the standard of the class. The KYB fork in
particular represents the pinnacle of coil-spring technology.
It’s relatively plush on small bumps, has great bottoming
resistance and never does anything spooky. Our only real
criticism is that it’s aimed at the high end of the class. Its
springs are a touch stiff for younger, less experienced riders. That, obviously, isn’t an issue for pneumatic forks. The
air fork on the Honda CRF250R matches the Yamaha fork in
performance (if you know how to set it up properly) and can
be adjusted to work for anyone (again, if you know how to
set it up properly). The truth is, modern air forks aren’t that
difficult to adjust, but it is one more layer of maintenance
that we didn’t have to deal with a few years ago.
Yamaha’s decision to soften up the rear end makes
sense. Like the front, the rear was a touch soft for the
average man. We suspect the main motive, though, was to