2015 Yamaha YZ250FX First Ride TestAlthough the Japanese have been active in GNCC and other off-road racing for decades, the bikes used at the top levels have always been modified motocrossers since the four-stroke revolution in the 1990s. The “off-road” bikes the Japanese sell have not been competition oriented…until now.
Coming hot on the heels of Yamaha’s all-new YZ250F motocrosser is the 2015 Yamaha YZ250FX, which is an off-road racer in every sense of the word. Yes, Yamaha has massaged the motocross version in converting it to off-road racing — Yamaha names GNCC, Hare Scrambles, Best in the Desert and WORCS as the target — but in doing so they have keep the competitive edge fully intact.For the first ride test of the 2015 Yamaha YZ250FX, I ended up in rain, snow, and a bit of sunshine at Ballinger Canyon OHV Area, so the traction ranged from epic to icy. Single-track trails were challenging, with a variety of conditions unfolding in quick succession. In other words, perfect for the first time out.Most of my riding is off-road, so the idea of a fire-breathing motocross bike on technical trails is a bit daunting. Yamaha did work on the suspension, fuel injection, clutch, and tuning, to make the YZ250FX appropriate for the slower speeds of tough single-track. Add to that an 18-inch rear wheel and the result is astounding.Nicely narrow with a workable 38-inch seat height due to over a foot of travel at both ends, the YZ250FX feels perfect when you get on. An electric starter is a wonderful addition, as stalling when you’re already tired on the backside of a GNCC course is not an appealing prospect. It also helps with dead engine starts, and I really appreciated it in the sub-freezing morning when first firing it up…on a kickstand, no less!There’s really nowhere the 2015 Yamaha YZ250FX did not impress me. Warming up on wide, rutted roads, it accelerates with authority if you are willing to twist the throttle and send the revs into five-figure territory. Nice size bumps are either soaked up by the outstanding KYB SSS suspension, or you’re send airborne in a fully controllable fashion.In the slicker parts of the road, I quickly learned that the YZ250FX has a smooth bottom end. I have good throttle control, so that certainly helps, but the new reverse-intake motor never caught me out. When I needed to nurse the rear end around a flat, wide, slick corner, the FX was more than happy to oblige.Whooped out roads were another place that allowed the YZ250FX to shine. While I’m not someone who can skip whoops, I can jump them, and the YZ250FX allowed me to time different sets of whoops perfectly and make good time with minimal effort. The FX lands as predictably as it flies, with no bad suspension manners. The spring rate and damping is appropriately taut without having supercross-style resistance.Technical hillclimbs are far easier than you’d expect from something starting with YZ. Sure, you can blast up the smoother climbs with abandon, but you can do that with a YZ250F. In the case of tricky hillclimbs with direction changes along with ruts, rocks, loose dirt, and snow, the YZ250FX’s ability to drop the engine speed and let me pick my way through when necessary was amazing. I didn’t have to keep an unreasonable ground speed going, and I could drop down to a crawl, and then easily find the traction to return to race-style speed. It was uncanny.Running through the winding single-track trails was just flat-out fun. The YZ250FX has little resistance to direction changes, but it doesn’t have a mind of its own. It is one of those motorcycles that reacts so intuitively that you forget you’re riding and you just go with the flow of the trail, almost unconsciously.The ability to put the front wheel where I wanted it was unmatched. Freewheeling through a section was no problem — just steer confidently. Most impressive is the ability to blip the throttle and place the front wheel anywhere, avoiding obstacles and setting up for turns. Give the throttle a blip and the front end lifts up a bit. The chassis obliges your desire of when the front Dunlop AT81 returns to the trail.Some of the single track is in tight gullies, where you are constantly turning, coming upon tricky obstacles (log, sand, rocks) unexpectedly, and many of the turns have huge bowls for turning. The YZ250FX loves those corners and will take them like a supercross 90-degree turn if you like. Break the back end loose and rocket away, or just smoothly rail them, all based on what you can see ahead. Great fun, absolutely.Sandy streambeds with a mix of sand, rain, and snow offered up more fun. Even in tight turns that require hard braking, the KYB Speed Sensitive System forks did not dive excessively. You can stuff the front end into the sandy corner, get on the gas, and roost your way out. It’s easy to get the YZ250FX’s motor up in the rev range when you need to get on top of the sand. This will definitely be a great desert bike, and it has a wide-ratio six-speed transmission.The Dunlop AT81s adapt well for a wide range of conditions, enhancing the friendliness of the motor. You will be able to beat them in specific conditions, but for overall riding, the AT81s will be tough to better.Even with the six-speed transmission, I worked the clutch hard and it never complained; to be fair, conditions were not hot, of course. Speaking of heat, the YZ250FX has mounts for a radiator fan (wiring included) and a skid plate. I was definitely keeping an eye out for the worst rocks, but we do have an Enduro Engineering skid plate en route. We’ll let you know how it works.The 2015 Yamaha YZ250FX is one of those bikes that absolutely fires the desire to ride. It makes you feel like you’re riding far above your normal skill level, in that you can go fast, ride accurately, and do it all with an exhilarating confidence. Many people have waited for decades for a truly competitive off-road racer from Japan. In the form of the 2015 Yamaha YZ250FX, it has arrived.Location photography by Tim Warriner
Riding Style Helmet: Fly Racing F2 Carbon Acetylene Goggles: Progrip Baseline 3201 Jacket: Fly Racing Patrol Gloves: Fly Racing 907 Cold Weather Jersey and Pants: Fly Racing Evolution 2.0 Spike Racewear Basewear: Fly Racing Base Layer Heavyweight Top and Pant Knee braces: Alpinestars Fluid Tech Carbon Boots: Sidi Crossfire TA2015 Yamaha YZ250FX Specifications Engine: Liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke; 4 titanium valves Bore x stroke 77.0 x 53.6mm Displacement: 250cc Compression ratio: 13.5:1 Fuel delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection Keihin 44mm Ignition: Transistor Controlled Ignition Transmission: Wide-ratio constant-mesh 6-speed; multiplate wet clutch Suspension / front: KYB Speed-Sensitive System; inverted fork; fully adjustable, 12.2 inches of travel Suspension / rear: KYB Fully adjustable single shock; 12.5-inches of travel Brakes / front: Hydraulic single disc brake, 250mm Brakes / rear: Hydraulic single disc brake, 245mm Tires / front: Dunlop AT81 90/90-21 Tires / rear: Dunlop AT81 110/100-18 L x W x H: 85.2 x 32.5 x 50.4 in Seat height: 38.0 in Wheelbase: 57.7 in Ground clearance: 12.8 in Fuel capacity: 2.0 gal Wet Weight: 249 pounds Color: Team Yamaha Blue/White 2015 Yamaha YZ250FX MSRP: $7890
Aprilia Tuono 660 Factory + Steve ’Stavros’ Parrish
byMotos and Friends by Ultimate Motorcycle
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly podcast—Motos and Friends. My name is Arthur Coldwells.
Our first segment features the new Aprilia Tuono 660 Factory. Senior Editor Nic de Sena brings us his report on the flagship version of Aprilia’s upright middleweight machine. He gives us insight into whether it’s worth spending the extra money on the Factory version, and also of course, whether this sporting Aprilia is really the motorcycle for you.
The next guest segment of Motos and Friends is brought to you by the faster and most technologically advanced, 2023 Suzuki Hayabusa—one of the most iconic sportbikes ever. Check it out in person at your local Suzuki dealer now, or visit suzukicycles.com to learn more.
In this segment, Associate Editor Teejay Adams chats with (arguably) one of the most interesting Suzuki race riders of all time. the iconic RG500 alongside teammate double World Champion Barry Sheene. The two were almost as famous for their exploits off-track, as for their success on it. Those were the days! Steve also raced the Isle of Man TT for about ten years where he won 13 Silver Replicas, and got a podium finish. His insight into that particular brand of mayhem are fascinating.
But there’s waaay more to Steve Parrish than his motorcycle racing. He is also the most successful Semi-Truck racer ever, and, little known piece of useless trivia—he’s my birthday twin: 24th February. He is a natural entertainer and you can’t miss his recounting of the world’s most entertaining—and arguably terrifying—double-decker bus ride ever. If any of you were actually on that hell-ride then we’d love to hear from you!