2016 Yamaha YZ250F Long-Term Test
The 2016 Yamaha YZ250F marks the third year of the newest generation of the manufacturer’s quarter-liter four stroke. With a major overhaul in 2014 highlighted by a change to fuel injection and a rearward facing cylinder head, most of Yamaha’s efforts on the 2016 model were aimed at refinements including making the engine more durable, fine tuning the front forks and rear shock, and increasing the size of the front brake rotor.
The YZ250F has an incredible engine. The powerband is very linear, which is a somewhat uncommon characteristic on a 250 four stroke. The bottom end is very strong and can even be kept in third gear on inside corners without lugging or bogging the engine. The mid-range power comes on hard, but with no surprises and without trying to come out from underneath you.
The top end is reached quickly, as the RPMs escalate quickly after hitting the meaty mid-range. The rev limiter of the bike is set at approximately 14,000 RPM. Keeping the bike in the mid-range and top end power without hitting the rev limiter is easy thanks to the broad, linear powerband. Yamaha did their homework on the YZ250F engine, and it’s a winner.
The Kayaba SSS forks and rear shock are undoubtedly the best suspension on a production motocross bike. The units absorb braking bumps with ease and make them feel nearly non-existent at speed. Absorbing jump landings shows how progressive the front forks and rear shock are, as they feel plush from the beginning all the way to the bottom of the stroke, regardless of impact and jump size.
The only maintenance required before and after each ride on the suspension is to release the air built up in the forks, which requires a flatblade screwdriver. You can’t beat a suspension set up that’s plush, progressive, and requires very minimal maintenance. The Kayaba SSS forks and rear shock are unbeatable.
The chassis on the YZ250F is unlike that of any other bike in the 250F class. With a rearward facing cylinder head engine, the airbox is up front, where the previous generation models radiator shrouds were.
The bike does seem a bit wide in the front at first due to the airbox vents, but this feeling quickly disappears after a few laps of getting used to it. Another unique thing about having the intake up front is how much more audible it is. The noise is very subtle, however.
The stock exhaust system allows the bike to breath and has a commanding, deep sound. It offers the perfect balance between a pipe that is too choked up and one that sounds like it has no packing. Plus, the header pipe is hidden behind the front of the frame and keeps it out of the way of damaging roost from other bikes.
The new 270mm front brake rotor offers much more powerful stopping power and instills confidence when coming hot into a corner or on a downhill. Yamaha’s decision to increase the size of the rotor was a wise one, as the powerful engine needs strong brakes to help stop the bike. The rear brake works great as well.
The handlebars offer a higher bend than I would personally prefer. However, the bend itself is comfortable, nonetheless. The front brake lever offers a defined place for the index finger to grip. However, the same cannot be said for the clutch lever, as it has a gradual, round bend. If this were my personal bike, I would invest in a different lever with more of a defined area to assist clutch modulation at the index finger. The grips are surprisingly soft and durable, especially for a stock grip. After ten months of consistent riding, they are still usable and remain in surprisingly good condition.
The Bridgestone M403A front tire and M404 rear tire lasted a long time while still providing good traction in a variety of different conditions. However, switching to a set of Dunlop Geomax MX3S soft terrain tires really enhanced the front end feel in corners and allowed the rear end to bite much better under hard acceleration.
Maintenance on the YZ250F is minimal. I changed the oil and oil filter every three rides, which is an easy task for those of even the most minimal mechanical ability. Draining the oil requires the removal of a 12mm bolt on the bottom rear of the engine while the oil filter cover requires the removal of two 8mm bolts. Refilling the engine with oil is done so via the filler hole on the stator cover.
Changing the air filter can be done without the use of tools by removing the three Dzus fasteners on the airbox in the front of the bike. It literally takes less than ten seconds, which is extremely convenient. The air filter stays relatively clean after each ride as a result of how high up and frontward it is in comparison to the old design. The spokes were easy to tighten and the wheels stayed true after checking the spokes after each and every ride.
The 2016 Yamaha YZ250F is a fantastic race bike. The engine is powerful, the suspension is the best, and the chassis works well with the rest of the bike. Additionally, the bike is very reliable and the maintenance is minimal and easy to perform. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time riding the bike and can’t wait to see what the 2017 model has in store.
- Helmet: 6D ATR-1 Flo Graphic
- Goggles: Oakley Airbrake MX
- Neck Brace: Leatt-Brace GPX 5.5
- Pants, jersey, and gloves: Moose Racing Sahara Raceware
- Boots: Sidi Crossfire 2 SR
Photography by Don Williams at Perris Raceway
Andrew Oldar is sponsored by Moose Racing
2016 Yamaha YZ250F Specs
- Engine: 250cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke
- Valve train: DOHC with four titanium valves
- Bore x stroke 77.0mm × 53.6mm
- Compression ratio: 13.5:1
- Fuel delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection, Keihin 44mm throttle body
- Ignition: Transistor Controlled Ignition
- Transmission: Constant mesh 5-speed, multiplate wet clutch
- Front suspension: KYB Speed-Sensitive System inverted fork; fully adjustable, 12.2 inches of travel
- Rear suspension: KYB monoshock; fully adjustable, 12.4 inches of travel
- Front brake: Hydraulic single disc brake, 270mm
- Rear brake: Hydraulic single disc brake, 245mm
- Front tire: 80/100-21 Bridgestone M403A
- Rear tire: 100/90-19 Bridgestone M404
- L x W x H 85.2 in x 32.5 in x 50.4 in
- Seat height: 38.0 inches
- Wheelbase: 58.1 inches
- Rake: 27.1 degrees
- Trail: 4.6 inches
- Ground Clearance: 12.8 inches
- Fuel Capacity: 2.0 gallons
- Wet weight: 231 pounds
- Warranty: 30 Day (Limited Factory Warranty)
2016 Yamaha YZ250F Price (MSRP):
- $7590 (blue/white)
- $7690 (60th Anniversary Yellow)