The YZ250 has been a longtime staple of the Yamaha motocross lineup. However, with the four-stroke revolution of the mid-2000s, the YZ250 lost its place atop of Yamaha’s development priority list.The list of new features on the 2018 Yamaha YZ250 is short—the YZ250 received blue rims that help make the bike look cool and modern.
While the YZ hasn’t received any major changes in the past several years, Yamaha has been keeping up with the small updates, mainly in the suspension department. When a suspension upgrade was made to the YZ-F four-stroke lineup, Yamaha also passed them along to the YZ two-stroke lineup.Along with the suspension updates, Yamaha also kept the bike modern with Pro Taper bars, Excel rims, Dunlop MX52 tires, gripper seat cover, and new plastic in 2016.So with that said what’s it like to ride? Well, if ever there was a bike that fits the question “Why change a good thing?” the Yamaha YZ250 is it. The motor is still very fast and easy to ride in terms of 250 two-stroke. With a strong bottom end pull it revs quickly into the mid range and pulls well up into the high RPM over rev.When you’re riding hard and you want to keep it up on the power band a simple slip of the clutch brings it into the meat of the powerband pulling you hard out of the corners. Having experience with YZ250’s the only thing we might like to have is a little more flywheel weight to keep the bike hooked up in loose conditions.Jetting on the 38mm Keihin PWK carburetor is flawless right off the showroom floor for Southern California tracks. The clutch has a nice feel and a relatively light pull for a motocross bike. We never experienced any fade, even when abused. While we had zero complaints with the clutch, it would still be nice to have a hydraulic clutch like the European bikes offer.As much as we like the YZ motor, the chassis, handling and suspension is what we really love about the YZ250. The KYB SSS (Speed Sensitive Suspension) is simply the best fork we have ever tested. Add to it an equally good KYB rear shock and we couldn’t ask for more out of the suspension.The KYB suspension has a plush feel, yet still holds up in the stroke never bottoming hard. Ride it hard and fast, or relax and slow down—the suspension feels great. We rode it on many MX tracks and took it off-road, and we never wanted to make any adjustments.Yamaha built a solid chassis for it. It’s the kind of motorcycle that you can jump on and immediately feel comfortable no matter what your usual ride is. On top of that the YZ always feels stable at speed with any compromise in its turning ability. We couldn’t find anything to complain about in the handling department.There are more updated 250cc two-stroke motocrossers coming from Europe and we have ridden them. They have some features that seem better than the Yamaha— less weight, higher horsepower numbers, and a hydraulic clutch.However they aren’t anywhere near as easy to ride or are as easy to go fast on. We would be extremely happy to see an updated YZ, but until then, we’re happy with the 2018 Yamaha YZ250.Photography by Brandon KrauseRIDING STYLE
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!