2019 Yamaha YZ85 Review | Mini Motocross Motorcycle
Updates to youth motocross motorcycles are few and far between. Fortunately, Yamaha decided it was time to make some big changes for the 2019 Yamaha YZ85.We took the YZ85 out for testing at Glen Helen Raceway, a traditional site of a National Motocross round every year. Here’s what we found out about the mini two-stroke racer:
1. The new motor is the biggest news, and produces impressive low-end and midrange power. The 2019 Yamaha YZ85 gets a power valve, along with a higher compression ratio thanks to a new head and longer connecting rod. The case-reed intake is sent in a new crankcase, a 28mm Keihin flat slide carburetor sends the fuel into the bottom end.There’s also a new expansion chamber that Yamaha credits for additional power from the midrange down. Our testing confirmed the bump in the low- and midrange portion of the powerband without sacrificing top end power.2. Thanks to the power valve, the 2019 Yamaha YZ85 motor moves seamlessly through the powerband. Save for a bit of a flat spot at the top of the rev range—something a power valve doesn’t address—the YZ85 pulls seriously hard. It helps the motorcycle accelerate decisively out of corners.3. The upgraded transmission with a few wider cogs is fully satisfactory. Shifts were sure rather than missed—a must on 85s.4. There’s a new fully adjustable inverted 36mm KYB cartridge fork to go with the linkage-assisted fully adjustable KYB shock with new settings. Talon Hawkins, our young test rider, is a fan of the suspension. Even though he’s on the larger end of the spectrum for 85cc riders and likes a taut suspension setup, he didn’t find the KYB units lacking. The suspension is firm and stays in the top of the stroke, preventing bottoming on big jumps. Hawkins did add a bit of rebound damping in the shock to smooth it out in the whoops.5. The YZ85 is impressively stable in the whoops. Swapping isn’t an option, and after adjusting the suspension to his liking, Hawkins could blitz the whoops.6. Cornering is best handled by picking a line and sticking with it. Stability is the calling card of the 2019 Yamaha YZ85 and it likes aggressive entries. Although Hawkins felt like the suspension settled in a bit too much in corners, he still felt totally confident. Powering out of the corners helps make short work of any turn.7. The new rotors provide excellent stopping power. The 220mm front wave rotor is strong and allows for high entry speed into corners. Hawkins reports never having any braking issues, no matter how hard he rode the 2019 Yamaha YZ85.8.Dunlop Geomax MX3S tires are new on the YZ85 and offered good traction. For both acceleration and deceleration, the high-end Dunlops were superb on the sandy Glen Helen Raceway circuit.9. Airtime is easy on the 2019 Yamaha YZ85. The motorcycle’s stability gives the rider the confidence needed to hit a jump hard when maximum distance is needed. Should mid-air corrections be needed, the YZ85 obliges without complaint.10. At 5’ 4” and 105 pounds with a 30-inch inseam, Hawkins was generally satisfied with the ergonomics. Although he feels the 2019 Yamaha YZ85 is a bit wide and that makes it more challenging to lean over when cornering, he was otherwise satisfied. New this year is handlebar mounts with a choice of four positions to help fit a wider range of racers.11. Other updates to the 2019 Yamaha YZ85 include a high-capacity radiator, high-flow easy-maintenance airbox, new swingarm with updated chain adjusters, and a composite chain guide. All of these add up to a more sophisticated youth motocross racing motorcycle.12. For $300 more in 2019, you get a significantly upgraded competition motorcycle. The updates to the 2019 Yamaha YZ85 are more than worth the $300 bump in price from last year. The motorcycle remains competitive in the 85 class, and is especially enticing to a rider who lives for low-end and mid-range power, along with top-flight suspension and stability.Photography by Brandon KrauseTalon Hawkins contributed to this test. Hawkins is sponsored by Monster Army, Fasthouse, Alpinestars, Shoei, Spy Optic, FMF Racing, Split, Dunlop, Pro-Tec, HLTN Collective, Etnies, Team 3BR, DSC, Temecula Motorsports, Flo, Dr. Toy, and PDA Jerky.
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!