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 Krause
- Helmet: Shoei VFX-W
- Goggles: Spy Foundation
- Jersey: Fasthouse Long Live MC
- Gloves: Fasthouse Speed Style
- Pants: Fasthouse Grindhouse
- Boots: Alpinestars Tech 7
2019 Yamaha YZ85 Specs
- Type: Single-cylinder two-stroke
- Displacement: 85cc
- Bore x stroke: 47.5 x 47.8mm
- Compression ratio: 8.2-9.6:1
- Intake: Case-induction reed valve
- Fueling: 28mm Keihin PWK flat-slide carburetor
- Transmission: Constant mesh 6-speed
- Clutch: Multiplate wet
- Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable inverted 36mm KYB fork; 10.8 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted fully adjustable KYB shock; 11.1 inches
- Tires: Dunlop Geomax MX3S
- Front tire: 70/100 x 17
- Rear tire: 90/100 x 14
- Front brake: 220mm wave rotor
- Rear brake: 190mm wave rotor
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 49.4 inches
- Rake: 26.33 degrees
- Trail: 3.5 inches
- Seat height: 33.1 inches
- Ground clearance: 13.0 inches
- Fuel capacity: 1.3 gallons
- Curb weight: 161 pounds
2019 Yamaha YZ85 Color:
- Team Yamaha Blue
2019 Yamaha YZ85 Price:
- $4599 MSRP