2022 Yamaha YZ85LW Review [10 Fast Facts from Glen Helen Raceway]

Yamaha enters the supermini class this year with the YZ85LW, based on YZ85, which was upgraded this year. We brought supermini racer Hudson Zeber to the legendary Glen Helen Raceway to put in countless laps on the new 2022 Yamaha YZ85LW. Here’s what we found out.

2022 Yamaha YZ85LW Review: MSRP

  1. The 2022 Yamaha YZ85LW is designed to help growing riders transition from minis to full-sized motocross motorcycles. Supermini classes allow displacements to 112cc, compared to 85cc for the Mini class. Minis run 17-/14-inch wheels, while Supermini classes allow 19-/16-inch wheel combinations. Moving up in both power and chassis may be too much for some racers, so the YZ85LW adds the height while retaining the familiar 85cc power. Buyers of the YZ85LW can always upgrade to the Athena 112cc kit offered by Yamaha Parts & Accessories, though it’s not inexpensive at $916 plus crankcase machining.

  1. The power-valve two-stroke motor has a smooth bottom end, with the real power coming at high rpm. This makes the engine easy to ride for less-than-expert competitors who don’t want a brutal bark down low. Once the rider is ready, the top end is there for the asking when flowing the most mixture through the excellent Keihin 28mm flat-slide carburetor. Yamaha did alter the air intake system for a bit more power this year, but we didn’t have last year’s model for comparison to quantify the difference in output.

2022 Yamaha YZ85LW Review: Price

  1. The YZ85LW gets the YZ85’s new ergonomics, making the LW easier to ride. The flatter seat allowed Hudson to transition on the bike as needed, and the slimmer fuel tank and shrouds give the LW a more pilotable feel. Hudson would have liked a longer shift lever, which didn’t surprise us—LW riders are likely to be wearing larger boots than the younger riders on the standard YZ85. He also had the brake pedal adjusted to his taste.

  1. Although the ergonomics of the YZ85LW are the same as the standard YZ85, everything is lifted. The LW’s larger wheels and slightly longer rear-wheel travel raise the seat 1.7 inches to 34.8 inches. The ground clearance is increased 1.6 inches to 14.2 inches on the LW. Being at the taller end of the supermini rider spectrum, the 5’ 7” Hudson liked the four-position handlebar mounts, and went with the setting that gave him the most room to work.

2022 Yamaha YZ85LW Review: For Sale

  1. The swingarm, frame, and rear axles are different from last year’s YZ85, and the same as this year’s standard YZ85. With the frame now doing double duty, Yamaha worked on the frame’s rigidity, making it compatible with both wheelsets.

  1. Going with larger wheels alters the YZ85’s geometry. The YZ85LW has 0.3 degrees less rake than the YZ85, but 0.4 inches more trail. Also, the LW’s 50.5-inch wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than the standard YZ85. The LW weighs a nominal four pounds more than the YZ85.

2022 Yamaha YZ85LW Review: supermini

  1. Hudson found the chassis to be highly maneuverable. He was able to place the YZ85LW wherever he wanted on the track—essential to fast lap times. When he needed to change lines in corners, the LW willingly obliged.

  1. A strong suit of the 2022 Yamaha YZ85LW is the KYB suspension. Hudson gave high marks to the plush suspension. The linkage-assisted shock and 36mm fork are fully adjustable, though, at 135 pounds, Hudson did fine with simply getting the sag set to his liking.

2022 Yamaha YZ85LW Review: Motocross

  1. The Dunlop Geomax MX3S tires that work great on full-size motors are magic on the YZ85LW. The REM track we used at Glen Helen Raceway is a mixture of hardpack and soft terrain, with plenty of elevation changes. The MX3S rubber worked everywhere. The MX3S tires are outstanding cornering, acceleration, and braking, enhancing the performance of the chassis and motor.

  1. By sticking with the 85cc motor, the 2022 Yamaha YZ85LW works as an excellent platform for gingerly transitioning into the supermini class. Sure, fast riders moving up will want a 112cc powerplant straightaway. For the rest of the young racers, taking one step at a time is a more sustainable strategy, and Yamaha has a 112cc kit waiting at the dealer.

Photography by Will Embree/SMX Pictures and Don Williams

Hudson Zeber is sponsored by DT-1 Air Filters and Seven.

RIDING STYLE

2022 Yamaha YZ85LW Specs

ENGINE

  • 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: Hitachi Astemo Keihin PWK28 flat-slide carburetor
  • Transmission: Constant-mesh 6-speed
  • Clutch: Multiplate wet

CHASSIS

  • Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable KYB inverted 36mm fork; 10.8 inches
  • Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted fully adjustable KYB piggyback-reservoir shock; 11.3 inches
  • Tires: Dunlop Geomax MX3S
  • Front tire: 70/100 x 19
  • Rear tire: 90/100 x 16
  • Front brake: 220mm wave rotor w/ four-piston caliper
  • Rear brake: 190mm wave rotor

DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

  • Wheelbase: 50.9 inches
  • Rake: 26 degrees
  • Trail: 3.9 inches
  • Seat height: 34.8 inches
  • Ground clearance: 14.2 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 1.3 gallons
  • Curb weight: 165 pounds
  • Color: Team Yamaha Blue

2022 Yamaha YZ85LW Price: $4999 MSRP

2022 Yamaha YZ850LW Review Photo Gallery