With the addition of the new Yamaha YZ85LW, it was a good time for Yamaha to also update the standard YZ85. The chassis got most of the attention, though there’s plenty to talk about. We drafted Fasthouse-sponsored Anthony Keasey as a test and photo rider, as everyone on the staff is too big for minis. So, we listened to what Anthony had to say, and we watched him in action as he shredded the REM track at Glen Helen Raceway on the 2022 Yamaha YZ85.
The chassis received several improvements, and the result is a stable ride. Yamaha reworked the rigidity and strength of the steel frame, with new swingarm bracket thicknesses and changes in the lower motor mounts. There’s also a new one-piece aluminum swingarm and solid rear axle. Anthony was able to hit the rough parts of the track aggressively without worries about swapping. There’s also a new aluminum subframe. It’s lighter and, like its steel predecessor, replaceable should the subframe take a hard lick from the track.
Even with the enhanced stability, the 2022 Yamaha YZ85 turns well. With a sub-50-inch wheelbase, the YZ85 is a natural turner. Cornering is helped along by the outstanding Dunlop Geomax MX3S rubber and predictable fully adjustable KYB suspension. Whether in fast sweepers or tighter bermed turns, Anthony could put the YZ85 where he wanted it and considered turning to be one of the YZ’s strongest points.
The case-induction power-valved two-stroke motor is another impressive part of the YZ85 package. Anthony described the engine as fast and smooth—two things we always like to hear. When he needed acceleration to air it out for photos, he could reliably get up to speed for jumps, while having the necessary punch to control the air. When other photos demanded some roost in corners, the little mill delivered, with muscular lower-rpm power. This year, the 85cc motor has a revised intake thanks to the new dual pre-airbox intake vents that are part of the new seat and subframe combo.
Getting the most out of a small displacement two-stroke requires clutch work, and the YZ85 makes it easy. Anthony remarked that the clutch has a light pull, and engagement is predictable and smooth. Even under hard all-day use, it did not slip.
Braking is excellent, and the master cylinder is new on the rear brake. Yamaha brought the YZ85 rear brake setup to big-bike standards by integrating the fluid reservoir into the master cylinder. That also tightened up the brake pedal stroke. After a couple of initial adjustments, the rear brake worked perfectly and is an excellent match to the front brake, which was updated in 2019.
Easy movement on a motocross bike is essential, and the new plastic on the 2022 Yamaha YZ85 gets it done. When Yamaha upgraded the looks with the symmetrical radiator shrouds, it also made it easier to shift positions, as both sides feel identical and the overall design is narrower. Additionally, seams were moved out of the knee area, so nothing gets hooked up. We had Anthony all over the YZ85 without any issues. The seat is also flatter and narrower, allowing the rider to put himself where he needs to be.
Mom and dad will like the new embedded radiator shroud graphics. The sticker budget will be significantly reduced, and the plastic looks better longer. Kids and adults alike like the ’22 graphics. We had DeCal Works number plate stickers on the bike, with our logo, and they look factory.
Although not a complete overall, Yamaha took a fine mini package and smartly upgraded it. Improving ergonomics make it easier for anyone to go fast. Backing that up with a more-stable chassis enhances the benefits of the new ergos. A tiny bit more power doesn’t hurt, and the new 2022 Yamaha YZ85 is absolutely a fantastic-looking motocross racebike. At $4799, it’s $1600 less expensive than the Austrian equivalents—a significant gap. The YZ85s friendly power delivery and user-friendly spring forks make it a compelling choice for a rider wanting an approachable mount for local racing.
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Motos and Friends—the weekly Podcast brought to you by the editorial team at Ultimate Motorcycling.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
In this week’s first segment, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the much anticipated Yamaha MT-10 SP. That’s the model with the Ohlins semi-active suspension. It’s only been available in Europe for the last couple of years, but finally the good news is, that it’s coming to America. The big question is, whether the extra 3k you’re going to have to pony up for the Ohlins is actually worth it, or perhaps there’s just not that much improvement over the stock KYB suspension that has suited the Yamaha MT-10 so well until now?
In the second segment, Associate Editor Teejay Adams chats with Val Collins. Val grew up on motorcycles and learned to love speed, however her real love is Formula 1 tunnel-boat racing. These are the guys and gals that are strapped into a tiny cockpit and then hurtle down the straights at 120 mile per hour and pull 5G in the corners. We attended the recent season finale in Lake Havasu and watched our friend Mike Quindazzi try to take the win. Val chats with Teejay about her love for two-wheels and tunnel-boats. Yeah, it’s crazy stuff.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode and have a great Thanksgiving Holiday!