2009 Yamaha YZ250 2-Stroke Bike Test

JC Hilderbrand | December 8, 2008

Because We Can…

2009 Yamaha YZ250
Professionally, the YZ250 (12) has to compete against the likes of Yamaha’s YZ450F (7) and the rest of the 450 monsters. Now, with rule changes by the AMA, amateurs can race the 2-stroke in the 250F class which is much more realistic.

Our quartet’s throaty rumble and whir of cam chains was constantly interrupted by the zingy sound of an expansion chamber and shorty muffler. The AMA now allows 250 2-strokes to run in the 250F division, which has opened a whole new avenue for non-professionals. Since Yamaha is the only Japanese manufacturer still producing and importing its 2-stroke line, we brought out the YZ250 to run alongside our quarter-liter Thumpers, just to see if it belongs in the mix.

Weighing the same as our KX250F, the 231-pound machine has a distinct advantage in terms of sheer horsepower. The YZ put out 41 ponies on the Mickey Cohen Motorsports dyno while the most powerful F model spun up 34 (Honda) – only 83 percent! However, the way that power is distributed across the rev range is where the differences lie.

Basically, it is all a matter of personal choice. The 2-stroke is definitely a faster machine, but it takes more skill to get the most out of it, and some riders preferred the even spread of power from the 4-stroke, despite having less available. The one thing our testers did agree on was that the YZ can be very fun to ride, especially in the right circumstances. Here’s how they describe it.

2009 Yamaha YZ250
Our novice was one of the riders who favors the 4-stroke. The YZ was just too unpredictable for him and the confidence and precise control allowed by the 250F is ultimately a better fit.

JC Hilderbrand – Novice
Man, that YZ really surprised me. I haven’t ridden a 250 2-stroke in a long time, or at least one that is mechanically sound. I thought for sure that it would be a lot more fun because that’s what you always hear about them, but honestly it wasn’t as much fun as the 250F machines. The YZ basically just wears me out. It’s definitely way faster and as soon as you snap the throttle it wants to go, but you really have to be more careful about your gear selection. I kept missing corners because I’m not used to the lack of engine braking, so I had a hard time evaluating how well it turns. Since I spend so much time worrying about the track obstacles, especially jumps, a 4-stroke’s smooth delivery is ideal. There’s nothing worse for me than trying to size up a new jump and worrying about hitting the powerband right on the face of it. I love that it’s cheap and I’m sure if I forced myself to spend more time on it I would start to think otherwise, but I really have no desire to.
Sherri Cruse – WMA Pro

By far the best bike of the test ride. Although it wasn’t actually included in the test, it was fun getting the chance to ride the 2-stroke again. It sounds like they’re letting the 250’s ride in the (amateur) 250F class, and personally I think it’s a great idea! If the women get a chance to ride them in WMA I will definitely get my hands on one. I know I would ride one at Southwick, but some of the other tracks I would go back to the 4-stroke. I would jump around a little bit.

“I just shake my head and look at my new EFI bike and want to kick it. “

Alvin Zalamea – Vet Expert

2009 Yamaha YZ250
The bike is definitely capable of winning against 250F equipment in the right hands, but really this machine is the most rewarding if you would rather bring home smiles than trophies.

I should’ve bought a brand new ‘09 Yamaha 250 2-stroke. Instead I bought a new CRF450R for $8300 out the door and put 1000 bucks in suspension from Enzo. That’s stupid! Street bikes sell for less. I’m seriously thinking of selling it and buying a YZ250. I’ve just gotten so lazy on the 4-strokes that I’m starting to forget how to ride. I just recently rode with Greg Albertyn at Milestone and he’s riding a 2004 RM250 and he’s spanking all those new-school, bubba-scrubbing pro kids on 250Fs and 450s. Literally, people pull off the track and ask who that Number 7 guy is on a 2-stroke. I just shake my head and look at my new EFI bike and want to kick it. I thought it was the bike and new technology and all that crap, but it’s not the bike, it’s the rider. This is all a conspiracy to keep spending more money to have the best stuff. Well it’s working… So if you’re on a budget, do yourself a favor and buy a brand new 250 2-stroke. Guaranteed you’ll have more fun and go just as fast, if not faster, than your buddy at the track for half the price! If I were competing in the amateur Lites class it would be a no-brainer to choose the 250 2-stroke.

Colton Haaker – Expert
The 2-stroke was a nice transition from the four-bangers. The power is a torquey even feel. I am very used to a KTM 250 and the Yamaha was easy to ride and immediately comfortable. I wouldn’t call it a track bike, it is not comparable to the two-fitty Fs. I could take that bike off-road though and make it extremely competitive in EnduroCross. Some different gearing, maybe a flywheel and it’s good to go. The fact of the matter is 4-strokes are still better.

2009 Yamaha YZ250
Tod – “I own a YZ250
– and love it!”

Tod Sciacqua – Vet Pro
The ‘09 YZ250 is an all-around great package I raced the whole EnduroCross series and thought I was on the best bike out there for me. There has been little changed on the newer 2-strokes in the last few years. Most of the attention from the manufacturers has been on the 4-strokes. If I were to have the choice to race the 2-stroke 250 or the 4-stroke, I would pick the 2-stroke hands down. It has amazing, usable power and lightweight feel. With the price of 2-strokes and the maintenance cost, why not have a YZ250 in the garage.

For My Money.
Full scorecard.


JC Hilderbrand

Off-Road Editor| Articles | Hilde is holding down the fort at MotoUSA’s Southern Oregon HQ. With world-class dirt bike and ATV trails just minutes away, the hardest part is getting him to focus on the keyboard. Two wheels or four, it doesn’t matter to our Off-Road Editor so long as it goes like hell in the dirt.

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