The ’11 YZ250F is sensitive to body position and requires the rider to have his weight as far forward as possible for optimum turning.
After our initial 2011 Yamaha YZ250F First Ride review we continued to log hours on Yamaha’s 250F-class dirt bike to discover what it’s like to live with long-term. After recording nearly 12 hours on it in the last three months, it has proven an exceptionally friendly and reliable 250F to play ride and race.
Without a doubt the feature that I love the most on the YZ is its chassis. Overall suspension balance is excellent and despite being undersprung for faster and/or heavier riders, the bike’s chassis is so well engineered that riders won’t need to get the suspension re-sprung or revalved unless they’re crazy serious about racing or chasing contingency money. After setting the rear sag at 100mm we didn’t really have to make any crazy clicker adjustments regardless if we rode at a smooth track like Starwest or a rough circuit like Glen Helen Raceway. Another big plus is that damping was consistent and never fell off even on longer motos.
Get on the brakes hard and the bike just doesn’t pitch aggressively, instead staying on a fairly level plane. It’s worth noting that the front brake isn’t the strongest requiring some serious lever input to get hauled down from speed on fast tracks. While it doesn’t steer quite as sharp as say Honda’s CRF250R, it still serves up an adequate level of agility within its class. However, it is important to note that the Yamaha is very sensitive to body position. Scoot your body toward the fuel filler cap and the bike carves right into a corner with minimal effort. Keep your body too far back and you’ll be fighting it during corner entry – consider yourself warned. Once cranked over in a rut the YZ tracks dead straight. It resists standing up out of a rut or continuing to turn which makes it steer predictably which is a big plus in our book.
The YZ’s powerband feels totally different from other 250Fs. Bottom-end power is a bit more robust but it isn’t so strong to scare the rider or spin the rear tire. Dial-in more throttle and the engine spools up so smoothly that it feels flat, almost like an electric motor. Most riders will dismiss the engine as being slow because it lacks any hit or arm wrenching pull, but it isn’t. Looking at the dyno chart proves that the YZ-F makes comparable peak horsepower to the rest of the 250Fs (low-to-mid 30s). The engine spun up Glen Helen Raceway’s notorious steep hills just fine and the transmission engages between gears without an issue. We did notice that the clutch tended to fade during longer motos, however, regardless if the engine oil was fresh or had some time on it.
(Above) The ’11 YZ250F offers strong bottom-end power. (Center) The Yamaha’s mild powerband, excellent chassis and Bridgestone rear tire assist it in hooking up out of corners. (Below) Test rider Chris See wheelies past the white flag during a race at Glen Helen with REM.
Clip Position: 4
Fuel Screw: 3/4 turns
Leak Jet: 70
Opposed to other manufacturer’s fuel-injected 250Fs, the YZ-F still employs a conventional mechanically operated carburetor. It works so well in stock form that I question why someone would overlook this bike on the showroom floor because it doesn’t have electronic FI. While the ’10 machine did bog sometimes when the engine was cold or when landing off a big jump, jetting on the ’11 model is spot-on perfect. Sure the starting procedure has a few extra steps (like turning on the fuel pet cock and using the choke or hot start lever) once the engine is warm you’re good to go. Plus you can’t argue with the proven long-term reliability of a carburetor.
Durability wise our Yamaha has had zero issues. We changed the oil and filter twice at five hour intervals (a simple and straightforward procedure) and aside from making sure the chain lubricated and the air filter somewhat clean our Yamaha has taken our abuse well. Yamahas are notorious for looking hammered after a few rides but the plastics on ours are in great shape and the aluminum bits look brand-new after a quick rub down with some water and Scotch-Brite. The engine and drivetrain feel tight and the suspension and brakes don’t fade while riding. The chain and sprockets still have a good amount of life in them, however, our bike is in desperate need of a set of tires, which is to be expected. Stay tuned for the second part of this review as we acquire additional time on the bike.