We hoped we would see a fuel-injected Yamaha YZ250F for 2013, but with the 2012 model’s overhaul we knew not to hold our breath. So it came as no big surprise when Yamaha released information on its new models that the Lites-class racer was virtually unchanged. It’s a bit disappointing not to see the fueling upgrade, but if there was ever a bike that could get away without EFI it’s the YZ250F.
The list of changes for 2013 is short and purely cosmetic. First, the rear fender is now white instead of Yamaha Racing Blue, giving the bike a lighter look. Next the ProTaper handlebars are black rather than the silver of last year, but the bend is identical. Lastly are the requisite bold new graphics to complete the list of differences from the previous model year. That’s it.
This is the part where we would usually break down all the technical details and updates, but as it is, there is nothing to talk about. So let’s go over what was changed for 2012 that basically made it an all-new machine. Since the big news is that the YZ still has a carburetor, it makes sense we should start there. Star Racing was instrumental in increasing the size of the
Just a year ago the YZ250F went through a major overhaul, so for 2013 the changes are minor like black handlebars and a white rear fender.
carb from 37mm to 39mm. Bumping up the Keihin FCR flatslide’s diameter by 2mm gave the YZ250F an increase in power, especially in the upper rev range. To support the increased airflow through the venturi the air cleaner cage got a redesign to improve throttle response.
Internally, a lighter piston has friction-reducing rings to help boost the mid-range power even more. A lighter piston pin and circlips also free up more power, while the crankshaft and balancer have been optimized to work with the lighter top-end parts. Further lightening treatments include aluminum valve spring retainers that hold a springs that have a lighter spring tension to reduce opening force. Exhaust passes through a “D” shaped port to increase the spent gas velocity and enhance the power feel.
Last year the YZ250F got a new Bilateral Beam frame in an effort to increase the stability on rough, high-speed straights while also improving cornering prowess, especially on the exit. Attached to that new frame is a stiffer swingarm that gets more rigid axle block portions to balance with the various changes that were made to the front end of the bike. Those changes include beefier outer tubes on the KYB Speed Sensitive Fork that is held by stoutened triple clamps for better torsional rigidity for a more stable chassis. The fork offset was also changed from 25mm to 22mm, which in turn bumps up the trail length and reduces the inertia of the fork assembly. This is meant to give the Yamaha quick steering while still being solid in the corners. The rear shock uses a 16mm shaft for better hydraulic efficiency and better rear traction.
We opted to put more time on our 2013 YZ250F, choosing to ride it several days before buckling down to tell the tale in this first ride. The first day we spent with the Yamaha crew at our favorite high desert track, Racetown 395. We turned laps and
The power from the 2013 YZ250f’s normally aspirated mill is on par with the rest of the class and does well when revved out.
dialed it the suspension and fueling settings so the next two days would be easier to get a feel for the bike. Then we headed to the iconic Starwest facility, and finished up at Lake Elsinore Motocross Park for photos, video and a little more testing. We figured more time on the bike would give us a better impression of the blue and white racer than the usual one-day intro.
Power and throttle response is a big deal in the 250 class and the YZ250F is darned good in most situations. The power is meaty down on the bottom, especially coming out of the corners and the jetting responds well as long as you don’t lug the engine too much. Get a little greedy with a tall gear and you’ll pay with a bog that you don’t really find on EFI machines. We also found that as the temperature rises the bogging become more noticeable. A half to three-quarter turn to the fuel screw crisps things back up, however, and only our pro-level tester Chris See could induce the any bogging outside of our inattention to keeping the revs up in the corners. See had troubles with a hiccup when landing in G-out situations with heavy throttle application. Once he got used to it he was able to ride around it, by landing on the gas with higher revs. The mid-range and top-end power output is excellent and right there with what we would expect out of any 250cc 4-stroke. It revs freely and builds power quickly, although See though it signed off a little early.
We were just as happy with the handling as we were in the 2012 Yamaha YZ250F First Ride, and it got even better as we worked with the clickers, preload and fork height. On the high-speed sections of Racetown and Elsinore the YZ-F tracks true and inspires confidence. We slowed the rebound down a couple of clicks for the faster tracks and increased the high- and low-speed compression slightly to settle the rear when the braking bumps grew towards the end of the day.
The front end tracks well and is plush in just about any situation. We found that the faster we go the more the fork moves
Just a few clicker adjustments and a fork height change made the 2013 Yamaha YZ250F an impressive handler.
through the stroke too quickly, making it feel harsh. A few clicks in on the compression adjuster and all was right. Our pro ripper also raised the fork in the clamps one millimeter to help it turn a tad quicker and to negate some front-end push that arose after tweaking on the rear shock. Once that was done, the Yamaha dove into corners easily and held a line without worry of any twitchiness.
We are all fans of the small cockpit, but we could see it getting a bit tight for taller riders. The ProTaper bars have a straight sweep that gives excellent leverage, but they are low and tall riders might need a riser or different bend. On the track the bike is narrow and the long radiator shrouds are a nice touch for those that get our boots snagged on other bikes’ bodywork.
After three solid days with the 2013 Yamaha YZ250F we are impressed with the performance achieved without fuel injection. It was also fun to mess with the fuel screw to get the throttle response dialed in. It may take a little more attention to get the YZ-F running perfect, but it is also satisfying when you get it right. Throw in excellent handling and a small feel and there is plenty to like about the unchanged YZ250F. Yamaha will eventually have to get into the EFI game if not just for the sake of checking that box that all the other manufacturers already have. But for now, the old adage of “if it works, don’t mess with it,” rings true with the 2013 YZ250F.