For the past few years the Yamaha YZ250F has languished at the bottom of the heap, mainly due to an engine that was not on par with the fuel-injected offerings powering the competition. It was often said that if only the YZ had FI and some more power it would be hard to beat. Finally for 2014 Yamaha completely revamped the YZ250F with more than just a throttle body. A rearward-slanted engine configuration, similar to the 2014 YZ450F, fuel injection and new bodywork look the business and after our First and Second Rides we knew it would no longer be the dog of the class.
In the 250cc class power is one of the most important factors for being successful on the track, and now the YZ250F’s mill is one of the best on the block. In fact, our team unanimously rated the Blue Bomber’s engine as the best for 2014. Right off the bottom the power hits hard and just pulls all the way through to the top end.
Pro tester Nick Thiel gushed about the YZ250F powerplant, “JUST plain wow! This bike didn’t have one weak point and truly felt like a built 250F of the past!”
Former factory Supercross and motocross racer Sean Hamblin was also impressed, “I was shocked when getting on the ’14 250F, the power over years past was leaps and bounds better to make it a top runner in my book.”
By the seat of our pants we would have claimed the 2014 YZ250F the king of the dyno charts, but to our surprise it is not. On MotoUSA’s DynoJet 250i the Yamaha spits out a second-best 37.2 horsepower at 12,200 rpm. It also gets the silver medal in the torque category with 18.72 lb-ft at 8700 rpm. Other measurement categories saw the YZ finish best and
worst, with it tying the Suzuki and Kawasaki for the loudest sound output at 97 decibels at idle and 113db at half throttle. Tipping the scales at 235 pounds with a best-in-class 2 gallons of fuel puts it as the second lightest MXer in the test.
The YZ250F’s monster motor rocketed it to a win in the Holeshot test, covering 125 feet in 3.146 seconds at 43.3 mph just a ahead of the Kawasaki. Roll-on performance was mid-pack with a 2.275-second blast from 15 to 40 mph in a distance of 93.3 feet.
Yamaha concentrated on centralizing the 2014 YZ’s mass for better handling and it sure did work. The majority of the MotoUSA testing team ranked the Yamaha at the top, but not all were completely sold on the handling. At speed the YZ is stable and drama free and it turns well, but it does take more effort to get it into the turn than the Honda or Suzuki. The front wheel feels more planted, however, than the quicker handlers.
Thiel once again summed up the category in as few words as possible, “The turning and jumping characteristics were just awesome. There isn’t one thing it does bad.”
One thing Yamaha didn’t change on the YZ250 was the suspension. The Tuning Fork Company bucked the trends of single function and air forks, opting to continue with its KYB Speed Sensitive forks and we applaud the decision.
“The Blue Dragon hands down had this category covered,” says Pro rider Chris See. “In the few sections with bumps, I could hit the ruff line with more confidence. I think one of the best decisions Yamaha made was to make slight adjustments to the fork they had, sticking with what worked. It showed on the track.”
In the transmission, clutch and gearing subjective scoring the Yamaha once again jumped to the front of the pack. The clutch pull is light despite the stiffer springs for 2014, which are meant to combat fade. Gearing is spaced appropriately for most tracks and shifting action is also much improved from the previous model.
“The clutch action was very smooth and easy to pull,” says WMX racer Sara Price. “And the engine has no dead spots pulling through the gears.”
See adds, “The blue bike was head and shoulders better in this department this year. It could still get smoother under really hard loads, but it is so much better in the shifting category.”
In braking, the YZ rated second only to the KTM. The front brake has a smooth yet powerful engagement with excellent feel. The rear unit was less stellar with a slightly soft initial engagement.
The new frame, engine configuration and bodywork comes a new feel behind the seat. While the shrouds have gotten wider due to the airbox being at the front, the extra girth is hardly noticeable. The rest of the cockpit is roomy and spacious with a long flat seat that fits a variety of riders.
“The Yamaha has a really open and large platform which is nice for a guy that’s on the taller end of the spectrum,” explains Thiel.
Before the votes and scores were tabulated it was obvious Yamaha hit a home run with the 2014 YZ250F. There was not a doubt in anyone’s mind which machine would be the winner of the 2014 250 Motocross Shootout, and scoresheet confirmed it – the 2014 Yamaha YZ250F wins, and by a comfortable margin. Its excellent engine power and character, sorted suspension and do-it-all handling convincingly put it ahead of all comers. Now it’s everyone else’s turn to play catch-up.