The past few years have proven quite successful for Yamaha’s YZ250F. It’s currently the best-selling 250F in production, and the YZ has enjoyed victory on the racing circuit as well. YZ250F riders have claimed the 2014 AMA Motocross and 2015 West Coast Supercross Championships, with Jeremy Martin adding yet another impressive championship to the list of accomplishments for Yamaha by taking the 2015 250MX title. But Yamaha isn’t content to rest on its laurels, as it introduces significant refinements to its 2016 YZ250F ($7,590 MSRP).
Updates and Changes
Last year’s YZ250F was the class leader and Yamaha could have just relabeled it and still had a winning weapon. Instead the Tuning Fork brand revised the engine to reduce vibration, improve reliability and boost performance. Suspension changes aim to improve handling and overall chassis balance.
Engine updates start at the crank, which now has a balance factor of 60% (up from 47%) and the counter balancer ratio has moved from 29% to 20%. These changes don’t reduce the vibration but redirect it from up and down to more forward and back, thus reducing the feel to the rider. The connecting rod heat treatment has changed to further improve reliability and thrust washers are added to the connecting rod for less friction. The new piston uses a bridge box design (7% lighter) and now has a flat top design. Compression ratio stays the same at 13.5:1. A new piston pin features a DLC coating and is 18% lighter.
The rev-limiter cut sequence has been changed to a quicker flutter while maintaining the same 14,000 rpm limit. New ECU settings are leaner to further increase power. To keep everything properly covered in oil, the oil sprayer (piston cooler) is angled forward and is 10mm longer for efficiency. Changes to the clutch include flatter machining to the hub surface at plate contact, allowing Yamaha to remove the judder spring, providing a more positive engagement. Further improving reliability, the gear dog corner changed from chamfer to radius on 3rd, 4th and 5th gears. A new clutch boss, shift stop lever and torsion spring all work to provide more precise shifting. The larger front brake rotor is now 270mm and new brake pad material claims increased stopping power.
Thankfully, Yamaha’s hasn’t jumped on the air fork bandwagon and is still using the proven KYB (SSS) spring fork. For 2016 the fork has a new valve spec, with less low-speed and more high-speed compression damping. This is to complement the changes to the KYB shock, which now has a softer spring rate of 54 Nm from 56 Nm.
Out in the Dirt
Our first day with the 2016 Yamaha YZ250F was at Perris Raceway, a track with a mix of tight turns and decent sized jumps. The new engine design and provides awesome power from bottom to the top. It is one of the best 250F motors in the class with crisp throttle response and the ability to ride low in the rpm or rev high, depending on the style of the rider. The 2016 YZ250F power is very similar to the 2015 overall, but it now provides just a bit more hit through the bottom and mid. We didn’t notice much difference in vibration through the bottom and mid, but high in the rpms the 2016 transmits less vibration to the rider, a welcome improvement. Toward the end of the night we installed a more aggressive map via the GYTR Power Tuner. It boosted bottom and mid power, providing even more pull out of corners but signed off earlier on top.
The softer shock spring is a welcome change for lighter riders and helps the overall balance of the YZ250F. With a little more squat out of the rear, traction is improved under acceleration. The KYB suspension provides a very plush feel, and the YZ250F handles stutter bumps all the way to huge g-outs with ease. The stock suspension works well for a wide variety of rider styles and weight. Ideally a 250F rider would tip the scales at about 145 pounds (that’s what manufactures test for when developing 250Fs) but the YZ250F handles heavier riders very well.
Cornering is still great on the YZ250F but riders need to keep their weight forward to get full front tire traction. If you get lazy and start to fall off the back, the front end will push and feel vague in flat or loose corners. The YZ250F is very easy to ride in rutted corners and the suspension helps absorb mid-corner bumps without deflection. The Bridgestone front M403A and M404 rear provided decent traction in intermediate terrain. Overall we found between 100–105mm of sag to be ideal and playing with the high-speed compression helped settle the back of the bike, depending on the track conditions.
Yamaha could have left its 2015 model unchanged and still had an amazing 250F, but instead it further refined an already great machine. The revisions help reduce vibration to the rider, boost bottom- to mid-range power and further balance the chassis. We’ve been out on the 2016 YZ250F a few more times since the initial media press intro and we like the improvements Yamaha made. This is a bike that appeals to a wide range of riders, making it an excellent choice. But will the 2016 YZ250F sit at the top of the 250F class this year? That’s what MX Shootouts are for… stay tuned!
- Strong easy to ride power
- Balanced chassis
- Excellent suspension
- Stronger front brake
- Sometimes vague front end feel
- Wide feel around radiators
Yamaha YZ250F Suspension Settings
Compression: 10 turns out
L/S Compression: 12
H/S Compression: 1 ¼ turns out
2016 YZ250F Specifications
Engine: Liquid-cooled DOHC four-stroke Single
Bore x Stroke: 77.0 x 53.6mm
Compression Ratio: 13.5:1
Fuel System: Keihin 44mm throttle body
Clutch: Wet Multi-Disc
Front Suspension: KYB Speed-Sensitive System inverted fork; fully-adjustable, 12.2 inch travel
Rear Suspension: KYB monoshock; fully-adjustable, 12.4 inch travel
Front/Rear Brakes: Disc Brake 270mm/240mm
Front/Rear Rims: 1.60 x 21”, 2.15 x 19”
Front/Rear Tires: 80/100-21 M403A; 10/90-19 Bridgestone M404
Wheelbase: 58.1 inch
Ground Clearance: 12.8 inch
Seat Height: 38 inch
Tank Capacity: 2.0 gallon
Curb Weight, Approx: 231 pounds
- 2016 YZ250F has the potential to ride off into the sunset as the best 250F in the class.
- The 2016 Yamaha YZ250F received revisions to the engine for improved power and reliability.
- A new flat top piston and crankshaft balance reduce high rpm vibration.
- The 2016 Yamaha YZ250F received minor revisions, boosting power and improving overall chassis balance.