It wasn’t long ago that the YZ250F was desperately clinging to life in the 250F class as the last bike inhaling through a carburetor. Then in 2014 Yamaha unveiled a radical redo of the YZ250F, introducing what has now become the benchmark for performance in the class, not only in the power department but in the suspension category as well. For 2016 the YZ250F received engine revisions aimed at boosting bottom-to-mid power and reducing vibration. Suspension updates were geared towards better overall chassis balance.
While the 2016 YZ250F might not hold the title for max horsepower numbers, the delivery and response throughout the rpm range is what pleases riders. The great low-end punch makes exiting corners exciting and provides plenty of power to get over jumps without much run up. Short shift it, ride it in the strong mid or rev it, the YZF provides great performance at any rpm.
Just like its older brother the YZ450F, the YZ250F uses KYB SSS forks, simply the best performing forks in the production motocross world. Thankfully, Yamaha’s hasn’t jumped on the air fork bandwagon and is still using the proven spring fork design. For 2016 the KYB 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. Only for our smallest test riders did the suspension feel a bit stiff, but still very manageable. The overwhelming majority of our testers couldn’t stop raving about the versatility of the YZF’s suspension.
The KYBs ability to provide a plush ride becomes apparent on really rough tracks where the shocks and fork absorb every size bump and resist bottoming extremely well. The 2016 YZ250F corners nicely and rear wheel traction is better than ever thanks to the softer rear shock spring. It doesn’t quite conquer the corners as well as the Suzuki, KTM or Husky, but the YZF goes where you want, when you want.
Just like in our 450F shootout, the Yamaha didn’t win every category but it is how all the elements tie together that makes the YZ250F such a fun, easy-to-ride bike while providing plenty of performance for all skill levels. Yamaha could have left the 2015 YZ250F unchanged and still had an amazing 250F, but instead the company further refined an already magnificent machine. The revisions help reduce vibration to the rider, boost bottom- to mid-range power and further balance the chassis. This is a bike that appeals to a wide range of riders, making it an excellent choice for first place in the 2016 MotoUSA 250F shootout.
Yamaha YZ250F Suspension Settings
Compression: 10 turns out
L/S Compression: 12
H/S Compression: 1 ¼ turns out