We couldn't get over the beauty of this photo, and the shiny, blue YZ250F made it all possible. Test rider Bryan Minter shows just how well the Yammie can shred corners and annihilate berms.
Everyone knows that Yamaha has been at the forefront of this whole performance 4-stroke thing. They were the beginning, but in recent years the competition has been rapidly pushing the development envelope. The tuning fork company came back swinging this year by upgrading the YZ-F's steel chassis to an aluminum perimeter frame. The bike also received a host of minor technical changes such as a new oil reservoir and engine placement, but the performance of the new chassis on the track is one of the bike's strongest attributes. Each of our riders complimented the YZ-F on its stable feel, and the reviews about its handling were mostly along the same lines. Mostly.
The fastest of our test riders did have an issue with cornering the blue 250F, but he was obviously the odd man out. "Sitting on the seat and grabbing the handlebars felt really comfortable," says Drew of the ergonomics. "But it just didn't turn as well, which surprised me because the Yamaha always seemed to turn pretty good."
This was JC's second go-around with the YZ250F after getting his first taste at the Yamaha press intro. He was equally impressed with it, but there wasn't anything else to compare it to last time. All of our testers believe the YZ-F has a solid package overall.
The rest of our testers, however, thought that the chassis was a strong point and that it blended well with the suspension package. Drew's comments were surprising considering the YZ's steering geometry is very similar to the '05 model. Rake and trail numbers are practically identical (27 degrees of rake and 4.6 inches of trail), so perhaps the 2006 bike's 0.5-inch increase in wheelbase has something to do with its different steering characteristics along with the chassis and engine placement mods that have lowered its center of gravity.
The chassis wasn't the only point of contention between the Two Bros speedster and other testers. We couldn't seem to agree on the braking performance either, with Drew raving about the action on the 224mm front rotor. I, on the other hand, thought its initial bite was a bit weak, taking more lever travel before any significant braking power was provided.
Stock settings on the Kayaba suspenders were right in the ballpark for everyone, though our faster guys felt both ends bottom on bigger jumps. The Kayaba units handled the bottoming well, avoiding deflection and without delivering an exceptionally harsh jolt to the rider.
With an excellent chassis and suspension, the one thing that really held the YZ250F back was its motor. We were impressed with the performance of the 5-valve, DOHC powerplant when we tested the little YZ-F at Honey Lake Motocross Park, a track situated at about 4000 feet of elevation. The motor's delivery is smooth and performs well in the midrange, but it didn't blow our socks off with the amount of sheer power on tap. Part of us wondered if it was the altitude that was robbing a bit of power, but as it turns out, that doesn't seem to have been the case. While it makes good, usable power and delivers it to the ground very effectively, after riding the other three bikes the YZ-F felt like it was a few ponies short of a full stable.
Blue's Kayaba suspension inspires confidence on the track, but the motor could stand to get juiced-up a bit. The new aluminum chassis was a highlight.
Our WB dyno test confirmed our suspicion as Blue maxed out with 34.8 horsepower at 10,500 rpm, which was at the tail end of the 250F spectrum. We know that dyno results sometimes don't correspond to how the bike feels on the track, but in this instance the relationship is dead on. Once past 8000 rpm, the YZ falls behind the class leaders.
The general feeling that you get riding the YZ250F is that this bike is better suited to less experienced riders or riders who just want a bike that does everything well and refuses to throw any curveballs. When I first rode the YZ-F by itself, I truly thought this well-rounded package could be the cream of the crop, but what it boils down to is that the rest of the bikes in this shootout were simply more impressive. If you have a YZ250F, chances are you will be completely happy with it. Just don't go riding your buddies' bikes because once you hop on a KXF or CRF, it'll turn the volume down on riding your Yammie.
MSRP - $5999
Final Ranking: 4th
Tale of the Tape - Weight
As you can see, the Honda is easily the lightest of the bunch. The number in parenthesis represents the percentage of overall weight that is carried on the front wheel while the overall weight is a tank-empty figure.
A quick check on the scales showed the double-piped Honda to be the class lightweight at 216 pounds with its tank empty. The Yammie posts the same wet weight as the Kawasaki KX250F, 219 lbs. The KTM 250SX-F is marginally the heaviest at 220 lbs. As is generally the case, the heavier the fighter, the bigger the punch, and that's exactly what the KTM brings into the ring.