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2008 Yamaha YZ250F First Ride

Monday, July 30, 2007
The new Bridgestone tire combo helps the Yammie stick in the turns. The bike is easy to change directions with.
We spent a day shredding Piru Motocross Park on Yamaha's new quarter-liter offering. The track is suited to 250Fs and we weren't disappointed in the least.
The changes are few and far between for the 2008 YZ250F, but what changes have been done are smooth moves in refining an already stellar package. Every year we test the little YZ-F in our 250F MX Shootout, and every year our testers form a love/hate relationship with the Yammie. The highest praise and loudest complaint is always that the YZ-F does everything exceptionally well, but nothing about the bike stands out as a signature feature. The new model is in exactly the same position and with solid performance on all fronts; it's a good problem to have.

The only real news in the motor department is a boosted compression ratio. Thanks to a redesigned piston, the YZ-F now boasts a 13.5:1 ratio compared to the 2007's 12.5:1. Walking into Piru Motocross Park for our first introduction, we were expecting gains in the bottom and mid-range of the 5-valve, DOHC motor. Sure enough, both of our testers felt some extra grunt as we blasted berm to berm, uphill and down. Admittedly, the Piru course is well-suited to the output and handling of a 250F. But the Yamaha's added performance will help riders on any track. Our faster rider also happens to be lighter. Weighing in at a buck-fifty, Alvin Zalamea closer resembles the targeted riders than our 5'11"-tall, 185-pound secondary rider.

"The bumped-up compression made a huge difference and you can feel the deep, throaty bark that the motor offers," Zalamea says. "It has a lot of low-end torque."

Short shifting the motor is more effective on the 2008 model which suited our larger rider's personal tastes. But, the YZ-F is still capable of being ridden like a 125cc 2-stroke. Revving the piss out of it is equally as effective, and particularly suited our smaller tester.

"I'm so glad these bikes have more over rev because I tend to stay up in the higher rpm, even when I'm not supposed to," admits Zalamea. "At the end of the day I was using the motor all over the track in second, third and fourth gears. For a first impression the '08 motor felt really good. It really amazes me how far these bikes have improved."

One of the things we were concerned with was that the extra compression might give the YZ-F a bad attitude towards starting. We were happy to find that the 250F is no harder to start than before and usually lit within a few kicks, even when hot.


The Kayaba fork is great at handling the lighter, smaller rider. Once the rider's size and speed start to increase, the KYB front could stand to be a little stiffer even though it has revised internals this year.
Last year saw the engineers focus much of their attention on lightening the front end for improved handling. The bike certainly turned well then and is still as sharp, if not sharper. Deciding how to get the bike to turn was the largest discrepancy between our testers' notepads. However, the way it was sorted out had more to do with the suspension than the chassis. As far as the aluminum frame is concerned, the Yamaha is very well balanced. If anything it's a bit harsh at times when faced with multiple sharp impacts or large jump landings, but aside from some extreme ends of the spectrum, the cast, forged and extruded chassis is forgiving.

"The bike tracked straight through Piru's uphill rhythm section, one of the most jarring sections of the track. I went in sideways one time and the bike seemed to pull itself into shape. The frame didn't feel too rigid or twitchy; in fact it felt just right. The best thing is that there was nothing unexpected from the chassis and the response was very predictable. I did, however, have a bit of problem finding places to grip the bike as I am used to the perimeter style frames on the other Japanese bikes."

The only complaints lodged about the 48mm Kayaba fork emerged in situations where there wasn't a lot of weight on the front wheel. One particular uphill sweeper was filled with nasty acceleration bumps and the front suspension would sort of wash over the top of them. A little sketchiness there and an avulsion to square-edged holes on a similar grade were the extent of our concerns. For the other 99% of the track, the fork was excellent. It would bottom once or twice per lap on some of the larger flat landings so faster/larger guys may need stiffer springs.

"It felt supple over the small chop and handles the hard hits really well," sums Zalamea. "I purposely cased some double jumps and flat-landed a few singles just to see how well the suspension would respond. Needless to say, I was very impressed at how well the bike handled the abuse considering it is completely stock."

Can you guess Alvin’s favorite song  “I like to whip it – whip it good!”
Maneuverability is at a premium on the 250F. Our tester's short stature fit right into the cockpit without any problems.
The statements were mirrored for the KYB shock, which gets a revised linkage ratio. The combo settles well into turns but doesn't pack down on acceleration bumps. We also had excellent results in controlled rebound damping where a chopped throttle, mistimed jump or tricky kickers could have sent us into a flying W, but instead the YZ-F absorbed it all in with relative grace.

"I adjusted the sag from 100mm to 105mm and that seemed to suit my riding style a little better," explains Zalamea. "There was one particular section of track with two big braking bumps, and I hit them square every lap in either fourth or third gear. The bike soaked the bumps right up without bucking me over the bars. I'm really impressed with how balanced the suspension package is in '08."

Getting on the Yammie and moving around is one area where a rider might find something to nit pick. We know some tall, skinny 250F riders who might find themselves hunched over on the YZ-F, but smaller guys like Zalamea will have no problems at all. Alvin raved about the ergonomic fit, but our larger rider felt that a taller handlebar would benefit the blue Thumper.

"The ergonomics felt perfect for my body build and riding style," gushes the 5'8" Zalamea. "The new peg position makes the bike feel roomier than last year, and the new width is a huge ankle saver on those flat landings and cased jumps. I can always feel exactly where my feet are and re-position my feet as I'm going into corners or getting ready to soak up a big landing. Stock bar position and levers are perfect and it's so slim and slender that it feels like a 250cc 2-stroke under my legs."

Good suspension and brakes make it possible for hard acceleration at the start of downhill sections.
Good suspension and brakes make it possible for hard acceleration at the start of downhill sections. Both components live up to Yamaha's reputation of high marks across the board.
Those levers Alvin was mentioning are connected to exceptional components. The clutch is a breeze to operate and the transmission is forgettable in the best sense of the word. You don't have to think about shifting any more than the bare minimum. There were a few missed shifts, but both testers attributed it to rider error more than mechanical flaw.

"The gear ratios felt really good," notes our pro tester. "A short shift from second to third and the motor just pulls. I did find the transmission a bit notchy to downshift in some areas of the track."

And the brakes, oh yes, the brakes. Both front and rear provide great feedback to the rider. If we had to pick which was better, the dual-piston, 250mm wave rotor front would get the nod. The single-piston, 245mm rotor combo out back is great as well, but the forward pinchers really grabbed our attention. Apparently Yamaha is satisfied with them as well since it installed the 250F unit on every full-size motocross bike they manufacture.

"It got to where I seemed to only use the front brake at Piru, but I know I was using both brakes," says Zalamea. "The front just worked really well. It wasn't too much but just right in the corners and I could use it to drop the front end and grab in rough, rutted corners."

Typically, as the day wears on and the track develops hard-packed grooves in the main lines, testers often find themselves easing the pressure on the front brake and relying more on engine braking and the rear binder. A self-preserving fear of losing the front end under hard braking is the culprit, but we were surprised to find ourselves consciously applying more bite to the front at Piru. The track certainly had its hard-packed lines, especially on the downhill and through the sweepers, but the front brake is so easy to modulate that we were able to overcome the natural tendency to compensate with the rear.

The added compression gives the 2008 version a little better snap through the lower rpm and midrange. The performance gains are most welcome exiting corners.
New Bridgestones are equally as good at providing traction while accelerating or braking. The new meats are just the icing on the cake for Yamaha's lightly revised YZ250F.
Part of why the brakes are so impressive is the fact that Yamaha switched to a new set of Bridgestone tires for 2008. The 403/404 front/rear combo is a much better set-up than the Dunlops of years past. It was the first time we've ridden these meats and both of our testers came back to the truck with nothing but positive feedback. The track was heavily watered in the morning, dried out to a perfect loam by noon and then baked to a hard crust in the afternoon. The spread of terrain conditions was perfect for testing an intermediate tire, and the Bridgestones performed admirably. The best results were churned up in the loam and hard-pack, but we don't think we'd have to buy a new set of tires right away. In fact, we'd consider purchasing the same model when it comes time because they mate so perfectly with the Yammie.

With small changes sprinkled across the bike, from the hand controls right down to the tires, Yamaha has definitely improved the YZ250F. As popular as the quarter-liter machines are, there's no doubt that Yamaha needs to stay on top of the game in order to remain competitive. Like we've mentioned, the YZ-F does everything so well that it almost hides how great of a ride it is with an incredibly smooth vanilla flavor. But that's just it, everybody likes vanilla, and since that's the case, enjoying the 2008 YZ250F is easier than ever.


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Comments
Baxter 271 -yamaha YZ250F 2011  January 15, 2011 02:07 PM
bike is pretty good all around power is all there if you just pipe it and jet it for the pipe the bike is very fast and smooth thats all the bike needs
Brandt -2008YZ250-F  January 2, 2011 05:34 PM
John Paul is not a rider cause KYM you mean KTM, Dude just stop talking.
jesse cascio -my 2008 yz250f  June 5, 2010 10:11 AM
i have yamahas all my life. i love my 250f. it has the best suspension ever. i have had it almost 3 years and its still like new
scamps hamperson -i love the break in!  April 30, 2010 08:22 PM
just put the first 4hrs on my non-current brand spankin new 250f!..i love feelin' and hearing the machine come alive as the day rolls on!..this bike is snappy an predictable all at the same time.. im 165 lbs geared up an i feel like im in tune with it..for tight trail sections tho.. (and i know its for track)..but im thinkin' of dropping a tooth or two in front to calm it down..becuz wen u get stuck behind a slower rider..it sux..jus goes to show you..the yammie is a leader!. crank on it!
Brandon -Just got mine  March 4, 2010 06:24 PM
i jus purchased a 2008 yamaha 250f and it is sweet, nothin like my dads 450 but its perfectly powered and it rips!
Great bike!
Ernesto -yamaha yz250f  October 30, 2009 08:28 PM
I just got my 2008 yz250f about half a year ago. It is one of the best bikes in my opinion. I race locally and it works great and I only have an exhaust and sprockets on it and it keeps up with the fully built bikes on the track.
yanto or pin zhen hu -yaaa  October 20, 2009 09:37 PM
halooo all fren ineed fork yz 85cc year 2001,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and new and how much..? and 1motocros secong hand year 2001,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and how moch ship until indonesia.? and number telepon place sells second hand..?
KRIS -YZ250F  September 22, 2009 03:35 PM
THE 250F IS BY FAR BEST BIKE EVER MADE. JOHN YOU JUST DONT KNOW WHATS BEST THATS ALL
kyle murdock -yz250f  August 1, 2009 10:09 AM
I've raced kawasaki's all my like.I just got rid of my kx250f or a new 2 yr left over 08 yz250f. By far the best bike I've ever ridden. NICE WORK !!!!
liam -i love this bike  July 13, 2009 01:18 PM
it is so cool. So rated 5 stars
grady -nice  June 25, 2009 07:07 PM
i just bought an 08 yz250f right off the floor at renalds motor sports and it has been about three or four weeks now the bike has great power and is ver reliable but how fast should the top end be mine feels a little slow feels like its going around 60 when it should be goin 75 and can anyone tell me if it will get faster as time goes on? thanx.
travis potgieter -yz250f  June 11, 2009 09:20 AM
dont dis the yami, just bought a new 2008 yz250f after racings KTM's all my life. the yz is the nicest bike ive ever raced. usuable power right through, suspension is light years ahead of the ktms. I had an 06 ktm 250sxf, bike was worn in perfectly too specs, always did the oil, always checked the valves, bike had 3 full rebuilds on her in 20hrs, thing never came right, and those ceramic rings are crap. This yamaha is the best all around bike period, I love it. and im not some beginner who doesnt know nothing about bikes.
andrew yz450f -john are u crazy?!  May 20, 2009 05:37 AM
this bike performs well on any surface. racing or trail riding. its made for a smaller rider and maybe your just made for a bigger bike. but dont dis the 250. its a great begginer bike
John Paul -Yamaha YZ250F  May 17, 2009 03:26 PM
The Yamaha YZ250F Sucks!!!!!!!!! You Should try the KYM 250SX-F.
Christian Austero -hello Yamaha  December 4, 2008 09:06 PM
Nice bike i really like it good work guys...