2011 Yamaha Raptor 250
Where the Yamaha
Raptor fits into the entry-level sport ATV
equation is right at the tip of the spear. This is the sharpest new option for anyone looking to get into ATV riding. Not only is this machine light at 332 pounds, but it’s also fast and powerful. Adding the fact that it looks like a shrunken Raptor 700R makes it even cooler. However, this is not a simply a beginner bike in its purest form. This is the state-of-the-art stepping stone for experienced youth or smaller adults who just want to go fast without dealing with the huge power and weight of the 450 class ATVs.
The Raptor 250 is powered by a peppy air/oil-cooled 249cc SOHC engine that flat out gets with the program. It’s the heart of this bike and the reason why it was so popular among our youth ATV test riders. The Yamaha is a pure-bred sport ATV that’s low to the ground and features long travel suspension aimed directly at going fast on the track, trails, and as we found out, the sand dunes too. It has a five-speed manual transmission that is smooth and
The Yamaha Raptor 250 has a manual five-speed transmission that works flawlessly. From a beginner standpoint, it still requires the rider to know how to use a clutch and it doesn’t have a reverse gear.
precise with a light clutch and positive engagement through the duration of our test. For new riders, the traditional clutch is a challenge to get the hang of, as it always has been for newbies. But once they got some time under their belts we heard few complaints. We saw lots of smiling faces and clouds of roost as we sent wives and children racing off to the great beyond aboard the little Raptor.
If the engine doesn’t impress you then the stable and agile chassis will get your attention. This machine is at its best with the engine in the upper end of the rev-range, spinning the low profile tires and ripping around your favorite trail in the woods, desert roads, dunes or MX track. Sliding the rear, crossed-up, pulling jumps and doing wheelies is the name of the Raptor’s game. It has excellent brakes and the suspension is taught enough that our larger 150-pound teens could actually jump decent sized hits without bottoming on landings. It’s also very stable and predictable while carving up the trails. The exhaust note is a little louder than the Honda, but it meets EPA requirements and it sounds great to us.
Our test pilots all had a similar tune with most saying they can’t believe how awesome the Raptor is. For the majority of the riding we did the bike is great. It dominated the TRX at the dunes thanks to the extra power. It was easier to ride fast on fire roads and hard packed terrain because it’s low to the ground and features sporty suspension. On the technical trails it was a bit easier to man-handle and it just seems to bring out the hooligan in all riders. On the flip side, when you get in a bind it doesn’t have reverse and it became a real pain having to hop off and physically drag it out of ruts or over obstacles. The lack of reverse was a real gripe in the gnarly woods and the nastiest desert rocks. It also has minimum ground clearance so when we’re hauling ass it’s prone to smashing the plastic skid plate – which held up very well by the way. It’s easier to pick and switch lines on this agile quad, but it’s also a necessity. The TRX is more of an all-around machine and the Raptor has a sharper focus.
Engine: Air-cooled 249cc OHC Single
Bore & Stroke: 74.0 x 58.0mm
Fueling: 29mm Mikuni carburetor
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Final Drive: Chain
Front Brake: Dual Disc
Rear Brake: Disc
Front Tires: 20 x 7-10
Rear Tires: 19 x 10-9
Front Suspension: 5-way pre-load adjustable shocks w/ 7.5-in travel
Rear Suspension: Single pre-load adjustable shock w/7.9-in travel
Length: 64 in
Width: 42.1 in
Height: 40.9 in
Wheelbase: 43.7 in
Seat Height: 28.7 in
Ground Clearance: 3.9 in
Fuel Capacity: 2.4 gal
Curb Weight: 332 lbs.
Colors: Blue, White
The Raptor also has a couple things the TRX does not. The mindlessly easy parking brake is a big paddle-style lever on the clutch side of the handlebar that flips into position. It is easy to see, easy to engage and is a big plus for the less experienced riders. The engine warms up much quicker than the TRX as well. You can fire it up and hit the trails right away and the tool-less air filter access is a Yamaha strong point as well. Just pop off the seat, open the air box clasps and voila, there it is. Last but not least are the headlights. We rode at night a few times and while the single TRX headlight is adequate, it doesn’t cut nearly the swath through darkness as the Raptor’s dual lamps.
While there is not a lot we would want to improve on the Raptor 250, this is a model that has a lot of performance potential locked up inside it. Aside from a healthy list of GYTR components, many aftermarket exhausts are available. Suspension is already impressive, but there are race-quality shocks popping up and the traditional chain drive allows for modification of the gearing to suit any type of riding style. This is a true sport ATV and there is plenty of room for the machine to grow with its rider.
As you can tell, the Raptor 250 is one of the most entertaining ATVs we’ve ridden in a while. It carves up a trail through the woods and is easily whipped back in forth through the trees. It can be held back in the ruts and rocks, but if you pick your lines carefully it can go about anywhere you want it to. It has the power to make hillclimbs and big dune passes possible for all but the full-size adult riders. This is not necessarily a pure entry level ATV. It is more of a stepping stone before taking the leap to the full bore Raptor. It is also one of the best ATVs we have ever sampled for smaller adults, female riders in particular. It is fast enough to get them in trouble but small enough not be overwhelming. It starts easy, handles great and looks like a million bucks. Between these two small-bore sport ATVs, the Raptor won us over because it is simply offers more to a wider range of quad riders. If your significant other or teenage ATV racing prodigy are looking for a small-bore sport ATV to ride the hell out of, then the Raptor 250 should be high on the list.