It was solely a matter of time. The Yamaha YZ250F dominated either side of the motocross world for years. It was wildly profitable within the professional racing ranks and successful at native tracks. It couldn’t final, although. Different 250Fs have been sooner, others have been lighter and others have been successful championships. When the 2023 YZ450F was redesigned, it was an unofficial announcement that Yamaha would give the 250 a remake in 2024. Now, the 2024 Yamaha YZ250F is right here. There’s little or no stunning in regards to the new bike: it’s, mainly, a 250 motor within the new YZ450 body. It’s lighter, it has new ergonomics, it handles otherwise and runs otherwise. And, it has very massive footwear to fill.
The bilateral-beam body appears roughly just like the outdated one, but it surely’s completely different in most dimensions. It’s constructed from 10 aluminum items—some solid, some extruded. The tank rails are decrease, and there’s elevated rigidity within the downtube, swingarm pivot and footpeg cross-member. The motor mounts have musical-chair modifications in rigidity, and the subframe is totally new. Alongside the best way, Yamaha shaved off little bits of weight right here and there; the rear axle has a bigger gap within the heart, and the footpeg brackets are aluminum. The chainguide, throttle cables and gasoline pump all misplaced a couple of grams apiece. With the brand new bodywork, it’s obvious how completely different the bike is. The radiator shrouds and gasoline tank are narrower, seat peak is bigger, and there’s extra room from the seat to the pegs. Identical to all the time, the air filter sits in entrance of the fuel filler, however now the airbox compartment is bigger, and there’s extra quantity within the air boot. If there’s any shock, it’s how little the motor modified. The consumption is essentially the most vital replace. The mapping is new, however the cams, piston, crank and head have all gone unchanged. Solely the cam chain and tensioner have been up to date for elevated sturdiness.
By way of weight, the modifications to the 250 aren’t fairly as dramatic as these for the 450. The brand new YZ250F is 225 kilos with out gasoline, as weighed on our scale. That’s 2 kilos lighter than it was. Within the massive image now, the lightest of the 250s is the Honda CRF250R at 219 kilos. The brand new-generation KTM, Husqvarna and GasGas 250s are all inside a pound of one another, round 226. The Kawasaki and Suzuki are 227.
WHERE WE WERE, WHERE WE ARE
As we mentioned, the earlier Yamaha YZ250F wasn’t the quickest or lightest, but it surely was nonetheless the very best in our 2023 250 MX shootout—by the smallest margin. It gave away energy to the KTM-powered bikes and the Kawasaki, however made up floor in suspension and throttle response. It additionally provided the very best user-based tuneability with the Yamaha Energy Tuner smartphone app. On the flip aspect, the Yamaha was cramped within the rider compartment.
That final level is not legitimate. The Yamaha is now the largest, most roomy of all of the 250 motocross bikes. It’s a big bike with a tall seat peak and a really relaxed rider format. Large riders adore it. For many of our take a look at riders, that alone is the largest enchancment for 2024. For smaller riders, some adjustment may be obligatory. Sean Lipanovich is 5-foot-5, so he can’t contact the bottom flat-footed on nearly any full-sized motorbike. The Yamaha was a battle for him simply to get a leg over. He would additionally require beginning blocks for a gate launch. On the observe, although, these points have been negligible. He cherished the general match and dealing with of the YZ. Newcomers may really feel otherwise. Tall bikes may be intimidating, however that can grow to be much less of a difficulty with extra time.
One other massive change is within the total dealing with character. Yamahas have lengthy been identified for “rear-wheel steering.” The time period is slightly foolish, but it surely’s the best way we now have come to explain a motorcycle that turns greatest when the throttle is open and the rear wheel is spinning. Now, the YZ responds equally effectively to steering enter. You may are available in arduous, level the entrance wheel and observe out of turns with much less throttle. The bike feels lighter and extra responsive. It additionally feels busier on the entry to the flip. When you journey a Honda or a KTM, you’ll really feel proper at residence from the beginning. When you completely cherished the character of your outdated YZ250F, you might need slightly adjustment to make.
In relation to testing Yamahas, we count on most of our take a look at riders to say good issues in regards to the suspension. This time, the feedback verged on hyperbole. Everybody cherished it. That goes for pro-level guys like Carson Brown all the best way to super-duper seniors like Pete Murray. Everybody got here off the observe claiming that the suspension was glorious as soon as it was arrange with 105mm of sag. These take a look at riders ranged from 150 to 200 kilos, which is an incredible unfold.
Usually, the YZ suspension doesn’t actually shine on low-speed, uneven tracks. Because it seems, that’s essentially the most tough situation for suspension tuners; the one factor that basically works for that’s softer springs and valving, which is simply too limiting for some other situation. The YZ is okay in gentle chop, however the place it actually shines is when the speeds are larger and the bumps are bigger. It has a capability to maintain a reasonably even keel whereas it’s absorbing the largest whoops and most horrid situations. That isn’t to say it’s Supercross suspension by any means. The YZ retains you comfy and nonetheless will get job one completed. For a race bike, that’s going quick from the beginning of the moto to the end.
If there’s something that can maintain the YZ again within the coming yr, it’s the truth that the motor is kind of frozen in time. It’s nonetheless a comparatively highly effective 250 four-stroke, however the ante is all the time getting larger in that world. Already, the Kawasaki, KTM and Husqvarna have an edge in mid- and top-end energy. The place the Yamaha nonetheless holds an edge is in throttle response. It will get extra completed with quarter or half throttle than absolutely anything else. A part of that’s just because the Yamaha has a shortish throttle flip, however extra is as a result of the bike makes extra occur with much less dedication. It communicates a sure eagerness to get going that almost all 250 four-strokes lack.
You get a sure vary of motor adjustability with the Yamaha Energy Tuner smartphone app. We’re stunned that extra producers haven’t jumped on options like this. KTM made a weak try at its personal model two years in the past, however then roughly deserted the mission, blaming the scarcity of semiconductors on the time. For 2024 Kawasaki has one thing comparable for its new 450, however for now, Yamaha nonetheless holds the technological excessive floor. The precooked maps that Yamaha presents are pretty helpful for various observe situations, however essentially the most vital benefit is that the method teaches you all about mapping and the outcomes of modifications in gasoline supply and spark advance. Going ahead, that’s data that all of us have to have. Usually, most riders like essentially the most aggressive of the three maps which can be provided; it appeared to get into the meat of the facility sooner and rev out longer. It did pop on deceleration extra. Usually, the YZ does a variety of that, and also you’re extra conscious of it due to the unusually loud exhaust and upward-facing air consumption.
On the finish of the day, although, you aren’t going to search out some hidden reservoir of horsepower in some nook of the Energy Tuner. It’s a fantastic characteristic, but it surely’s a software for fine-tuning and never main character change. The Yamaha’s energy output is what it’s, and that’s mid-level in a really aggressive class.
Final yr the YZ250F gained our 250F shootout, and thus far there’s nothing in regards to the new model that makes us rethink that. The brand new bike clearly has completely different mannerisms and traits, and which may offend some hard-core Yamaha lovers, however they may recover from it. The 2024 YZ250F has the identical strengths as final yr: glorious suspension, a straightforward to-use energy supply and outrageously good reliability. It places its rider in an excellent place, even when it will get there by a unique route.
The Yamaha YZ250F was first proven to us on the eve of the SMX finals. That is the fiftieth Anniversary Version, which sells for $9,099 ($200 greater than the usual version).