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2018 Yamaha YZ250F—First Impression

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The Yamaha YZ250F has won the Dirt Rider 250F MX Shootout four years running since the latest-generation design was released in 2014. During the past four years, the YZ250F engine produced the broadest power in the class, and Yamaha’s decision to remain with a spring fork proved to be a good one as the bike has been widely praised for its excellent suspension in the front and rear. For 2018, Yamaha made a few appearance changes with new graphics and blue rims. Shortly after we took delivery of our bike, we hit LACR for a first ride to see how the YZ250F handled the sandy, jump-filled track.

The YZ250F powerplant is one of the most powerful, rider-friendly engines in the 250 class. It has a remarkably broad powerband and a crisp throttle response throughout the entire rpm range. In fact, its powerband is so broad that it appeals to and works for riders of all different skill levels. The engine’s rider friendliness results from its impressive amount of bottom-end and torque, which allows it to be lugged and short-shifted comfortably but still effectively. Low-end torque is not a characteristic commonly associated with 250 four-stroke engines, but such is not the case with the YZ250F. The torquey bottom-end power pulls well into the midrange and transitions smoothly into the top-end and over-rev, both of which offer an impressive amount of power.

We can sum up the suspension on the YZ250F in one word: plush. The KYB Speed Sensitive System (SSS) spring fork and shock are widely regarded as the best suspension in the class, and for good reason. Both units have a comfort-based, plush feel throughout the entire stroke that eradicates any type of harshness or jarring feeling in the arms or legs when charging through braking bumps or on big jump landings. If there is one slight drawback to the YZ250F’s suspension, it’s that the fork feels so plush that it’s sometimes difficult to “feel” the front end tracking through corners, which leads to a somewhat vague front-end feel when turning. But all in all, the Yamaha’s suspension is excellent.

The handling on the YZ250F feels different than any other bike in the class. The Yamaha feels somewhat tall and has great straight-line stability. It’s easy to trust the bike when charging down straightaways and into braking bumps because it stays planted, which is partly due to how well the suspension absorbs everything. One area where it could be improved is in corners. The YZ250F’s slightly vague front-end feel makes it difficult to trust when railing a corner. The front end occasionally seems to wander and wash out slightly, which can be somewhat alleviated by placing your weight toward the front and positioning yourself farther forward on the seat, but the Yamaha still doesn’t feel like it has the greatest front-end traction and therefore doesn’t track through corners as well as we would like.

The Yamaha YZ250F is a great motocross bike. It comes as no surprise it has won Dirt Rider’s 250F MX Shootout for the past four years since this generation’s debut back in 2014. The bike has a broad, powerful engine with tons of torque making it user friendly and appealing to both novices and pros alike; the suspension is regarded by many as the best in the class with an incredibly plush, comfort-based feel; and the chassis offers great straight-line stability. It doesn’t turn as easily or intuitively as some others in the class, but the Yamaha has plenty of other outstanding qualities that have put it and kept in the top spot for years. All in all, the new graphics and blue rims look fantastic, and the bike performs as great as ever. It will be interesting to see if the YZ250F can win its fifth consecutive Dirt Rider 250F MX Shootout, which will be taking place in just a couple of weeks.

  • Strong engine with lots of torque
  • Plush suspension
  • Good straight-line stability
  • Vague front end feel in corners
  • Wide feel in the radiator shroud area
  • Intake noise from airbox is more audible than other bikes