2019 Yamaha YZ250F First Ride Review
Since it was dramatically overhauled in 2014, the Yamaha YZ250F has been a popular dirt bike as a result of its torquey engine and plush suspension. The blue bike has seen a few refinements over the years, and for 2019, it features several all-new components including the engine, frame, and bodywork. We rode the 2019 model for the first time at Cahuilla Creek MX in Anza, California, to get some initial impressions of the bike and also to compare it to the previous generation model that has been so well-liked.
All-new from the cases up, the engine is now equipped with electric start and features tuning capabilities with the Yamaha Power Tuner app that was first introduced on the YZ450F last year. The previous generation YZ250F was praised for having great low-end and midrange power coupled with lots of torque, all of which aren’t qualities normally associated with a 250 four-stroke motocross bike. However, the 2014 to 2018 model didn’t continue pulling on the top-end, which required the bike to be shifted sooner in the rpm range.
Yamaha was aware of this, as one of its goals for the new bike was to increase the midrange to top-end pull. And blue succeeded; almost right away we were able to pull each gear longer and higher in the rpm before needing to upshift. The over-rev on the YZ250F still isn’t quite as strong as some of the other bikes in the class, but its impressive amount of low-end torque combined with improved top-end power makes it suitable for a broader range of riders of varying skill levels.
The YZ250F retains the KYB Speed-Sensitive System (SSS) coil-spring fork and KYB shock from the previous-generation model, but both ends feature new components to match with the new chassis. The fork has new internals including an increased cylinder and piston size going from 24mm to 25mm, a new leaf-spring mid-speed valve, a new pressure piston shape with holes added, and a stiffer spring rate going from 4.6 N/mm to 4.7 N/mm. On the track, the front end has a much more positive feel to the ground that, combined with the new chassis, results in increased front end traction and therefore, better cornering. The KYB SSS fork has always had good bottoming resistance, but the increased spring rate makes it even better in this area and still retains plenty of comfort, especially on slap down landings.
The KYB shock has a new spring that is made with a thinner material and has fewer turns, and weighs 210 grams less than the prior design. For a more controlled damping character, the spring rate has been increased from 54 N/mm to 56 N/mm, the shock body subtank capacity has been increased 30cc, and the oil flow amount has been increased. The stiffer setup feels like more of an aggressive race setting as it has less comfort at lower speeds compared to the previous model, but more comfort in medium to higher speed sections of the track, which in turn makes it work better the harder you ride it.
Along with the all-new engine, the chassis is another area the YZ250F that has been heavily refined. The 2019 model has a new frame with revised geometry and engine mounting, more rigid axle collars and fork lugs, a narrower fuel tank and radiator shrouds, and a thinner and lower seat.
The narrower radiator shrouds are the most immediately noticeable change when riding the 2019 YZ250F. One of our minor complaints about the 2014 to 2018 bikes was they felt fairly wide between the rider’s legs when sitting, but that sensation is much less on the new bike. The increased rigidity of the frame was another revision that was quickly apparent that, in combination with the firmer suspension settings, makes the bike react quicker to rider input.
The cockpit of the 2019 bike still feels similar to the previous-generation bike as far as the controls go. If this were our personal bike, we would opt for a lower bar bend as well as an aftermarket clutch lever and/or perch as the stock clutch lever bend is very gradual and doesn’t offer a very distinct area to grab with your finger.
The previous-generation Yamaha YZ250F won Dirt Rider ’s 250F MX Shootout four years in a row from the year it was dramatically redesigned in 2014 all the way up until 2017. In addition to shootout wins, it had sales floor success as the blue machines began popping up everywhere from local tracks to the starting gates of Monster Energy AMA Supercross races and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross races. With the 2019 model having better top-end power, stiffer suspension settings, and a slimmer, more comfortable chassis, it will be interesting to see how the all-new bike stacks up in this year’s 250F MX Shootout.