Steady As She Goes
We all know the saying “BNG”—Bold New Graphics. On certain bikes, that’s all they need, because newer isn’t always better. But right now, Yamaha is dealing with issues on both its bikes because some riders love them and some hate them. I know that it can take years of refining a certain chassis—making small changes to flex points and also how the bike runs, be it carburetion, fuel injection and everything that goes with it—and hopefully Yamaha is paying attention to detail and continuing to dial in its MX machines.Without a doubt, Yamaha has made some aggressive moves on the Lites front by changing just about everything on its 2012 YZ250F. Revisions were made where we didn’t expect them to be made, and some things were left unchanged that we were sure would have been all-new. When all of the other bikes in its class are fuel injected, you wouldn’t be crazy to think the YZ-F would receive a similar treatment for its fuel delivery system. Changes were made where the fuel is fed but there is no FI. We didn’t play any reindeer games with the YZ250F and make it feel left out; instead, we loaded her up and were off to the track.
First up is the chassis, and “increased rigidity” is the key term here. On the tank rail section of the frame, the existing two-box cross section now has an added support making it a three-box cross section. A new swingarm pivot and engine brackets have also been altered to stiffen up the chassis as a whole. The fork has been revalved as well as the offset changed from 25mm last year to 22mm for 2012. The fork outer tube and steering stem have both been changed to match the frame’s rigidity, and the fork spring rate went up one step to .46kg/mm. A new KYB piggyback rear shock has revised damping settings and a smaller shock shaft at 16mm. The last of the chassis adjustments is a new swingarm that has been stiffened up near the axle blocks to improve bump absorption.
The 2012 Yamaha YZ250F may not be fuel-injected, but it does boast a bigger carburetor, going from 37mm to 39mm; it is focused on improving the top-end pull. Other engine updates include a new lighter piston, a new crankshaft with improved balance, the balancer shaft and balancer weight have been redesigned to work in sync with the lighter piston, and revised CDI settings for the 2mm-larger carburetor. While keeping the AMA’s 94-decibel regulations in mind, Yamaha slapped on a new muffler with an 8mm-smaller exhaust outlet. Yamaha went up to a 50-tooth Sunstar rear sprocket (last year was a 49), and to keep things stylish for the blue version of the YZ250F, a gold D.I.D chain and black Excels have been put on to intimidate your competition.If you bleed blue, then carburetion is something that you will just have to get used to. The engine on this 250F has plenty of torque and top-end to compete with the others in its class. The low-end hit is actually quite impressive and offers up some snap when using the clutch. You can get away with lugging the motor, and although it picks up into the midrange with ease, we did get the bike to bog when landing flat or hitting nasty G-outs and when cracking the throttle in mid-flight to adjust the pitch of the bike. The day was a scorcher and a bit humid, so we thought the jetting may be partially to blame for this. By adjusting the airscrew a quarter turn leaner, we eliminated the bog from whacking the throttle in the air and almost eliminated the bog on hard G-out landings.
The biggest issue we had with last year’s YZ250F was how she handled when the track got rough. The ’12 is completely different in this sense and handles nasty braking bumps like they aren’t even there. There is almost zero front-to-back chassis twist, meaning the front and rear wheels constantly feel planted allowing you to accelerate farther into the corners with more confidence. The stiffer fork springs and new valve specs front and rear greatly improve the overall ride of the 2012 YZ250F and work well with the all-new chassis. The action is surprisingly smooth when the track gets beat up.Really, the only thing to complain about here is not having fuel injection. If you’re looking for a new bike but are coming from an older ride that isn’t FI either, then you will find no issues getting comfortable on this new Yamaha. This year is a good year to go blue for one of the most stable and easy-to-ride machines we have seen yet. Shootouts are coming soon, so stay on the lookout for the shakedown of the 250Fs and see how the 2012 Yamaha YZ250F performs against the others.
|Specifications: 2012 Yamaha YZ250F|
|Seat height: 36.7 in.|
|Weight, tank full: 229 lb|
|Online test/video: www.dirtrider.com/2012YZ250F|