In its sophomore year as an aluminum-framed motocross bike, the 2007 Yamaha YZ250F is motivated to return to a dominating role in the world of professional racing. In fact, Yamaha will have two of these bikes in full-factory trim on its race squad this year. And with young speedsters Broc Hepler and Josh Hill at the controls, it’s safe to say the blue team expects to step on a lot of podiums. But how new is the new blue?Yamaha modified a fair amount of components from the ’06 model with serious goals set on enhancing the lightweight feel and overall handling precision of the little YZ-F. And this is the area where most of the improvements were noticed in our first weeks of testing. Yamaha claims the bike is three pounds lighter this year; our scales tell us it’s more like five. But the feel of that weight loss is more noticeable on the track than in the garage. The bike seems greatly balanced with a solid, in-touch feel with the ground. Changing lines or diving inside at the last minute is effortless, and the bike feels sweet in the air, too. While the blue team went to weight-saving extremes (like swapping 12mm for 10mm bolt heads in the subframe/rear end and shrinking the front axle carrier, brake-caliper mount assembly and a host of other hardware), we think their weight placement, particularly the fine-tuning to engine location and orientation in the chassis, is what really makes the bike feel light but not jittery or busy.The ’06 front-end issues aren’t as noticeable, either-almost eliminating our only real handling complaint from last year. No doubt this is directly related to the head tube being pushed back 3mm-putting some weight on the front and thus tightening the turning. Out back, the shock is lengthened 1.5mm as well, further tightening the chassis. Also, this bike really stays straight in the rough stuff and big whoops at any speed. Basically, Yamaha is ruling the lightweight feel with its new thumpers and working right through the alloy-framed growing pains quickly.A new, longer muffler end-cap with a smaller diameter and more-angled exit hole, which quiets the usually raspy motor, and the bike’s new gearing (a 49-tooth rear sprocket) seem to be the biggest propulsion changes to the bike. Even though the routine ignition-map changes and carburetor adjustments adorn the new Yamaha, the motor seems very similar to last year’s in character. In delivery, it’s a bit different. The extra tooth pulls the bike out of the bottom a little better, but then the bike sort of softens up on top. Neither end of the power spectrum is as impressive as the solid midrange. In reality, this YZ-F feels softer down low and signs off more than the ’06er. Does this bother us? Yes and no. Yes, we can deal with some bottom-end mellowness, especially when traction is an issue. And It’s easy to carry more revs into low-speed stuff to ensure a speedy exit. But on top, where 250Fs are used to bouncing around near the rev-limiter, this motor’s attitude has us shifting more often in search of the juicy power.It’s refreshing to see Yamaha tuning its aluminum chassis so effectively in such a short time. And it’s very nice to see the tuning-fork guys are not gambling with wild, potentially unreliable motor overhauls. This bike has been great for a long time. With a proven durability record and a manufacturer’s warranty, it’s still really easy to choose blue. However, our 250F shootout will uncover if the YZ-F can still run with some of the traditionally power-strong models and some impressive newcomers to the class.Opinions
After just one moto I got a pretty good feeling for the good and bad of the YZ250F. I liked the power throughout all gears; it seemed like it never stopped pulling or rarely hit the rev-limiter. The bike seemed good at cornering, though the suspension wasn’t the best and bounced around. It was hard to get into and stay in ruts going through corners. I really liked the way the bike felt in the air. It seemed like no matter what, the bike did what you wanted it to. For instance, while the wind was blowing hard, the bike flew through it like a knife into butter and it didn’t scare me. One major thing I noticed was the clutch; it was very smooth and felt hydraulic! Lastly, I really liked the bike height; the distances from pegs to bar and seat to bar were perfect. With a little suspension touch-ups, the bike would be solid for me!-Chris Dvoracek/5’11″/165 lb/IntermediateThe 2007 Yamaha’s chassis is one of the standout features on the blue 250F. For my size, weight and riding style, the frame seems to have the perfect amount of flex and balance to it-no more rigidity issues here, as far as I’m concerned. This accounts for a smooth, planted feeling around the track, one that is exemplified in rougher sections and through hard hits. I liked the suspension on both fronts; not a lot of tweaking was necessary to find a good setting for me. In stock form, the YZ-F’s fork should be more than adequate to meet the demands of any averaged-sized rider. As far as the motor goes, the Yamaha does a good job of hooking up and putting power to the ground; the engine carries a slightly slow-revving, almost modified feel, but it gets the job done. As a package, I found the YZ-F to be consistent and impressive, and I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time in the saddle of this middleweight thumper.-Chris Denison/5’10″/155 lb/IntermediateWhile the motor on this YZ250F did not jump out and impress me, sort of the same effect the 2007 YZ450 had on a lot of riders, I wouldn’t hold back the bike for that. But what is improved is the weight feel and the bike’s agility on the track. I didn’t have the same steering issues in ’06 with the 250F as I did with the 450F, but the new thumper feels just fine with plenty of weight on the front giving it a good bite and lots of feel. That and the stock Dunlop 739 front tire, which has lately fallen from grace. Seems the repositioning of the engine lets the bike feel lighter in side-to-side movement and in the air. To me, the engine feels flat, especially on the bottom and again at the top-end. It might just be the right power for grabbing traction, but it also seems lackluster in comparison with some of the other bikes in the class that have really stepped up in the engine game. I don’t think this is a mandatory upgrade year for a YZ250F owner if you have an ’06, but if you are still on a steel frame, get on this one, then the improvement is huge.-Jimmy Lewis/5’10″/180 lb/Vet ProSpecifications
MSRP: $6149 ($6249 in white/silver)
Claimed dry weight: 204 lb
Actual weight (ready to ride, no fuel): 216 lb
Seat height: 37.3 in.
Seat-to-footpeg distance: 20.9 in.What’s Hot
* Handling issues solved.
* Rare combination of light weight, precise controllability and stability.
* Quieter exhaust system.What’s Not
* Power delivery is too mellow off bottom for some and signs off too early for most.
* These radiator shrouds grab at some riders’ boots.