2016 Yamaha YZ250: Five Reasons This Should Be Your Next Bike

A review of a tried and true motocross bike with only two-strokes.

Side profile of YZ250
Black rims, a gold chain, and BNGs are the only changes to the 2016 model. But, as you will find out as you read further, there are plenty of reasons to own this bike.Photo By Pete Peterson

While there are only three changes to the 2016 Yamaha YZ250 – black rims, gold chain, and updated graphics – the 2015 YZ two-stokes underwent some much needed modernizations - the most profound being the addition of the KYB SSS fork, which is the same as what the modern YZ-Fs have (with different settings). Other than that, the most notable change was the switch to new plastics that made the YZs look more like they are from this decade. Now to why you should drop some dough on this machine.

YZ250 through the whoops
With such a light, powerful, and agile package, lofting the front wheel at any time, pretty much anywhere on the track is not a problem.Photo By Jeff Allen

1. The 250cc two-stroke motocross machine was the ultimate race bike for decades, yet unlike the other Japanese 250 two-stokes that went the way of the Dodo about 10 years ago, the YZ250 has stuck around and continued to get refinements. We are not saying it (or its smaller brother, the YZ125) gets nearly the attention of the four-stroke line of MXers, and we are not under any illusion that the '16 YZ250's chassis and motor are much different than the 2005 model that received the aluminum frame that it now has. But, and this is a big but, the YZ two-strokes now have the modern KYB SSS fork that is pretty much one of our favorite forks on any moto bike. It is smooth, planted, predictable and easy to adjust. There are still springs in there, no air to mess with, and the front end of the bike feels very similar no matter what track you ride it at. You are just not going to find this fork on any other 250 two-stroke out there.

YZ250 through a corner
You can't be lazy and leave the YZ250 in third gear all the way around the track like a 450. You have to shift or risk falling off the power.Photo By Jeff Allen

2. The power to weight ratio of this pre-mixing beast is nearly impossible to beat. This is a blessing and a curse. The power isn't smooth, forgiving, or as easy to use as a four-stroke's but if you are up to the challenge this bike can be an absolute weapon. Off the bottom there isn't ton of power or torque but when you start entering the mid-rang, the motor screams its crisply-tuned two-stroke song and the power punches you in the butt. It isn't as light-switchy as older two-strokes but there is a definite hit once you are in the powerband. Thankfully, it tappers off gradually only at the very top of the rpm.

Jumping the YZ250
In the air, as on the ground, the YZ is light and easy to move around.Photo By Jeff Allen

3. If you want a dirt bike that is easy to flick around, this is it – they YZ250 is only surpassed in flickability by 125 two-strokes. Getting the bike to change course mid-straightaway, mid-corner, or midair is as easy as just thinking about it. Laying the bike into ruts is just as easy, but with its light weight and pungent power, it can be a little hard to keep the front end from popping out. Dragging the front brake really helps this, as it does on any bike, but it is more noticeably helpful on this blue blaster. The only downside to this is the YZ doesn't feel planted over chop or bumps – there is an overall skittery feel to the bike that makes you pinch with your knees more.

Blowing up a berm on YZ250
Power comes on quick in the mid-range and screams until the very top of the rpm.Photo By Jeff Allen

4. Four-strokes make you lazy, there isn't any way around it. Even 250Fs allow you to not use the clutch if don't want to. The torque helps you out of corners, the engine braking helps you slow down, and the tractable power keeps the bike planted. This bike doesn't do these things on its own, yet it forces you to do them and, therefore, makes you a better rider. You have to have throttle control, clutch control, proper braking technique and feel, and a good grip on the bike with your lower body. After riding this bike, four-strokes feel so easy to ride and overall, you're a better motorcycle rider.

Chain side of YZ250
Less moving parts means less things to break, check, and/or replace.Photo By Pete Peterson

5. Last is price. For hundreds of dollars less than any of 250Fs on the market, and more than a grand less than 450s, this bike is a steal. It is a championship winning package with the same suspension that the YZ-Fs have, and both of those bikes have won their respective shootouts. And, there is something to be said for what all two-stroke owners love to point out – less moving parts. With no valves, cams, and all that other head stuff, there are less things to break, less parts to check, and less pieces to replace in the long run.

Who shouldn’t by this bike? If your last bike was a CRF150F or TT-R230, then the YZ250 would present an unfavorable fun-to-effort ratio that would make riding it a chore. That being said, I wouldn’t really say this bike isn’t for any rider. Anyone willing to hone their skills and is prepared to work that clutch and those brakes, the YZ250 is a motocross bike that is hard to beat.

2016 Yamaha YZ250
MSRP: $7,290
Seat Height: 38.5
Ground Clearance: 13.8
Fuel Capacity: 2.1 gal.
Weight (tank full): 233