2016 Yamaha YZ250F - First Impression

Over Ten Revisions To The Shootout Winning Blue Machine

Here we go! After most of the 450cc motocross machines have been received, we are finally getting our hands on the 250F screamers. This week we had Yamaha invite us out for an evening session at Perris Raceway, to try out their revised 2016 YZ250F. Last year there was no question about who was the best quarter liter four-stroke motocross machine was. A powerful engine character, balanced chassis, and a proven SSS spring fork gave all riders a smile, along with confidence, when turning laps on every track we tried the Yamaha at. This year Yamaha didn’t rest on there laurels, in fact they have over ten revisions to the 2016 YZ 250F: a new piston shape with a flat top design that keep its current 13.5:1 compression ratio, a new piston pin that is 18% lighter and has DLC coating for less friction, thrust washers added to the connecting rod for less friction, a new oil sprayer for increased lubrication, a new crankshaft balance and counter balancer (that changes the balance factor from 47% to 60% to reduce vibration at high rpm), a new ECU setting that is slighter leaner for increased pulling power, an all new clutch boss, shift stop lever, and torsion spring for increased precise shifting and a more solid engagement point at the lever, revised third, fourth and fifth gear dog corners (going from a chamfer to a radius cut) to improve strength, a new muffler bracket that is lighter, a bigger front brake rotor (now up to 270mm from 250mm), revised front fork settings, and rear shock spring change from 56N-m to 54N-m for increased comfort and rear wheel traction.

All of this doesn’t mean anything riders unless we can feel these changes out on the track. Right? Perris Raceway is a good track to test engine and cornering characteristics, so we spent a few hours on the track to get acquainted with the 2016 Yamaha YZ250F. Immediately within the first few laps we could feel an increase in mid range pulling power with the 2016 YZ250F. The 16 version keeps its exciting throttle response and bottom end power but has more “meat” in the mid range. It is very impressive for a small four stroke. Perris Raceway is a tighter type; tacky track and we could tell that the 2016 YZ250F can use third gear, even in the tightest of corners. Although we didn’t have a novice test rider out on this day, I purposely came into corners slower (in third gear) to see if the Yamaha would pull my 170 pound frame out and it had no problem doing so. To get a stock 250cc engine to have this much torque feeling through corners is impressive. Vet riders especially, will be able to really appreciate the exciting engine without all the weight of a heavy 450cc machine. We couldn’t feel much top end pulling power difference from our 2015 model but over-rev may have been slightly less on the 16. We do have some optional maps to try in the future, with the GYTR Powertuner to try and help us out in that area. The 16 Yamaha will give you a little lean pop (out of the muffler) a little when revving but its intermittent and doesn’t affect the power of the YZ250F on the track.

Chassis is as good as the 2015 YZ250F. Cornering capability is excellent and will lay over in the longest of ruts just fine, as long as the rider’s technique allows it. It’s not a Suzuki where your technique can be bad and it will do the work for you, but the Yamaha corners very well. Although we didn’t notice much suspension balance change we did notice increase in rear wheel traction on exits of corners. Less wheel spin on slippery surfaces (think after watering) when accelerating gives the rider less side-to-side movement and keeps the rear of the bike planted and moving forward. We did stiffen up the high-speed compression (a quarter turn) just a little on the jumpy Perris track, to combat the YZ250F from bottoming on steep faces.

Like all the rest of our test fleet, we will be putting more time on the 2016 Yamaha YZ250F at different tracks around Southern California. So far, Yamaha has set the bar for all the other manufacturers to try and reach, when it comes to production 250cc motocross motorcycles. A powerful engine with a balanced, rider friendly chassis is what the Yamaha gives to you. Will the other manufacturers be ready come shootout time? You will not have to wait too long to find out!

Although the 2016 Yamaha YZ250F doesn’t look changed from the outside, there is more than a few changes on the inside that you can feel on the track.Photo by Adam Campbell
The 16 YZ250F still has that exciting low end grunt, but with even more mid-range pulling power.Photo by Adam Campbell
Kris Keefer scrubs his way around the Perris Raceway facility. Yamaha did a great job of making sure the track was prepped right for testing, for all media that attended.Photo by Adam Campbell
Over ten changes are made within the 2016 YZ250F’s engine package.Photo by Adam Campbell
Getting over sizeable gaps is made easier with the 16 YZ250F’s potent quarter liter engine character.Photo by Adam Campbell