2017 Yamaha YZ250FX Long Haul Update

Living with the YZ250FX off-road bike

This article was originally featured in the September 2017 print edition of Dirt Rider.

2017 Yamaha YZ250FX Long HaulDrew Ruiz

As a test rider I go through a lot of bikes at Dirt Rider; they come and go frequently, but it's rare that I get separation anxiety just thinking about taking a bike back to the Dirt Rider shop. For me, that was the case with the 2017 Yamaha YZ250FX; there is something about this bike that blurs the line between trailbike and motocross bike. I've had this bike for about five months, and it has been my go-to workhorse; I've ridden it in every type of terrain from snow, to motocross, even a desert race. The majority of the time spent on the FX was enjoying the unusually wet winter we had in Southern California, carving up the chocolate cake-like dirt on fun, flowing trails.

After riding all of the motocross 250F machines as well as the majority of the off-road-specific 250F machines, the Yamaha 250FX sticks out as the best all-around bike. For me, what really stands out and puts the FX above the rest are the excellent torque and power. While there are other bikes that make great power, none of them make it as broadly as the 250FX. When the trails get tight and technical, the FX still has the ability to be lugged and even ridden a gear high, which is rare for 250F machines that tend to be rather picky about being in the right gear and rpm range. Even when being lugged, there is still plenty of power to loft the front wheel when I need help getting over trail obstacles.

Once the wet trails had dried up, the FX became a motocross practice bike and proved itself to be quite capable in ruts as well as in the air. Keeping in mind this bike is intended for off-road racing, it was definitely on the soft side and bottomed out if I didn’t down side the landings perfectly. There is something quite fun about spinning laps and passing moto bikes then pulling into the pits and leaning the bike on its kickstand. I raced a local sprint enduro, which was my first time entering the Vet 250 expert class (I turned 30 two weeks before). The event was in the California desert and was very rocky and technical but also had fast cross grain valleys. In the rocks the bike was right at home, but at speed the FX would have definitely benefited from a steering damper and/or some better-set-up suspension, as it was a bit nervous and twitchy in fast chop.

During the race I had a small tip-over, which twisted the flimsy stock radiators like putty. But looking on the bright side, since they are fairly flimsy I was able to bend them back into semi straight with two pairs of channel lock pliers. I was able to finish seventh overall and win the Vet 250 expert class; I was also able to beat all the 450 Vet racers, all on “The Little 250 That Could”! On my goodbye trail ride of my time with the FX, I tipped it over and once again bent the left radiator. Luckily I was able to again bend it back without springing a leak, which was impressive since the trail ride saw the FX overheating multiple times when being forced to climb the side of a mountain. The two products the YZ250FX would benefit most from would be an aftermarket exhaust, since it doesn’t come stock with a spark arrestor, and a radiator fan if you plan on riding a lot of tight trails. \

2017 Yamaha YZ250FX
PRIMARY USE: Motocross practice bike, off-road racer
MAIN MODS: Acerbis X-Force hand guards
MOMENT OF GLORY: Winning the Vet class at a local sprint enduro
FORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES: Bending the left radiator multiple times
AFTERMATH: Six oil changes, three rear tires, two front tires, 12 air filter cleanings, one throttle tube