First Ride: 2014 Yamaha YZ250F

Story By Kris Keefer | Photos By Adam Booth

Well, we’ve officially waited long enough! Offering a radically different motorcycle from its previous 250cc models, Yamaha is truly changing things up for 2014 in the mid-sized four-stroke class with the release of a completely new, totally redefined YZ250F.

First, the big news: no more jetting – EFI is here! Yamaha finally replaced the carb with a fuel injection system that uses a Keihin 44mm throttle body. Another huge change in the motor department is a rearward-inclined cylinder, just like the blue 450. Because of this new orientation, the YZ250F also adopts the bigger bike’s rear-positioned exhaust, forward-facing intake and wraparound header. The four-titanium-valve cylinder is fed fuel by a high-pressure battery-less electric pump for an optimum fuel/air ratio. All of these engine changes were aimed at more power, especially in the mid-to-high rpm range. Also, Yamaha got rid of the external oil tank for the YZ250F’s wet sump lubrication system.

Although the production units will not arrive into dealers until November, Yamaha graciously let us ride three carefully measured hours on a pre-production unit at Glen Helen for a quick first impression of the bike. So what did we think in those short 180 minutes of ride time? Here are ten things that grabbed our attention:

  1. Fuel Injection. This one may seem obvious, but not all FI is created equal. The 2014 YZ250F is very responsive and clean. There is zero hesitation (we have felt some bad feeling production fuel injected bikes before) nor is there any sputter or lag. This machine runs smoothly all the way through until there is nothing more to give.

  2. Bottom End: With FI comes a little less bottom end. That's to be expected. The new YZ-F has great throttle response but still is a little smoother feeling coming out of corners than we would like. Yamaha did change an ignition map for us and it got a little better but time was of the essence today and we simply just didn't have enough of it to get it to where we loved it.

    1. Shock: We did feel the shock may have been too soft on high-speed compression and we didn't have enough time to really dial it in. On hard landings or G-outs we could feel the shock blow through at the very end of the stroke. In braking bumps the bike feels balanced and doesn't ride too low coming into corners. We ran the shock sag at 102mm the whole day.
      1. Gearing: We do think that the transmission spacing between second and third gears is too far apart. On more than one occasion we shifted into third and the Yamaha fell off the power too much. We do think going from a 50 to a 51 at Glen Helen would have been better. The motor is so good, however, that a little fan of the clutch and it was back screaming and moving forward.
      1. Bonus Tidbits: The clutch pull was very friendly and easy to pull. The muffler is a little loud when screaming but is not annoyingly loud like the Kawasaki KX250F. Some test riders said it sounded like a race bike with an aftermarket muffler. Brakes are decent but we would like to get a little more stopping power out of the front brake.

      It’s hard to say where the Yamaha YZ250F will stack up against the other 2014 250Fs we have ridden but we do know one thing: Yamaha has re-entered the game with this new YZ250F. Keeping a stable chassis and getting an even better powerplant for 2014, the Yamaha is a heavily improved machine. The other manufacturers better watch their backs come shootout time!