Long Haul Update: 2016 Yamaha YZ250X

Check out Michael Allen's long haul update on our 2016 Yamaha YZ250X here.

Primary Use: Weekend racer, trail, and rock slayer.
Main Mods: Acerbis X force handguards, FMF Gnarly pipe, and FMF Turbine Core 2 muffler.
Moment of Glory: Lugging past Jeeps in rocky canyons and hearing them tell me that it's crazy to ride a motorcycle up canyons like that.
Forgettable Experience: Cartwheeling into a sand wash.
Hours: 19

2016 Yamaha YZ250X
The lightweight feeling of the Yamaha YZ250X makes it easy to squeeze into tight places and get out in a hurry.Photo by Keith Housner

After 19 hours aboard Yamaha’s new dedicated off-road 2-stroke, the YZ250X, it is proving to be more than capable of tackling any terrain. From first gear rocky climbs, to fast desert trails, this bike has been put through the wringer in the past several months. In order to take the 250X out and see how it did on public trails, an FMF Turbine Core 2 silencer was installed because the stock muffler isn’t equipped with a spark arrestor. Seeing as how this bike was designed for cross-country racing, we jumped at the opportunity for the bike’s first real test, a tight and rocky sprint enduro. Throughout the day at the enduro we paid close attention to the changes that Yamaha had made from the motocross bike that make the “X” more off-road capable. The changes made to the fork and shock work well on flowing trails and small trail chop providing a plush, progressive ride even when speeds are picked up. The only time we found the suspension to be uncompliant was when the whoops got very deep and far apart, or when we came up on large drop offs or g-outs. The power delivery of the “X” in stock form was strong from the bottom to mid-range, but the power softened when revved. The FMF Turbine core helped the mid to top-end slightly, along with adding bottom end with the installation of the FMF Gnarly pipe.

2016 Yamaha YZ250X
Dirt Rider test pilot Michael Allen displays some motocross form in a tight wooded section on our top secret off-road test loop.Photo by Keith Housner

The changes to the transmission on the 250X really showed at the enduro, since most of the course was done in second and third gear. What I noticed was that the second to third gear spacing feels at times too close. I was shifting to fourth gear immediately since the power band was so short in third. I will be changing gearing for the next update to combat having to shift to fourth gear so soon.

2016 Yamaha YZ250X
The YZ250X is also a capable machine that you can take to the motocross track, just in case you want to ride with your moto only buddies.Photo by Keith Housner

Since racing the YZ 250X I have ridden tons of desert terrain, ranging from wide-open valleys to rocky extreme climbs. While wide open across a lake bed in Johnson Valley I found out that fifth gear is capable of 83 MPH with stock gearing. Straight-line stability is good at very high speeds and gives me confidence holding it on out in the rough dez. In situations where most two-strokes would likely stall, the “X” likes lugging a taller gear. But don’t think of this bike as just a lugging machine, it still has plenty of snap available with the flick of the clutch. We did notice that when riding up near 2,500 feet in elevation, the power became sluggish, slightly rich, and loaded up if not ridden on the pipe. We changed out the stock jetting (main: 178 pilot: 50) with a 175 main jet, a 45 pilot jet, and left the needle in the stock position. This cleaned up the power and the peppy characteristics returned.

2016 Yamaha YZ250X
Even though the suspension can feel soft on big slap down landings, the impact doesn't feel harsh at all to the rider.Photo by Keith Housner

After putting tons of miles on the YZ250X we are very pleased with almost every aspect of the bike so far. Although we have obviously heard from a lot of people that the YZ250X needs an electric start, It’s great that a Japanese manufacturer has entered the off-road market with a real threat to KTM.