Best Motocross Bike 2nd Place—2020 Yamaha YZ250F

The best suspended 250F motocross bike with excellent low- to midrange power.

In a class where a bike’s overall shootout ranking is based heavily on engine performance, the 2020 Yamaha YZ250F is always a contender being that it has one of the best powerplants in the class. Whether it is indeed the best or not depends mostly on the rider’s style however. With its excellent torque feel and the most low- to midrange power of all six bikes, the Yamaha engine is preferred more than all of the others by riders who tend to short-shift, but for those who like to carry a gear as long as possible and avoid a time-consuming shift, other bikes in the class check that box, one of which also has very competitive low- to midrange power, and therefore has a broader powerband. Still, the YZ250F remains one of the best all-around packages in the 250F class with the plushest suspension and very predictable handling.

The Yamaha YZ250F finishes in the runner-up spot in the 2020 250F Motocross Shootout.
The Yamaha YZ250F finishes in the runner-up spot in the 2020 250F Motocross Shootout.Jeff Allen

2020 Yamaha YZ250F Engine

Left: Boasting more low- to midrange power than any other bike in the class, the YZ250F has one of the best all-around engine packages. Right: Yamaha’s KYB Speed Sensitive System (SSS) fork and KYB shock are praised as the plushest suspension in the class year after year, and 2020 is no different.Jeff Allen

The first thing we did after taking delivery of the YZ250F was mount a Dunlop D404 street tire on the rear wheel and run it on our in-house Dynojet dynamometer, where it produced 38.2 hp at 12,500 rpm and 18.5 pound-feet of torque at 8,500 rpm. The Yamaha ranks fifth in both peak horsepower and torque. It makes 2.6 less peak horsepower than the class-leading KTM 250 SX-F and 1.8 more peak horsepower than the Suzuki RM-Z250, which makes the least peak horsepower. Afterward, we mounted a fresh set of Dunlop MX33 soft-to-intermediate-terrain tires to ensure consistency in traction among the six competitors through the duration of the test.

The YZ250F produces 38.2 hp at 12,500 rpm and 18.5 pound-feet of torque at 8,500 rpm. It ranks fifth in both peak horsepower and torque.
The YZ250F produces 38.2 hp at 12,500 rpm and 18.5 pound-feet of torque at 8,500 rpm. It ranks fifth in both peak horsepower and torque.Robert Martin

The YZ250F engine performs better on the track than it does on the dyno, with a very strong and usable power delivery. It’s unparalleled in the low to mid, which is complemented by its crisp throttle response and quick-revving nature, all of which enable it to accelerate quickly out of corners and make it easier to blip over small obstacles like braking bumps and acceleration chop. The Yamaha’s top-end power is decent, but not as strong as the KTM 250 SX-F, Husqvarna FC 250, Honda CRF250R, and Kawasaki KX250. The four bikes make more power than the YZ250F from 9,000 rpm on up, and the two Austrian bikes pull harder and longer in the rpm range, which makes shift points more crucial and frequent on the blue bike.

“The engine on the Yamaha is incredible! It has a lot of initial hit and is very fast revving with a quick throttle response. The power starts to fall off higher in the rpm, so you have to make sure you shift on time.”
“The engine on the Yamaha is incredible! It has a lot of initial hit and is very fast revving with a quick throttle response. The power starts to fall off higher in the rpm, so you have to make sure you shift on time.” —Tanner BassoJeff Allen

While its powerband is not as broad as the 250 SX-F’s, the YZ250F engine is still one of the best in the class, especially for riders who prefer to ride lower in the rpm range, lug the bike, and don’t mind shifting more often. It has a remarkably easy clutch pull, especially for being cable-actuated, and offers the most tunability with the Power Tuner app, and its handlebar-mounted dual map switch. The Yamaha emits the loudest exhaust note of any bike in the class, and its intake noise is noticeably more audible than the other five bikes too.

2020 Yamaha YZ250F Suspension

“Just like last year’s model, I was happy with the ease of setup and plushness of the YZ250F. The fork’s overall performance really impressed me, especially in deep ruts.”
“Just like last year’s model, I was happy with the ease of setup and plushness of the YZ250F. The fork’s overall performance really impressed me, especially in deep ruts.” —Michael WickerJeff Allen

Year after year, Yamaha’s KYB Speed Sensitive System (SSS) fork and KYB shock are praised as the plushest suspension in the class and 2020 is no different. The components offer a remarkable amount of comfort in braking and acceleration bumps, yet have good bottoming resistance on hard landings. For those reasons, both ends are very confidence-inspiring, especially when jumping, as overshooting or coming up short is much less of an ordeal on the YZ250F than the other bikes due to how well the suspension maintains its composure on such impacts. Very few changes are required to dial in the YZ250F’s suspension for most riders due to its great stock settings. For those who want to make adjustments, the KYB components respond well to just two clicks, which makes a significant difference. The balance of the suspension is fairly good, but there is a slight amount of pitching that can be tuned and reduced.

2020 Yamaha YZ250F Chassis/Handling

“The YZ250F has plenty of stability and its well-controlled suspension allows for a good amount of cornering ability. It doesn’t feel like the heaviest bike, but certainly not the lightest. You feel like you are sitting in the bike because of what feels like a low seat.”
“The YZ250F has plenty of stability and its well-controlled suspension allows for a good amount of cornering ability. It doesn’t feel like the heaviest bike, but certainly not the lightest. You feel like you are sitting in the bike because of what feels like a low seat.” —Allan BrownJeff Allen

Weighing in at 237 pounds, the YZ250F is tied with the Suzuki RM-Z250 as the heaviest bike in the class. They are both 6 pounds heavier than the lightest—the KTM 250 SX-F. The Yamaha handles fairly well overall with class-leading straight-line stability and a planted feel. For these reasons, it’s very predictable and confidence-inspiring, but on the other hand, not quite as nimble as the other bikes in the class. Its cornering ability is decent, though it doesn’t turn as sharply or easily as the CRF250R, RM-Z250, 250 SX-F, and FC 250. Also affecting its turning capabilities along with the overall comfort of the bike are the ergonomics and rider triangle. It’s a touch wide in the radiator shroud and fuel tank area, the handlebar is slightly high, and the seat has a distinct dip, which makes it difficult to position yourself forward enough to maximize front wheel traction when cornering.

Why The 2020 Yamaha YZ250F Should Have Won

“Despite not being quite as nimble as some of its competitors, and the ergonomics being a point of contention, the YZ250F is still a very fun bike to ride because its stable handling allows you to push the bike to its limits without going too far out of your comfort zone.”
“Despite not being quite as nimble as some of its competitors, and the ergonomics being a point of contention, the YZ250F is still a very fun bike to ride because its stable handling allows you to push the bike to its limits without going too far out of your comfort zone.” —Eric StorzJeff Allen

It has the best low- to midrange power, the plushest suspension, class-leading stability, and features the most tunability with the Power Tuner app.

Why The 2020 Yamaha YZ250F Didn’t Win

The engine lacks some top-end power in comparison to the 250 SX-F, FC 250, KX250, and CRF250R. The YZ250F signs off earlier than the two Austrian bikes and therefore can’t carry a gear as long as them. It’s not quite as nimble as the other bikes in the class and has somewhat awkward ergonomics.

Gearbox

Gloves: Thor Rebound