By most accounts the 2010 YZ250F is an all-new bike, keeping only a very familiar engine, but even that is highly revised. Popping up early in a likely attempt to garner some attention before the YZ450 news breaks, the real question about the 250F is: How does the new bike stack up and what do we think about it? Read on.For sure it was time for the YZ250F to get an upgrade, as it has been a few years since a major revision. Since the introduction of the aluminum frame the smaller "F" has been forced to play with some 450 frame parts. While the motor has been receiving step-by-step upgrades all along, the bike's weak points have been everything from a flat or bland powerband to some riders feeling the bike had a heavy feel to it. A few even felt there were turning issues. So to tackle this Yamaha threw the old frame out and made an all-new one. Included with that is equally new bodywork and matched suspension, plus some motor changes that helped the power. From the press information, it looks like Yamaha took the critics head on. For all the tech info, check out the detailed story at First Look & Riding Impression.We got two full days on the new bike at the majestic Washougal, Washington MX facility just a few days prior to the Outdoor National. And by the time we'd left, our bike had accumulated over six hours' worth of laps. At 2:30 to 2:40 per circuit, that's a lot of laps!This carbureted bike fires right up and has a crisp and sharp exhaust tone despite reduced sound output. The first thing we noticed was the lighter feel of the bike. Straight away the front half of the YZ250F definitely feels lighter. It is a feeling that lets the bike fall into turns easier and especially be more maneuverable in the air through the handlebar. The back of the bike feels very similar to what we've become accustomed to from Yamaha, and that is a good balance between being planted and keeping everything in line. The 250F is very balanced and rarely bucks or kicks, but that was on a track that stayed fairly smooth. Still, this speaks volumes for the suspension. We tried a few clicks here and there for our two heavier test riders (in the 180-pound range) and kept going right back to stock. One hundred millimeters is the recommended race sag, and we found the bike wasn't picky about being off a few. But the clickers do make a noticeable change. Our lighter rider liked a click less compression and a little more rebound damping in the fork. If anything, Yamaha is looking out for the heavier riders with the stock setting, or really fast lighter guys.If there is one area where the motor really made a leap, it is in the transition from bottom to mid. Most of us felt that in roll-ons or when you let the motor fall off the pipe, the previous YZ250Fs were a little resistant to get back to ripping. A sensation sort of like you were dragging the brake just a bit. But not the 2010: It pulls cleanly on the bottom and then transitions far better, and more smoothly, into the midrange and top-end. It has plenty of torque; in fact, with lighter riders the bike even sounded a bit like a 450 as they were able to actually lug it. We heard other riders keeping the bike buried high into the revs, all the way up to the 50 percent ignition cutout at the plus-13,000-rpm soft rev-limiter, an indication the bike pulls cleanly into that rev range without much sign-off. At least not until that rev-limiter kicks in. But when you shift, the bike pulls and pulls hard, like a CRF250R but without the added aggression that can be too much for a lot of riders. It doesn't lose traction too easily, either. It pulls the gearing just fine, including the new taller ratios in the middle gears, even with heavier riders. If we had any motor gripes, they would center on the throttle response that might be a little finicky for some riders in the bumps or rhythm sections. We found the fuel screw to be our friend to get the response just right. Yamaha wanted the bike to respond instantly, so the pump squirt of the carb is on the aggressive side and can be a bit rich.On to the details. The new radiator shrouds don't even come close to catching on the rider's boots (a problem with previous YZ-Fs). And the channeling louvers into the radiators must be working; our bike never hinted at boiling, even during a hot 95-degree day of shooting photos. The layout of the flatter seat makes it easy to move around, and the bike is just thin enough to feel narrow but still give your legs something to grip against. We didn't notice the bar being back too far (when standing), but some test riders thought the pegs were a little too high, cramping the riding position. Moving the handlebar forward, from position two to position three, made the bike just that much more comfortable.The clutch pull is definitely lighter in feel and it moves the plates out in a more aggressive manner, sort of a trade-off for a little less modulation. It wasn't a problem in the turns, but when controlling the power, wide-open on uphills and with the front wheel lifting, it was noticeable. Easy to pull-and easy to pull a little too much if you weren't careful. Shifting was another area that seemed improved, especially the second-to-third-to-fourth critical zone. The brakes were average, which these days means very good. There is excellent control and just enough power to get the job done without getting anyone in trouble.What Yamaha has here is a really good, strong-running complete package that easily fits a wide array of riders, needing minimal fiddling the whole time. It is a huge improvement over just last year's bike and leaps and bounds superior to earlier years. Big Blue is sticking with the good-old carburetor and a time-proven engine that ranks at the top of our list in durability. So in these tough times, Yamaha's play might just be a winner, and for sure at this introduction it was pretty impressive. More testing and more competition to come...it is going to be a crazy year for the 250F class!What's Hot!
Much improved cornering characteristics, especially on entry.
Engine response is instant and healthier than all previous YZ-Fs to date.
Value and dependability don't seem compromised in this update.
If looks could kill...What's Not!
Seat-to-footpeg distance can cramp bigger riders.
Carburetion isn't dead. Unfortunately.
If looks could kill...