Two-strokes are less planted: Four strokes may pay a penalty is some situations for their heavier feel, but they also are much more planted. This gives the four-stroke an advantage when seeking traction in the corners, or when trying to keep the bike straight through the bumps. The four-strokes don't skip around as much.Power manageability: Four-strokes lack the rush of power, but they have smooth power that most two-strokes can't match. This usually translates into better traction and an easier bike to ride.Launching: Four-strokes are easier to launch with their smoother power and less-responsive throttle. The face of a jump is no time to get a surprise from your bike's power delivery.Shifting: Four-strokes require less shifting. Yes, this is not as much fun, but saves time and riders will less often find themselves in a gear the engine cannot pull.The old saying 'different strokes for different folks' is true. The trend over the last ten years has been toward the four-stroke. Professional motocross race teams use them exclusively, and they offer a lot of advantages to the amateur racer and recreational rider, as well. But not everyone will be, or should be, convinced. There is room for both two- and four-strokes on the tracks of America, and as of 2009 there is still that choice. Yamaha is the last Japanese brand with that choice still in the showroom. They want to keep it that way, but as a business they must respond to the actions of the customer. Customer - that's you, dear reader. Keeping two-strokes around is entirely up to you and your vote - but in this decision you vote with your wallet. Spend a season mixing gas, especially on the amazingly fun YZ125. You'll have a blast, and might be saving a dying species of bike at the same time.Thank you Yamaha for the reminder of what these bikes offer, and a special thank you to the track owner, Ed, for the excellent track and prep.OPINIONSI can not put into words how much fun I have riding a 125, any 125. But the 2009 YZ125 was so good I basically let the YZ250 sit unused all day long. And that on a horsepower track with a sixth gear straight up a hill. Sixth if you have a 125, that is. It all goes back to my most fun racing days where I was sort of a 125 specialist. I got pretty good at locking the throttle and looking for the fastest lines to keep the bike on the gas, never slowing, momentum was king. It helped make me the good rider I think I am today. I never had torque and a powerband that lasted more than 3000 RPM. Riding a 125 is all about the tap dance on the shift lever and the fondling of the clutch, dance moves that would make even those judges on that stupid TV show my wife watches stand up and take notice. The sound of keeping the bike on the pipe without a slip-up or a bog is a reward that, well, only you as a rider can appreciate. And all you are left with is such a light handling and flickable bike that truthfully out-handles just about every four-stroke out there that you have nothing to complain about. Just ride. Get better at riding. And have a lot of fun doing it even if the bike is a little slower than a 250F or anything else on the track. Because if there was ever a sport where it is all about the rider, motocross is it.Wait, was I telling you about the YZ125? Oh yeah, it got a new front tire, which is actually a big improvement on it and the 250. I was hard pressed to feel the new aluminum brake hose clamp, call me insensitive. But since these bikes are still here and still available, what Yamaha has done is kept the door open for all of the two-stroke riders out there. There is enough performance in these bikes to have them working every bit as good on a performance level as the latest offerings with valves, cams and loud exhaust notes. And we don't see any radical changes coming in the next few years so it is actually a good time to get a new two-stroke. Yes, in case all of your buddies don't see things like you do and Japanese built two-strokes happen to go away (which could happen.)And for most of you, you'd be more interested in the YZ250, since it is really the do-all size of bike that can really do it all. The 250 has found a place in off-road racing on the GNCC and Hare Scramble side of things where it is still a competitive threat to a four-stroke, talking nothing of the downright advantage it has in an endurocross section. The power is explosive and crisp with a light weight that four-strokes over 250cc just don't have. And now most places you can line up and compete with 250cc four-strokes, holding a distinct power advantage without any of the short fused durability issues a lot of these hyper-built thumpers have to run to be competitive.Are two-strokes going anyplace? That is for you, the consumers to decide. Not the magazines, not the manufacturers and don't blame me either. I was riding a KTM250SX and a YZ125 all last year!
Jimmy Lewis 5'10"/185 lb./Expert "The YZ250 is so powerful and responsive I'm convinced people choose 450s over it not because they need a faster bike, but because they need a more docile bike. This 250 does exactly what you tell it to do, and I mean right now. Want a factory 450 with its light weight and sharp engine? Here it is, dirt cheap and nearly maintenance free. The 250 is a thrill ride, but the 125 saddle was where I spent most of my day. The bike feels weightless and is just too much fun. I realized half way through the day that I could actually steer the bike with my eyes. If I looked somewhere, that's where I went. Everyone says get a 125 to learn to ride, and I always assumed they meant for shifting and keeping momentum, but really this bike was teaching me to look ahead. If you ride for AMA points, then I'm sure your sponsors have the most say in what bike you ride, but if you're buying your own bike (and maintaining it) you really should consider spending a year or two on a YZ125 while you still can."
Pete Peterson 5'10"/160 lbs/Vet Novice