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Racer X Tested: 2009 Yamaha YZs

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  • 2009 Yamaha 250
  • 2009 Yamaha 125
Do two-strokes still exist? If you attend a pro race these days you might not think so. But professional racing accounts for a very small percentage of the people that ride motocross. So, while four-strokes might be the bikes of choice for the worlds elite motocross riders, it doesn’t mean they are the best choice for the rest of us. I guess you have to ask yourself, what your main goal is when you head out to the track? Do you aspire to be a national champion? Is it your life’s dream to race on the AMA pro tour? Do you just want to have a good time riding with your friends on the weekends? If you aren’t trying to break RC’s record for most wins in a season and your focus is to enjoy the time you can ride, you might want to ask yourself: why am I sold on four-strokes? They are heavier, more expensive, harder to maintain and much more difficult to correct when you make a mistake. You can’t argue those points. So if you spend your time riding in the woods, on local motocross courses, or just having fun on some open property somewhere, well, then you obviously aren’t in California, because there isn’t any open property here. You also might want to take another look at two-strokes.

While there isn’t any open land here, there are a few amazing places that are privately owned by individuals that love motocross. Unfortunately, you have to know these people, or know people that know these people. Or, work for a magazine and get invited out by people that know people. Yamaha invited the media out to the Lon Chaney Ranch somewhere in San Diego County to check out their 2009 YZ two-stroke line. The ranch is owned by an attorney now, but it belonged to the Hollywood star for decades before being sold off. Yamaha believes in these pre-mix burning machines and they are the last Japanese manufacturer to produce them.

  • Tyler flies the YZ 250
  • Keefe loved how easily two-strokes turn
The 2009 125 and 250 share all of the updates of their four-stroke cousins, including titanium foot pegs, titanium shock springs, wave rotors, Pro Taper bars, clutch adjusters, new tires, new gold D.I.D chain, new seat cover, and the aluminum frame. The 125 weighs 18 pounds less than a 250F and the 250 is 12 pounds lighter than the 450! They cost almost a thousand dollars less than their four-stroke counterparts; a significant fact when you realize that your nest egg in the NYSE went bye-bye this week. Also, in AMA amateur racing, the 250 is now legal in the Lites class. So if you were worried about being competitive on the track, well, you don’t have to worry.  

I took Tyler Keefe out with me to ride the new bikes and, as I expected, he had an amazing time. Tyler didn’t spend much time on two strokes as a young pro racer, so the snappy power and bark of the bikes was pretty new to him. He picked it right up and after a few laps you could see the smile beaming from under his helmet. He loved how light the bikes were and how he felt like he was in complete control of the bike.  

"Even if I do get a little out of shape somewhere the two-strokes are light enough that you can just pull it back where you want it,” said Tyler. Adding, “Turning them is a blast, too, because you can just throw them around. It was so much fun to come into a big berm and just lay these things over. The 125 definitely takes some getting used to when you are used to the motor on a 250F.{QUOTE}You have to really rev these things and I forgot that about them. If you try to rely on the torque then you won’t like it. Once I started revving the thing up it was so much fun. I did a couple motos with Langston and a few other guys on the 125’s and, honestly, it was the most fun I’ve had on a dirt bike in a long, long time."

  • Tyler destroyed berms all day long
  • The explosive power is part of the 250's charm
"After riding both of Yamaha’s two-strokes it surprises me that everyone just switched over to four-strokes. I mean, I understand the professional racing thing because you can turn quicker laps on those bikes. But if that isn’t your biggest concern then I don’t know if four-strokes are the best thing to have. These things were a lot of fun.” 

If you want to learn more about Yamaha’s line of YZ motorcycles, including their potent two-stroke lineup, visit your local Yamaha dealer or go to www.yamaha-motor.com.
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