Rapid ReaXtion: YZ250F

Rapid Reaxtion: YZ250F

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Back in 2001, Yamaha introduced a bike that changed modern motocross racing before our eyes. The YZ250F quickly rose to the top of professional racing and ultimately pushed the 125 two-stroke out of the class. Other manufacturers were forced to play catch-up while Yamaha enjoyed having a superior bike in their stable. Since then, the other manufacturers did catch up and even added new technology to their four-stroke 250s: Electronic fuel injection.

Consumers clamored as Yamaha remained the only manufacturer without a fuel injected 250. Most saw this as a shortcoming, but Yamaha wasn’t quick to slap a new system on the carbureted model. It took some time, but Yamaha has finally unveiled the all-new 2014 YZ250F with electronic fuel injection and pretty much-all new everything else, and they invited us to ride it yesterday and today at their media intro. They rolled the big rig out to Monster Mountain—roughly 45 minutes outside of Montgomery, Alabama—and unloaded fourteen 2014 YZ250Fs for the pleasure of various invited media members.

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We had the opportunity to ride the 2014 YZ250F at Monster Mountain.
Jordan Roberts photos

The term “all-new” is often times used loosely, but in Yamaha’s case, it’s easier to point out the few parts they carried over from 2013 rather than review the many changes made to the 2014 model. It’s literally an all-new bike. The chassis, cylinder, transmission, clutch, intake, exhaust, gas tank, handlebar mounts… You get the point.

Many of the characteristics from the YZ450F carried over to the 250. The rearward slanted engine, front-end intake, exhaust out the rear of the cylinder and air filter box mounted up by the steering stem are all similar characteristics carried over from the big bore bike. Their goal—and also the recent trend with other manufacturers—is to improve mass centralization, which aims to improve overall handling.

I was able to swing my leg over one of these bikes to spin some laps around Monster Mountain. The facility’s staff made sure the track conditions were primo, which made rigorous testing a little less prevalent and getting acquainted with the bike the center focus. The track was so well-groomed that it’s hard to give the full vote on suspension and handling performance, because we know tracks can and will get much rougher than what we saw today. But from the first few corners to last the few laps plagued by arm pump, there was never an uneasy or uncomfortable feeling you might expect from a bike that was so radically changed and completely different from anything else in the class. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the YZ450F when Yamaha introduced its rearward-slanted engine model for 2010. Most of the talk centered on the handling. I’ve ridden 2011-2013 YZ450Fs, and though I noticed a feeling in the handling unique to Yamaha, it wasn’t bothersome to me. Better yet, I would put the YZ250F in its own ballpark, even though it too now has the rearward-slanted engine design.

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Yamaha rolled the big rig (above), while Travis Preston spun some laps on the new machine (below).
Jordan Roberts photos

The suspension changes to the 2014 model weren’t as drastic as most of the changes to the bike, which may have led to a more familiar feeling in the way it handles. The addition of EFI also provided a prompt and smooth power delivery, which was to be expected. We’ll get more time on the bike today, and then later in the month put it head-to-head with other 250Fs in our Racer X Tested Shootout. For now, all seems well.

Yamaha hasn’t claimed a 250 title here in the U.S. since Jason Lawrence won the 2008 Supercross West Region. Armed with a revamped bike and the top-notch talent of Jeremy Martin and Cooper Webb, we might just see Yamaha back on top in years to come. Similarly, you might see more blue bikes on the line of a 250 race at your local track.

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