Ride Review Feature
The Yamaha YZ250F has long been a bike I have enjoyed riding.
I first rode an 03 model back in early 2004 while trying to make the decision to buy a new 04 YZ250 two-stroke or jump on the then-new four-stroke wave and buy myself a YZ250F. In the end I went with the YZ250F, it was my first ever brand new bike when I purchased late in 2004, two years later I moved upgraded to the 2007 and if not for finding myself working in a Honda dealership in 2009, I would have continued riding blue.
Luckily enough I found myself working here at Fullnoise, well helping out Garry where I could which lead to the opportunity to continuing riding the YZ250F machines at Australian media launches over the years, having the opportunity to ride first hand, the big change to the new bike in 2010, then again in 2014 when Yamaha made the move to the reverse cylinder, downward draft engine configuration we see on both their 250F and 450F. I was even able to score a ride aboard a couple of Serco Yamaha's along the way!
With this in mind I was naturally pretty excited to get an invite from Yamaha Australia to head to Willowbank MX in Queensland to ride the latest incarnation of their YZ250F.
in 2018 the YZ450F went through some major changes, that did go under the radar prior to the bike being released, and 12 months on the YZ250F has received a host of updates inline with its bigger brother.
So what is new for the 2019 YZ250F? It is hard to know where to start! but keep on reading, we have covered all the changes below.
Smart phone tuning
Yamaha broke new ground with the YZ450F Power Tuner app by allowing convenience, flexibility and tunability via your iPhone or similar. Now the 250F can accept fuel and ignition timing changes instantly – you can upload them to the bike via the onboard WiFi system for the ultimate in track-side tuning and engine diagnostics.
Electric starter system
Utilising a compact starter motor and ultra-lightweight lithium battery, the YZ250F brings the convenience of push-button starting to the racetrack, for effortless restarts under pressure, and relaxed riding when the clock isn’t ticking. Powered by a high-capacity and ultra-lightweight, four-cell lithium-ion battery, the system adds minimal weight.
An engine offers YZ250F riders the best balance of high-rpm power with a board, useable powerband. The new, higher-compression piston and new intake and exhaust valving delivers outstanding engine character with a focus on top-end power delivery. For 2019, the cylinder is also lighter and angled more upright to improve mass-centralisation.
Updated radiators are larger and angled more directly in the incoming air stream, for improved cooling under the most demanding race conditions. Inside the engine, a new impeller and water pump boost endurance and durability under the toughest racing conditions.
Adjustable engine maps
Two-mode adjustable engine mapping allows the rider to adjust engine character with the push of a handlebar-mounted button, making it easy to tune the YZ250F for changing track or weather conditions between motos.
New More Durable transmission
The transmission gears, dogs and shift mechanisms are designed to smooth gear changes and improve durability under the heavy demands of motocross racing, even with lighter gears and selector drum for 2019. The updated YZ250F also features a larger-diameter clutch to boost reliability even further under high-heat conditions.
The 2019 YZ250F’s compact bilateral beam frame is completely new to further refine the instinctive handling the YZ250F is known for. Larger upper frame bracing improves rigidity and durability, while wider rear frame spars and all-new engine mounts centralise mass for the best possible balance of bump absorption, stiffness and feeling of grip.
New compact body and seat design
The updated YZ250F features new bodywork from tip to tail, including a new compact fuel tank specifically designed for motocross demands. In addition to shaving weight, the new body design is narrow for more comfortable knee grip and feeling of control, and the seat is updated to give the rider additional room to move aboard the machine. Enhanced mass centralisation
The engine, aluminium muffler and new, more compact fuel tank are positioned close to the machine’s centre of mass. This layout contributes to centralised mass for lightweight handling feeling on the track. The wide 55mm footpegs help lower the rider’s centre of gravity for enhanced machine balance, control and rider comfort.
270mm front brake
A large 270mm front brake disc is the same system fitted to the YZ450F, and uses an aggressive pad material for exceptional stopping power and braking control. Outback, a durable, heat-resistant rear rotor boosts brake durability.
Yamaha continues to use spring-type forks with refined, speed-sensitive damping to give industry-leading suspension performance straight out of the box. 2019 brings updated settings to match the updated frame and engine layout. Smartphone tuning (top) and switchable engine mapping (above) offers ultimate convenience and flexibility to YZ250F riders
Industry-leading, fully adjustable KYB coil spring-type fork with speed-sensitive damping provides an exceptional balance between handling and bump absorption, for race-winning handling performance. The linkage-type rear suspension features a KYB shock with revised damping characteristics to match the new chassis. 2019 also features updated internal valving for more controlled damping characteristics.
Careful computer-aided refinement of each wheel’s cross-sectional profile shaves valuable weight without sacrificing durability.
Sleek new air cleaner cover helps prevent contact with the quick-release quarter-turn Dzus air box fastener and provides tool-less access to the air filter, positioned at the front of the bike to avoid roost from the rear wheel.
As you can see, the list of changes from the 2018 model to the 2019 YZ250F is quite significant, and while it is not an entirely all-new bike, it is certainly a full top to bottom refinement, with some vast new additions that will see the YZ250F stay right at the pointy end of the sales chart for both top-level riders and the local weekend racers.
So what does this all mean on track? Read on for my thoughts on the 2019 YZ250F
Looking over the new YZ250F for the first time, it does not visually look a whole heap different from the 2018 model visually, you can notice the bike looks a little thinner through the shrouds and a little less bulky up front, but apart from that, it does look very similar to the previous model.
That changes in a couple of significant ways when you first hop on the bike, not only to you instantly notice the thinner feel between the legs, but looking down at the handlebars you notice two significant changes for 2019, a magic button that makes the motor purr to life with a simple press and another blue button that we will get to shortly.
The electric start is an excellent addition to the YZ250F, and while it is not the be all and end all of owning a modern dirt bike, the ability to swing a leg over, hit a button and head out to ride is undoubtedly one of the little things you don't take to much notice of until you jump back on a bike without electric start and have to pull out the kick starter and start kicking, even more so when that time comes in the middle of a race.
Up front, Yamaha has continued with a high quality tapered handlebar, along with the four option bar mounts, allowing riders of all sizes to quickly find a set up that suits them, without the need to go spending money on new bars or bar mounts.
Now before we even got to the point of heading out on track, we did fire the bike into life, then grabbed for the phone and went to town on popping a secondary engine map in the bike via the Yamaha Power Tuner App.
The power tuner App not only allows you to change your engine mapping to suit your riding style, it also tracks the number of hours the motor has been running, can live track your engine revs and throttle opening ( Yep no more lying about holding it pinned down the straight when you only have your wrist slightly cocked back) engine temperature and you are able to set reminders for maintenance, log all your bike settings for each venue you ride at and a heap more.
The app can look a little daunting at first, but having had a YZ450F to ride this year, once you use the Power Tuner App a couple of times it becomes second nature and uploading new maps to your bike is literally a 30-second job.
Is there any point in uploading more than one map to your bike you ask? There certainly is with the 2019 YZ250F. Unlike the YZ450F which has a start control button on the left-hand side of the handlebars, the 250F does away with the start control and replaces the button with a map changing button that allows you to change between the two maps loaded in instantly.
It was something I played around with around with throughout the day and while I found a setting early on in the piece I liked, an engine setting that came on strong off the bottom, and was pretty linear the rest of the way through the power curve, you could certainly notice the difference when changing the mapping settings on the bike.
The motor on the 2019 YZ250F as expected was powerful and pulled amazingly well for a 250F. On the day of the launch I would have been around the 102kg mark and the first half of the track when were first arrived was ripped deep with plenty of moisture, while the top half of the track was wet sand, with some small uphill sections, so the motor was going to get a good work out pulling me out of corners and up the hills.
Coming off riding a 450 for the year, the 250F while the track was deep and moist certainly needed some revs to keep it pushing, and it felt great to be riding a bike where I pretty much required to twist the throttle as hard as possible to keep my momentum up, but as the track formed and dried up, the motor on this 2019 YZ250F proved to be an absolute blast and had more than enough power for myself.
As the track dried and formed, it also gave me more of an opportunity to see the differences the different maps made. There were a number of Factory team riders at the launch cutting laps, with the like of Wilson Todd and Jay Wilson both having their first tastes of riding the new bike and it was interesting to see the faster riders opting for a map that revved out more at the top end, allowing them to hold gears longer and really let the bike scream, while someone like myself who likes to ride the bike a little lower in the rev range was just as happy with the performance I could get from the bike.
The new frame coupled with all new ergo's, and a much thinner shroud section of the bike was something I had enjoyed with the 2018 YZ450F, and again with this new YZ250F, it was a positive step in the overall feel of the bike. To be honest, I have never had any trouble turning any of the YZ250F bikes over the years, and it is a bike I have always really enjoyed riding due to the ease of its cornering ability, but the 2019 was the best handling YZ250F I have ridden to date.
We were told the night before the ride day during the introduction to the bike, that while it was not any lighter on paper, the changes made, gave the bike a lighter tip in and cornering feel. It is one of those things you hear at pretty much every introduction. The good news is it really did feel light to tip into corners and was a pleasure to tip into any rut on track or let drift ride through an open turn.
The front end did at times feel a little twitchy at high speed on the straights, and I did have one or two moments that kept me on my toes, but overall it was a great handling bike.
The suspension was something I was quite interested to see how it handled. Not so much the rear shock, it was predictable and something I did what it was there to do, coming from the 2018 YZ450F which has the same KYB fork, I was interested to see if the 2019 YZ250F had the same harsh type feel at the top part of the stroke that I was finding with my 18, 450.
The good news for myself was it didn't. The front fork set up was everything I would have wanted from my 450 in stock set up out of the crate.
Even at my weight it never felt too soft or dived under braking, or over bigger bumps, also slamming the front wheel into every roller across the top of the Willowbank natural terrain MX track, the front end held up well, but at the same time felt plush over the smaller harder braking bumps on the bottom end of the track, which had became quite hard pack in the afternoon.
Overall the YZ250F it is another great package from Yamaha, it is a bike that will suit a broad range of riders, the Power Tuner App, coupled with a sensationally strong motor allows you to get the engine working the way you want it to. Couple that we a great handling bike with sensational suspension, it would be hard not to be happy with Yamaha's latest small-bore four-stroke race machine.
The 2019 will hit Australian showrooms early August priced at $11,399 RRP inc GST. It will be available in two colours, Team Yamaha Blue and White and Competition White.
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