We are relieved to tell you that the production 2014 YZ250F is just as good as the prototype we rode back in August.
Back in August, Yamaha gave us a sneak preview of the 2014 Yamaha YZ250F in prototype form. Anxious to get the word out on its all-new, reversed-cylinder YZ250F motocrosser, knowing that the real (aka production) and completely redone 2014 YZ250F would be showing up late on showroom floors compared to its rivals, Yamaha pulled a few early-run YZs off the assembly line to give the media a chance to spin a few laps on what Yamaha said were essentially production YZs, promising us that what we rode then is what you’ll ride now. Having tons of confidence in it’s new bike and expecting positive first reviews of the prototype 2014 YZ250F, Yamaha was hoping everyone would wait for the late arriving production YZs instead of purchasing something else. Well, if you were one of those who waited, we can safely say that you won’t be sorry that you did.
We were pretty stoked on the prototype YZ250F that we rode at Glen Helen Raceway a few months ago, and we’ll tell you that we’re still stoked on the bike in production form. Yamaha chose Monster Mountain MX Park in Alabama to give the media its first chance to ride the production 2014 Yamaha YZ250F and we quickly found out that what we said back in August still applies now. In a nutshell, the new 2014 YZ250F is a sweet machine.
Yamaha gave us ample time on the production bikes. At Glen Helen we were given only a few hours on the bikes but at Monster Mountain we were given two full days! And we loved every minute of it.
Many things stood out after spinning our last lap on the production YZ in Alabama but probably none more than its motor. Not only is the YZ just plain fast but it also makes excellent power across the board, just like it did in August. It hits hard right from the get-go and never stops pulling until you’re ready to catch the next gear.
“I would have to say the new reversed-cylinder EFI engine is probably the most powerful production 250F motors I've ridden,” said Cycle News test rider Jason Abbott. “It makes great bottom-end and midrange power, and it pulls well on top. However, since I weigh a little more than the average 250 rider I wanted a bit more on top. Since we had the time, I played around with Yamaha’s GYTR tuner a bit and added some fuel to the top-end to get extended pull and a more aggressive hit at higher rpm. With that setting, I loved it - the YZ felt like a screamer and not like a ‘stock’ 250F.”
The all-new YZ250F is a big improvement over the previous carbureted YZ.
The Monster Mountain MX Park has two tracks, including what it call its “sand track.” Generally, 250Fs aren’t a ton of fun in the deep stuff but that’s not the case with the YZ. It has plenty of power and torque to keep that all-important momentum going.
We were also impressed with the YZ’s light-pull clutch. It’s strong and has excellent modulation. The bike also changes gears effortlessly and we could count only one missed shift over our two days at the track.
Suspension has always been a strongpoint for the YZ250F and it still is. “The KYB SSS fork has plush initial feel; the midstroke is consistent and smooth, and it has excellent bottoming resistance,” said Abbott. “Once we got up to speed and with the track being a little soft in places, we could detect some harshness in the initial stroke. I went two clicks stiffer on the compression to hold the fork higher up in the stroke, ta-da! This helped the front end to drive through the chop and improved feel over the braking bumps. Small clicker changes are definitely noticeable.”
The shock felt good, too. We set the sag at 103mm and that was about it. The rear tracked straight and offered a plush ride. Overall, the bike felt well balanced.
We eventually readjusted the handlebars to a more forward position. In certain situations, we felt a little cramped on the bike. Moving the bars definitely made for a roomier feel. But placing them more forward also put a little more weight on the front end, so we ended up going another click stiffer to help keep the weight in the center of the bike.
Was the wait worth it? We think so.
The YZ also turns well. It goes where it’s pointed and reacts quickly to rider input. The Monster Mountain track developed many long, narrow and deep ruts in its clay-like soil through the turns, and the YZ dealt with them amazingly well. The key was to keep the throttle rolled on and your eyes looking forward and the YZ would stay planted and leaned over. If you didn’t stay aggressive and focused, however, the YZ would let you know by standing up on you. In summary, this is the best turning YZ250F yet.
Many other things also stood out on the YZ, like its strong and effective brakes, outstanding ergonomics and well-placed controls. The bike is also very comfortable and super-easy to move around on. There just isn’t anything that this bike doesn’t do well…except for perhaps muffle. It is a little on the loud side.
Overall, the all-new 2014 YZ250F, which is already on showroom floors, is a major improvement in almost every way over the previous model, and we are anxious to compare it head to head with its rivals. At this point, we expect it to move up at least a notch or two in our upcoming 2014 250F MX Shootout. But we shall see.
Below is our video from Yamaha's official introduction of the 2014 YZ250F at the spectacular Thunder Mountain MX Park in Alabama.