For years we have been waiting for the day that the Yamaha YZ250F would be fuel injected. As the first company to produce a 250cc four-stroke, it was a little puzzling to us that Yamaha took until 2014 to release an EFI-equipped machine, but as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. For this initial test, Yamaha invited the media out to Glen Helen and allowed us three hours of riding aboard a pre-production model of the new bike. Later this year, we will have the full intro and bike test for you. For now, though, here is our initial impression.
For 2014, Yamaha has unveiled an all-new YZ250F complete with the same technology as its bigger brother the YZ450F, featuring an all-new chassis, a reversed motor, and new suspension components. Much like the YZ450F, Yamaha's main focus with the YZ250F was mass centralization and improved handling. The motor on the YZ250F is reversed and more compact than ever before. It also comes complete with EFI and can be tuned by using the aftermarket GYTR Power Tuner. Complimenting the new motor is a new exhaust system that wraps around the cylinder and is tucked in further behind the side panel thereby moving the exhaust closer to the center of gravity. The new chassis is the same design as the YZ450F and is completely new when compared to the 2013 model. Due to the new chassis, the suspension components are new with the forks receiving new inner and outer tubes along with new settings. The rear shock has a new reservoir location to allow for clearance for the exhaust system. The shock also received new settings to work harmoniously with the forks. Carrying over from last year, the bike comes standard with over-sized bars, adjustable bar clamps, and high-quality brakes and wheels.
ON THE TRACK
When compared to the 2013 model, the new YZ250F is vastly different and much improved. The bike feels comfortable when you first sit on it, and the flat seat and rider compartment make it very easy to move around on. On the track, the new chassis and suspension give the bike a lightweight feel that is more connected to the track than the '13 machine. In the air, the bike is very light and easy to throw around, yet it stays planted down rough straights or when entering corners. We did have to slow the rebound down and stiffen the shock to get the bike to remain planted in the corners, but after that it turned much better. Unlike the YZ450F, the YZ250F doesn't feel as light on the front end—perhaps due to the lighter weight and smaller powerplant.
Suspension action is impressive. The forks and shock work very well together and absorb small hits and hard landings with ease without being too harsh. Yamaha has decided to stay with the conventional fork design rather than switching to the Airfork like many other manufacturers. The decision is a choice that we are very happy with, as the forks stay consistent and plush over the course of long motos. On this day, the track never got overly rough, though, making it difficult to fully put the suspension and handling through the wringer.
The power on this bike is good, and the dreaded bog of the 2013 machine is no longer present, as the EFI has effectively cured that problem. Unlike last year's bike, though, the power on the '14 YZF is found in the midrange to top-end. Last year, the bike had a strong hit down low, while this year you must ride the bike aggressively to keep it in the meat of the powerband. But when it's in the sweet spot, the new YZ250F rips. Even on the steep Glen Helen hills where this initial test took place, the bike pulled hard. We didn't get a chance to adjust the EFI with the GYTR Power Tuner, but knowing what you can do with the YZ450F, we can only imagine the capabilities and adjustability of the YZ250F. Obviously, we'll have more on that for you later.
In the end, even though we only had a few hours on a pre-production bike, we came away pleased with its performance. When compared to the dated 2013 YZ250F, the new machine is a huge improvement. The handling is excellent, the motor is powerful with no bog, and the overall ergonomics are very comfortable for almost any size rider. We can't wait to see how this bike stacks up against the competition later this year. The official intro isn't until November, but we're already counting the days.