Patent beater: Note the path of the front brake hydraulic line. This was
Yamaha’s old-school solution to a Honda design patent.
Hanging on: MXA mini-cycle test rider Carter
Dubach is dwarfed by
the size of the stock
2016 YZ85, but he will
grow into it.
but it does get better as the mechanical parts
break in. Until then, the shifting is an issue.
( 2) Front brake hose. If you remember
anything about the routing of front brake
hoses in the 1990s, you will know that Honda
held a patent on routing the front hydraulic
brake line directly to the brake caliper. I am
way too young to remember this, but my dad
told me the whole story. To beat the Honda
patent, which was enforceable on bikes built
in Japan only, Yamaha routed its front brake
hose under the bottom of the fork lug and
then back up to the caliper. It is easier to get
to grandma’s house on Thanksgiving than for
brake fluid to get to a Yamaha front brake
caliper. This makeshift design, with its added
length and loops, produces a front-brake feel
that is mushy and weak. When Honda’s
patent expired, the Yamaha big bikes got
direct brake hose routing, but the YZ85 front
brake got lost in the shuffle.
( 3) Fork under-hang. In a throwback to
the 1970s, the YZ85 forks have old-school fork
legs that extend down below the front axle.
This was understandable on the conventional
right-side-up forks of the 1970s but seems like
an oddly archaic way to build an upside-down
fork. What’s the big deal? In deeply rutted
corners, the bottom of the fork legs dig in.
( 4) Tire choice. As a rule, minicycles
don’t get first pick at the best tires. The 2016
Yamaha YZ85 comes with Dunlop MX51 tires
front and rear. This is a discontinued Dunlop
model that has been replaced in the Dunlop
lineup by the MX52 and MX32. The only
other 2016 bike that comes with MX51s is the
KX250F, which was mechanically unchanged
for 2016. Surprisingly, the MX51s are fairly
decent for the power and weight of the
YZ85, especially the rear tire.
Q: WHAT WERE THE 2016 YAMAHA
A: It may sound shallow, but the
updated plastic and black rims make the
2016 YZ85 look appealing. The good things
about the YZ85 are its reliability, acceptable
mid-and-up power output and good suspension (even if I have some growing to do).
Q: WHAT DO I REALLY THINK OF
A: I’m not blind to the difference in
power output between the venerable YZ85
and the super-hyper KTM 85SX. But, I
enjoyed racing the 2016 YZ85 very much.
There are so many solid things about this
bike, like its strong components, stout
suspension, usable powerband and high-speed stability, that it is an excellent choice
for an aspiring minicycle racer. ❏