Marshmallows: The Kayaba SSS forks have been sprung
stiffer, but the suspension is still very plush and forgiving.
Angles: The uniquely shaped subframe allowed Yamaha’s
engineers to move the shock reservoir to the left side.
(1) Rearward cylinder. Although this design seems
dated in the 450 class (Yamaha unveiled this unique
layout in the 2010 YZ450F), it’s brand new on a 250 four-stroke. The profile isn’t conventional, but it’s also not as
unusual as the 2010 Husaberg FX450, whose cylinder
was laid down at a 70-degree angle. That was a bad
idea, whereas the YZ250F engine concept is excellent.
( 2) Suspension. The YZ250F is the only bike in its
class to come with Kayaba SSS suspension. The damping
is determined by the speed at which the piston moves
through the cartridge rod—not its position in the stroke
of the fork. For 2014 Yamaha upped the spring rates on
the forks and shock for the race-inspired crowd. It’s no
secret that the MXA wrecking crew favors Kayaba SSS
suspension. At a time when other manufacturers are
leapfrogging to newer suspension technology, such as
Showa’s Separate Function fork and Kayaba’s Pneumatic
Spring fork, the YZ250F is sticking with a sure thing.
( 3) Weight. It wasn’t a surprise last year when the
YZ250F weighed the least out of all 250 four-strokes. At
218 pounds, it wasn’t weighted down with EFI and its
subsequent electronics, magnets and fuel pump. The fact
that the YZ250F only gained 3 pounds for 2014 and is
still the lightest bike in the class is remarkable. To put
it into perspective, the 221-pound YZ250F weighs 10
pounds less than the KTM 250SXF.
( 4) Styling. Who can ignore the hidden gas cap,
front-intake air-filter position, tightly angled subframe,
in-mold graphics and sharp edge-design elements? The
YZ250F doesn’t resemble any other bike, except for the
YZ450F, which it could be mistaken for.
Q: WHAT DID WE DO TO IMPROVE THE 2014
A: The YZ250F’s faults are few, but there are still
issues that will need to be resolved. Yamaha owners will
be happy to hear that these areas can be fixed with ease
engineers were determined to open up the powerband
and give it more depth from bottom-end hit to unbridled
top-end speed. Additionally, the goal was to give the
YZ250F a quick and consistent throttle response (most
first-year EFI-equipped bikes have been plagued by a
lack of horsepower and a hollow-feeling powerband).
How fast is the 2014 YZ250F? It’s leaps and bounds
better than any other YZ250F since it first revolutionized the industry in 2001. Off idle, the 2014 model kicks
hard—not to the point of being overwhelming, but it
demands respect. As the rpm builds, the engine does
its best work, shrieking like a scalded cat on discount
house catnip. The bottom-end to midrange transition is
superb. Where the old engine was a bottom-end feeder,
the new powerplant has considerably more breadth and
usability. Test riders feel that the engine is sweetest in
the midrange—from 8000 rpm to 10,000 rpm—because it
can keep pulling without wavering. Top-end power isn’t
the engine’s best trait, but that’s because it’s so good at
lower rpm. We don’t consider this to be a bad thing.
What type of rider will get the most benefit out of the
YZ250F engine? That’s a trick question, because all skill
levels will be thrilled with the powerband. Our slower
riders appreciated the bottom-end usability to midrange
pull. Intermediates on up to the Pro ranks raved about
the meaty midrange and over-rev, though they did feel
that the top-end power was lacking in comparison to
the KTM 250SXF and KX250F. Regardless, the YZ250F
engine was a hit (both literally and figuratively).
Q: WHAT ARE THE DEFINING
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 2014 YAMAHA
A: As bland as the older-generation YZ250F had
become, the 2014 model turns conventional wisdom
upside down. The all-new bike has made a big splash,
and it has done so for these reasons: