WHY SHOULD THE YZ250F WIN THE SHOOTOUT?
Yamaha can hold its head up high. It has won seven of the
last 16 MXA 250 four-stroke shootouts, and has done so in
dominating fashion for the last couple years. The 2017 Yamaha
YZ250F should have won this year’s shootout, too, because it
combines proven Kayaba SSS suspension with neutral handling,
class-leading reliability and a do-it-all engine. The 2017 YZ250F is
up in horsepower across the board and is exceptionally good in
the low-end and midrange. It has won in the past on the overall
rightness of its total package—it doesn’t have any major flaws. It
is a good, solid machine.
WHY SHOULD THE YZ250F LOSE THE SHOOTOUT?
The YZ250F should lose this shootout because KTM kicked out
the jams for 2017. In recent years the orange bikes have dominated in the power, handling, brake and clutch categories, only to
throw the shootout win away with poorly performing forks. For
2017 the KTM has incredible air forks. It weighs 4 pounds less
than the YZ250F and makes 3 horsepower more. The YZ250F
should lose the 2017 MXA 250 shootout because this year KTM
didn’t fumble the ball on the 1-yard line.
WHAT’S NEW ON THE 2017 YAMAHA YZ250F?
Yamaha made seven major engine changes for 2017. (1) The
cylinder head has straighter intake tracts, a 4mm -higher intake
port and 0.4mm-larger valve seats. ( 2) The rubber air boot’s
velocity stack is shortened by 15mm. ( 3) The intake cam’s lift
is increased by 0.1mm, while the exhaust cam has 0.5mm more
lift. The added lift requires stiffer valve springs. ( 4) The exhaust-pipe diameter is increased from 36.5mm to 39.3mm as it exits
the exhaust port and from 40.7mm to 43.0mm where it enters
the mid-pipe. ( 5) The clutch plates disengage with wider spacing
between the plates. ( 6) The rev limiter is set at 14,000 rpm. ( 7)
Yamaha stiffened the 2017 chassis torsionally by widening the
forgings 12mm at the swingarm pivot.
WHAT DOES THE YZ250F WEIGH?
222 pounds. The Yamaha YZ250F is the only bike to gain
weight in 2017. It went from 221 in 2016 to 222 this year. The
culprit is the heavier forging in the swingarm pivot.
HOW DOES THE YZ250F RATE IN THE MAJOR
Power output: Very good. The Yamaha jumps up onto the
pipe, pulls hard through the middle and revs out on top. It does
rev quicker, but the big news is how torquey it feels in the transition up to that point. From 7000 rpm on, the 2017 YZ250F makes
more horsepower than the 2016 model. Peak horsepower on the
2017 YZ250F is 40. 98. Last year it made 39. 88.
Suspension: Excellent. Not as omnipotent as it once was,
because the WP AER forks have closed the gap on Yamaha’s
coil-spring Kayaba SSS units. These are still awesome forks and
most MXA test riders felt that the fork springs were sufficient for
a wide range of rider weights and speeds. No hassles.
Handling: Good. The YZ250 has never been a standout handler. It doesn’t have the all-around handling capabilities of the
KTM and Husky, or the swivel-on-point quickness of the Honda
and Suzuki. It’s a middle-of-the-road handling machine. .
Brakes: Fair. To keep up with KTM, Yamaha went to a
270mm rotor; however, it doesn’t seem that Yamaha spent a lot
of time fiddling with master-cylinder piston sizes to work with
the jumbo rotor. The YZ250F brake was very grabby.
Clutch: Good. In a left-handed compliment, the YZ250F has
the best clutch of any Japanese-designed 250 four-stroke.
WHAT DO WE HATE ON THE YZ250F?
The excessive noise blasting out of the muffler and the airbox at the same time. Speaking of the airbox, there has to be a
simpler way to get air into the engine than this Rube Goldberg-designed plumbing system.
THE FINAL QUOTE?
“It’s strange to say, but the 2017 Yamaha YZ250F is good
because it’s not great—and it’s great because there is no aspect
where it’s not good. Got that?”