The Yamaha YZ85 is a throwback to the old- school way of building mini cycles—and that is understandable, because this bike’s development
cycle dates back quite a few years.
WHAT WAS GOOD? The Yamaha YZ85 has sound
handling and comfortable ergonomics. Our test riders
immediately felt at home on the bike—that is, those who
could touch the ground. With a seat height of 34 inches
tall, the YZ85 is too tall for many younger 85cc riders.
Even so, the YZ85 is a pleasant bike to ride. Another
bright spot is that the YZ85 is the least expensive bike in
the class. It retails for $3990. The engine works best in the
midrange. We had to short-shift to stay in the meat of the
powerband, which catered to Novice-level riders.
WHAT WAS BAD? It’s not nice to kick a dog while
it’s down, but we must be realistic. The current iteration
of the Yamaha YZ85 should be put out to pasture. Yamaha
needs to reinvest in its 85cc two-stroke program. The 2014
YZ85 is two horsepower off the KX85 and nearly four
ponies down on the KTM and Husqvarna. It also comes
with old technology that has been surpassed by the other
brands. Simply put, the YZ85 is a tired design.
WHAT’S THE FINAL WORD? The Yamaha YZ85 is
a prime example of what happens when a manufacturer
becomes complacent about research and development.
Don’t get us wrong, the YZ85 is more than capable of
winning races; however, it would take a supremely
talented rider to pull it off. Fortunately, there are a host of
aftermarket companies that have the YZ85 dialed. It
shouldn’t be difficult to put more pep in the YZ85’s step.