compared to the regularly updated KTM 250SX. On paper,
it would appear that the KTM 250SX would be far superior to the YZ250, but there is a method to Yamaha’s madness.
The tried-and-true Kayaba SSS suspension is the class
leader by a wide margin. This year’s updates made the
YZ250 even more supple and confidence-building. The
YZ250’s engine might not be cutting edge, but it works
well. It doesn’t produce as much horsepower as the KTM
250SX or Husqvarna TC250, but where the power is
placed is more important than raw dyno numbers. From
the bottom to the midrange, the YZ250 produces enough
torque to keep the rider’s finger off the clutch. When it
gets into the top end, it has enough over-rev not to fall on
its face. The Yamaha YZ250 engine is the broadest and
most manageable powerband in its class.
We can’t cover up the fact that the YZ250 is old technology. It is just a matter of time before the competition will
leave the aged YZ250 in the dust. The brakes and clutch
are a far cry from what KTM and Husqvarna have to offer.
Yamaha needs to update its old warhorse, and do so quickly,
because otherwise it will be forced into obscurity.
WHAT DO WE THINK?
The 2015 Yamaha YZ250 is an old dog with the same
old tricks, but we like what is has to offer. It won the
2015 MXA “250 Two-Stoke Shootout,” but only by the
skin of its teeth.
2015 KTM 250SX
In 2013, KTM produced a 250SX engine that we loved.
It was powerful all the way through the powerband, with
plenty of over-rev. For 2014, KTM moved the power curve
of the engine farther down. As a result, the engine revved
out quicker, which created a stunted powerband that
2015 YAMAHA YZ250
The YZ250 is long in the tooth. It hasn’t received any
monumental updates since 2006. For 2015, Yamaha gave
the YZ250 a cosmetic facelift. The plastic was updated
for a more sleek and edgy look. Also updated were the
Kayaba SSS fork settings and wider footpegs. Aside from
that, the powerplant was left untouched. Sticking with
MXA RODE TEST
MINI 250 TWO-STROKE TESTS
was neither productive nor fun to ride. The KTM 250SX
wins the horsepower game, but at what cost? There is a
mighty midrange hit, but it is too abrupt for some riders.
Our favorite update made to the 2015 KTM 250SX is the
switch from WP’s horrendous bladder forks to the new
WP 4CS design. The forks don’t work for every bike in the
KTM fleet, but they are a nice addition to the 250SX.
In the places where the Yamaha YZ250 suffers, the
KTM 250SX triumphs. Its hydraulic clutch, class-leading
brakes, no-tools airbox and billet hubs are just a few of
the many great attributes of the 250SX. We like the WP
4CS forks much better than the previous bladder forks,
but they still have a ways to go to compete with the
superior YZ250 SSS suspension.
It is hard for us to say that anything on the 250SX is
bad. Instead, KTM needs to work on getting the bugs
fixed in the 250SX engine and suspension. The 2015 powerplant is abrupt and detonates with pump gas, but in
2013 it was smooth and flawless. The suspension is a bit
harsh and lacks the bottoming resistance of the YZ250.
WHAT DO WE THINK?
We think the 2015 KTM 250SX is a great package that
still has a lot of small issues to work out. If KTM wants
to surpass the YZ250, there is only one thing left for it
to do in the preproduction stages: test, test and test
some more. ❏