Q: FIRST AND FOREMOST, IS THE 2018
YAMAHA YZ250 BETTER THAN THE 2017 YZ250?
A: From a mechanical standpoint, no. But, if you are
into blue rims, then yes.
Q: WHAT CHANGES HAVE BEEN MADE TO
THE 2018 YAMAHA YZ250?
A: Yamaha changed the silver rims to black in 2016
and the black rims to blue for 2018. Of course, we can’t
forget the BNG. In short, the YZ250 powerplant and rolling
chassis are unchanged for 2018 (and largely unchanged
since vice president Dick Cheney shot his buddy with a
shotgun on a hunting trip back in 2006).
Q: WHAT HAS YAMAHA CHANGED ON THE
YZ250 OVER THE LAST 12 YEARS?
A: We forgive you if you think that the YZ250 has
been unchanged for the past 12 years, but that is closer to
accurate than thinking that Yamaha has spent much in the
way of R&D money on the YZ250 over the last 4,380 days.
Still, we would be remiss if we didn’t correct the common
assumption that Yamaha didn’t make any updates. Here
is the list:
Hand-me-downs. Unlike all the other Japanese manufacturers, Yamaha has continued to make two-stroke
motocross bikes. That’s the good news. The bad news is
The most amazing fact about the 2018
Yamaha YZ250 is that it is a 12-year-old
machine that is still competitive long
after its 2006 stablemates have faded
that it has been pumping all its R&D money into four-stroke
development, not two-stroke tech. And, while the YZ250
and YZ125 have not been completely ignored over the
years, the best you could say about Yamaha’s glacial two-stroke R&D program is that it represents “benign neglect.”
Every once in a blue moon Yamaha’s engineers will throw
the two-strokes a bone, but it is almost always a hand-me-down part from the four-stroke line.
SSS suspension. In 2006, Yamaha introduced Kayaba’s
Speed Sensitive System (SSS). Twelve years later, it is still
the best suspension on the track. It only has competition
from the innovative WP AER air fork in 2018. We admire
Yamaha for not jumping on the air suspension bandwagon.
It took bravery not to be a copycat when the motocross
world, not to mention Yamaha’s sales department, demanded PSF or SFF-TAC air forks. Yamaha’s test department
held its ground on the coil-spring SSS forks and was proven
correct, albeit 11 long years later.
N3EW needle. Prior to 2007, if you hopped up a YZ250
it would ping. It couldn’t stand to run an aftermarket
pipe, low-octane gas or be ridden hard in sand. In 2007,
Yamaha’s engineers borrowed the needle that savvy YZ250
racers had been using and made it the stock needle. The
N3EW needle delivered a big improvement in bottom-end
and midrange response from the 38mm Keihin PWK carburetor. It should be mentioned that the 2018 YZ250 will still
ping if you push it, pipe it or sand surf it.
Removable bar mounts. Prior to 2008, the bar
mounts were cast into the top triple clamp.
Global spec. The 2011 YZ250 got the 75mm-longer
Euro-spec silencer and the compression ratio was reduced
from 10.9:1 to 10.6:1 (by increasing the volume of the
combustion chamber by 0.5cc). These changes were implemented to allow one model of YZ250 to be sold worldwide.
Before 2011, there were three different YZ models coming
off the assembly line, with jetting specs, suspension settings, mufflers and cylinder head compression chosen for