Without these forks, the YZ250 would have joined the
CR250, KX250 and RM250 in the junkyard long ago.
Yamaha doesn’t need more top-end power, but it does
need a boost of midrange to keep the KTM 250SX in sight.
We add one tooth to the rear sprocket to help the YZ250
get to third gear sooner. Otherwise it lays down on exit.
been a touch of understeer in the aging frame. The KTM and
Husky don’t have any handling issues; in fact, they are almost
flawless. Luckily, you can Band-Aid the YZ250’s handling
ailments by lowering the sag to 105mm, raising the forks
into the clamps another 5mm, tightening up on the steering
stem (to make a poor man’s steering damper) and throwing
away the front Dunlop MX52 for a better front sneaker (like
Q: HOW GOOD IS THE KAYABA SSS
A: The Kayaba SSS components were 10 years ahead
of the competition when they were introduced back in 2006.
Kayaba SSS has held the mantel of the best showroom stock
suspension for all this time. The SSS forks have superb bottoming resistance and very well-thought-out damping. They
are among the best forks on the showroom floor today, but
they can be improved. In stock trim, the Kayabas are busy
and ride low in the stroke. Plus, the shock will blow through
and wallow with a fast rider in the saddle.
And while the new breed of rehashed coil-spring forks on
the 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450, Honda CRF450 or the Kawasaki
KX250F are not much of a threat to SSS dominance, that can’t
be said for the Showa forks on the 2018 Honda CRF250 or
the WP AER air forks on the Huskys and KTMs. They have
Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?
A: The hate list:
(1) Chassis. The YZ250’s chassis is old and outdated.
It was always a middle-of-the-road handler and still is. It
understeers and twitches unexpectedly at speed. Ultimately,
Yamaha needs to dump some R&D money into its two-stroke
( 2) Engine. Love the powerband, but its Austrian competition will leave it in the dust off the start, up hills or in sand.
( 3) Front tire. Dunlop’s MX52 front tire makes the YZ250
front end feel worse than it actually is. Invest in a better
front tire to get the full potential out of the YZ250’s aluminum
( 4) Gear ratios. The upshift from second to third needs
help. Luckily, once in third gear, no matter how far you rev
the engine, it will never fall on its face. In a perfect world, we
would like to see Yamaha move third gear closer to second
(like Yamaha did on the YZ250X offroad version) and keep
the same powerband.
Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE?
A: The like list:
(1) Powerband. We think that more midrange horsepower would be helpful, but then so would more power
everywhere. We love the YZ250’s power curve but need more
oomph in the middle.
( 2) Suspension. The Kayaba SSS fork and shock are race-able right off the showroom floor—even though they are 12
( 3) Maintenance. It doesn’t take a mechanical genius to
keep a YZ250 running. Changing a top end is cheap and easy
compared to a four-stroke, made all the more affordable by
the fact that you can do it yourself.
( 4) Bulletproof. The YZ250 is like the Energizer Bunny—it
just keeps going and going.
Q: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK?
A: We love this bike, not because it is the best 250
two-stroke on the showroom floors, but because it has been