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All it takes is one quick glance at the 2015 results in professional motocross and supercross to see that Yamaha’s YZ250F is a powerhouse. Championships, race wins, and countless podiums have been the norm for Factory Yamaha riders Cooper Webb and Jeremy Martin. Since being revamped in 2014, the YZ250F has made steady progression, frequently topping the win columns and winning many comparison tests.

For 2016, Yamaha has unveiled a new YZ250F that has received only minor changes; after all, at the end of the day, why change something that’s working so well? Internally, the YZF has received a new lighter piston with a flat crown for improved combustion and enhanced pulling power. The oil jets under the piston are also new, for better lubrication and to promote cooling. The crankshaft has also been balanced to reduce vibration, while a new clutch boss and shift stopper arm are designed to smooth clutch engagement and shifting.

2016 Yamaha YZ250F static side view

Yamaha has also updated the ECU settings for 2015, to work better with the new piston and cranks. The goal, says Yamaha? To improve top-end power while also smoothing out the transition when the rider reaches the rev limiter. Other minor changes include a new larger 270mm front brake rotor and altered brake pad material for stronger, more progressive stopping performance. Lastly, the suspension settings have been tweaked for a smoother ride that will appeal to a broader range of riders.

The YZ250F has always been comfortable for tall riders, making it easy to adapt to the bike after only a few laps and get down to the business of evaluating the bike’s performance. Last year, the YZ250F had an impressive motor; for 2016, the power output feels even better. The motor is very strong, offering great low-end grunt that leads into class-leading top-end pull. When revved out, the YZF produces great power, allowing the rider to remain in a lower gear longer without the bike falling off and losing power.

This is a huge advantage when hitting jumps immediately out of corners. It’s also worth mentioning the Yamaha GYTR EFI Power Tuner, which makes it easy to change the mapping of the bike for added performance or for varying track conditions and/or rider skill levels. Every year, Yamaha releases new maps that can be programmed with this tool, and we’re already looking forward to trying this year’s mapping release.

2016 Yamaha YZ250F engine close-up

Paired up to the powerful motor is excellent Kayaba suspension. The fork is one of the last remaining traditional spring forks in the class, and it’s easily the best suspension available on a 250F. The action of the Yamaha fork and shock is progressive and predictable. At no time did I feel uncomfortable aboard the bike, as the suspension has good bottoming resistance without feeling harsh over rough chop and braking bumps. Turning felt equally great. The YZF has a light, flickable feel that allows the rider to plant the bike into ruts and berms, or hit a specific line in a flat corner with ease. Unlike the bigger YZ450F, which still could use a little improvement in corners, the YZ250F feels great in the tight stuff, likely due to its lighter weight.

Other notable performance gains have been made with the brakes. The larger 270mm front brake rotor—up from 250mm—improves stopping power while still remaining progressive. The new rotor makes it easier to charge harder into corners and brake later. Minor changes to the clutch and gearbox have also made a slight improvement to the shifting. While I never had any shift issues with 2015 YZ250F, the 2016 machine shifts smoother than ever, even while under power.

2016 Yamaha YZ250F catching airTHE VERDICT
It’s all too easy to mess up a good thing, and we’re happy to report that Yamaha hasn’t done that with the 2016 YZ250F. The small changes have yielded a machine that continues to build on the excellent performance of the 2015 model. The motor is strong, the suspension is predictable and confidence inspiring, and the ergonomics are comfortable for nearly any size of rider. In short, the 2016 Yamaha YZ250F builds on the legacy of the 2015 YZ250F, which was one of our favorite motocross bikes last year.

– Excellent Kayaba suspension
– Motor revs out but still produces useable power
– Great mid- to top-end power
– GYTR Power Tuner (sold separately) allows for EFI adjustments
– Smooth shifting, clutch action
– Comfortable ergos can be fine-tuned with the triple clamps
– Black and yellow 60th anniversary edition is available
– Brakes are strong, progressive. We love the larger 270mm front rotor

– Dzus fasteners on airbox catch knee braces and can come loose
– Handlebar too tall; grips too firm
– Blue and black plastics look old quickly
2016 Yamaha YZ250F
ENGINE     250cc liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke, 4 titanium
BORE x STROKE     77.0 × 53.6mm
FUEL DELIVERY     Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), Keihin 44mm
IGNITION     Transistor Controlled Ignition
TRANSMISSION     Five-speed, multiplate wet clutch
FRONT SUSPENSION     KYB inverted fork; fully adjustable, 12.2 in. of travel
REAR SUSPENSION     KYB monoshock; fully adjustable, 12.4 in. of travel
FRONT BRAKE     Single disc, 270mm
REAR BRAKE     Single disc, 245mm
FRONT TIRE     80/100-21 Bridgestone M403A
REAR TIRE     100/90-19 Bridgestone M404
LENGTH     85.2 in.
WIDTH     32.5 in.
HEIGHT     50.4 in.
SEAT HEIGHT     38.0 in.
WHEELBASE     58.1 in.
RAKE     27.1°
TRAIL     4.6 in.
FUEL CAPACITY     2.0 gal.

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