Yamaha Announces 2016 YZs

Scott Rousseau
by Scott Rousseau

60th Anniversary colors and a surprize

Yamaha has enjoyed championship-winning success with its YZ250F and a real turnabout in the fortunes of its YZ450F in major product shootouts while at the same time reaping success by introducing new and exciting off-road competition models and championing a full two-stroke motocross line, the only one of the Japanese manufacturers to do so.

For 2016, it will be more of the same on all three fronts, as Yamaha celebrates its 60th anniversary as a motor company in style by introducing the 2016 YZ250F and YZ450F with key updates, revised graphics and optional Limited-Edition 60th Anniversary Yamaha color schemes. In the two-stroke segment, Yamaha has thrown out a surprise new two-stroke off-road racer, the YZ250X, and it continues to offer no less than three two-stroke motocross models, the YZ85, YZ125 and YZ250. Now, if we could only talk them into building a liquid-cooled 500cc two-stroke, life would be perfect!

2016 Yamaha YZ250F

2016 Yamaha YZ250F, $7590 (Team Yamaha Blue/White), $7690 (Limited-Edition 60th Anniversary Yellow)

Having introduced all-new versions of its reverse-incline-motored YZ four-strokes in the past couple years, Yamaha’s plan for 2016 was to refine rather than redesign these championship- and shootout-winning motocross thoroughbreds. Even so, some of the changes made for 2016 are significant.

2015 Yamaha YZ125/YZ250 First Ride Reviews

Tops on the list of changes to the YZ250F is a new, lightweight, forged, two-ring piston that features a flat crown surface with additional strengthening ribs, and the piston oil jets that direct oil underneath the new piston to promote cooling, and thus better combustion chamber efficiency, have been revised. A shorter, more durable piston pin with diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating is also new.

2016 Yamaha YZ250F

On the big end, Yamaha engineers have revised the crankshaft and counterbalancer designs to provide a different balance ratio and aid in a more predictive power delivery off the bottom and reduce unwanted engine vibration. To refine the 250F at the opposite end of the rev range, the ECU get new settings that are intended to help eliminate the abrupt feeling generated when the engine hits the rev limiter at stratospheric rpm.

Other changes to the YZ250F include a clutch boss and shift-stopper arm as Yamaha continues to refine its clutch engagement feel and shifting action. The YZ250F also gets new brake pad material and a larger 270mm front brake rotor to help improve its stopping power. The fully adjustable KYB speed sensitive damping fork and fully adjustable KYB piggyback shock are the same basic hardware as the 2015 models’, but their settings have been revised to help cushion spike hits and also reduce front-end dive. Yamaha claims that these smoother settings also deliver a more balanced damping feel in corners.

2016 Yamaha YZ450F

2016 Yamaha YZ450F, $8,590 (Team Yamaha Blue/White), $8,690 (Limited-Edition 60th Anniversary Yellow)

The big news for the YZ450F is that Yamaha has entered the launch control sweepstakes with an all-new Launch Control System (LCS) that utilizes high-precision ECU calculations to optimize power output and provide optimum traction and acceleration as the ride leaves the starting gate, especially in hard or slick conditions.

2015 Yamaha YZ450F Review

The YZ450F also gets new intake- and exhaust-cam profiles and timing to help increase combustion efficiency and make it a little less hairy on the low-to-mid rpm range. The YZ450F also receives the improved clutch boss and shift-stopper arm in an effort to provide smoother clutch engagement feel and more precise shifting action.

2016 Yamaha YZ450F

Other changes to the 2016 Yamaha YZ450F include revised engine mounts and a narrower swingarm pivot section on its bilateral beam aluminum frame in an effort to improve lateral rigidity. The footpegs are also mounted 5mm lower to help lower the rider’s center of gravity for improved balance and control.

In the suspension department, the YZ450F gets new triple clamps with a 25mm fork offset intended to help improve the YZ450F’s front-end feel, and a softer, 56Nm shock spring replaces the old 56Nm spring to improve bump absorption and aid in better overall handling. Like the YZ250F, the YZ450F also gets the new brake pad material and larger 270mm front brake rotor.

2016 Yamaha YZ250X

2016 Yamaha YZ250X, $7399

When Yamaha unveiled its all-new 2016 YZ250X two-stroke off-road racer to the American press corps last week at Tom White’s Early Years of Motocross museum in Southern California, it came as a bit of a surprise because it wasn’t the new off-road Yamaha we were expecting.

With last year’s YZ250F four-stroke-based YZ250FX cross country machine being such a hit—Yamaha claims that it was the best-selling 250cc four-stroke off-road racer on the market last year—a YZ450F-based version in FX trim seemed to be the logical next step.

Even so, the YZ250X may just be the right off-road bike at the right time. In an era of modern, high-revving four-strokes, all-new Japanese two-stroke models are rare indeed, which makes the YZ250X a special breed by that measuring stock alone.

2016 Yamaha YZ250X

Naturally, the X is based on its motocross sister, the YZ250, but it’s more than just YZ with a big fuel jug and softer suspension. Its 249cc liquid-cooled, carbureted, reed-valve-induction, two-stroke engine receives a milder compression ratio than the YZ along with different exhaust port timing, a new CDI model-specific CDI unit and a new Yamaha Power Valve System (YPVS)—all of these items designed expressly for off-road racing and all of them intended to make the YZ’s powerband wide and controllable.

The X model’s 249cc two-stroke engine is based on the YZ250, but its power valve tuning, ignition and exhaust system are all designed specifically to widen the powerband for off-road racing.

For instance, the YPVS features broader opening timing for to make the potent YZ engine smoother and help its low-end grunt. Yamaha claims that the YZ250x delivers that along with potent midrange thrust and a blazing top-end. The X’s compact expansion chamber is also designed specifically for off-road racing. Yamaha engineers made the pipe narrower both horizontally and vertically.

But just as with the late, great YZWR, the greatest distinction between the YZ250X and its motocross sister comes in the form of a wide-ratio five-speed transmission that Yamaha claims will offer the rider more effective ratios for use in everything from tight woods sections to wide-open terrain. A new clutch lever has been incorporated to help reduce rider fatigue as well. Like the YZ, the X’s “works-style” lever features a barrel adjuster for easy on-the-fly adjustments to clutch play.

While we would love to have learned that Yamaha has stepped up to fuel-injection with the YZ250X, no such luck. It still uses a good old-fashioned carburetor. While the Yamaha’s 38mm Keihin PWK carburetor may be old school, it has a solid reputation for working well, and it benefits from at least some fairly recent technology in the form of a throttle position sensor designed to provide precise fuel/air mixing and crisp throttle response throughout the rev range. Downstream of the carburetor is a two-stroke staple, a reed cage fitted with carbon fiber reed-valve petals to improve throttle response and engine performance at across the powerband.

The X also makes use of the YZ250’s cooling system, which features large-capacity radiators with ten-row cores and four louvers for optimum cooling efficiency. Great, how about an electric fan to all but guarantee that the X doesn’t bubble over in tight, slow and hot conditions? The X doesn’t have one.

The YZ250’s quick-handling and uber-stable backbone-style aluminum chassis and subframe cradles the X motor, but the X’s fully adjustable KYB® spring-type fork with speed-sensitive damping fully adjustable KYB shock are valved for the demands of cross-country racing rather than motocross. The YZ250X’s rolling stock is also different, featuring an 18-inch Excel rear rim instead of the 19-incher found on the motocross bike. Off-road racers prefer the 18-inch rear wheel because it allows for more tire sidewall, which flexes to offer better traction in soft terrain and in rocks, and it also adds a measure of protection against flat tires when rocks or roots are hit at higher speeds. Dunlop’s excellent Geomax AT81 off-road tires are mounted on the rims.

Additional cross-country specific features on the YZ250X include a standard side stand, a sealed O-ring chain and, maybe the most important small detail of all, a reserve fuel petcock to help keep the rider from running completely out of fuel while on the course.

2016 Yamaha YZ85

2016 Yamaha YZ85, YZ125 and YZ250

As the sole remaining Japanese champion of a full line of two-stroke racing machines, Yamaha is standing pat and offering the YZ85, YZ125 and YZ250 two-stroke motocrossers again in 2016. Granted, all three models carry over unchanged, save for updated graphics, but the company showed some much-needed love to its YZ125 and the YZ250 by combing through them and make key changes last year. For 2016, the YZ85, YZ125 and YZ250 are all equipped with gold-colored chains and black wheels to give them a “factory-racing style.”

2016 Yamaha YZ125

The 2016 YZ85, YZ125, and YZ250 will each be available in Team Yamaha Blue/White. MSRP for is $4090 for the YZ85, $6390 for the YZ125 and $7290 for the YZ250. All three bikes will be available in dealerships beginning in late August.

2016 Yamaha YZ250

2016 Yamaha YZ250F Specifications

Engine Type250cc liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke; 4 titanium valves
Bore x Stroke77.0mm × 53.6mm
Compression Ratio13.5:1
Fuel DeliveryYamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), Keihin® 44mm
IgnitionTCI (Transistor Controlled Ignition)
TransmissionConstant mesh 5-speed, multiplate wet clutch
Final DriveChain
Front SuspensionKYB Speed-Sensitive System inverted fork; fully adjustable, 12.2 inches of travel
Rear SuspensionKYB monoshock; fully adjustable, 12.4 inches of travel
Front BrakeHydraulic single disc brake, 270mm
Rear BrakesHydraulic single disc brake, 245mm
Front Tire80/100–21 Bridgestone M403A
Rear Tire100/90–19 Bridgestone M404
Length85.2 inches
Width32.5 inches
Height50.4 inches
Seat Height38.0 inches
Wheelbase58.1 inches
Rake (Caster Angle)27.1°
Trail4.6 inches
Ground Clearance12.8 inches
Fuel Capacity2.0 gallons
Wet Weight (claimed)231 lbs.
Warranty30-Day (Limited Factory Warranty)
ColorsTeam Yamaha Blue/White; 60th Anniversary Yellow
MSRP$7590 (Team Yamaha Blue/White); $7690 (Limited Edition 60th Anniversary Yellow)

2016 Yamaha YZ450F Specifications

Engine Type449cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC 4-stroke; 4 titanium valves
Bore x Stroke97.0mm × 60.8mm
Compression Ratio12.5:1
Fuel DeliveryYamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), Keihin® 44mm
IgnitionTCI (Transistor Controlled Ignition)
TransmissionConstant-mesh 5-speed, multiplate wet clutch
Final DriveChain
Front SuspensionKYB Speed-Sensitive System inverted fork; fully adjustable, 12.2-in travel
Rear SuspensionKYB monoshock; fully adjustable, 12.4-in travel
Front BrakeHydraulic single disc brake, 270mm rotor
Rear BrakeHydraulic single disc brake, 245mm rotor
Front Tire80/100–21 Dunlop MX52F
Rear Tire120/80–19 Dunlop MX52
Length85.8 inches
Width32.5 inches
Height50.4 inches
Seat Height38.0 inches
Wheelbase58.3 inches
Ground Clearance13.0 inches
Fuel Capacity2.0 gallons
Wet Weight (claimed)247 lbs.
Warranty30 Days (limited factory warranty)
ColorsTeam Yamaha Blue/White, Limited Edition 60th Anniversary Yellow
MSRP$8590 (Team Yamaha Blue/White); $8690 (Limited Edition 60th Anniversary Yellow)

2016 Yamaha YZ250X Specifications

Engine Type249cc liquid-cooled 2-stroke; reed-valve inducted
Bore x Stroke66.4mm × 72.0mm
Compression Ratio7.9~9.4:1
Fuel DeliveryKeihin PWK38S
TransmissionConstant mesh 5-speed, multiplate wet clutch
Final DriveChain
Front SuspensionKYB Speed-Sensitive System inverted fork; fully adjustable, 11.8 inches of travel
Rear SuspensionKYB Monoshock; fully adjustable, 12.4 inches of travel
Front BrakeHydraulic single disc brake, 250mm
Rear BrakeHydraulic single disc brake, 245mm
Front Tire90/90–21 Dunlop AT81F
Rear Tire110/100–18 Dunlop AT81
Length86.0 inches
Width32.5 inches
Height50.8 inches
Seat Height38.2 inches
Wheelbase58.5 inches
Ground Clearance14.2 inches
Wet Weight (claimed)229 lbs.
Warranty30-Day (Limited Factory Warranty)
ColorTeam Yamaha Blue/White
Scott Rousseau
Scott Rousseau

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  • Craig Hoffman Craig Hoffman on Jun 05, 2015

    Savvy move bringing in the YZ250X. While MX is dominated by 4 strokes, a lot of serious off road racers and trail riders are riding 2 strokes. They are less work to maintain and far less complicated than a 4T, don't overheat in gnarly terrain like 4Ts can, and they are manic fun to ride. Yamaha's 250 engine has been well loved for years in the off road community. Durable as a rock and it has good power, even if it was meant for MX. Of course the MX transmission with it's too tall 1st gear was a handicap.

    The KTM 300 XC-W is the 2T off road bike of choice. 6 speed truly WR trans, smooth low end, massive top end and sharp handling and the so much less work to maintain than it's 4 stroke cousins. That 300 is the "best" off road bike made IMO. Bring money though, the KTM is not cheap, pushing 9 grand new. They are expensive because they are in demand, because they are fantastic bikes.

    The YZ-X's lower price point, proven engine and very good suspension package are big draws. Some people are resistant to riding orange too - this bike will attract buyers. Yamaha would do well to to offer a 300 kit for this bike as part of it's GYTR line of goodies ;)

  • Amir Amir on Jul 27, 2016