The Price: $2,284.00
The Rider: Expert
I had heard so many great things about the Yamaha YZ 250, I had to try it. After having a lot of issues with my 2010 KTM 250 sx (story soon to come) and losing all confidence in the bike, I thought this would be a nice change up. I had a hard time not comparing it with the KTM 250’s I had in the past as they are the only other 250 two stroke experience I’ve had. Read about my ’09 KTM 250 sx here.
I kept my eye on eBay and Craigslist for a while and found an ’06 that had barely been ridden. It still had stock tires, sprockets and chain. No matter how much I ended up liking or disliking this bike, I took my time and found one hell of a deal.
I had high expectations for the Yamaha YZ 250 after all of the great things magazines had written over the years and I can honestly say it didn’t come anywhere close to comparing to either one of my KTM’s. My opinion on this bike may not be too popular, but it’s honest and unbiased . My expectations were too high and the bike didn’t live up to them. The motor was noticeably slower than that of my KTM’s, even with an aftermarket exhaust and V-Force 3 reeds it couldn’t compete with a stock KTM.
I also couldn’t seem to get a balance of straight line stability and cornering that I liked. You could get it to go straight good then it wouldn’t turn, if you set it up to turn accurately, it wasn’t as stable as I would like. Another unexpected but annoying issue was how noticeably heavier it felt compared to the KTM – this may have hurt turning, making it harder to throw into corners. I’m not sure if this was geometry or if the little bit of extra weight (I think the difference was 6-10 lbs) is actually that noticeable.
I had a real hard time jetting this bike as well. For 2 and a half years I never had to change the jetting on my KTM’s no matter the conditions, this bike would pre detonate unless I ran race gas. This made me and my wallet unhappy. According to some places they fixed this in 2011, these same places also claimed an N3EW needle would fix the problem. If you are riding this bike hard, in the meat of the power, just run a bit of race gas whether it’s a ’11+ or not. Some very well respected tuners have stated that if you are really riding these bikes it’s hard to make them work right without race gas.
I didn’t have this bike long but I had the top end explode twice, one time requiring a new cylinder. One time was my fault because I thought I had the jetting figured out with that “magical” N3EW needle. Turns out it wasn’t quite perfect. After the second blow up I was pretty much over this bike.
On the other good side of things it had a really solid feel to it and felt like it was well built when you rode it. This bike didn’t need oil changes as frequently as any bike I have ever ridden (that’s a lot of bikes). I changed the oil approximately every two hours and it always came out clean. I never had any clutch issues with this bike. The exhaust also held up very well, I had a DEP Exhaust system and it never had any issues with cracking due to vibration.
Despite how great people say the YZ 250 is I think it is all just built up hype because it’s the only remaining 250 smoker from the former big 4. I can honestly say regardless of how cheap I got it, it was one of my least favorite bikes I’ve had. This may just be due to my high expectations though. The way people talk about this bike, I expected it to be something special. Really it’s the opposite of special, it’s just an average bike with an average motor and average handling, that does nothing excellently and nothing horribly that stands out. On a positive note, it was by far the cheapest bike I’ve ever bought.
Modifications I made to make this YZ 250 work better:
- 270 mm front rotor – in stock form this thing didn’t stop well at all.
- DEP Exhaust system
- V-Force 3 reeds
- Fastway mounts / F3 footpegs (lower position) – made more room for my long legs
- Tag adjustable top clamp – Once again, I’m taller than the average dirt bike rider and need some extra room
- N3EW Needle – This isn’t the magical solution that it’s made out to be
- KYB SSS Suspension is top notch
- Exhausts didn’t fall apart all the time like they did on KTM
- Had a well built feel to it
- You can find these bikes in great shape for cheap
- Predetonation issue – run race gas
- Looks old and outdated (the 2012 bodywork is basically the same as the ’02)
- Engine and handling package that was top of the class in its day isn’t competitive with the frequently updated KTM, I’m sure this an even bigger gap with the ’12 models
- Front Brake – needs more stopping power