Yamaha YZ250 2022 test – cycle news

| October 16, 2021

The resurgence of the two-stroke MX bike is real. New on occasion, prices and demand for these pingers are at an all time high. And have you looked at the number of two-stroke project bikes lately? It’s a lot.

While Kawasaki, Honda and Suzuki threw in the towel on the two-stroke world long ago, Yamaha has kept its hat in the ring with the mighty YZ line over the years. According to Yamaha, the YZ250 is the oldest production motorcycle at 48 years old, and although it hasn’t changed much since its debut as an aluminum chassis in 2005, it has remained a staple in the motocross world and off-road. The YZ250 got updated styling in 2015, but the engine, frame, and the like have retained their similarities from previous years. Now, for 2022, Yamaha has made a number of changes to its flagship two-stroke product.

By Ryan Nitzen | Photography by Kit Palmer

Let’s see some of these changes.

The striking new body style not only looks great, but also serves practical purposes. And before you ask, no, the new plastic won’t bolt onto your 2021 YZ. A new fuel tank, radiator fairings, and saddle create a flatter, narrower cockpit that feels much more modern. The new side plates and rear fender also feature an all-new air intake system. Two large holes on either side of the rear fender feed streamlined channels under the seat to reduce airflow resistance by 15%. This eliminates the multiple air entry points of the past. Yamaha went from four intake zones to two massive vents and made the path more efficient in the process. Aside from the intakes, the internals of the engine remain the same.

2022 Yamaha YZ250 left side
The 2022 YZ250 two-stroke has had more than just a facelift.

Besides the obvious external changes, the YZ-inger offers other key updates. The new suspension, brakes and tires are the same components as the ultramodern YZ250F four-stroke sibling of the YZ250. The previously popular KYB SSS fork and shock absorber on the YZ250 has specific valves for the lighter two-stroke and is stiffer than last year’s YZ250. These new changes bring the 2022 Yamaha YZ250 to $ 7,799, which is a price increase of $ 300.

Cycle News 2022 Yamaha YZ250 Review

Yamaha offers the Monster Energy Racing Edition model for $ 7,999, but unlike some of the other “edition” models from competing manufacturers, Yamaha’s edition version is all about graphics, with no performance mods.

Kick, kick

The YZ250 still starts up the old fashioned way, manually. Fortunately, it never takes more than a few kicks for him to shoot.

Just sitting on the bike you can tell it’s different. The slimmer cockpit is modern and sleeker, and the flat seat is easier to move. The previous saddle had a more arched shape which created a deeper rider pocket, giving it a somewhat “vintage” feel. The YZ’s new, flatter saddle looks more like the more modern KTM, Husqvarna, GasGas and Honda motocross saddles.

2022 Yamaha YZ250 cornering
A smooth, four-stroke type power strip helps make the YZ250’s power more predictable in the corners.

It has been a few years since I rode in two strokes on the track, but the new YZ made me wonder, why? The sweet sound of this powerful two-stroke power strip instantly made me smile, and the light feel of the YZ is nothing short of amazing. The YZ is only five pounds lighter than its YZF counterpart, but the bike feels a lot lighter than the track one because it doesn’t have all of those moving valves and cams inside the engine producing unwanted reciprocating weight. In addition, you have no engine brakes. As a result, the YZ250 is easy to maneuver from side to side and requires less effort when going through braking bumps.

The engine and the general character of the engine are, without a doubt, the biggest thing to remember. Yes, the current powertrain is the same classic YZ that many know and love, but the way it delivers power now is night and day.

Yamaha YZ250 2022 engine
Powerful and simple. The engine of the YZ250 is pure pleasure.

For me, both strokes have always had this light switch type power supply; they are on or off, making it difficult to find the perfect place for food. Maybe that’s why I stayed away from the two times for so long. This new YZ, however, looks more like a 250cc four-stroke but with more excitement. You can’t necessarily be lazy, but you don’t have to work as hard to make it maneuverable as before. The bike develops tons of speed from low to middle, with every part of second and third gear being that real sweet spot. It also lasted longer than expected, and it didn’t call for a change in every section at high revs. That crisp two-stroke snap and sheer throttle-to-rear-wheel connectivity make it even more fun to drive. Gone are the days of narrow power windows and quick gear changes to take advantage of the YZ’s full potential. This bike has veterinary, intermediate and pro level performance right out of the box.

2022 Yamaha YZ250 jump
Do you think your 250cc four stroke is light? Wait until you get on the YZ250!

As for the suspension, none of our testers made a single click of tuning during our day on the YZ250 in Cahuilla Creek. The trail got reasonably rough, but the KYB components easily swallowed every bump. We agreed that the bike remains more planted overall and that the updated fork internals are resistant to diving and chopping off from older YZs. It rolls flat and stable. But the lightweight nature of the two-stroke, along with the rapid piston pulse and tire rotation, tend to dance more than tractor-type four-strokes. That’s the nature of the beast, and it’s kind of the best part of driving a two-stroke: it feels alive! The brakes and tires perform as well, if not better than we expected, and overall it was difficult to wipe the smiles off our faces all day. Both strokes are so much fun!

After riding the 2022 Yamaha YZ250, my perspective on two-stroke changed. This bike didn’t have that pipey little window of power I remembered and didn’t need a steel hand to vary the clutch with every turn. Instead, its long, usable power allowed it to roll quickly through every section of Cahuilla’s power-hungry setup. The simple two-stroke design is light and flexible on the track, and the newly updated suspension components help with that aspect. Yamaha’s resurgence in its premix predecessor shows that the two-stroke market is alive and well, with no signs of slowing down. In fact, it is more competitive than ever. CN

Specifications Yamaha YZ250 2022

Specifications Yamaha YZ250 2022

MSRP $ 7,799
Type of engine: 2-stroke, induced reed valve, YPVS, single
Cooling system: Liquid
Compression ratio: 8.9-10.6: 1
Fuel delivery: Hitachi Astemo Keihin PWK38S Carburetor
Transmission: 5 speed
Clutch: Wet, multidisk
Framework: Removable aluminum subframe
Front suspension: KYB SSS inverted fork, fully adjustable
Rear suspension: KYB monoshock, fully adjustable
Front wheel displacement: 11.8 inch
Displacement of the rear wheels: 12.4 inch
Front brake: 270mm single hydraulic disc
Rear brake: 240mm single hydraulic disc
Rims: Excel
Front tire: 80 / 100-21 ” Dunlop Geomax MX33
Rear wheel: 110 / 90-19 ” Dunlop Geomax MX33
Wheelbase: 58.5 inch
Rake: 27.7 °
Track: 4.8 inch
Ground clearance : 14.2 inch
Fuel Capacity: 1.8 gallons.
Guarantee: 30 days (limited)
Color: Team Yamaha Blue / Monster Energy Racing Edition Black
Cycle News 2022 Yamaha YZ250 Review

Click here to read the Yamaha YZ250 2022 Review in the Cycle news Magazine digital edition.

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