2018 Yamaha YZ65 First Ride Impression

All New Minicycle For The bLU cRU

Story and Photos by Trevor Hunter

Yamaha’s highly anticipated YZ65 Motocross race bike was announced a few months back and its tires have finally hit the dirt for the motorcycle media. With a successful lineup starting at the tried-and-true PW50, then the YZ85, Yamaha was unaccounted for in the 65cc ranks leaving the youth of the sport to venture off to other brands. However, with the introduction of the YZ65, riders can get their feet wet with the PW then transition to the YZ where they can continue to develop and grow into the expansive full size lineup Yamaha offers. Was the bLU cRU able to offer a competitive race bike in their first crack at the 65cc market in years? Read on to see what our pint-sized pilots thought about the new blue minicycle.

The YZ power plant offered a fast yet easy to ride power characteristic for all skill levels.

The motor is a 65cc two-stroke engine equipped with Yamaha’s proprietary YPVS (Yamaha Power Valve System) presents a one-piece power valve claimed to increase low-mid power while still providing a strong pull up on top. Contrary to other designs, Yamaha’s power valve is mechanically controlled by centrifugal force off the clutch to begin opening at 8,300 rpm and fully open at 8,900 rpm. Yamaha claims this design provides a more consistent power delivery with increased power between 7,000-9,000 rpm due to its timed opening and not relying on other factors.

Tester Andrew Schulz complimented the torquey power and the bikes turning capabilities.

Out on the track, the power was instantly noticeable for our stable of youth riders ranging from a Moto/Off-Road Expert to a Novice 65cc pilot. The torquey power put out by the small bore YZ welcomed by both riders with excellent bottom to mid range power followed by good top end over rev. The power characteristics made the bike very easy to ride fast and even easier to keep in the meat of the power. Our novice rider who isn’t too aggressive and doesn’t excel in keeping the RPMs up was able to keep up the revs better and keep a consistent power output – the hardest aspect of riding for developing riders. But remember, this is a race oriented machine and we evaluated it as such.

Additionally, the case-reed induction motor is fed by a Keihin PWK 28mm carburetor with a lightweight crankshaft featuring composite balance weights inside the cases which are optimized to stuff the fuel mixture from the crankcase into the 6 port cylinder. The jetting in the Keihin PWK 28mm carb was spot on for our riders and the mini YZ barked like a factory race bike while still meeting AMA sound requirements. Lastly, the clutch pull was as smooth as butter and both youngsters raved about how easy of a pull it was while ripping through the six-speed gearbox.

Both the motor and the suspension made clearing most of the big jumps out at Milestone a breeze.

The steel frame paired with a removable aluminum sub-frame and swingarm was designed for maximum ground clearance without sacrificing seat height. With 280mm of ground clearance, the seat sits at 750mm to accommodate both the newly graduating 65cc rider along with the veteran looking to move up to an 85cc. In addition, the swingarm utilizes push type chain adjusters similar to the full size YZ’s for ease of adjustments and increased reliability as they are more protected.

The tunability of the suspension was welcomed by our faster tester as a few clicks made the suspension just about perfect.

The KYB spring fork features 215mm of travel with high rigidity kashima coated tubes and  adjustable compression and rebound damping which allows for fine tuning of the suspension. Our experienced rider was able to get very comfortable with the forks immediately as he launched the bigger jumps out on the main track at Milestone MX. The planted feel in the turns and stability at high speeds were confidence inspiring as it soaked up everything in his path. The fully adjustable KYB shock pairs to the aluminum swingarm directly with no linkage on the bike to give the young rippers increased ground clearance as they huck massive jumps and charge through ruts and braking bumps. Initially, the shock wasn’t quite as comfort inducing as the forks were; however, after slowing down the rebound a couple clicks, both riders took a liking to it. Likewise, the bike had a balanced feel to it.

Both riders commented on the YZ’s turning capabilities with a planted feel in the turns.

The brakes on the YZ are true off-road motorcycle brakes with the rear brake swapping over from its big brother – the YZ85. Our riders raved over how well they worked, especially the rear brake, and felt much safer and much more comfortable out on the track. Maxxis Maxxcross SI tires matched to blue Excel rims kept the bike glued to the ground while replicating the full size YZ range in the looks department.

The shared brake from the YZ85 was a standout feature on the bike along with the push type chain adjusters.

One of Yamaha’s primary focuses with the YZ65 was adjustability. At the ripe ages from 7-11, kids can grow exponentially demanding a drastically different setup for the varying heights and riding styles. Four position handlebar mounts offer 27mm of range with the aluminum bars while the clutch and brake levers are both adjustable to compliment the different size hands growing riders possess. A flat seat was also welcomed as the riders found it easy to move around on the bike and feel in control while doing so.

The riders immediately felt comfortable with the ergonomics without changing.

Overall, our riders couldn’t wipe the smiles off their face as the stepped off the bike and removed their helmets following each ride. The motor, chassis, suspension, and ergonomics made the all new bike feel like it has been around and perfected over the last decade rather than the first model year it’s in. Both beginner-novice types and expert level riders can enjoy the bike and everything it offers due to its ease of riding and overall comfortable nature. Best of all, the Yamaha Off-Road Demo program led by Jason Raines has the mini YZ in its lineup allowing youngsters across the country to test the bike. The only complaint? The riders couldn’t stay at the track longer then bring the bikes home for the next riding day.

The little YZ is a ripper and a forced to be reckoned with in the 65cc classes.

The YZ65 is available in dealers now at an MSRP of $4,599 and is also eligible for Loretta Lynn’s and the other major races offered in this year. A full line of Yamaha Genuine OEM parts along with GYTR accessories are available now and will continue to be released in the near future.

Both riders were all smiles aboard the YZ65.

Take a lap around the Milestone MX Main Track with test rider Andrew Schulz as he learns what the YZ65 is all about!