Still Strong: 2019 Yamaha YZ250FX
2019 is not a big year for the YZ250FX, we suspect that next year will be. Yamaha has been keeping the FX line very current, but the focus was put on the 2019 YZ450FX this season. So no changes for the bike that will soon have some new competition in the 2019 Honda CRF250X. So where does it stand? Well we were invited back to South Carolina to find out.
We’ve spent a lot of time on the smaller four-stroke FX machine with everything from 24-hour races to trail riding. Mostly doing what it was intended for, GP or closed course off-road racing and in reality could not be more pleased with the bike in general. But getting to ride it in Sprint Enduro and GNCC-like conditions really opened up our eyes to how good the YZFX is.
Here you can really appreciate the power of the YZ, it has torque and pull in the lower RPMs that is uncommon for a high-strung 250F. The engine design (reverse cylinder head, very straight downdraft intake) lends to this power delivery and usually with a power character like this the top end suffers. Not this one. It runs just as hard on top and if you like riding it up there it is as fast as the traction will handle. If fact we felt it was just a little too fast or revvy.
The cool thing about Yamaha is that they have been letting you tune these bikes very easily. But since this isn’t the new one you’ll need the old-school power tuner plug-in device. But in a matter of minutes we had created a map with some added ignition timing in the mid-range and added fuel on the top end. This had the bike lugging and tugging better in the mid-throttle mid RPM zones and then revving a little slower on the top to let each gear last a little longer. The side effect of this change was also less engine braking when getting off the throttle. The engine was not perfect and it took a few minutes since we knew what to do from experience.
The six-speed gear box is about perfect (an excellent advantage compared to a motocross bike off-road) and the clutch and shifting were top notch as well. No complaints from us here, unlike the 450. And on this bike we were shifting a lot compared to the other more powerful bikes but also not using the clutch that much. With 200 lb riders on the bike you had to be in the right gear, slipping and being a gear high was not an option.
The chassis has that same stiffness that is on the aggressive side for woods riding and in the tight stuff, but you can tune it softer to an acceptable level with just the clickers, even lighter riders. Somehow Yamaha gets away with a wider range than most with their spring selection. We played a bit with the balance of the bike and found having the rear at 108-105 was the ticker to making the fork feel as plush as possible. Then when you hit whoops and jumps it isn’t too soft from being mushy or low in the stroke.
The FX can seem a little wide if you look at it too much, but riding you can’t feel it. Even compared to the newer thinner 450 the 250 never felt big or wide. In face it was the most nimble bike we rode through the trees. It wants to be ridden aggressively and every part of the bike fits this theme.
The fit and finish of the Yamaha is excellent. The brakes are strong and have good feel, The Dunlop MX3 tires are a decent (and on our test bike even thought the specs seem to call for the MX81s) and we know there are better tires for better bump compliance in roots and rocks that would have us even happier. If racing you have to consider the 2.0 gallon gas tank size but there are larger options out there if needed. The kick-stand is light and out of the way.
If there is anything to complain about it is the noise that comes from the front and top mounted air box that bugs some riders when they are not use to it. The exhaust is a little loud for trail riding but a slip-on FMF Q will tone it right down and does not hurt the power. We’ve run these bikes hard and never had an issue and we rank Yamaha up there with anyone when it comes to durability. (Check this out for proof !) We did manage to rip the lower skid plate bolt off, likely hopping logs for too long.
At $7999.00 the YZ250FX is a serious off-road race bike that can unwind with a trail ride and always keep the owner happy. This crossbreed of Motocross bike made for the woods will not disappoint. And the blue wheels look really cool in our book.
For more info and specs see: https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/cross-country/models/yz250fx/specifications
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