2010 Yamaha YZ250F

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sm_title.jpgWe don’t normally do motocrossers on CMG but when Mr Bond (a ‘maturing’ roadracer) told us that he’d been invited to the press launch, we had to see just how CMG this could go …

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Words: Steve Bond. Pics: Allison Kennedy/Yamaha Canada unless otherwise specified


As I picked myself up from the hard-packed soil, the irony was not lost on me.

Exactly one week earlier I was at Mosport, dragging a knee here and there on a Buell 1125CR and doing 235 km/h or so on the back straight with absolutely no concerns or incidents.

Yet somehow, I’d just done a face-plant on Yamaha’s 2010 YZ250F … at a walking pace.

It’s good to see the CMG way of doing things is alive and well.

A DAY IN THE DIRT

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The enormity of the ride ahead suddenly hits Mr Bond. Ambulance (background) awaits the CMG ‘moment’.

I didn’t realize (until after I’d already accepted the invitation) that Yamaha’s YZ250Fs are ready to go, full-bore, all-out motocrossers. They are not playbikes for poking around the back 40 or checking out the trails at the cottage that I had first imagined they might be.

No, they’re as serious as a heart attack and if you’re good enough, you could slap on a set of numbers, nail a few triple jumps and be groping the trophy girl in no time.

While I’m somewhat competent on asphalt, my dirt-riding experience is limited to some back-road blasting and low-key, recreational trail riding on dual-purpose motorcycles … a few times a year. So putting me on a YZ250F is similar to handing a first-year street rider the keys to Ben Spies’ R1 superbike at Monza and saying, “Here ya go Skippy, have fun.”

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Yamaha gear gives the look but not the nads.
Photo: Jill McIntosh

Oh well, how bad could it be? 

The day got off to a very CMG start as I got kitted up in what passes for my dirt-riding gear when a Yamaha rep quickly intervened. The boots were okay, but my Family Trust Real Estate hockey sweater was found somewhat lacking in the styling/safety department.

Luckily for me, Yamaha has partnered with Klim to provide just such riding gear (which is stylish and protective as well), and before you could say, “I look good in blue,” I was now at least looking the part. It’s good quality gear too; the sweater is breathable, the gloves had lots of padding and the helmet ventilated well — it also, as I found out, crashes well.

The track seemed to go on forever, and with an endless succession of bumps, berms, jumps, whoops and divots, a skilled rider had ample opportunities to put the YZ through its paces. I just did what I could to avoid a trip home in the ambulance.

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Though there are moments when it all looks respectable.

But even with my limited abilities, after riding both the 2010 and 2009 models back to back (Yamaha had last year’s model on hand for comparison), even I could notice how much better the new model felt.

Steering was definitely lighter and more precise on the 2010. The raised handlebar, the slight change in footpeg height and the lower steering head also made it much more comfortable for my lanky frame – especially when standing on the pegs.

Throttle response was hugely improved, and while the ‘09 had a throttle like a light switch — either on or off — providing hair-trigger, white-knuckle acceleration, the new bike felt much more refined and easier to ride. I couldn’t honestly say it had more power, but the delivery was smoother and much less violent.

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Yamaha decide that putting Bondo in the back of a truck and driving him around the course might be a safer option.
Photo: Jill McIntosh

I could actually generate some rear-wheel power slides without the helpless feeling that I would soon find myself sticking out of a berm like a lawn dart.

So if I, as a rank novice in the motocross world, could clue into the improvements, I can only imagine how someone who knows what they’re doing will appreciate the new bike. Other riders I talked to (including a couple of pro-ranked motocrossers – most of whom had been passing me overhead all day) all had favourable responses.

As I headed back to the parking area at the end of the day, congratulating myself on keeping the guys with the stretchers at bay, I didn’t even have time to think, “Oh crap, I’m going down.” I probably touched the front brake a little too hard to scrub off some speed, only to scrub off most of the skin from my left kneecap instead.

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The YZ250F – a motocross weapon in the right hands.

Riding the 2010 YZ250F ($8,599 for blue; $8,699 for white) was a real eye opener, and it’s undoubtedly a potent motocross weapon in the proper potato-digging mitts.

Me? I think I’ll stick with the tuning fork company’s excellent WR250R dual-purpose bike. It’s a much better match for my off-road requirements — and my novice-class dirt-riding skills.

FOR THE TECHIES

Yamaha’s YZ250F has been the bread-and-butter machine for motocross racers for many years. Sod-humpers everywhere have been eagerly anticipating a new motorcycle, complete with fuel injection — after all, the company’s latest WR250R dual sport includes digital fuelling.

So it’s a bit odd to find that the new bike is still carbureted, though virtually everything else has changed. 

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New aluminum frame.

First up is a completely new aluminum, bilateral-beam frame that has revised geometry to improve cornering performance. Special attention was given to the steering head, which was dropped 12 mm and moved rearward (by 7 mm) along with better seals so pressure washers will have a harder time blasting the grease out of the bearings.

Said changes necessitated making the fuel tank slightly smaller (6.4 litres from 7) and moving it rearward, so it now nestles between the frame spars rather than enveloping the old single-backbone frame.

To ensure the rider is always in an optimum position the footpegs have been shifted and the handlebar is 5 mm higher, and the risers are four-way adjustable over a 30 mm range. Front suspension internals have been revised significantly, with new damping rates and the fork is adjustable for rebound and compression damping, with additional fork springs of varying rates available through Yamaha.

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Looks good in white.

The shock has the same basic damping characteristics as the ’09 model, but to provide clearance for the new air intake tube on the carb, the spring mounting position has been dropped by 29 mm, further lowering some mass. The shock features rebound and two-way compression damping, as well as spring preload adjustability.

Body panels are more compact, the radiator is slightly thicker and the seat has a new surface texture claimed to grip when needed, while allowing the rider to move about easily to transfer weight. It’s also claimed to resist clogging with mud and dirt to “ensure long lasting good looks.” Too bad Yamaha can’t do the same for the rider.

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So light it floats on water.

The 250 cc, five-valve engine was also changed significantly. The valve train has been lightened with aluminum valve retainers holding the titanium valves in place. The airbox now has a straight shot to the Keihin FCR 37 mm carburetor and the exhaust port has been narrowed into a “D” shape to speed up exhaust flow.

Internal changes include a redesigned clutch, revised transmission ratios for third and fourth gears, a sight window for oil level and a more compact dry-sump oil tank.

At 102 kg (224 lb) gassed up and ready to go, the 2010 YZ250F weighs exactly one pound less than the 2009 model.



SPECIFICATIONS

Bike YZ250F
MSRP $8,599 ($8,699 white)
Displacement 250 cc
Engine type Four-stroke dohc single, liquid-cooled
Horsepower (crank – claimed) NA
Torque (claimed) NA
Tank Capacity 6.4 L
Carburetion Keihin FCR 37 mm
Final drive Five speed, Chain drive
Tires, front 80/100-21
Tires, rear 100/90-19
Brakes, front Single  250 mm disc with dual-piston caliper
Brakes, rear Single 245 mm disc with single-piston caliper
Seat height 988 mm (38.7")
Wheelbase 1,466 mm (57.7")
Wet weight (claimed) 102 kg (224 lb)
Colours Blue, white
Warranty None (Hey, it’s a race bike)

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