An Every Man’s Guide to the Yamaha YZ 250: The Back Story

2011 Yamaha YZ 250
**ME**
Let us start by giving a little background on myself.  I am an overweight C rider that continues to do this sport because there is nothing else that provides me with this level of adrenaline (legally anyway). I am in constant pursuit of health and fitness but like many of us I am riddled with past injuries that hinder my ability to reach certain goals. However, I continually try even though sometimes they seem out of reach.  I’m 33 years old, 6’1″, 235lbs, and injuries include a fused left wrist, collapsed L2 vertebra, 11 screws in my left heel, a permanently dislocated left collarbone, and have had several other broken arms, ribs, fingers, and toes. I’m writing this review to give “normal” people a quality, real world review if they are contemplating a YZ250 or a 2-stroke in general.  I have a vast background in building stand-up jet skis, quads (don’t laugh), snowmobiles and dirt bikes. Everything I have done has been self taught so it proves that anyone with patience and attention to detail, is capable of any task that will be performed in this review/test.

**THE DECISION**
Growing up, like many of you, I used to watch Supercross on TV as if the whole world revolved around it, well I guess my whole world did revolve around it. I would sit inches from the TV and root for Damon Bradshaw like he could hear me. I had a 1974 Yamaha MX 80 that I would go and ride for hours on end in the 5 acre parcel that I called home. That was the only place I had ever ridden. My dad was not into dirt bikes whatsoever and the only riding partner I had was my buddy Erik who used to come over and ride the 1970 Yamaha 65. That lasted for a few years and eventually those bikes were out grown. When it was time to upgrade, the old Yamahas were sold off and I waited years to get a YZ80 that never came. I was instructed that if I wanted a dirt bike, I was to get a job and buy one.

Yamaha MX 80 Bike Reviews, my first dirt bike

Those bars, that seat, the fender?! The 70’s were awesome.

Needless to say, I bought a 1991 RM125 that needed a throttle cable and the subframe welded. This is where the passion for working on bikes began. I had my license now and it was legal to practice at the local track at the age of 16 without your parents (Milan Cycle City!). I was pumped, I couldn’t race till I was 18, but I was about to ride on a real track. I outfitted my 4 door Ford Tempo with a hitch and pulled an old 2 place snowmobile trailer out of the weeds and got it road worthy again.  A couple of buddies and I would meet up every Wednesday at the track, gear up in our jeans and work boots, and ride till they told us to stop.  Fast forward to 2000, I sold the 125 and bought a 1999 YZ400F. It was a tough decision after always dreaming about riding the same bike as my idol, Damon Bradshaw, but it turned out to be a good decision as I never had any problems with that bike. It treated me very well till 2003 when I had it up for sale to buy a new 450 and it was stolen. I was also shopping for a house at the same time. My dad would not claim the bike on his homeowners insurance because it was my fault for leaving it chained up to a tree too late one night. I came home at 12:30am and it was gone with the cut chain still there and I was out the $3500 I had it up for. Needless to say I moved out and couldn’t afford to replace it after buying a house at the peak of the market.

Damon Bradshaw and the YZ250

This was as close as I would get to Bradshaws bike…in 1994. Fast Forward 17 years and I would ride his steed. Kind of.

Fast forward again 2009. My buddy Erik, that I used to ride with as kids, invited me to a club track where another friend of mine allowed me to ride his 2008 KTM 450SXF which at the time I fell in love with, ended up owning, then hating, all in 2 years time. I learned a valuable lesson about buying a bike from an A rider that fixes everything with zip ties. No matter how cheap the bike is, it’s not a good deal. I parted out that p.o.s. and rode a YZ 250f for the rest of that season. Surprised was I when the 250f made things fun again! I ended up getting a good deal on a really clean 06 KX250F that didn’t run and we weren’t exactly sure what was wrong with it. In the meantime, I was meeting new people and a few of them had 2 strokes. I’ve always been a 2 stroke guy, always modding my sleds, skis, and even my quad (don’t tell anyone).  Just the sound of a nicely tuned 2-stroke is enough to get anyone excited.  Everyone remembers the sound of a holeshot back in the day. It sounded like a huge swarm of angry bees.  We were lucky enough to make it to Red Bud last summer where there were a couple of guys on 2-strokes doing Larocco’s leap.  We were reminded that Mike Larocco was the first to do that jump on a 125 2-stroke. No one was looking at the guys on 4-strokes anymore. I stared at that KX all winter dreading tearing the motor all the way down and rebuilding it with the 30 million parts it takes to make a four stroke run. If it was a 2-stroke, it would have been done already.

The test was coming as I decided not to rebuild this. YZ250 2011 Review to come

As simple as riding four strokes makes moto-life for us vet class C-riders, I was destined for a two stroke for 2012. Will I like the switch? Time will tell.

I finally decided that I was destined to own a newer version of Bradshaw’s bike that he almost won the championship on. The search was on for a “like new” Yamaha YZ 250 2-stroke. They have everything I had come to like about the 250F without all the expensive moving parts! The 250f to me was a joy because you could not be lazy on it. 450s tended to make me worse at corners because I never needed to carry speed.  The 2-stroke is roughly 10 HP more at the same weight as a 250F.  It is also legal to race a 250 2-stroke against a 250 4-stroke in amateur competition with an obvious advantage.  Everyone I talk to and everything I read elates to the fact that 2-strokes are way more fun anyway. I am not a contender for the national championship this year, so the main reason I’m involved is because this stuff is fun.  I also fall into vet status now so I can basically race whatever I want.  I found a 2011 Yamaha YZ 250 that had never been ridden and was currently suspended by ENZO with a “freestyle” setup. The guy was a retired freestyler that had a contract fall through after getting some new equipment. With a new daughter and new job, he decided to dump the bike for a really good price. I made the 4 hour drive to look and leave a deposit, and again the following weekend to pick her up. Needless to say it’s sweet. The weather is starting to break now, so hopefully the first ride report will be in soon!

P.S.
I don’t own a quad anymore.

To read more stories in this series CLICK HERE

Here are some pictures of the new ride (click to enlarge):