Following on from the massive technological advancements to Yamaha’s MX1 flagship for 2018, it was only natural for all that juicy tech to filter down to the MX2 machine for 2019. We sent Scotty Columb over to Aussie to give it a go before any other Kiwi got a chance.
“Get ya passport ready Scotty, because you’re off to Willowbank MX Park in Brisbane to test out the new 2019 YZ250F for DRD.” Yep, I was off to Aussie after the call came down from DRD Ed, Paul, that he needed someone to test Yamaha’s all-new MX2 machine.
And when Yamaha say the model is “all-new”, they really mean it. Okay, the changes aren’t exactly a surprise, but essentially the bLU cRU have taken all the best improvements from the latest YZ450F and adapted them for the lites machine. And with the current YZ250F still really competitive, I was interested to see what it was going to be like with a bit of the same magic they’d sprinkled on the 450. And nothing was left alone, with the powerplant, frame, suspension and electronics all getting some form of attention, varying from something minor like a change in angle by a degree or two, or a complete update.
One thing of note straight outta the gate is that a Yamaha is still blue to its core, but like the YZ450F there’s now an option of Competition White available. I don’t think it will stay white for long – a bit like ya jocks, sometimes they change colour after ya have one of those “moments” over a kicker – but if you’re not a fan of blue there’s another option.
First impressions are that the bike’s ergonomics are upgraded, 19mm lower in the rear of the seat, making the bike’s cockpit flatter, as well as being 9mm lower in the middle. Foot pegs are also lower because of these adjustments made to the ride height, which would likely be a real bonus if you’re of average height as the YZs were always really tall.
The width of the bike is 18mm narrower than the previous model, and that’s even with the air filter located front and centre of the saddle. All new plastics with a change in contour forward of the saddle mean you can grip tighter with your knees, thus giving a better feel and maneuverability of the machine, and the 250F really does feel small and agile.
After sitting down with the rest of the other testers, a nice bloke from Yamaha Australia called Geeza – he’s got a real name, Sean, and is the Communications Manager at Yamaha Australia – tells us everything we need to know about the new 2019 model. There’s so much information on the plethora of changes Yamaha have made to the YZ250F for 2019, it’s almost daunting.
However, stand out points where a smaller fuel tank, moving from 7.5 litres down to 6.2, mass engine updates, and importantly an electric starter matched with a lightweight lithium battery bringing it up to speed with the European MX2 competition. Oh, and don’t go looking for the kick-starter as there isn’t one and the exhaust can be hot!
Yamaha have also gone all out on the chassis and made adjustments to the frame, head angle and the engine mounting in the aim for more balanced rigidity characteristics. Add to that stronger wheels – still conventional round wheels but the rims are stronger! – and updated KYB suspension and you’ve got a very appealing package. After all was said and done, I was chomping at the bit to get out and race… I mean, test (okay, it’s always a race at these press events) the new machine.
After a lap around the car park just to feel the bike and controls it was onto the track, wide open. The rasp of the exhaust is amazing; it sounds great and I think you don’t even need an aftermarket one, the stock one was that impressive. After 5 or 6 laps of pinning it to win, I had to pull in and rest my arms. Taking the time to speak with a couple of Yamaha mechanics, a few adjustments were made to the controls.
Now, this bike pulls really well in the mid-power range, right where you want to be. But when you hit full throttle or up top, the bike opens up and goes in to “turbo mode” and revs to the moon. The mods to the DOHC powerplant for 2019 have turned this into an amazing engine that just pulls like a freight train. There is also less induction noise with the new air-box, which conveniently features a single piece Dzus clip for easy access to change filters, which also now stay cleaner as they are away from the rear wheel.
After a bit of talking smack with other riders about the track and bike, it was time to load maps onto the ECU. Now like its big brother, Yamaha have an app you download on your smart phone. After connecting to the bike’s WiFi, you can load pre-programmed maps, with the three basic settings: hard-hitting power (loamy), linear TRQ (hard pack) and smooth linear (slippery) settings. I tested them all out, and you can even switch between map 1 and 2 with a push of a button on the fly with the bar-mounted button. Oh, and on the handlebars, they’ve been reduced in weight but not strength due to a thinner bar wall and higher strength metal.
Back out on the track and it’s easily to notice there is substantial differences in the maps. My favourite was the hard-hitting power, but it would entirely depend on rider preference and course. Then, of course, you can play with your phone and adjust fuel and air mixtures yourself and load them on to the ECU, with the safety of not going so extreme that you risk doing damage to the engine. There are also many other features with the app, allowing you to put in information like track settings, air temp, maintenance records, run time of the bike and more. It’s like playing at being an MXGP mechanic which I found I rather enjoyed, or at least ya dad will.
The course chosen by Yamaha to show off the new YZ was beautifully ripped, loamy dirt and with some sand sections. There were no jumps, but lots of ruts and berms to rail. There was a jump track out the back where a few whips and cross-ups were done. No complaints here as the bike flew well in the air. However, I felt the rear shock, which is new, was hurting my back and felt a little harsh on acceleration bumps and braking. A few of the other riders also felt this.
Everyone made their own adjustments and I went a few clicks softer and faster on the rebound and that was it. The forks were also dropped in the clamps 3mm, and from here I just went around and around and around, happy as a pig in shit. I have to admit, I had one hell of a day on this new machine.
The bike comes with Bridgestone tyres and felt like glue around the Aussie circuit. Changes have been made to the steering head angle and frame, but not having ridden the ‘18 model I couldn’t compare the two. But any improvement must have been right because this bike seemed to handle and feel great. As you may or may not know, a lot of new model testing is done by ex-pros, and a Kiwi guy named Josh Coppins (you might have heard of him…) had a lot to do with tuning the general feel and make-up of the bike, so you know it’s going to be good.
The 2019 YZ250F feels great, is fast and corners fantastic. The only slight niggles I had was that it sometimes struggled a little starting if you were in gear, but it sure beats kicking it in the guts. And another thing was every now and then the footpeg would get jammed up with the heavy dirt. To be honest I may be getting a little too picky here, but there was nothing else negative to comment on. And I reckon the fact Courtney Duncan and Aaron Plessinger are dominating on these bikes, I’m sure you will be alright too!