Performance updates to CRF250R highlight extensive CRF lineup

From the fire-breathing, high-flying CRF450RWE all the way down to the friendly, cute CRF50F, Honda’s off-road motorcycle lineup is the most all-encompassing and versatile on the powersports market, a fact that was driven home when American Honda today made its first new-model announcement of the 2020 model year. With eight and four machines respectively, Honda’s CRF Performance and CRF Trail families offer something for everyone, whether they be pro-level racers looking to give Ken Roczen and Cole Seely a run for their money, youngsters preparing for their first two-wheel forays, or anyone in between.

The newest iterations of Honda’s proven full-size motocross models—the CRF250R and CRF450R, as well as the elite CRF450RWE—all receive important upgrades to raise performance levels even higher, while the CRF150R mini is back again in 2020. The CRF450RX and CRF250RX closed-course off-road racers benefit from the same improvements as their track-focused siblings, while the CRF450X off-roader and CRF450L dual-sport machine return for the new model year with updated graphics. At the other end of the spectrum, the approachable, fun 2020 CRF250F, CRF125F, CRF110F and CRF50F await recreational riders with trail-focused performance and proven reliability.

“For generations, Honda has demonstrated its commitment to the dirt bike market, and that’s never been truer than now,” said Chris Cox, American Honda’s Manager of Experiential Marketing/Press. “Our 2020 lineup of off-road models, including the CRF Performance and CRF Trail families, comprises machines that are top-of-class for motocross, off-road competition, trail riding and, in the case of the CRF450L, even using streets to extend off-road adventures. With such a capable and diverse collection of motorcycles, you can once again expect to see a lot of red on tracks and trails from coast to coast.”

CRF PERFORMANCE LINE
Last year saw Honda significantly expand its CRF Performance family to include machines for riding applications including motocross, closed-course off-road, pure off-road, and even dual sport. For 2020, a number of models in the lineup get important upgrades to keep Red Riders running at the front of the pack.

CRF450R
For 2020, Honda’s flagship CRF450R—the same platform raced by Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Cole Seely—puts more engine-management choices at the fingertips of racers, with the addition of Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC). Developed through HRC’s worldwide racing effort, the system maximizes rear-tire hookup to keep all of the Unicam® engine’s horsepower driving the bike and rider forward, improving racing success regardless of track conditions. In keeping with racing-body regulations, the system measures rate of rpm increase and adjusts delivery accordingly, and a handlebar-mounted switch enables selection from three levels of delivery (most in class). In addition, the CRF450R’s front-rear balance is refined and handling is improved thanks to internal suspension updates, and a new battery position that lowers the machine’s center of gravity. Improved rear-brake pad performance and durability, and the exclusive specification of Dunlop Geomax® MX3S tires round out a machine that’s ready to take riders to the next level.

CRF450RWE
Following a successful debut year in which it quickly caught the eye of performance-hungry enthusiasts who demand the absolute best, the CRF450RWE (“Works Edition”) gets even better for 2020, with updates based on the machines in the Team Honda HRC factory race shop. Already a dominant force when it comes to lap times, this exclusive model now features a full titanium Yoshimura exhaust system, as a lightweight Ti header (the first of its kind on a Honda motocross model) joins the titanium Yosh muffler, all specifically designed to work with the model’s hand-polished ports. Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), developed through HRC’s worldwide racing effort, now comes standard, enabling three levels of intervention via a handlebar-mounted switch, and a new battery position lowers the machine’s center of gravity. Rounding out the changes are internal suspension updates, improved rear brake-pad performance and durability, new dual-compound Renthal grips and graphic updates.

CRF450RX
Ridden to the 2018 AMA National Grand Prix Championship (NGPC) by JCR Honda’s Trevor Stewart, the CRF450RX returns for 2020 with the addition of Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), improving rear-wheel hookup in the limited-traction situations so common in closed-course off-road racing. A new battery position lowers the center of gravity for improved handling, and internal suspension updates yield improved machine balance. Just like the 2019 platform campaigned by Stewart, SLR Honda’s Ricky Dietrich and Phoenix Racing Honda’s Andrew Delong, the 2020 CRF450RX maintains its off-road pedigree with a model-specific ECU and 18-inch rear wheel, aluminum side stand and large fuel tank.

CRF450X
With wins in 21 of the last 22 Baja 1000s (including 12 with the CRF450X), it’s no secret that Honda rules the legendary off-road race, and in the Baja debut of the model’s new iteration, SLR Honda kicked off the 2019 SCORE International series with a win in the San Felipe 250. A true off-road machine, the CRF450X is 50-state off-road legal and is suitable for year-round racing and trail riding. With off-road appropriate features like a sidestand, 18-inch rear wheel, headlight, sealed chain and six-speed transmission, it’s ready for desert expanses or tight woods, and it gets new graphics for the 2020 model year.

CRF450L
Having taken the dual-sport world by storm since its debut last year, the road-legal CRF450L expands customers’ off-road possibilities by enabling access to the best riding trails on public lands, even when that means connecting them via asphalt roads. Based on the CRF450R, the CRF450L is a performance off-road machine, but it also has the comfort and durability to make riding it and owning it a pleasure in the long run. Already armed with features like a titanium fuel tank, six-speed transmission and LED lighting, the CRF450L gets new graphics for 2020.

CRF250R
The machine that took Jace Owen to the 2019 Kicker Arenacross title victory and powered Amsoil Honda’s Jo Shimoda to the win at the 2018 Monster Energy Cup Amateur All-Star race gets a host of important updates for 2020, including engine enhancements aimed at bettering low-to-midrange power, and chassis revisions that improve handling. To increase torque and improve driveability, the cam profile is new, the intake and exhaust valves have been revised, the combustion chamber is reshaped, and the exhaust resonator has been removed. At the same time, maneuverability has been improved through a lighter frame and swingarm with optimized flex characteristics, along with a lower battery position and internal front-and-rear suspension updates.

CRF250RX
Campaigned in national championship off-road racing by JCR Honda’s Preston Campbell, SLR Honda’s Tallon LaFountaine and Phoenix Racing Honda’s Austin Lee, the CRF250RX features closed-course off-road specific components like a large fuel tank, aluminum sidestand, and 18-inch rear wheel, and for 2020, it receives a host of important updates, including engine enhancements aimed at bettering low-to-midrange power, and chassis revisions that improve handling. To increase torque and improve driveability, the cam profile is new, the intake and exhaust valves have been revised, the combustion chamber is reshaped, and the exhaust resonator has been removed. At the same time, maneuverability has been improved through a lighter frame and swingarm with optimized flex characteristics, along with a lower battery position and internal suspension updates.

 

CRF150R (above)/ CRF150R Big Wheel (below)
Honda’s smallest motocrosser delivers smooth, ample torque across the rev range thanks to its Unicam four-stroke engine—unique in the mini MX world. Showa suspension components include a rear shock working through a Pro-Link rear suspension system, and a 37mm inverted fork. The CRF150R is offered in both standard and Big Wheel versions, the latter featuring larger wheels, a taller seat height, and more rear suspension travel to better suit larger riders.

 

CRF TRAIL LINE
Motorcycling is armed with legions of riders who got their start on Honda trail bikes, and with the 2020 lineup of CRF Trail models, that trend is sure to continue long into the future.

CRF250F
The flagship of Honda’s CRF Trail line, the CRF250F can take riders from their first time on dirt to tackling challenging trails. Electronically controlled Keihin fuel injection, it’s 50-state off-road legal, and and the SOHC long-stroke, air-cooled engine delivers quality power for smooth acceleration and excellent rear-wheel hookup. A steel perimeter frame and Showa suspension deliver confidence-inspiring handling and a compliant ride, both at speed and through technical sections. Add it all up and the result is a fun-but-capable trail bike that’s ready for anything—and any rider.

CRF125F / CRF125F Big Wheel
A mid-sized trail bike with power for full-sized trail obstacles, the CRF125F is available in both a standard version and the Big Wheel, which accommodates taller riders via larger front- and rear wheels, longer-travel suspension and a higher seat. The SOHC 124cc engine delivers its power smoothly, and Keihin electronic fuel injection offers dependability and clean running for 50-state off-road legality, while the steel twin-spar frame and Showa suspension deliver a smooth, nimble ride. With their fun performance and CRF Performance line looks, both versions of the CRF125F promise years of recreational trail-riding enjoyment.

CRF110F
No model more perfectly encapsulates Honda’s proud heritage—extending all the way back to the 1973 XR75—of offering four-stroke dirt bikes that are kid-sized but full-featured, and that beckon new riders to experience the trails. With a clutch-less four-speed semi-automatic transmission and a predictable power delivery, the CRF110F makes learning a breeze. Of course Honda’s proven durability means the machine will continue delivering smiles long after riding skills develop, so there’s no telling where it could take generations of youngsters.

CRF50F
The modern version of the classic, beloved, Z50, the pocketsize CRF50F delivers kids’ first riding thrills (and lifelong memories!) via a 49cc air-cooled engine with an automatic clutch. Ten-inch wheels enable a low seat height and facilitate spirited, nimble handling, helping pack more fun per cubic centimeter into this kids bike than any motorcycle around.

The world-beating KTM SX motocross range just got better. From the junior KTM 50 SX right up to the KTM 450 SX-F powerhouse the model year 2020 KTM SX line-up, which will be arriving in dealers soon, has received refinements and performance updates to ensure these machines are more READY TO RACE than ever.

After the race is before the race and when it comes to competing in the most prestigious championships around the world, this mantra is an important one to live by. KTM’s desire to win in AMA Supercross and the FIM Motocross World Championship continues to be demonstrated with outstanding performances in each series thanks to KTM’s focus on creating the sharpest weapons for the toughest battles. This READY TO RACE mindset and development in the most challenging arenas is translated directly into our serial production models.

Following on from last year’s ground-breaking introduction of a new KTM SX generation, for model year 2020 the 2-stroke KTM 125 SX, KTM 150 SX and KTM 250 SX, and the 4-stroke KTM 250 SX-F, KTM 350 SX-F and KTM 450 SX-F have received performance-enhancing engine updates to ensure they remain at the fore and as battle-ready as ever. These detailed refinements, that have been developed with KTM´s test riders in Europe and the USA along with factory racers around the globe, complement the high-quality serial components that the KTM SX range already boasts.

2020 KTM 250 SX

New graphics and colors give the range a fresh look for the new season, while an E-starter and a map select switch with integrated traction control and launch control on 4-stroke machines, premium brakes supplied by Brembo, No-Dirt footpegs are fitted as standard to KTM’s class-leading line-up. High-quality exhaust systems, plastics, and seats join the reworked WP XACT suspension with the proven AER technology, which offers enhanced handling for the model year 2020.

Designed by the very same engineers that are responsible for the bikes raced by the likes of Jeffrey HerlingsAntonio Cairoli and Cooper Webb, the KTM sport mini-cycle line-up continues to set the benchmark in out-of-the-crate performance for junior riders. For the model year 2020, the KTM 50 SX, KTM 65 SX, and KTM 85 SX have a new look and feature the WP XACT suspension for precise handling and stability in the toughest motocross terrain.

All of the junior models boast premium components such as high-quality Formula brakes, a high-strength steel frame, ergonomically designed bodywork, and high-performance engines. For the model year 2020 the KTM 65 SX has a reworked ignition curve for improved performance, while the carburetor has been optimized for better power delivery. Its bigger brother, the KTM 85 SX, has a new transmission drive shaft fixing for safer sprocket fixation. The KTM 85 SX also has a reworked muffler with improved packing wool, which saves weight.

2020 KTM 85 SX

In addition, the KTM SX-E 5 will join the sport mini-cycles as another competitive option for junior riders. Based on the KTM 50 SX with its high-end chassis, but powered by an electric motor, the KTM SX-E 5 is easy to ride, has zero emissions, low noise and requires minimal maintenance – giving riders more options for places to ride, whilst being easy to use. The height of the bike is also completely adjustable, and it is aimed at riders aged from 4 to 10 years old, making it an exciting new model in the KTM line-up. The KTM SX-E 5 will be launched this summer.

“To be the consistent performer at any level of racing, you have to continue to progress in development. The work never stops – whether that’s here in Mattighofen, or with our engineers in the USA. The KTM SX range model year 2020 has received a number of updates to complement last year’s groundbreaking new generation models, and we can see that our continued efforts in development are paying off – our athletes both in Supercross and Motocross have enjoyed some fantastic results so far this season. Utilizing the same R&D team as their bigger brothers, the KTM sport mini-cycle models remain at the very forefront of junior racing competition with detailed refinements for MY2020. In addition, we are excited for the highly anticipated launch of the all-new KTM SX-E 5 electric mini-cycle, which will arrive this summer,” said KTM´s Senior Product Manager Offroad, Joachim Sauer.

2020 KTM 450 SX-F

Yamalube Yamaha Rally team riders are all set to take on the 2019 Dakar aboard the newest edition of the WR450F Rally works machine. With this 41st edition of the prestigious event contested exclusively in Peru, Yamaha will be strongly represented by Adrien Van Beveren, Xavier de Soultrait, and Rodney Faggotter. Franco Caimi’s participation will be decided prior to the event’s start in Peru. Working hard during the last few months to be ready for the biggest event in the annual rally racing calendar, the Yamalube Yamaha Rally team members are all looking forward to the 2019 Dakar. Remaining under the guidance of team director Alexandre Kowalski, team manager José Leloir and sport manager Jordi Arcarons, all riders are looking to make the most of their experience as they battle against the world’s elite rally racers in what is expected to be an anything but easy event.

Spearheading the team’s efforts for yet another year is Adrien Van Beveren. One of the revelations of the 2018 Dakar Rally, Adrien is eager to impress by fighting for the overall victory next January. At the top of his game following months of hard work, the French rider is now ready to do battle in the dunes of Peru. “I couldn’t be any happier with how things have worked out the last few months. I had some good weeks of training on and off the bike and I feel I’ve made a big step going into the Dakar. Physically I feel even stronger than last year and I just want to work on some minor details before heading to Peru. Race organisers announced there’ll be more than 90% of dune stages. I love racing in sand so I feel really comfortable going into this rally. With the race being shorter and more intense than in the past, I believe the level of competition will be quite high. These conditions really suit my style of racing and I really can’t wait to take the start of the race in Lima.”

Putting in many thousands of racing and training kilometres aboard his WR450F Rally machine in 2018, Xavier de Soultrait is set to enter the fifth Dakar Rally of his career this coming January. Working hard to further improve his navigational skills, the Frenchman has his eyes set on climbing onto the podium in Lima. “If the race started tomorrow, I’m happy to say I’d be 100% ready for it. These last few months I’ve been working hard, riding my rally bike in the sand in France and elsewhere. Physically I feel strong and I’ve also worked a lot on navigation. Last year I had a very good first week in the dunes of Peru. We’ve done a couple of races there now so I am feeling comfortable with the terrain and the conditions in the area. The next Dakar will be shorter and I like this new format. We’ve made some small changes to the gearing and the suspension and our bike now is perfect for the conditions we expect to have. I’ve studied the stages a lot and made my plans for each one of them. If it all goes well I believe I have a good chance to be among the frontrunners and battle for a good overall result in Peru.”

Playing a crucial role for the Yamalube Yamaha Rally team during the last two Dakar Rallies, Rodney Faggotter remains with the squad going into the 2019 edition of the event. Enjoying an extremely consistent run that saw him finish 16th overall at the 2018 Dakar Rally, the Aussie will look to improve on this result in January 2019. “I’m looking forward to the 2019 Dakar. I’ve been racing some Bajas and training hard back home in Australia these last few months. I feel strong physically and also mentally. In the beginning of December we’ve spent a full week testing and training with the team in Morocco and that was a good morale booster for me. We have a great spirit within the team and I want to be there for my teammates if they need me. I want to have a good clean run and do my own race. This Dakar might seem shorter, but we all know it’s still going to be a long and demanding race. If it all goes well, I’m confident I can improve my overall result from last year and fight for a spot inside the top-10.”

With the team 100% ready to have Franco Caimi enter the 2019 Dakar Rally, his participation will be decided just before the start of the race. Doing everything possible to return to full fitness following his injury during the Morocco Rally, the rider from Argentina is expecting to undergo his last medical checks just a few days before the start of the event. “I’ve been working really hard to get back to fitness and I’m getting stronger and stronger every day. Ever since I came back home to Argentina after my injury in Morocco, I’ve been closely following the plan that my doctors together with my trainers have set for me. I’ve been working every day either in the swimming pool or on my bicycle and I will jump on my rally bike as soon as the doctors allow me to do so. I am doing the best I can at the moment and I am positive I will be allowed to race the Dakar in January. A few days before the start in Lima, I’ll have to pass the medical exams from ASO and then I’ll know whether or not I can race. For the past few weeks I’m making good progress and I am positive I will be able to make it happen.”

Further strengthening Yamaha’s presence at the 2019 Dakar will be Camelia Liparoti. Teaming up with Rosa Romero Font as her co-driver, the two highly-experienced racers will compete in Yamaha’s YXZ1000R side-by-side machine at the coming edition of the event in Peru. Taking place in the southern part of Peru, the 2019 Dakar Rally features a total of 10 demanding stages. The race kicks off on January 7 in Lima, with competitors returning to the Peruvian city for the big finish on January 17 and after an exhaustive 5,000km in the dunes of the South American country.

Race Schedule – Dakar Rally 2019
Stage 1 | Jan 7 | Lima to Pisco | SS: 84km | Total: 331km
Stage 2 | Jan 8 | Pisco to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 342km | Total: 554km
Stage 3 | Jan 9 | San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa | SS: 331km | Total: 779km
Stage 4 | Jan 10 | Arequipa to Moquegua | SS: 352km | Total: 511km
Stage 5 | Jan 11 | Moquegua to Arequipa | SS: 345km | Total: 776km
Rest Day | Jan 12 | Arequipa
Stage 6 | Jan 13 | Arequipa to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 317km | Total: 839km
Stage 7 | Jan 14 | San Juan de Marcona to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 323km | Total: 387km
Stage 8 | Jan 15 | San Juan de Marcona to Pisco | SS: 361km | Total: 576km
Stage 9 | Jan 16 | Pisco to Pisco | SS: 313km | Total: 410km
Stage 10 | Jan 17 | Pisco to Lima | SS: 112km | Total: 358km

 

Honda have stepped into the ‘sports side-by-side’ market, in a highly anticipated move, finally with new all-new models: the 2019 Honda Talon 1000X and Honda Talon 1000R. Released during a special event in conjunction with Honda’s Automobile Division, and coinciding with the Los Angeles Auto Show, American Honda proudly unveiled the two aggressive looking four-wheeled off-roaders. Having held a strong position in the two-wheeled off-road market for decades with the CR and CRF lineup, and recently introducing the Pioneer multipurpose side-by-side, Honda made the decision to marry the two, creating a new level of off-road excitement, precision, performance, and quality to sport side-by-side driving.

 

The Honda Talon 1000X, specified at 64.0 inches (1651 mm) wide, has 2.0-inch body Fox Podium Quick Switch 3 shocks (QS3), with 5/8-inch shafts combined with the double-wishbone front suspension design and 3-Link rear system. The suspension has 14.6 inches (371 mm) travel at the front end, and 15.1 inches (383 mm) of suspension travel at the rear. The one-piece frame retains consistent geometry even when pushed under the hardest loads, for a controlled and confidence-inspiring ride. The 999cc parallel-twin four-valve engine features Honda’s own Unicam® design, mated to a high-tech Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT), with two automatic drive modes as well as the steering-column paddle shifters for Manual mode. The Talon 1000X also utilises Honda’s I-4WD, the powersports industry’s first and only brake traction control system, managing the amount of slip between the front wheels in four-wheel drive. The system also optimises brakeforce distribution, applying pressure to the most effective wheels during braking in two-wheel drive. The Talon 1000X also features Hill-Start assist, temporarily holding the vehicle in place when stopped on an ascent, simplifying the process of resuming motion.

 

The Honda Talon 1000R shares 85% of its parts with the Talon 1000X, diverging only in wheelbase, width, and suspension arrangement. The Talon 1000R is 68.4 inches (1737 mm) wide, 4.4 inches wider and 5 inches longer than its sibling. The Talon 1000R has a double-wishbone front suspension layout, and a 4+ Link rear configuration, with 2.5-inch body Fox Podium QS3 shocks with 17.1-inches of travel front, and 20.1-inches of travel at the rear. The combination results in remarkable performance in diverse situations, but is particularly impressive in high-speed, rough conditions.

“For some time now, our customers have told us they’re ready to purchase a high-performance sport side-by-side from Honda, and I’m particularly pleased that we’re now able to offer them not one, but two all-new models,” said Chuck Boderman, Vice President, Motorcycle Division at American Honda. “We know that many sport side-by-side enthusiasts own Honda powersports products of other types or have a strong emotional connection with our brand. Now, the Talon 1000X and Talon 1000R—both U.S.-developed and -produced sport side-by-sides that are uniquely capable and incredibly reliable—connect these worlds.”

Pricing is due in February 2019, with the first units expected here ‘mid-2019’… Scroll down for more photos!

 

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!