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Tested: 2021 Yamaha YZ250F

Yamaha’s development train shows no sign of slowing down. The 2020 YZ250F was one of the best-selling models in the UK because the bike ticks the boxes on so many levels for a wide range of riders too. But not content on just a few suspension tweaks and bold new graphics, Yamaha’s potent YZ250F is making a bid to be the best MX2 bike you can buy by having every component redesigned for 2021. With the new chassis that the 450 had for 2020 and a heap of engine mods, it’s a whole new machine.

It’s an all-new bike designed for more power from the mid-range to the top end through the use of a new exhaust camshaft with a revised profile, new fuel injection settings, a new longer silencer, updated ECU and improved water pump impeller. And the intake system is completely new.

A redesigned airbox means goodbye to the old school inlet funnel. The airbox has also been shortened by 20mm to allow a smoother and more direct route for the incoming air. A new air filter housing cover on the front of the seat has new channels for improved flow and increases the volume of the intake air for even better performance at high revs. The clutch holder has thicker walls that are stronger, third, fourth and fifth gears on both the ingoing and the outgoing shaft are re-designed some of the gears are glass bead blasted to improve efficiency.

Willet flies high on the 2021 YZ250F. This is the Monster Energy special edition – same as stock but with different looks

The bars are further  forward, there is a new triple clamp, bar mounts and front axle. The fantastic Kayaba SSS forks and rear shock have been revalved, there is a bigger front caliper and bigger discs all round. And In terms of looks, there are new blue bits on the side plates, rims and head. That’s a lot of changes, and they all work. Once again the bike really is good and ticks all the boxes across the board.

The YZ-Fs await their thrashing!

The 2021 model feels and handles like a dream. The old-school style track of Bielstein in Germany, where I tested the bike, would find any weakness instantly due to the mixed terrain. But the Yamaha came through with no issues at all.

Once on the bike I felt straight away it has a comfortable, well-balanced feel and the controls had a perfectly neutral position.

Watch out berms, we’re coming to get ya!

I did five 20-minute motos on the bike which allowed me to make some adjustments. The bike was sprung for my weight and all the clickers set at standard at first. So I rode the bike exactly as it would come out of the crate.

The YZ is better than ever

In the 250F class, we all concentrate a lot on the power and the previous model had a awesome throttle response which delivers a power right through the range right off the throttle. But the top end power didn’t match the rpm. In short, the power signed off earlier than the revs. I know this is the case with every bike but when you are so near to having a perfect combination between rpm and power like the YZ250F has been for a few years now, it gets a little frustrating. The engine just needed a little extra to be so good. I’ve ridden the factory team bikes and know what power they achieve, so it’s definitely possible.

The bike feels lighter than it really is, thanks to the backwards-style motor

Well this year Yamaha have decided to give the riders more mid to top end and it’s highly welcomed. This has been done while still keeping that wide usable power range so it’s a great motor.

The upgraded clutch is massively welcomed too. A beefier clutch was a must last year so it will definitely be needed with the extra power the motor is pushing out in 2021. The gearbox feels slick and the brakes have been improved to match the extra ponies, too.

There are a lot of changes to the new bike

The new 2021 feels and handles better than the 2020 model. It’s slimmer and more pinpoint accurate with the power to complement its handling ability.

I have always rated the Yamaha’s response and throttle-to-rear wheel connection but this year it even feels better, especially with a slicker clutch and gear change. I found I didn’t have to work the gearbox as much as previously because I could leave the motor in a higher gear or let it rev out more.

There’s more power and the handling is nimble too

Personally I found the stock suspension settings a little harsh this year but it’s an easy fix. I opened the high speed compression up on the rear shock to allow for a better stroke action which gave better traction out of the turns. I opened the rebound up on the front forks while adding more to the compression which improved the action and front end grip. The track had a few stones and square-edged bumps so by making those little adjustments, I found the front wheel followed over the ground better.

The suspension is KYB spring and as always, is good. But it needs setting up

My conclusion is that if you liked the bike last year you’ll rave about it this year. And if you didn’t like the bike because of the lack of top end or its wide feel, I recommend you try the 2021 model.

The old school track was no problem for the YZ250F