First Impression: 2004 Yamaha YZ250—Still The One?

Today, TransWorld Motocross met up with the guys from Yamaha Motor Co. out at Cahuilla Creek MX Park in Anza, CA, to take delivery of our 2004 Yamaha YZ250 test bike. And how was it? Let’s just say that if every Monday were as good as today, we wouldn’t dread the start of a new week!


Last year, the 2003 Yamaha YZ250 won our annual 250cc MX Shootout by a landslide, garnering first-place votes from three out of four of our test riders. With an incredible motor, great suspension and a good-handling chassis, the YZ250 was definitely the cream of the crop.

For 2004, the list of updates and changes made to the blue bomber are minimal. The biggest news are the new 48mm Kayaba forks, which feature a new hydraulic bottoming system and revised internal valving. Out back, the shock has a new compression adjuster and a lighter shock spring. New titanium footpegs and a gripper seat cover pretty much round out the package, as the motor remains unchanged for the new year.

Enough of the technical mumbo jumbo…how does the bike work? Let’s just say that we’re plenty glad that the Yamaha guys elected to leave the engine alone, as the YZ250 powerplant is as close to perfection as you could ask for. Great low-end, monstrous mid-range and great top-end overrev makes this the motor to beat for the second year in a row. Rev it or chug it; the YZ250 motor can do it all for all types of riders.


As was the case with the ’04 YZ125 that we tested a few weeks ago, we were stoked with the performance of the new 48mm Kayaba forks. As delivered, the compression adjusters were set at 15 clicks out. Under heavy braking, we felt that the forks dove a little too deep into the compression stroke, so we sent in a couple clicks stiffer. At the same time, we added a click of rebound dampening in the rear shock, and the result was a well-balanced bike that did a great job of smoothing out the Cahuilla Creek track surface.

We’d be lying if we said that we could tell that the new footpegs were titanium when we were on the track, but in the pits they sure look plenty trick! The new gripper cover offers just the right amount of traction. While the rough surface is tacky enough to grab the seat of your pants, it isn’t so grippy that it pulls your pants down and gives you the dreaded plumber’s crack.

Having spent a full day on the new bike, we feel quite confident that the Yamaha YZ250 will again be the bike to beat in 2004…

Click the link on the right at the top of this page for a video of our senior test rider, Rich Taylor, in action aboard the YZ250.