By Brendan Lutes
Photos and video by Donn Maeda
Sometimes change isn't always a good thing. And for Yamaha, after extensively updating the YZ250F for 2012, further changing it for ’13 just wasn't in the cards. After all, sales for the bike were excellent last year and it did well enough in magazine shootouts.
We aren't going to sugarcoat it; the 2013 YZ250F is unchanged aside from a new white rear fender and bold new graphics, as 2012 was the year the bike received a laundry list of changes. Last year, the motor was given numerous updates, including a new carburetor, piston, and cylinder head. When combined, the bike produced better more useable power that hit hard off the bottom and revved out into the upper echelons of the top-end. Perhaps the biggest change last year, however, was the frame and swingarm, which were all new and drastically changed the handling characteristics of the machine, creating a bike that not only felt more planted and connected to the track, but turned more precisely as well. Add to that the improved suspension settings, and last year's bike could withstand rough chop, hard hits, and big jumps alike, and for the most part, please even the pickiest test rider.
Since the 2013 YZF is unchanged from last year's highly updated bike, our impression this year is much the same as last. Motor-wise, the YZF is very strong, producing excellent power right off the bottom that leads into great top-end pull. One major problem that we found in our initial testing of this bike, though, was a bog when landing off big jumps or suddenly cracking the throttle open to power out of corners. To fix this, we went in one turn on the accelerator pump on the carburetor, slowing it down and allowing the mechanism to shoot gas into the cylinder at just the right moment. After making the adjustment, the bog was all but eliminated and our confidence was enhanced, knowing that we could charge harder off big jumps and through corners. One might think that being the only carbureted 250cc four-stroke would be a disadvantage, however, if properly jetted and set up, the carburetor actually helps the bike produce very strong aggressive power, which is the reasoning behind Yamaha continuing to offer a carbureted YZ250F. Be that as it may, though, EFI would be a very welcomed update to the bike and would likely eliminate the bog we experienced.
The Kayaba suspension on the YZF was a little soft at first for some of our faster test riders, but that was quickly fixed with a few clicker adjustments. All told, we went in two clicks on the compression front and rear and one quarter turn in on the high-speed compression on the shock. After that, the bike handled flawlessly. In spite of being stiffer, it still remained progressive and forgiving, yet was stiff enough to resist bottoming on big jump or g-outs. Furthermore, as the track got rougher the bike soaked up the bumps with ease and didn't kick or buck.
In 2012, we were very impressed with the handling characteristics of the bike, and the 2013 machine is no different. When combined with the superb KYB suspension, the chassis gives the bike a very planted, connected feel out on the track and allows the rider to charge much harder over any obstacle. The bike also has a lightweight feel that allows it to be thrown around easily, and some of our test riders commented that they felt they could ride the bike for a longer period of time thanks to the exceptional chassis characteristics and superb suspension.
With only one day of riding on this bike, we still have a lot of testing and seat time to put in. In spite of that, however, since it's by and large the same as 2012, we already have a pretty good idea of how it will withstand our testing. For a more in-depth review of the bike, be sure to check out the next issue of TransWorld Motocross.