Two weeks ago, Yamaha organized a trip to the Ampro testing grounds in Union, South Carolina to show off the new YZ450FX. That sucked up all the attention, but we also got to ride the 2024 Yamaha YZ250X two-stroke off road bike. It was unchanged, but last year it got all kinds of new stuff. Secretly, that’s the bike I was most excited about. The 2024 YZ250X sells for $8099. That’s only $100 more than the motocross version. Try buying a kickstand alone for that.

2024 Yamaha YZ250X

We all know that the YZ250 motor dates back to 1999 and the aluminum central-backbone frame first appeared in 2005. But in 2016 Yamaha took the motocross bike and gave it an off-road make-over. Then, a year ago, it got a big update with new bodywork and suspension upgrades. There are certain things that the average Joe can’t do in his garage, and that’s what Yamaha concentrated on with the YZ250X. The gearbox is number one on that list. The X has a wide-ratio five-speed. First and second gears are the same, but third, fourth and fifth are progressively taller. Also: The cylinder head volume is increased, the compression ratio reduced and the exhaust port raised. The power valve shape and timing are altered along with the ignition mapping. The clutch plates are made of different material and the expansion chamber is tucked up tighter and out of harm’s way.

Jared Hicks on the YZ250X

The X uses the same fork as the MX model, but with softer valving and softer springs (4.3 N/mm versus 4.4). The same is true of the shock (48 N/mm vs 50). From there, it’s just bolt-on stuff; an O-ring chain, an 18-inch rear wheel and a kickstand. The YZ250X has the same fuel tank as the MX version (1.8 gallons) and the same silencer.
If you expect all that to transform the fundamental nature of the YZ, it doesn’t. The YZ250X runs, handles and behaves like a current YZ250–a modified one. All those alterations make life a little easier in many off-road situations, but the YZ is still a YZ. That means it’s a race bike at its core. That’s wonderful news for riders in many venues like the NGPC series, which pits all 250s in the same class whether they are two-strokes or not. In a head-to-head race with any 250F, the YZ250X has an advantage in peak horsepower and a slight advantage in weight. It makes about 2 or 3 more peak horsepower than the newest YZ250F and weighs about 3 pounds less.

If you compare suspension, handling and manageability, the four-strokes have an advantage–that shouldn’t surprise anyone. The YZ250X hits hard and signs off early. Even compared to other off-road two-strokes, the Yamaha is a bit of a handful. All the tweaks and adjustments to the YZ250X make it smoother in the middle of the powerband, but it’s a bike that requires aggression and commitment if you go racing. You can, however, take it down a notch and ride the X just below the big power surge all day long. It’s hard to stall and makes excellent torque. Another trait that shouldn’t surprise anyone is the suspension, which is excellent. The X isn’t far from the current YZ four-stroke suspension which is still considered tops in the motocross world. It’s softer than the MX spec, but for most off-road riders, it could be softer still. Yamaha is still thinking of racing. It’s probably hard to get out of that habit. We will have more on the 2024 Yamaha YZ250X and the other Yamaha off-road bikes in the May, 2024 print edition of Dirt Bike.


1981 Honda CR250R

The year 1981 was super weird for motocross. I was working at a now-forgotten publication called Cycle Guide, which was actually quite big at the time (for wages that weren’t). When I arrived, all the dirt bikes we had in the test fleet were almost unridden because the existing staff had its hands full with street bike tests. One of the loneliest was the 1981 Honda CR250R. I was very familiar with the CR450R (I owned one). But I didn’t get to ride the 250 until I inherited that one. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great, either. The real problem was that it looked like a spaceship. At the time, a liquid-cooled single shock motocross bike was Star Wars technology. Very quickly, I changed my take-home bike to the 1981 Suzuki RM250, which wasn’t as spacy looking, but much more solid. The RM was the subject of my very first test in the October issue (below). The lead photo isn’t me; it’s Dean Taylor, who was lightning fast in those days. He’s still pretty good. The photo was by David Dewhurst, who is also still pretty good.

As for the Honda, we look back on the entire history of the CR250 in the May, 2024 print edition of Dirt Bike. Here’s what it says about the 1981 model:
1981: Honda predicted the coming of liquid-cooling and single-shock suspension and rushed to meet the call. The 1981 Honda CR250R leaped years ahead; in fact, it was too advanced. It had reliability problems, and the new Pro-Link rear suspension didn’t work well. Once again, Honda lost its edge in the 250 class. Over the next two years, the bike received back-to-back changes on a fairly large scale, and most of the problems were sorted out, making ’83 a very good year to ride a CR.

There’s a somewhat dated history of the Suzuki RM250 here–it’s an older post so my apologies if it doesn’t load quickly.


Sherco has just released photos of the 125 TY Long Ride. This is a mix-breed that has some trials bike attributes with a seat and enough comfort for real trail rides. For more information go to Sherco’s website.


This weekend the Monster Energy Supercross tour makes its first ever stop in Birmingham, Alabama. If you think you know who is going to win, put it in writing and win some prizes. The MXA fantasy league is a hit and this weekend there’s a  Maxxis Tires giveaway. It doesn’t cost anything.


Round 9 of the AMA Supercross series is heading to Birmingham, Alabama this weekend! The MXA Fantasy League Round 9 winner will get a set of Maxxis off-road moto tires!

Fantasy player with the Username “Whoop Dee Doo” won the Daytona prize courtesy of FMF Racing with an astounding 291 points! In total, there were five riders picked in the correct position as well as correctly guessing both the gap of the leader and the position of riders lapped. If you want to know exactly “Whoop Dee Doo’s” picks and points click here.

If you are looking for a killer deal, subscribe to Motocross Action magazine for $24.99 and get a $25 Rocky Mountain ATV-MC gift card. 

The following prizes below go to the winner of each round: 

RD 9 Birmingham: Maxxis set of moto tires

RD 10 Indy: Nacstar Wheelset

RD 11 Seattle: Ogio giveaway

RD 12 St. Louis: 100 percent giveaway

RD 13 Foxborough: TO BE ANNOUNCED 

RD 14 Nashville: TO BE ANNOUNCED

RD 15 Philadelphia: Boyesen $250 shopping spree



We also have prizes for the top players from all 31 SMX rounds. Here is the list so far:

1. Triumph TF 250-X

2. Boyesen $500 shopping spree

3.Maxxis truck tire set up to $2500

4. FMF 4-stroke muffler or 2-stroke pipe and silencer with $200 clothing shopping spree


See you next week!

–Ron Lawson



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