When Yamaha announced details of their WR250 and YZ250X last month it was warmly welcomed by two-stroke fans. But it also opened up a lot of questions too. Mostly, is this a complete comeback to enduro for Yamaha and what else can we expect to see? Wanting to dig a little deeper, it was time to contact Leon Oosterhof, Product Manager Off-Road at Yamaha Motor Europe and find out more…
Firstly, why a two-stroke enduro from Yamaha and why now?
Leon Oosterhof: “During the past few years Yamaha decided to re-intensify their commitment in off-road. We put in a lot of effort to update and renew our off-road line-ups both in the motocross and enduro departments. Our four strokes were a success so the next step for Yamaha was to create a suitable solution for two-stroke cross-country fans, since in the US and Australia there’s a great interest for two-stroke off-roaders. The Yamaha YZ250X, with the letter X standing for ‘Cross Country’, was later taken as the base for a two-stroke enduro bike that’s focused on the European market. And that’s actually how the WR250 was born. The bike is developed and distributed by MOTO SPA, an external off-road specialist working directly with Yamaha off-road dealers. They are responsible for adding all required components like the headlight, the taillight, the brake lights, the electronic speedometer etc.”
How long have you been working on this project? How different is the WR250 to the YZ250 motocross model?
“We always considered the YZ250 a very good base for off-road riding, so for us the WR250 project wasn’t that complicated. Most of the refinements made focused on the engine and chassis. To get the torquey and smooth engine characteristics necessary for enduro riding, we made some important modifications to the engine. The WR250 has an updated cylinder head, a new set-up for the power valve system (YPVS), new ignition timing and a modified exhaust system. Additionally the gearing ratio is now wider and the clutch has been adjusted to make it more progressive. In the chassis area the suspension got refinements and the bike now features an 18-inch rear wheel. It also has a fuel reserve function and comes as standard with Metzeler’s Six Days Extreme tyres and a rivet-link chain.”
How would you define the target market for the new WR250? Is it more of a competition-focused machine or an overall enjoyable off-road bike?
“Yamaha’s off-road machines have always been known for their versatility and this was also what we were aiming to achieve with the WR250. The engine is both smooth and powerful. The KYB suspension has a plush firmness that offers high comfort, stability and optimum control at high speed. The aluminium frame has always been an advantage. Overall the bike has a lightweight feeling. We believe it’s one both recreational and competition riders can enjoy.”
Is the WR250 a limited edition model? Will it be available all-over Europe and what will its price be?
“The WR250 will be available through selected Yamaha off-road dealers all-over Europe. It’s true that the quantities are limited. With EU4 emission regulations approaching, it’s true that the future of two-stroke enduro bikes are still in doubt. Right at this moment, our short-term goal is to satisfy Yamaha fans looking for a great two-stroke machine. We’re not interested in topping any sales lists with the WR250. The recommended retail price for the UK market is £6,749.”
Are there any plans to expand the two-stroke enduro range with a 300cc bike or maybe add an electric starter to the WR250?
“We are very confident that Yamaha’s current line-up is strong and we hope will satisfy a lot of off-road customers! Of course we are constantly considering possibilities for future improvements.”
Is this the start of a new two-stroke enduro era for Yamaha? In your opinion how much could this affect other Japanese manufacturers?
“As I mentioned before, the greatest hurdle for two-stroke machines is EU4 regulations. It will be a big challenge for most manufacturers to launch two-stroke models able to comply with the very strict European rules soon to be applied to all production bikes. And that’s the reason I think that the chances for any other Japanese brand to come with a two stroke enduro model are slim.”
Finally, will we see the new four-stroke WR450F enter the Enduro 2 World Championship class in 2016?
“I believe everyone would expect to see our brand new WR450F take on the Enduro 2 class of the world championship. Needless to say, motorsports has always been a big passion for us at Yamaha and it’s the best platform to prove performance and reliability. So our aim is to have both our bikes and riders compete in both E1 and E2 classes of the 2016 Enduro World Championship.”