The real fun begins when play time is over. Yamaha YZ85 remains the mini of choice for young riders who are ready to get serious about motocross.
Yamaha launched the first YZ85 in 2001 as a 2002 model with the purpose of completing the YZ range of motocross machines. Their purpose was soon achieved as the bike quickly became one of the most popular “big” toys between riders who begin experiencing their first bumps and corners.
The tradition of Yamaha dirt bikes began way back in 1851 with the birth of Torakusu Yamaha, who founded the Nippon Gakki Company in 1888. Although the company only produced musical instruments, after the Second World War, the company President Gen-ichi Kawakami decided to make use of a production line and tooling that had previously been used to produce aircraft propellers to produce what was the forerunner of the Yamaha dirt bikes produced today. But from propellers to real dirt bikes it was a long way and after the company then separated from Nippon Gakki Co. and became Yamaha Motor Company, the real story began and the first dirt bikes like the YZ250 (1975) and YZ400F (1998) started to exit the production line and being shipped around the world.
The model that we are referring to is not that old, being first produced in 2002 but I made this brief history to understand where Yamaha’s legacy comes from.
Yamaha YZ85 was first produced in 2002 and it continued being produced without important changes. The bike changed decals and that’s pretty much all concerning its evolution.
Although the bike is very powerful developing more horses than expected, the other Japanese manufacturers didn’t stay behind as they know how important is for a rider to maintain a certain line during its riding years and they have to be impressed right from the start. In order to obtain a certain clientele, Honda produces CR85R (probably the biggest competitor for Yamaha), Suzuki entered the scene with its RM85 (a cheaper motorcycle with much to offer) and Kawasaki presented us KX85 (an even cheaper bike with as much to offer as the Suzuki).
Yamaha provided the YZ85 with a very sleek design featuring beautiful motocross lines which give the bike’s aggressive look. But the most important thing when designing a motorcycle is functionality, maneuverability and rider comfort so Yamaha oriented on widening the handlebars and flatting the fuel tank which together with the radiator shrouds, side panels and rear fender provide rider with leverage freedom of movement and weight transfer.
Heading towards the motocross circuit I was thinking that I’m about to have a lot of fun with this great, small motorcycle and that I am going to push it to the max easily. Don’t get me wrong! That’s exactly what I did but I am wondering if the little fellows won’t do the same because it surprises right from the start as it was designed with the more experienced, more aggressive rider in mind.
The straight-cylinder motor which doesn’t feature a power valve produces a hart-hitting powerband that gets up and goes when kept on the pipe. Low-end power doesn’t surprises too much but once the rpm begins to rise, however, things start to happen in hurry and the YZ85 delivers a mid-range punch without match in its class. I have to admit that I was excited about the bike’s aggressive powerband (and I know that the riders of this bike will be too) but I have to say that it can become a little difficult to handle for them. On top, the engine pulls hard in each gear and is most at home being revved to the max. Clutch action is battery smooth and a slick-shifting rider can really keep this bike purring.
Suspension action on both ends of the Yamaha YZ85 is fabulous. Also designed with faster riders in mind, the inverted front fork and single rear shock feel a little firm for smaller or slower riders, but fast or more aggressive riders will love them.
The Yamaha is also a quick handler, and can carve through the inside of any corner, no matter how tight. Like the rest of the bikes in its class, the mini YZ is stable at speed and very predictable over jumps. This is a very important issue because the riders are supposed to anticipate how the bike is about to act and to take the necessary measures. This helps them to gain confidence and accumulate experience.
This mini racer is being offered for a MSRP of $3,249 so that the parents won’t have a heavy argument against buying the motorcycle that will guide their children’s first step into championship-winnings.
Play time is over! The YZ85 is just like Yamaha’s big-time two-stroke MXers, only for the younger riders. It’s not playing!
Engine and Transmission
Type: 85cc, liquid-cooled 2-stroke; reed-valve inducted
Bore x Stroke: 47.5 x 47.8mm
Compression Ratio: 8.2:1
Carburetion: PWK28 x 1
Transmission: Constant-mesh 6-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain Drive
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension/Front: Inverted fork; fully adjustable, 10.8-in travel
Suspension/Rear: Single shock; fully adjustable, 11.1-in travel
Brakes/Front: Hydraulic single disc brake, 220mm
Brakes/Rear: Hydraulic single disc brake, 190mm
Length: 71.7 in
Width: 31.9 in
Height: 45.7 in
Seat Height: 34 in
Wheelbase: 49.5 in
Ground Clearance: 13.8 in
Dry Weight: 146 lb
Fuel Capacity: 1.3 gal
Warranty: 30 Day (Limited Factory Warranty)
-Liquid-cooled, 85cc crankcase reed-valve inducted six-speed is light, compact and designed to deliver hard-hitting, moto-winning power through the rpm range.
Ultra-rigid, single backbone, semi-double cradle steel frame is lightweight and strong for sharp handling.
Fully adjustable suspension allows a broad adjustment range to suit everybody from rank novice to mini expert.
-85cc liquid-cooled, crankcase reed-valve-inducted, two-stroke engine inhales through a 28mm Keihin flat-slide carburetor; seamless throttle response across the powerband is the result.
Digital CDI ignition system puts out a more precise spark and monitors engine speed to ensure optimal timing for quicker, stronger response during hard acceleration.
Smooth-shifting, six-speed close ratio transmission with heavy-duty, multiplate clutch delivers maximum hook-up for outstanding acceleration and corner-exiting power.
Involute spline set-up in clutch means smoother shifting under power with great durability at competition-level usage.
Two-piece clutch cover for easy access during maintenance.
Lightweight radiator has large cores and louvers, and the water pump features a cast aluminum impeller for maximum cooling efficiency.
Lightweight exhaust system design helps create a broader powerband with stronger low-end punch.
Airbox design ensures greater air cleaning performance and easier maintenance.
-Rear sub frame is removable to allow easy maintenance.
Lightweight 36mm Kayaba inverted cartridge fork features 10.8 inches of travel with compression and rebound damping adjustability, and low-friction outer tubes and internals.
Rear suspension features fully adjustable Kayaba link-type shock with 11.1 inches of travel and race-tested compression damping valving.
220mm front disc and 190mm rear disc brakes with stainless steel rotors deliver strong, precise stopping power.
Lightweight 17-inch front and 14-inch rear rims are durable and reduce unsprung weight for optimal suspension performance.
Dunlop knobbies for great traction on a variety of tracks and terrain.
-Wide handlebar and flat fuel tank, radiator shrouds, side panels and rear fender provide rider with leverage and freedom of movement and weight transfer.
Wide, footpegs are created to provide superb comfort, grip and ground clearance.
Separate clutch cover with transmission oil filter opening makes for easy maintenance.
Fuel tank cap is wider-diameter for easier usage and large tank opening ensures fast, hassle-free refueling.
Repackable exhaust silencer.
Durable, comfortable handlebar grips.