Yamaha keeps on writing history with the XT250 as the bike carries on to 2010 with no significant changes. Even tough situated in the dual sport arena, the XT250 stands as many people’s idea of a trail bike and that says much about its off-road capabilities. A headlight and the mirrors make it street legal. Let’s see what more.
Compared to an enduro bike, nothing more than a little detail yet to be unveiled! This bike is fitted with 8.9-inches of travel front and 7.1-inches of travel rear suspension and features a ground clearance of 11.2-inches. Clearly suitable for the average-sized rider (seat height is 31.9 inches) the XT250 stands as an adequate motorcycle on which to start your journeys. No matter where your eyes will take you, the tires are up for the challenge. Working just fine on paved roads or unpaved surfaces, the rubber is the other feature which sets the XT apart from TT-R and WR off-road models.
Powering the bike is a decent air-cooled 249cc, SOHC four-stroke single, which gets fed through the 33mm Vac carburetor. It seems to be up for the job as it gets 73 mpg, despite the fact that many would feel more at home on a 350cc upgraded version of it. All this baby needs is its 5-speed gearbox and it is good to go forever and ever again. Reliability is not a thing to worry about when buying an XT.
Weighing 291 pounds wet, the quarter-liter Yamaha XT qualifies as an easy to ride motorcycle with a versatile character. We know that because the entry-level Yamaha model has been around for almost three decades now and this is what keeps it going strong.
This means that this bike has covered up a lot of ground until reaching this level of refinement. Launched in the early 1980s, the XT250 had it all with it from the start. The 249cc engine, developing 22 hp at 8,600 rpm, and the five-speed tranny made a good team from the very beginning and the looks of the bike were, as now, the ones of an off-roader.
In 1982, the redesigned XT250 was quite the addition in the Yamaha lineup as it was completely restyled for properly dealing with the rough terrains, making for an ideal farm machine out of the already imposed trail master. Power was reduced that year with fewer revs in favor of engine durability. Apparently, the 17 hp at 7,500 rpm were still enough.
Four years later, the bike undergoes a radical process of modernization, ending up looking like it was on proteins or something. Headlight cover, gas tank and seat, all blended perfectly in together, while mechanically, the XT250 was the bulletproof machine of previous years.
Ten years after its launch (in 1990), Yamaha took the XT250 back to its roots by removing all that plastic off it and giving it a nicer, street look.
Staring 1991, the XT350 entered the scene as a more potent bike, but which didn’t withstand the test of time and Yamaha reintroduced the XT250 in 2008.
One of the reasons Yamaha revived the XT250 is the fact that the Honda CRF230L was around. Also street legal and one hell of a blast on the trails, the CRF230L is the closest thing to the XT250.
But although they are practically built one against the other, there’s room for both as there are features that set them apart and point each one’s domain of activity. For instance, the CRF is more of a trail bike as it features hand guards and side plates, while the XT is built for the streets, but it won’t disappoint anyone out on the trails. Also, the XT is a modernly-styled piece of machinery, all the contrary of the red trail machine.
On the other hand, Honda provides a six-speed gearbox for the CRF230L, something that makes it adequate for street use. And in relation to the Yamaha XT250, this difference clearly stands out, leaving future owners to face a tough decision between one and the other. The MSRP for the 2010 Honda CRF230L starts at $4,999.
Kawasaki couldn’t have missed this street and off-road battle so they came up with the KLX250S. This too features a six-speed transmission and the engine is a carbureted 249cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-valve single. Like the XT, the KLX is more suitable for street riding, but with 11.2 inches of ground clearance and long travel suspensions it can make a point against the CRF230L out on the trails. Still, with an MSRP of $5,299, this is the most expensive bike in its category.
Starting at $4,199 (still a 2009 model year) the Suzuki DR200SE is the cheapest, but also the weakest. It is the perfect choice for female riders as it has a 32 inches high seat and a docile 199cc, four-stroke, air-cooled, OHC engine. Finally, we’ve come across another five-speed transmission in this class. The trails are easily mastered by the small DR with a pair of 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels, so versatility is there for you to enjoy, like in the case of all bikes in this class.
And if you’re in for the XT, surely the nicely designed bodywork blinked an eye at you as, although more familiar with pavement than with dirt, rocks and gravel, the bike looks like a decent alternative to the CRF.
Not packed with off-road features such as number plates and hand guards, but implementing a nice, round headlight in the small front fairing, the Yamaha looks as good in the woods as it does in front of the local coffee shop.
Like on any enduro bike, the bodywork is sleek and compact and a nice touch is the exhaust which follows up the rear end’s line. Black and white remains the 2010 color combination, one that is rarely found in Yamaha’s lineup. Still, graphics change and next year’s model looks enlivened by the red touches of color.
Underneath the gas tank, that compact quarter-liter engine looks docile, but still, it remains the best choice that could be made concerning this aspect. Between it, the 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels threaten to soak up any obstacle that may show its face in the XT’s way.
Ever since creating this motorcycle, Yamaha was set to deliver a bike that would commute and ride trails. Almost three decades later, the XT250 does exactly that in a perfected way. The low seat height (31.9 inches) is the first thing that strikes you as soon as you swing a leg over it. This bike is the appropriate choice for short-legged persons, beginners and girls, but it won’t disappoint any oldtimer of the trails either.
The 250cc engine is air-cooled and doesn’t feature a fancy fuel-injection system either, but it starts very quick with the push of a button. While the engine was worming up for the adventurous ride, I did some parking lot maneuvering and noticed that the bike is easy to move around. Yamaha mentions a 291 pounds wet weight for the 2010 model year so that explains the light feel.
Handlebars are positioned at quick reach so all the rider needs to do is adjust the mirrors as it prepares to hit the streets. There, the engine unveils how finely tuned it actually is as the off-road suspensions supporting the 21- respectively 18-inch wheels make the rider feel like floating on the streets. With plenty of low and midrange grunt moving the small mass, the XT is ideal for town use. Speed bumps are easily absorbed and you don’t have to slow down much as you approach these.
The XT250 may be good to ride to and from the coffee shop, but if it is to keep it on the streets I say the freeway is the appropriate thing for it. Light and relaxing to ride, the Yamaha XT won’t provide that nasty “seat in the pants” feel not even after emptying a full gas of tank (2.6 gallons) with no stops. And at this bike’s 73 mpg, that’s quite a ride!
While it will feel well at home on the streets, the Yamaha XT250 offers the comfort of knowing that you can always choose the short way home even if that means going right across an open field or through some treacherous forests. Offering 8.9 inches of front wheel travel and 7.1 inches of rear wheel travel, the suspension equipment is a good thing to rely on in these situations. Also, the bike offers plenty of ground clearance (11.2 inches) so it will demand all of your off-road riding skills and get the job done impeccably.
On the trails, the engine won’t suffer a change in attitude, but simply provides the best of it. This means 17 horsepower and 12.9 ft.-lb. at engine speeds of 7,000 rpm. Always remember that this is no motocross-derived off-roader that was allowed to hit the streets, but a street motorcycle with an affinity for dust and not so grippy surfaces.
It results into an ideal farm motorcycle and the five-speed gearbox comes as a testimony of that aspect. First gear is fairly short so second and third gears are the most commonly used when exploring the surroundings. Also, due to soft suspensions, you can even ride at 60 mph in top gear and have no worries about falling, but simply pay attention at the path ahead.
The brakes don’t feature waved disks like on this bike’s more pretentious siblings but in this category you still find drum rear brakes so the XT feels good about its 245mm front disc and 203 mm rear one. With twin piston Nissin caliper at the front and a single piston Nissin caliper at the rear, the XT provides all of the stopping power a rider needs both on paved roads and trails.
Every single unit of this bike is designed to do well on all riding surfaces and that is pure versatility, while the build quality is pure Yamaha.
Available in all 50 states and marketed for $4,890, the 2010 Yamaha XT250 gets very close to CRF230L’s $4,999 MSRP and it so meets its most important goal: showing itself as the alternative.
For what it was created, the XT250 proves faultless and although it isn’t quite the trail master, there is no doubt that it can still make a point there in the hands of an experienced rider. Yamaha revived a legend and reinvented the concept, keeping only the name and the base idea. Also, remember that the Japanese maker had a hard time choosing the way to go from the very beginning as it either designed it for the trails or the streets. It seems now that everything is cleared.
Engine and Transmission
Type: 249cc air-cooled, SOHC 4-stroke single
Bore x Stroke: 74.0 x 58.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Fuel Delivery: 33mm Vac
Transmission: 5-speed; multiple-disc wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension/Front: 35mm telescopic fork; 8.9-in travel
Suspension/Rear: Swingarm w/rebound-adjustable single shock; 7.1-in travel
Brakes/Front: 245mm disc
Brakes/Rear: 203mm disc
Length: 84.6 in
Width: 31.7 in
Height: 45.7 in
Seat Height: 31.9 in
Wheelbase: 53.5 in
Ground Clearance: 11.2 in
Fuel Capacity: 2.6 gal (California model 2.4 gal)
Fuel Economy: 73 mpg
Wet Weight: 291 lb
Warranty: 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Features & Benefits