2011 Yamaha YZ85 First Ride

June 21, 2012 -- Brian Chamberlain — 2011 Motorcycle-USA
yamaha yz85

I was only 10 years old, but I can still remember like it was yesterday. My dad and I made a trip to the local Yamaha dealer to pick up some parts for my five-year-old YZ80. As we entered the store I was instantly drawn to a lineup of shiny 1982 YZ's. I quickly made my way down the row of bikes, skipping past the 490, then the 250, past the 125 and finally to the new YZ80. The bike was light-years ahead of my current ride. It featured a mono-shock swingarm, liquid cooling via a small radiator behind the front number plate, a seat that actually carried up onto the tank and was decked out with black number plates all sporting a big #1. The bike was at the forefront of mini technology and was the ride of choice for all of the fast kids who were dominating the mini class. I could have sat and stared at that bike for hours on end. For months I would dream about owning it, but a new bike was not in our budget and I would have to wait quite a while, almost 30 years, for a brand new YZ80 to show up in my garage.

I finally have a 2011 YZ85 sitting in my garage. Unfortunately, I am now way too old and too large to relive my youth, but at least I get to watch my own son put the little YZ through its paces. A lot has changed in all those years but one thing still remains the same; the YZ85 is still a serious contender in the mini ranks.

Watch the YZ85 and hear it scream around the track in the 2011 Yamaha YZ85 First Ride Video.

For young riders between the ages of 9 and 14 who are looking to make a name in the motocross world, or at least bring home some trophies from the local track, the Yamaha has the engine to do it. The littlest YZ features an 85cc liquid-cooled, crankcase reed-valve-inducted two-stroke engine. The cylinder bore and stroke measure up to 47.5 x 47.8mm with an 8.2:1 compression ratio. Fuel is fed through a 28mm Keihin flat-slide carburetor and power is put to the ground via a six-speed close-ratio transmission.

The YZ uses a single-backbone, semi-double-cradle steel frame. The rear subframe is removable to allow easy maintenance and cheaper replacement cost. Ergonomics are roomy enough for taller kids to remain comfortable and the seat is very flat and fairly stiff, allowing the rider to easily slide up on the front for cornering. Handlebars are tall in relation to the seat and with a seat height of 34 inches, taller kids will feel the most comfortable on the Yamaha. Unlike its larger siblings that use ProTaper bars, the 85 comes stock with steel bars that are very susceptible to bending during a crash. The bike is very slim with the single left-side radiator tucked in nice and tight. The right side uses an extended fuel tank to compensate for the lack of radiator. While still pleasing to look at, the missing right shroud also saves the hassle of having to deal with, or replace a cosmetic shroud.

Check out all the action in the 2011 Yamaha YZ85 First Ride Photo Gallery.

While there is no groundbreaking technology appearing on any of the 85's these days, Yamaha has continually refined the littlest YZ into a well thought out and competitive race package. There are also a few little details that most mini dads will appreciate. The airbox opening is fairly roomy and the filter is easy to install, both on the cage, as well as into the airbox. The chain adjusters are very easy to use and are easily readable for precise adjustments. Both of these little features go a long way in simplifying the maintenance required on the bike. They also enable young riders to learn these tasks without the worry of getting something wrong, like improperly installing an air filter and cross threading the air filter bolt. The clutch cover also uses a two-piece design for quick and easy access to the clutch.

Read the full 2011 Yamaha YZ85 First Ride at Motorcycle-USA.com.

Brian Chamberlain — 2011 Motorcycle-USA