The YZ85 has long been the tool of choice for young recreational riders and racers from serious play riding all the way up to amateur national championships. Well-engineered and proven years ago, the YZ85 recipe includes a steel frame, whose narrow dimensions pays ergonomic dividends, tunable long-travel suspension (10.8 inches front, 11.1 inches rear), and a quick 85cc two-stroke engine cranking through a six-speed gearbox. In truth, the motor is getting to be pretty old-tech, as it’s never incorporated an exhaust power valve (a standard feature on the new YZ65) to help bolster the power curve.
Naturally, the YZ85’s dimensions are calculated to fit young riders. While the 33.1-inch seat height may seem tall for a small bike, it’s way more manageable than the 38.4-inch seat height of the YZ125, the next model up on Yamaha’s MX ladder. Likewise, the 17-inch front and 14-inch rear wheels are midway in size between those of the new YZ65 and the YZ125. And happily, the YZ85’s minimal 157-pound claimed wet weight poses no challenges for riders capable of managing the bike’s performance.
Likes: Impressively light, bulletproof engineering
Dislikes: Few changes over many years; lacks an exhaust power valve
Verdict: Not the highest tech, but highly respected