Yamaha Ride Day at Motopark | Greg Poisson Rides the 2022 YZ’s

By Greg Poisson

Photos by Isaiah Reid

Pulling up to a freshly-groomed Motopark track in the fall you can’t help but get those butterflies we all got when we were young. Mix in some brand new Yamaha 2-strokes and it brings out a feeling of excitement that is hard to ignore. I was here to try out the new 2022 Yamaha YZ125 and YZ250 models. The YZ125 is all-new from the ground up and, to be honest, I hadn’t ridden a 125 since 2003. After seeing the introduction of the pre-mix class I’ve been wanting to get back on one for a while now. Being 190 pounds you look at the ideal rider for a 125 and I am not that. Either way, I knew it would be an exciting day. I heard some of my friends from the MX101/FXR team would be there, so everything was expected to be all time. 

After the 3.5 hour drive to Motopark, I pulled in to see 6 brand new Yamahas sitting out front of the track. Yamaha Canada brought out a YZ250F/450F and the YZ85/YZ85 big wheel to give the new 2-strokes a break from abuse. After a brief Features and Benefits session we were sent to get geared up.

Some of the highlights for 2022 involve a completely new motor for the YZ125 and updated ergonomics for an updated feel to both the YZ125 and YZ250. A narrower tank, flatter seat and slimmer rad shrouds were some of the more talked about changes to the chassis. I chose my Shift Black Label kit in the King Black colourway for the day. I was given the honour of taking the all-new YZ125 for its maiden laps. The track was smooth but deep so it was a great opportunity to experience what the bike would be like under serious load. 

First impressions on the Yamaha are it feels comfortable right away. I moved the bars back a little bit and had them in the front bar mounts as the time wasn’t there to make major changes to any of the bikes due to the amount of testers that were there. I would have preferred them in the rear mount position.

The 125 was powerful off the bottom (which is odd for a 125). With the track being so smooth it was easy to sit back on the seat and hold it wide open. It was easy to notice the changes Yamaha has made in the motor department (more on that later).

Motopark has a good mix of high speed and tighter sections. On the faster straightaway the bike continued to pull as you went through the gearbox. Coming into the high speed corners I felt a twitchiness in the front end that could’ve been due to the track conditions. It was easy to notice years of riding 4-strokes as my line choices could definitely reflect that. Instead of sweeping corners like a traditional 2-stroke rider would, I was initially coming in to a point and using ½ of the berm. When I did this I was burying the bike in the soft, fresh dirt and it required some additional clutching to get out of the corner with any speed. I attribute this to being a heavier rider and the deep conditions.

Yamaha spent a lot of time on engine updates and it was noticeable. After getting myself reacquainted with riding a 2-stroke again, I was able to flow around the track a lot better. Clearing some of the bigger jumps took a bit of commitment as with a 4-stroke you can decide last-second to attempt most of the jumps we see on Ontario tracks. Yamaha’s KYB suspension settings are renowned for their ability to be great out of the box with little-to-no adjustments and for 2022 they’ve improved even further on this.

Thinking back to riding the 2021, I noticed some of these chassis changes while I rode the bike. I felt like I sat up higher on the bike as opposed to “in” the seat. All Yamaha competition bikes come equipped with Pro Taper contour bars which is a great compliment to the overall feel of the bike. 

I spun a few laps on the YZ250 as well. This was actually my first time EVER riding a 250 2-stroke. My admiration for those who choose to ride/race these bikes on the regular grew tenfold! I don’t think I can give a proper opinion on this bike. Although the handling and feel of the bike was very similar to the 125 but the power was a lot. I’m sure it would be very useful to a rider who regularly rides a 250. With the 125 being all new I chose to spend most of my time on it. 

(Editor’s note: Coward! Lol)

I think the 2022 YZ125 would be a great platform for a new-to-big-bikes racer or even a vet who is looking for an easy-to-ride and easy-to-maintain motorcycle. Being a bigger racer, I would still consider purchasing a YZ125 to race the pre-mix class as I think I would be a great disadvantage against 250 4-strokes. 

A summary of the 2022 Feature’s and Benefits: 


1. Redesigned liquid-cooled Yamaha Power Valve System (YPVS)-equipped 125cc two-stroke engine boasts more power in the mid- to high-range for increased usability over the previous model
2. New high-precision Hitachi Astemo Keihin PWK38S carburetor features throttle position sensor and 3D-map-controlled CDI unit resulting in crisp throttle response and superior rideability
3. New straight intake design improves power output, letting the rider feel an excellent pull in the higher revs and a strong sense of over-rev

4. New shorter, lighter muffler
5. High performance brake setup features more rigid front caliper, larger front pistons and redesigned rotors with increased pad contact area for exceptional stopping power and feel, along with less unsprung weight
6. Improved rider ergonomics with a more narrow tank, flatter seat and slimmer radiator shrouds offering greater freedom of movement
7. Fully adjustable Kayaba inverted front fork now includes a leaf spring in the mid-speed valve for increased performance and comfort
8. Revised fully adjustable Kayaba rear shock features reduced-friction Kashima Coat internals
9. Race-proven, highly developed forged aluminum semi-double cradle frame
10. Removable aluminum rear subframe constructed of square-section tubing for reduced weight
11. Lightweight finely tuned chassis for nimble handling, more control and less rider fatigue
12. Revised six-speed, close-ratio transmission has wider transmission gear tooth width and new, optimized gear ratios for maximum performance
13. New lightweight rear sprocket design
14. New lightweight chain
15. High-capacity radiator features a 10-row core with blacked-out louvers to deliver maximum cooling and aggressive looks
16. Lightweight aluminum handlebar with two-position adjustable handlebar clamp
17. Adjustable clutch lever with works-style cable adjuster
18. New premium graphics are now embedded for improved durability and scratch resistance
19. Race-developed Bridgestone Battlecross X20 tires