The 2016 Yamaha YZ85 is mostly the same bike that is was in 2003 but it did get newly designed bodywork in 2015. This is the only bike of the two-strokes that does not have a powervalve (a mechanical device to effectively change the exhaust’s expansion chamber volume based on rpm), so it lacked bottom end power, and that hurt it’s overall raking. Once into the power in the higher rpm, the riders loved the blue bike. The suspension got nearly universal praise for soaking up the bumps, not being too busy, and for being well balanced front to back. Test riders also loved the Yamaha’s handling, especially it’s turning, with some testers say it was the best turning bike in the shootout.
A general note to non-riders: We tested with a group of six young but highly skilled and very experienced racers, and our shootout was geared toward this type of top-level racer. If you’re researching a first bikes for a kid, none of the 85cc race bikes are a great choice, a trail bike (CRF-F, TT-R, DR-Z, KLX) would be the right machine to get a youngster into the sport.