The Yamaha YZ250 is has been in production in one form or another for 50 years. That makes it among the longest production runs of any motorcycle ever built, and definitely the longest-running dirtbike. To celebrate this incredible streak, Yamaha is launching a series of YZ motocross bikes with retro livery.
Introduced in 1974, the YZ250 and the bikes in the Yamaha family tree that branched from it have been at the forefront of motocross. According to Dirt Bike the YZ250 actually originated in America, based on rider Gary Jones’ personal bike, a modified a DT-1 that he rode to win the first AMA motocross championship in 1971. After the victory Jones shipped the bike to Japan and Yamaha began mass-producing it with his modifications.
Over the years the YZ-series introduced a number of engineering breakthroughs to the motocross world, such as monoshock suspension, exhaust power valves, liquid cooling, reed valves, and four-stroke engines. It’s also won several world championships in moto- and supercross.
Interestingly, the 50th anniversary liveries don’t hearken all the way back to the origins of the YZ250. Instead, they take inspiration from the 1990s-era examples near the end of the two-stroke era. Though the anniversary colors aren’t quite as radical as the magenta 1993 YZ250, the resemblance is clear (clockwise from left: 1993, 1994, 1985).
The 2024 50th Anniversary YZ250 arrives in August, alongside 50th Anniversary Editions of the YZ125, YZ250F, and YZ450F. Yamaha may no longer be making snowmobiles or swimming pools, but the YZ soldiers on.