Yamaha’s YZ series – more than any other bike – has arguably had the most profound impact on American motocross in the last couple decades. The YZ boasts a laundry-list of firsts for production MXers, including reed valves, single-shock suspension, and power valves. To the best of my knowledge, the YZ250 is the longest running production dirt bike. Interestingly, the YZ250 was created in Southern California by moto-legend Don Jones – father of MXer Gary Jones who Don supposedly built the bike for. Don took the existing Yamaha DT-1 smoker and ran with it, and the result was the Jones’ machine taking an AMA motocross championship.
The YZ250 has won countless additional titles in both outdoor and motocross events in its time. Riders in the US like Bob Hannah, Mike Bell, Ricky Johnson and Jeremy McGrath (as well as Hakan Andersson, Hakan Carlquist, and Danny LaPorte in Europe) managed to dominate in their respective seasons aboard the YZ, though the Yamaha’s success would come to a halt for quite a few years leading up to McGrath’s championships that he won around the new millennium. The YZ250 would be responsible for nine AMA National Supercross titles, five AMA National Motocross Titles, and six AMA National Offroad Championships.
The YZ250 would receive dozens of changes and updates over its decades in production, sometimes seeing small changes year to year and other times seeing near-complete redesigns. The 1987 model’s engine got a bit of attention, but ultimately most of the ’87 model’s updates came from the year before. The ’87 YZ250 has become increasingly long in the tooth, though it does undeniably possess a certain ’80’s charm thanks to its old-school components and its bodywork’s blatantly dated style.
In 1986, the YZ250 would undergo one of its several complete redesigns. The ’86 model got an all-new frame, a hydraulic front brake, new bodywork, and a revised power-plant. The rear “monocross” mono shock was also relocated in ’86 on the quarter-liter YZ. The following year the YZ250 would once again have its engine tinkered with, this time resulting in a substantial increase in low-end power. It wouldn’t be until ’96 that the YZ would undergo another ground-up revise, aside from the engine which would get a total redesign in 1999.
The ’87 year was powered by a 247cc liquid-cooled two-stroke engine with a bore and stroke of 68mm x 68mm. The engine – which was paired with a five-speed gearbox – featured a Mikuni VM38SS carb and reed valve as well. That year the YZ250 would come with a (hydraulic) disc brake up front and a classic drum brake in the rear. One of my favorite features on the 1987 YZ250 was the stock gold rims – which are the epitome of mint on this example – that came on the smoker from the factory. All the graphics on the bike are also wonderfully and unapologetically ’80’s.
This particular 1987 Yamaha YZ250 example is straight up pristine, not having seen any dirt since undergoing an extensive complete restoration. It appears (based on the photos) that every single piece of this example was pulled apart and meticulously cleaned and/or polished. The frame almost certainly was hit with a fresh coat of paint or powder, and the bodywork looks brand spankin’ new. This example is genuinely the definition of a museum or show-quality bike, which is why it’s believable when the current seller says this Yammy has previously won awards.
You can find this 1987 Yamaha YZ250 for sale here on Craigslist in Dallas, Texas with a price of $4,500.