Road tests

Yamaha Zeal 250

  This is a new one for the local market, using what we presume to be a detuned version of the YZF250 powerplant -- from a bike that has seen a significant number of grey import sales on our shores.

The semi-naked all-rounder package has a lot to offer someone who isn't after a hard-edged sport learner bike but still wants substantial performance.

It's only been introduced to Oz recently, though variations on the Zeal package have been available overseas for some years.

What you get is a feisty multi with six-speed gearbox, chain drive and a frame that's essentially a twin-spar steel item. The engine room is liquid-cooled, runs four valves per pot and a 15,000rpm redline.

Starting: About as simple as it gets -- a bit of choke when it's cold.
Suspension: Nothing to write home about, really. The 38mm forks are substantial for this class, though the only adjustment is preload on the rear twin shocks. An enthusiastic throttle jockey will overwhelm the suspension over a set of ripples, but the result is entirely predictable.
Brakes: There's a single disc at each end, both fitted with two-piston calipers of different design. They do the job and the lever adjustment for the front handle is welcome.
Stability: Low speed work is flighty ? with ultra-quick response. However the bike behaves entirely predictably at normal and pushing-on speeds.
Cornering clearance: Plenty.
Performance: Given plenty of revs (about 6000) the bike gets away from the lights well. It will hold 100-plus speeds happily and runs out of puff around 140kmh. You need 4000rpm up to get usable power, 7000rpm to hold 100 in top, and the powerplant signs off at 11,500rpm. There are a couple of dips and rises in the power delivery along the way.
Rider comfort: Yamaha has come up with a good compromise between a low seat height and still making space for bigger people. The riding position is upright, while the saddle appears roomy. Only catch is that the saddle padding tends to hold the rider in one position, which could be a pain on longer trips.
Pillion comfort: There's a bit of room for the pillion, and the set-up is better than average. However the rear footpegs are pretty high (though pitched forward) thanks to the twin upswept pipes on the right side.
Vibration/harshness: Nothing intrusive, even at the upper ends of te rev range. Much better than average for the class.
Finish: A mixed bag. Paint is good (with clear sprayed over the main decals), though the "human sports" stickers on the tailpiece deserve to be pitched. The wiring behind the fairing looks messy.
Looks: Styling is fussy, though it looks different from the run-of-the-mill, which is a point in its favour, and the twin pipes on the right won some hearts.
Extras: The mini fairing and sexy twin lights work nicely, while those who live near a toll road will appreciate the dinky change-holder at the front of the fuel tank. It runs D102 tyres which seemed to work well enough in the dry conditions we had for this ride.
Value for money: At $7490 list price, it's a little cheaper than Honda's VT250 and Kawasaki's ZZ-R250.

The Zeal feels and acts like an all-rounder. There's enough sporting ability to make life interesting, and sufficient urge to maintain reasonable highway speeds. Its high-tech four-cylinder powerplant won't be cheap to fix, or service, but that may be one of the prices you pay for performance.

Guy Allen

Yamaha FZX250 Zeal
Price: $7499

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