1. 2005-2016 Yamaha YZ250
Thank the tuning fork gods that Yamaha has never given up on good ol’ two-stroke power, and that’s partially the reason that we’ve selected the YZ250 as our top pick in a used dirtbike buy. The main reason, though, is that Yammie’s “blue-smoker” YZed sled is one of the most versatile dirtbikes ever, capable of winning in motocross, off-road, dirt track, hillclimbs—wherever you care to race it.
Because the YZ250 is still in Yamaha’s model lineup, buying replacement parts is as easy as obtaining money from an ATM. You can ride the hell out of a YZ250, use up the motor, then rebuild it for a pittance compared to your average competition-grade four-stroke.
The YZ250’s engine design has basically been unchanged since 1999, so we wouldn’t hesitate to go even as far back as ‘99 if we found a super-clean example that has been babied and can be had cheap, but what we’d really keep our eyes peeled for are clean aluminum-framed examples from 2005 onward, as the new frames shaved 5 lbs. of weight from the overall package. Of course, prices vary based on year and condition, but you should be able to snag a clean, serviceable copy for $3000. Do it and you’ll have a fast, stable and reliable 250cc two-stroke that will constantly remind you why you started riding dirtbikes in the first place. It’s that much fun!