Another fuel efficient solution for warm weather commuting.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Aug. 2, 2008
2008 Yamaha XT250 – EPA Rated at 73 mpg
What do CleanMPG and motorcycles have to do with one another? After reading and posting stories on the fuel economy potential of bikes, I tracked down a manufacturer for input on bike fuel economy and emissions. Currently, the bike manufacturer most forthcoming with fuel efficiency data is Yamaha Motor Corporation. An hour of discussion brought us where we are today…
Yamaha Motor Co. was first a musical instrument company. The founder, Torakusu Yamaha was born in 1851 and established Yamaha Musical Instrument Company in 1888. In 1898, he merged his business with others to form the Nippon Gakki Company (Japanese Musical Instrument Company). Mr. Yamaha died in 1916 but after World War II, Gen-ichi Kawakami (president of the company at that time) used what was left of the company's facilities to build a new product. That product was motorcycles. The company was subsequently renamed Yamaha -- in honor of the founder.
In 1955, Yamaha developed the YA-1 (its first motorcycle) with only 274 employees. Two single-story wooden buildings served as factories producing about 200 motorcycles a month. Since then, Yamaha Motor has expanded to multinational engineering and building new products from Aeronautics and Automobile engines to Motorcycles and Wheelchairs
This brings us to the 2008 Yamaha XT250. The XT is known the world over as an Enduro -- a dual purpose on-road/off-road bike that is simple, rugged and created specifically to use a big displacement single cylinder four stroke. Since its humble beginnings in the mid 70’s, the XT has been known for innovation and utility.
Once the 2008 Yamaha XT250 arrived, I discovered what bikers have known for the last 100 years. Bikes are fun, fuel efficient and definitely allow you take the road less traveled. Even if there is not an actual road to travel on.
The XT 250’s full specifications can be viewed in the 2008 Yamaha XT250 Specifications
2008 Yamaha XT250 Performance
The XT250 offers a 0 to 60 mph time of approximately 12 seconds. First gear is low so a larger front sprocket would probably do the bike wonders as her .25L ICE does not really begin to struggle until after 60 mph. There is a light throttle flat spot between 34 and 39 mph in fifth but a little more throttle always pulled her through it. Anything over 50 mph and the Cd with rider is so high (estimated at ~ 0.50) that she really needs the coals applied to keep accelerating. A top speed of 75 mph is sufficient for any roadway in the US but fuel economy will suffer at high velocities.
2008 Yamaha XT250 Ride, Handling and Ergonomics
Notice the high knee and tight thigh to calf angle with a 34 inch inseam.
The first 2 to 3” of soft suspension travel was easily enough to absorb minor road imperfections but the off-road tires can be a little rough on pavement at lower speeds. I never felt comfortable taking a paved corner at the speeds I would in an automobile but that was not its design or intended purpose.
General Comfort… The XT may feel a little tall for someone with a 30 inch or shorter inseam during mount. Once in the saddle however, the suspension compresses 2+ inches. The turn signal masts, both front and rear, are rubber mounted and will flex out of the way if struck. I accidentally kicked them more than a few times in the week long review ride while mounting or dismounting the bike. The XT was very comfortable for the first 20 miles but much further and I began to feel a little discomfort in the back side and knees. The foam padding on the seat feels a little thin for longer rides and the seat to peg length is too short for tall individuals. After 25 or so miles, you may need to take a break and stretch out.
Because of the upright riding position, light weight, lightly sprung suspension and off-road tires, you can be blown around a bit by passing cars and trucks on the highway so you must pay attention. Short gearing forces high revs at 60+ mph; another gear would produce a more relaxed ride. Anything below 50mph while traveling country roads, state routes or even suburbs eliminates stability concerns. The Off-road tires are probably the biggest reason for the Jekyll and Hyde nature. The XT feels very much at home in off-road riding; it is no Yamaha YZ250 in the dirt but that is not its mission. It will handle both on and off-road travel with few compromises for a smooth and gentle rider.
2008 Yamaha XT250 Instrumentation
Unfortunately, there is no tachometer but the bike is equipped with two trip odometers and a clock. The mirrors are too small for a good field of view. During the week long review, the Trip A and B odometers fell out of sync three times with a max differential of 4 miles during one top off to top off segment. I never could figure out why?
2008 Yamaha XT250 Fuel Economy Results
Riding around the far Northern Chicago suburbs and Southern Wisconsin countryside, I kept speeds low but variable per the recommended break-in procedures. With less than 1/3 throttle, there was enough power to get to speed without undue stress in stop light to stop light on 25-45 mph roads. The XT’s first fill showed a very nice 97.8mpg (US) over 54.0 miles of this real gentle cruising.
Within a speed range of 20-40mph, using the Kill-switch for P&G in an urban setting allowed good results. Traveling 17.3 miles from the previous fill, only a touch over 17 ounces was needed to top off -- yielding an excellent 129.1mpg (US).
Around town cruising is good for almost 100mpg, a mix of basic and advanced techniques are good for close to 130, but what about off-road?
I actually did start on the beginners trail ---------------------
Taking a break with the real action going on behind.
I performed some extra calculations to come up with off-road FE. Because the trails chosen were 9 miles from the nearest gas station, there was 9.0 std. road miles on the tank when I started the off-road segment. I then traveled 18.4 miles on the trails. These were not fire roads or a std. Motocross track but a beginner loop of about a mile, two deep rutted ATV trails and the final was a nightmare of cat tails, deep grooves, pegs scraping along the edges in many places and lots of rocks. Tops speeds of maybe 18 mph and the bottom at 6 throughout the next two hours kept me busy. Once back on the road, I filled at a gas station after another 12.5 road miles.
From the fill up prior to hitting the off-road trails, the XT was sitting at a 108.75 mpg over 187.6 miles. With 9.0 miles of std. paved road before hitting the off-road trails and 12.5 miles of paved road after leaving the off-road trail site, yields 22.5 miles. I used the 108.75 mpg average achieved up to that point. 22.5 mi/108.75 mpg = .207 gallons. The total fill for both the on and off-road miles came to .494 gallons over 40.9 miles leaving .287 gallons consumed for the 18.4 miles of off-road trails.
Off-Road Fuel Economy: 18.4 miles/.287 gallons = 64.11 mpg
A little dirt and mud plus a lot of dust to show for the day.--------------------------
Top off to top off tank fills look like this.
Top off at a station right off the Interstate, accelerate gently up to 60 mph and hold for almost 30 miles… 27.9 miles of 60 mph DWL speed testing consumed 0.404 gallons for 69.1 mpgUS.
To the next level, competitive level P&G
For her final ride, it was time to press up the tires and push to find out what she is really worth
Riding both desolate back country roads and Interstate frontage roads while using third, fourth and fifth from 17 mph through 36 mph, the XT really did shine.
17.4 miles on 0.114 gallons yields a nice 152.63 mpgUS.
That made me take notice
2008 Yamaha XT250 - FE Data
|Date||Odometer||Trip A (miles)||Fuel Fill (gallons)||mpgUS|| ||Total Miles Traveled (miles)||Total Fuel Consumed (gallons)||Total mpgUS||Notes|
|7-03-08||5||0.0||NA||NA|| ||0.0||NA||NA||Picked up and first fill.|
|7-03-08||59||54.0||0.552||097.826|| ||54.0||0.552||97.826||Steady state cruise around the suburbs.|
|7-03-08||76||17.3||0.134||129.104|| ||71.3||0.686||103.936||17.3 miles of P&G’ing and a lot of work.|
|7-04-08||156||80.3||0.709||113.25|| ||151.6||1.395||108.674||Slightly heavier throttle, higher speeds and higher speed shift points w/ P&G.|
|7-05-08||192||36.0||0.330||114.55|| ||187.6||1.725||108.754||Std. 36.0 mile ride out to a gas station 9 miles from the off road trails.|
|7-05-08||233||40.9||0.494||82.793|| ||228.5||2.219||102.974||18.4 miles of off-road slow speed trails and 22.5 miles on-road.|
|7-08-08||311||77.7||0.640||121.406|| ||306.2||2.859||107.100||2.2 miles of Horse trails and 75.5 miles of suburb to suburb city travel.|
|7-09-08||338||27.9||0.404||69.059|| ||334.1||3.263||102.390||27.9 miles of 60 mph speed testing.|
|7-09-08||355||17.4||0.114||152.632|| ||351.5||3.377||104.086||17.4 miles of competition level P&G -- 17 to 36 mph using 3rd, 4th and 5th.|
|FE Rating Origin||EPA FE Rating||CleanMPG Observed Fuel Economy|
|British Imperial||87.6||124.9 mpgIMP|
|European Metric||3.2||2.260 L/100 km|
Review mpg data: 351.3 miles on 3.377 gallons = 104.086 mpg.
2008 Yamaha XT250 - FE Techniques
The owner’s manual suggested shift points appear to be pretty good for great Fuel Economy up to a lower speed steady state cruise.
0 to 10 mph in first
10 mph shift to second
15 mph shift to third
20 mph shift to fourth
25 mph shift to fifth
I thought the .25L ICE was not loaded up near enough to get both the performance and Fuel Economy available during any P&G routine however. What I did was rolled her up to an approximate ¼ throttle point but took the higher gear shift point speeds up 4 to 7 mph. My suggested ranges include the following:
0 to 7 mph in first
07 - 10 mph shift to second
15 - 18 mph shift to third
24 - 27 mph shift to fourth
31 - 34 mph shift to fifth
Depending on traffic and terrain of course.
A heads up about FAS’ing a bike. There are no headlights/side marker (turn signal) lights off switch so even though there is no fuel pump, you have lights running and the little 12V cannot take much more than maybe 15 minutes of P&G w/ 30 to 45 second glides in between each pulse. Fortunately, you will not be P&G’ing for that long a period but I wanted to know when the 12V would run out and that is what I found. A push start to about 5 mph, hop on hard in first and you can bump start in case you were wondering
About bump starting… Below 17 mph, I never felt confident as the rear wheel would break loose once in a while whereas anything over 20 mph, let loose in fourth or fifth and she would spin right up. There was always a little fall off in speed but it was minimal above 20 mph vs. the low speed stuff where you would lose upwards of 5 mph without any brake lights showing during the rapid loss in speed during a bump!!! I suspect it has more to do with the rear wheel’s own inertia vs. any kind of traction issue because that rotating mass adds a fair amount of cranking power all on its own.
FAS’ing into a light. This one is a bit tricky. On stale red’s, I would FAS into them and assume they were going to be short with a bump start and idle.
For the longer stops, I would shut her down knowing the 12V system was strong (more than 3 to 4 minutes between any ICE-Off period) but I would also turn the key to off once stopped and boxed in from behind so as to remove the ancillary and total load from the electrical system in its entirety.
Lowering the high idle when stuck at a stale red (short light) or sign. Release the clutch a touch to grab and pull it back in and the idle will settle down at a more reasonable 1,500 R’s vs. the 2,000 + after warm-up was complete.
Motorcycle Emissions and Fuel Economy Ratings
Details can be found in the Motorcycle emissions limits and fuel economy estimates
article as linked.
2008 Yamaha XT250 - Experiences
The motorcycle community is still as close as ever. This is Harley territory given some of the rides occurred throughout much of South Eastern WI. I would speak with whatever Harley or Sport bike rider was next to me at the gas station or light and it just goes to show the camaraderie that exists between riders no matter the bike ridden is alive and well.
The enjoyment of a dual-purpose shined bright three times during the week long review. The first occurred when nature called in the middle of nowhere; I simply traveled off the beaten path. The second time was when traveling to the off-road riding trails during which I crossed over a brand new Interstate with the road closed barriers at this particular overpasses on-off ramp. In a car, highway cruiser or sport bike, I would have had to pass and wonder. On the XT, I simply headed off road, around the barriers and I enjoyed a few miles of absolutely empty Interstate in the middle of nowhere while exploring. The third time was when heading home for her final P&G fill. With all the construction in Southern WI, the WI DOT closed down a 1.5 mile section of brand new frontage road just before the IL/WI state-line. I rode into the ditch and around the road-closed barriers
Sure enough, about 1.25 miles up, they had busted the road to smithereens. The XT was built for that kind of roadway and she took it on without nearly a hiccup. That experience occurred during the competitive P&G segment at over 150 mpg too
2008 Yamaha XT250 - Conclusion
Comfort… I was pushing the miles and extended time the first few rides and both my knees and my butt were not happy about it. As the week wore on, I was lowering my actual seat time to less than 30-minutes between stops. That is when I really started to enjoy the XT. I suspect its design philosophy was specifically focused towards the shorter and lighter weight rider who also wanted to have a little fun in the dirt.
The XT250 is not really a highway cruiser. The XT is however an excellent short distance commuter (< 15 miles) with any amount of stop light to stop light and slower speed suburban roadways to contend with while returning exceptional FE in the 25 to 35 mph range.
In the final analysis, the XT’s outstanding fuel economy achieved over short distances and in relatively heavy stop light to stop light traffic made for a very enjoyable week long ride. An Insight might match its FE under similar driving scenarios with a Prius just a stones throw away but neither the Insight nor Prius are a bike by any stretch. With the XT’s off-road capability and road less traveled experiences, I could ride nearly guilt free and had a great time while doing so
Individuals behind the scenes
I would like to thank both Michael Schmitt and Meredith Penrod of the Yamaha Motor Corporation for pulling some very large strings to have this bike shipped out from CA and setup for the review. I would also like to thank John Covell, the General Manager of Lake County Power Sports for hosting the XT250 along with Jim Parpan, the Service Manager, for the setup and initial walk through.