Yamaha Moto 4 – Complete Review and Specs

In 1985, Yamaha released a first of its kind – the Yamaha Moto-4. The launch of this vehicle triggered the shift from three-wheel to four-wheel ATV design – and manufacturers worldwide followed suit. The four-wheeler was great news for farmers, hunting groups, and average consumers. While its popularity in the ’80s made it such a big hit, the Yamaha Moto 4 makes us wonder how it compares to current ATV standards.

The Yamaha Moto 4 marked the beginning of all-terrain vehicles. It had a 196cc engine, an electric starter, an automatic transmission, a reverse gear, and a snorkel air intake. It also minimized off-roading hazards and made rides more enjoyable with its four-wheel design.

Whether you’re looking to save costs on rebuilding, deciding to get your kid their first beginner quad, or searching for maintenance tips for this ATV, you will learn all these in this complete review.

Man Riding ATV in Desert Sand

Yamaha’s First

The introduction of the Yamaha Moto 4 in 1985 occurred when the ATC or three-wheel design dominated the all-terrain scene. Back then, ATCs or all-terrain cycles already had powerful engines but were not the safest or most stable to ride over uneven terrain. Innovators at Yamaha saw that these issues held ATVs back and wanted to trigger the shift to four-wheeled ATVs. And so, Yamaha’s first four-wheeler was born.

Yamaha’s new design featured a combination of a four-stroke, 196-cc engine with deep torque, an electric starter, a centrifugal-automatic clutch, and a snorkel air intake. A reverse gear, which helped during deceleration, gave the Moto 4 excellent maneuverability on rough terrain. Front and rear racks offered more storage and towing capabilities, making it ideal for both recreation and utility purposes. And riders enjoyed a more stable and safer riding experience.

Yamaha produced three other engine displacement versions for the Moto 4, namely: the Yamaha Moto 4 225, 250, and 350 – these new versions came with manual transmission and 4WD options. Although the Yamaha YFM200 started the Moto 4 series, its sibling Yamaha Moto-4 350 became the designated Moto-4 model from the time it hit full production in 1987 until 1995. The Yamaha Moto 4 350 or YFM350ER eventually became the prototype of various Yamaha models such as Warrior, Raptor Big Bear, and other YFM designations. Fitted with a bigger 329-cc engine, this sport ATV was designed for strong midrange pulling capabilities and serious mudding and riding in shallow water.

Yamaha Moto 4 (YFM200) Specs

  • Engine – Powered by a four-stroke, air-cooled single-cylinder SOHC engine with a bore of 67 millimeters and a stroke of 55.7 millimeters. The engine is forward-inclined with a displacement of 196 cubic centimeters. A Mikuni carburetor handles the air-fuel mixture with a compression ratio of 8.5:1 and compression pressure of 883 kPa (9 kg/cm3, 128 psi). Fuel tank capacity is 2.5 US gallons/9.5 liters with a reserve amount of 0.5 US gallons/1.9 liters.
  • Drivetrain – Power travels via a five-speed automatic constant mesh transmission inclusive of a reverse gear. It has a two-wheel drive with a maximum power output of 11.5kW (15.6PS) / 7,500r/min. The later versions from 225-cc to 350-cc come with manual transmission and 4WD options.
  • Ignition – Uses a CDI magneto electric start system and comes with a Mitsubishi ignition coil and an A.C. magneto generator.
  • Tires – The Yamaha Moto 4 tires consist of Dunlop KT982 22 X 8-10 front tires and a Dunlop KT988 22 X 10-8 rear tires with tubeless panel wheels. Front wheels allow 2.6 inches of travel while rear wheels have 4.33 inches.
  • Brakes – It uses a right-hand operated front drum brake and a single, rear hydraulic disc foot brake.
  • Suspension – The Moto 4 features a swing axle front suspension. The rear suspension utilizes a swing arm (monocross) with a steel finish.
  • Dimensions – The quad’s overall length is 68.9 inches for U.S. and Canada and 72.8 inches for all other markets. Width is 41.1 inches, and height is 40 inches; minimum ground clearance is 8.3 inches. The vehicle wheelbase is 44.1 to 44.3 inches. The seat height is 28.5 inches. Its core weight with oil and fuel tank is 406 lbs/184 kg for U.S. and Canada and 423 lbs/192 kg for all other markets.
  • Exterior – It comprises a steel frame and plastic body material, including front and rear fenders that you can protect from the elements with a Heavy-Duty, Triple-Waterproofed ATV Cover (view on Amazon). The ’85 model features a snorkel air intake and front and rear racks. It comes equipped with a 45-watt bulb headlight and a 7.5-watt taillight.

Cost of a Yamaha Moto 4

The MSRP of the 1985 Yamaha Moto 4 is quite obscure. But we can pinpoint the MSRP of the 1987 Yamaha Moto-4 YFM225T to be at $2,599. Nada Guides gives a price range between $265 to 1,275 for the 1985 Moto 4 YFM200N model in particular. On the other hand, auction prices are between $199 and $2,237. Motos in poor condition or those auctioned for parts only sell within the price range of $199 to $550. Everything else above $550 would be in mid-fair to very good/excellent condition.

All Terrain Quad in Dirt

1986-1992 models are mostly in circulation in auctions and resale. Most of the ATVs found in these auctions have minor repairs needed for the sprayer tank, electric pump, and push-button start switch or battery replacement. But there are a few requiring complete tire and parts replacement and bodywork due to the four-wheeler being in poor condition. Some of these ATVs sell cheap as they have sat for a while, with engines no longer starting or running. Some require little to no repairs but do not have titles. Others with titles or front and rear cargo and snowplow attachments are more expensive, even if they have an older model year.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Yamaha Moto 4

Since most (if not all) Yamaha Moto 4 purchases are secondhand, expect alterations from minor repairs to full rebuilds. The condition and model year of your workhorse and whether the previous owner took care of it or not entirely dictates the extent of what needs to be changed or replaced in your quad. Below are some common things that need to be looked into when buying a used Moto 4:

  • Carburetor. Although the Mikuni carburetor is an excellent piece of work that can withstand years of use, it is always good to check this and see if it needs cleaning or replacement.
  • Oil. Used four-wheelers typically have a lot of gunk and sludge in their oil when you drain them. Some owners are guilty of never changing oil for the entire duration they’ve had their ATVs – and of course, they never tell you this. Be keen on checking the condition of the oil filter, too, as Moto 4 has a mesh-type oil filter, not the paper one. In some cases, the mesh of the oil filter deteriorates over time, and the metal shavings can mix with the oil, which is not suitable for your Moto.
  • Hardware. Inspect all the nuts and bolts and see if anything is loose. Include the kingpins, wheel bearings, and rigs as faulty ones may cause your Yamaha Moto 4 parts to come loose, or your wheels to be wobbly and unstable. If everything is in perfect shape, make sure to label them carefully when you disassemble your four-wheeler when rebuilding or cleaning it.
  • Suspension. Check on the A-Arms or rear swingarms to see if they are bent and need replacement. You might also need to replace the shocks of your bike. A brand new Yamaha shock absorber set costs around $600. But if you’re budgeting, there are available options online.
  • Bodywork. As a new owner of a secondhand Moto, you can prep the plastic of your quad in numerous ways. If the exterior is already a bit worn out, you can spray paint the plastic to a hue and design that you like. But if the plastic is not that badly corroded, you can either put decal stickers on it or do the heat gun trick. Using a heat gun evens out any bumps on the plastic that may develop over time, making the look of your quad more polished and close to reasonably new. 

Other Things to Check

It is also worth inspecting other aspects of your four-wheeler like handlebars, electrical components, ATV seat, and lighting. But because it is quite an old model, some Yamaha Moto 4 ATV parts may be hard to come by. Luckily, there are a ton of online resellers and aftermarket dealers out there that provide your much-needed parts. A few Yamaha Moto 4 250 parts are, likewise, compatible with the YFM200 version. I highly recommend that you do your research, too. Who knows? You might end up scoring cheaper but higher quality Moto 4 parts from less-known (even local) sources.

How to Put a Yamaha Moto-4 in Reverse?

Putting your Yamaha Moto-4 vehicle in reverse requires a few easy steps. Initially, you have to shift into the first gear, grasp the H-L-R lever, push the button on the bottom in, and pull it back at once. Performing these simple steps put your Yamaha Moto-4 in reverse.

Some Yamaha Moto-4 owners who had difficulty putting their ATV in reverse found that rocking the ATV helped resolve the issue.

In other instances, you may need to make adjustments in the linkage of the shift lever to put your vehicle in reverse. Check that the parking brake is pushed far enough and is not jammed. Note that greasing in the shifter and brake is critical for the efficient functioning of your Moto-4.

Yamaha Moto 4 Maintenance Tips

After doing a rebuild on your Moto 4, the next thing is proper maintenance. Maintenance is crucial for enjoying your quad in the coming years. Like any other ATV, it is best to refer to your owner’s manual when caring for your bike’s needs. Not only are these the best procedures to follow for preventing further wear and tear, but Moto 4 servicing when it comes to steering and breaking power transmission systems may also slightly differ from other vehicles. On top of what you already know, here are additional recommendations on how to care for this workhorse properly:

  • Protect your ATV’s battery when not in use during winter. Do this by removing the battery from the ATV and cleaning the terminals with baking soda to avoid corrosion.
  • Check the oil, coolant, and fluid levels regularly. Conducting oil changes per your instruction manual helps prevent damage to the engine.
  • Inspect the plugs and filters. Replacing these components periodically will help prevent the Moto 4 to become sluggish.
  • Keep the ATV tire pressure accurate, and tires inflated. Deflated tires will not give you perfect control of your quad. Conversely, a correctly inflated tire helps prolong its life. Tighten the lug nuts on all wheels to ensure they do not fall off.

Identifying the Moto 4

Identifying the specific model is, in general, one of the more frequently asked questions about the Moto 4 and Yamaha ATV models. And for a good reason, as it helps consumers buy the correct parts and accessories for their quad and do the right kind of repairs. There are two ways to do it – by decoding the VIN and deciphering the model code designation.

Locating the VIN

The VIN is a standard vehicle identification numbering system that helps identify the manufacturer, design, engine type, and the year of make. It consists of a 17-digit alphanumeric code unique to every vehicle. For easy decoding, you can feed the entire 17-digit code online on the Yamaha VIN decoder website. 

All Moto-4 models have this code marked on the frame near the left footpeg when seated on the ATV. However, this specific location may change from year to year. Other areas where you can find the VIN are between the engine and the A-arm, on the neck of the frame close to the triple-tree, or slightly forward on the front-left footpeg. Cleaning the frame with a wire brush will help make the VIN more visible.

Model Code Designations

While there are approximately 19 different codes for ATVs Yamaha has produced to date, I will only list down the ones that start with a YFM code so you can make that distinction between a Moto 4 and other Yamaha ATV models:

Model Code DesignationMachine Marketing Name
YFM80Badger
YFM 200DX/225/350ERMoto 4
YFM100Champ
YFM350FWBig Bear
YFM350XWarrior
YFM400Big Bear
YFM400FWKodiak
YFM600Grizzly Hunter
YFM600FWGrizzly
YFM660Raptor

More About the Moto 4

  • Is the Yamaha Moto 4 a 4-wheel drive? The Moto 4 YFM200 was initially a two-wheel-drive version. The 1986 Yamaha Moto 225 and 250, and the 1987 Yamaha Moto 4 350 (YFM350R) are four-wheel drive ATVs.
  • What kind of oil does a Yamaha Moto 4 take? Yamaha Moto 4 350 ATVs need 2.2 quarts of wet clutch compatible 10W-40 motor oil, which can be regular or synthetic. However, avoid regular motor oils as these contain additives that may cause slippage in the ATV’s transmission. For the 1985 Yamaha Moto 4 200, the recommended transmission oil is 1.9 quarts of YAMALUBE 4 (20W-40) or SAE 20W-40 type SE motor oil, while the final gear case oil should be SAE 80 API GL-4 Hypoid gear oil. A great tip would be to buy motor oils with a JASO (Japanese Automotive Standards Organization) rating to ensure that it does not contain friction modifiers.
  • How do I change the oil on my Yamaha Moto 4 350? The owner’s manual states 11 steps that you should follow in replacing your Moto 4 oil. It is best to follow those steps to the T and take note of instructions labeled with CAUTION, such as what parts not to lose when removing the drain plug, and not allowing foreign materials to enter the engine.
  • How fast is a Yamaha Moto 4? The Yamaha Moto 4’s top speed is between 45 to 50 mph – this is true for 225-350-cc models in good working conditions. The YFM200 registers a lower top speed between 33 and 37 mph. These figures may still go up if you modify your Moto 4 Yamaha.
  • How many cc is a Yamaha Moto 4? The Yamaha Moto 4 came in four versions with different engine displacements. The YFM200 is 196-cc, the YFM225 is 223-cc, the YFM250 is 230-cc, and the YFM350ER is 329-cc.
  • Is Yamaha Moto 4 80 a part of the Moto 4 series? The Yamaha Moto 4 80 does not belong to the same series. In fact, the Yamaha YFM80 is called the Badger (produced from 1985 to 1993) and came out right before the Yamaha Moto 4 YFM200 did.

About Yamaha

Yamaha Motor Company Limited is a multi-national Japanese firm founded in Iwata, Shizuoka, Japan, in 1955. It has the second-largest motorcycle sales in the world and is the leader in water vehicle sales. Aside from successfully managing its global operations, it also participates in the development of tourist businesses, recreational and leisure facilities, and services. Yamaha is world-renowned for its well-engineered cruiser and off-road motorcycles, multipurpose engines, intelligent machinery, snowmobiles, and other motorized products and is the maker of Yamaha Moto 4.

Conclusion – Yamaha Moto 4

For the novice rider, this brute is a fantastic beginner quad. It is a perfect starting point for the experienced mechanic to build a buggy or practice on rebuilding. But for the company that manufactured it, the Yamaha Moto 4 is what has put them on the map of ATV history. For both Yamaha engineers and its current owners, the Moto 4 is a prized vehicle meant for enjoyment and embodies innovation. No wonder that this little truck continues to stick around – and will probably do so for a very long time.

Kris Peter

Adventure seeker and off-road enthusiast. I love the thrill of going off-road and taking on the elements.

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