In the early ’90s, Yamaha produced several ‘guinea pig’ 4x4s to further enhance the offerings of its UTV segment. With these 250-class machines, the firm tested the effectiveness of both 2WD and 4WD systems when paired with a small piston displacement. The result was the introduction of the Yamaha Timberwolf 250 in 1992 – a quad caught in between the 125-cc and emerging 400/450-cc categories.
The Yamaha Timberwolf 250 was a 229-cc utility-oriented 4×4 produced from 1992 to 2000. Often confused with the Bear Tracker, this ATV was shaft-driven and torquey. It featured 2WD and 4WD driveline modes and was a favorite choice for ranchers and recreational trail riders.
A robust, simplistic design, utility racks, electric starter, and belt drive are just some of the conveniences the Yamaha Timberwolf 250 offers. Learn more about the specs, features, and practical qualities of this not-so-apparent stunner that off-roaders have just recently come to love.
An Underrated Gem
The Yamaha Timberwolf 250 is 10th in the line of all-terrain vehicles or ATVs (three-wheelers excluded) produced by Yamaha since the 1985 Moto-4. It may not have debuted a special feature, unlike most Yamie innovations back in the day.
But the quad exhibited the same prestige as its utility-oriented cousins nonetheless. The Timberwolf’s launch was sandwiched between the 1989 Breeze and the 1995 Wolverine, partly explaining its poor recall with the buying public.
A no-frills, low-price machine, this 4×4 somewhat resembled the Bear Tracker that succeeded it a few years after. It was offered either as a 2WD or 4WD, had a 5-speed gearbox and auto-clutch, and had to shift like a motorcycle.
It was an entry-level vehicle perfect for trail riding, yard duty, or checking fence lines. Had it been given a beefier mill and sturdier framework and racks, it would have been so much more than just a decent, well-rounded four-wheeler.
The Yamaha Timberwolf 250 had fourteen trims and nine different models – one for each year of its production run (from 1992 to 2000), namely:
|1992 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250D|
|1993 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250E|
|1994 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250F|
|1994 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250FWF (4WD)|
|1995 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250G|
|1996 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250H (2WD)|
|1996 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250UH (2WD)|
|1996 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250FH (4WD)|
|1997 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250UJ (2WD)|
|1997 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250FJ (4WD)|
|1998 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250UK (2WD)|
|1998 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250FK (4WD)|
|1999 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250FL (4WD)|
|2000 Yamaha Timberwolf 250||YFB250FM (4WD)|
1997 Yamaha Timberwolf 250 4×4 Specs & Features
An air-cooled 4-stroke (forward-inclined) single-cylinder SOHC power mill brings the Timberwolf to life. This transversely mounted engine has a bore-stroke ratio of 71 x 58 mm (2.79 × 2.28 inches) and an 8.7:1 compression ratio – similar to the Bear Tracker.
Piston displacement is 229.6 cm3 (14.0 in3), and the lubrication system is a wet-sump type. A Yamaha Timberwolf 250 carburetor (Mikuni VM24SH) and a wet-type air filtration system handle the air-fuel mixture. Idle speed is 1,350–1,450 RPM.
Fuel & Lubrication
Fuel tank capacity is 9.2 L (2.4 US gallons; 1.6 L/0.4 US gallon – reserve) of unleaded gasoline with a minimum PON87/RON91 rating. Lube-wise, capacity is 1.5 L (1.6 US quarts) during an oil change, 1.6 L (1.7 US quarts) when replacing the oil filter, and 1.8 L (1.9 US quarts) at disassembly. Use SAE 10W-30 of Yamalube 4 4-stroke oil or similar for viscosity.
Under ambient temperature, other multigrade oils such as SAE 5W-30 or 20W-40 are permissible. It’s important to use variants with a minimum API grade of SJ (without modifiers and additives) to ensure top engine performance.
A 5-speed constant mesh transmission with reverse and a wet, centrifugal automatic clutch assembly delivers power to the ground. The primary spur gear has a reduction ratio of 3.318 (73/22). A left foot-operated shaft delivers the final drive with a reduction ratio of 4.414 (19/18 × 46/11). A 9.5-foot (2.9 meters, 114 inches) turning radius makes for improved cornering and impressive handling.
|Description||’97 Model||’98 Model|
|Primary Reduction Ratio||3.318 (73/22)||3.318 (73/22)|
|Transmission Gear Ratio (1st)||2.833 (34/12)||2.833 (34/12)|
|Transmission Gear Ratio (2nd)||1.789 (34/19)||1.889 (34/18)|
|Transmission Gear Ratio (3rd)||1.318 (29/22)||1.318 (29/22)|
|Transmission Gear Ratio (4th)||1.040 (23/28)||1.040 (26/25)|
|Transmission Gear Ratio (5th)||0.821 (23/28)||0.821 (23/28)|
|Reverse||unspecified||11.06 (73/22 x 34/12 x 20/17)|
|Secondary Reduction Ratio||4.414 (19/18 × 46/11)||4.920 (20/17 x 46/11)|
Ignition & Lighting
A DC-CDI system mated to an electric starter, and auxiliary mechanical recoil wakes the four-wheeler. An A.C. Magneto generator serves as its charging system, while a 12V, 12 Ah/(10 HR) GM12CZ-4A-2/Yuasa YB12C-A battery with assembled dimensions of 134 x 80 x 175 mm (5.31 x 3.56 x 6.88 inches – L x W x H) powers lighting and electronic accessories (if any).
It requires an NGK D7EA or Nippon Denso X22ES-U spark plug with a 17.5 Nm (1.75 kgf-m, 12.5 ft-lbf) tightening torque spec and 0.6–0.7 mm (0.024–0.028 inch) gap, as well as 25-watt headlights, a 7.5-watt taillight, and 3.4-watt indicator lamps.
Tires & Brakes
Factory rubber consists of tubeless Dunlop® KT701 AT22 × 7-10 front tires and Dunlop® KT705 AT22 × 10-10 rear tires that go on steel panel wheels. When replacing tires, you may opt for same-size or slightly larger Carlisle Trail Wolf or Cheng Shin M905/M906 knobbies. However, it’s up to you to go for a different tire brand or choose a more heavy-duty set, depending on your quad’s intended application.
Like most Yamaha 250-cc ATVs, recommended tire pressure for the Timberwolf is 20 kPa (0.20 kgf/cm2, 2.9 psi) for the front and 25 kPa (0.25 kgf/cm2, 3.6 psi) for the rear. When inflating or airing down tires, don’t go beyond the range of 17 kPa (0.17 kgf/cm², 2.4 psi) to 28 kPa (0.28 kgf/cm², 4.0 psi) for off-roading applications. Additionally, stay within 250 kPa (2.50 kgf/cm2, 36 psi) when seating tire beads.
Right hand-operated front drums and a left hand/right foot-operated sealed rear drum comprise the quad’s braking system and complete its tire-and-wheel assembly. Activate the brakes by stepping on the pedal found on the right side of the machine or by pressing the handlebar-mounted lever.
Although supplemented by a parking brake, the drums may not be enough for really rough riding conditions. If so, upgrade your Timberwolf’s brakes to hydraulic discs.
Its tubular steel frame (4o caster angle; 20-mm/0.78-inch trail) encloses Front MacPherson struts and a rear swingarm/monocross suspension. Both pair with oil-damped, coil-spring shocks. Minimum ground clearance is merely 155 mm (6.1 inches), while the wheelbase is 1,120 mm (44.1 inches) – making for the quad’s agility in twisty trails but not for tight turns.
Overall dimensions of the Timberwolf differ between YFB250 and YFB250U trims. The former measures 68.6 x 40.4 x 42.6 inches (1,742 x 1,025 x 1,082 mm – L x W x H). The latter is slightly longer, with 1,826 mm (71.9 inches). The seat’s height is 30.7 inches and can accommodate riders in almost all shapes and sizes. Dry weight is 199 Kg (438 lbs.), so we can assume curb weight to be this value plus a full fuel tank and lubrication.
Depending on whether you have a YFB250 or YFB250U, the 4×4’s maximum vehicle load limit – inclusive of rider weight, tongue weight, cargo, and accessories – is 140–165 Kg (309–364 lbs.). Similarly, utility racks can carry 20–30 Kg (44–66 lbs.) at the front and 30–45 Kg (66–99 lbs.) at the back.
The pulling load is the same for both trims at 330 kgf/728 lbf, while the tongue weight limit is 15 kgf/33 lbf. Said capacities work best with a recovery winch with a capacity from 3,500 lbs. to 5,000 lbs. like WARN 94000 4000 DC Series 12V Electric Winch (view on Amazon).
Standard inclusions are front and rear fenders, handgrips, handlebars, and utility racks for cargo and hauling. It also has a 2-Kg/4.4-lb storage box underneath the seat. Dual headlights are propped on the front fenders but LED lights can replace them for improved light distribution.
Yamaha Timberwolf 250 Price
Original list prices for the Timberwolf 250 ranged from $2,999 to $4,849 – depending on the year, trim, and drive system. 4WD versions were naturally more expensive than the rest, with the 1997 Yamaha YFB250FJ topping the list.
MSRP during its last three years in production was cut down by $400 for 2WD and by $550 for 4WD iterations. All values mentioned here and shown in the table below cover pricing for the stock 4×4 and do not account for accessories or package inclusions.
|Year – Model – Trim||List Price||Retail/Trade-In Values|
|1992 Yamaha YFB250D||$2,999||$350 – $2,215|
|1993 Yamaha YFB250E||$3,149||$350 – $2,215|
|1994 Yamaha YFB250F||$3,499||$375 – $2,480|
|1994 Yamaha YFB250FWF (4WD)||$4,599||$440 – $3,005|
|1995 Yamaha YFB250G||$3,549||$375 – $2,550|
|1996 Yamaha YFB250H (2WD)||$3,749||$405 – $2,515|
|1996 Yamaha YFB250UH (2WD)||$3,849||$345 – $2,370|
|1996 Yamaha YFB250FH (4WD)||$4,799||$405 – $2,540|
|1997 Yamaha YFB250UJ (2WD)||$3,899||$375 – $2,405|
|1997 Yamaha YFB250FJ (4WD)||$4,849||$455 – $2,525|
|1998 Yamaha YFB250UK (2WD)||$3,499||$435 – $2,530|
|1998 Yamaha YFB250FK (4WD)||$4,299||$515 – $2,660|
|1999 Yamaha YFB250FL (4WD)||$4,299||$660 – $2,885|
|2000 Yamaha YFB250FM (4WD)||$4,299||$705 – $3,060|
As for resale pricing, values can range between $240 and $2,420 – standard and 4WD models combined. Units sold for cheap (below $750) are typically salvaged, in a poor cosmetic state, aren’t running/not turning over, or sold for parts. Conversely, those in good working condition begin at $1,250. Model years in the used-bike market are usually from 1992, 1994, or 1999–2000. Be wary of earlier models rumored to be more problematic than recent ones.
Most of the secondhand Timberwolf 250s auctioned or sold either have red or green body panels. Whichever you get, it would be best to closely inspect its electrical system (lest you might bring home incessant starting problems).
Give the quad a makeover by getting front/rear over-fenders, new plastics, utility rack bags, and Nerf bars. Other accessories like a differential skid plate and recovery winch and winch mount are optional but are helpful for more practical applications.
This section will focus on the top two issues with the Timberwolf 250:
This is one of the two most rampant problems of the Timberwolf. Symptoms include sputtering or intermittent shut-off when slowing down from high speeds and usually with idling issues. Spotty acceleration and start-ups are also a given. Veterans would immediately point you to check/adjust jetting or look for obstructions in the idle jet/port, as these signs are sure-fire indications of a problem with fuel delivery.
Thorough cleaning of the carb and petcock should be among your initial remedial actions, especially if your quad sits for extended periods. Disuse of the machine contributes to gumming of the carb jets. Not to mention that the Timberwolf (like the rare gray wolf subspecies) is a bit cold-blooded, with internal parts that tend to clog up the more infrequent it rides – hence, the problem. Thankfully, a good rebuild kit typically does the trick.
On rare occasions, replacing fuel lines and purchasing new intake boots may be warranted. And mind you – looking for replacement rubber boots from the carb to the airbox can prove challenging. That said, you can try your local plumbing parts supplier if you can’t get OEM Yamaha Timberwolf 250 parts, provided you’ve appropriately measured the diameter of the part that needs replacing.
Once intermittent starting/no-starts and components associated with fuel delivery have all checked out, then it’s an electrical problem. This is due to several reasons – defective switches and spark plug and foul-played circuitry (to name a few). There are even scenarios where the Timberwolf would start more promptly with the mechanical recoil rather than the electric one.
When this happens, scrutinize the condition of your stator, pickup coil, and source coil. Test each phase of the stator wires to the ground with the tester on continuity – for an open circuit. Refer to your service manual for the stator, pickup coil, and source coil specs, as well as compression figures, should you go that route next.
An out-of-spec idler gear is another culprit. If you remove the crankcase and observe it, the idler should spin clockwise when you press the starter button. However, it should not spin on the shaft, more so if you don’t turn the crank.
If this happens, remove the stator from its place using an appropriate puller like an OTC (1181) Multi-Purpose Puller Set (view on Amazon) and examine it further. Veterans recommend purchasing an RM Stator or its equivalent from a reputable brand as a replacement should the need arise.
Yamaha Timberwolf 250 Top Speed
The top speed of the Timberwolf ranges from 35–55 mph (56–88.5 km/h), depending on the machine and riding conditions. In the past, the quad has been scorned for how ‘slow’ it was on/off-road. But interestingly, other owners attest to its hair-raising speed (in stock form!). Truth be told, how fast the Timberwolf goes seems to rely heavily on the quality of upkeep it receives and the degree of abuse (or care) it gets.
Since there isn’t any official literature from Yamaha indicating what its top speed rating is, the below information should suffice as a reference (collective claims of different owners in Timberwolf-dedicated forums):
- 55 mph is attainable when riding downhill on overly inflated knobbies
- up to 50 mph on a straightaway with up-to-spec tire pressure on all fours
- 35 to 45 mph everywhere else
I’d say these speeds are plenty enough for the Timberwolf’s usual applications. But suppose you want your wheeler to be able to catch up to the likes of same-class 4x4s such as Ozark, Recon, and Bombardier.
In that case, install Uni vents in the airbox lid, equip it with a high-performance exhaust system like DG Performance 051-4710 – RCM II Slip-On with Spark Arrestor (view on Amazon) for better airflow, increase stock tire sizes, and jet the quad accordingly.
Realistically, these mods will up your top speed by another 5 mph (8 km/h) max. But hey – that’s not too shabby for a 20-year-old machine!
A renowned firm that began its automotive journey just a few years after WWII, Yamaha Motor Company Limited has come a long way since. From focusing on motorcycle manufacture, the Japanese company has become one of the progenitors of All-Terrain Vehicles.
It offered the likes of the Yamaha Timberwolf 250 to consumers and continues to grow its array of product offerings, including multipurpose engines, motorized products, and intelligent machinery.
Today, Yamaha is a well-respected powerhouse in multiple automotive industries. It continues to manifest its legacy through business development, leisure, recreational facilities, and other life-enhancing services.
Conclusion – Yamaha Timberwolf 250 4×4
Like many other ATVs, the riding community’s take on the competencies of the Timberwolf vary – based on anecdotal mishaps and positive first-hand experience. Many say that the machine’s features make it a great utility vehicle and a weekend companion. Those who have used it for hard-core mudding had been nothing but fairly disappointed. While others who ride it on flat ground are all but impressed – except with its top-end speed.
I’d say the Yamaha Timberwolf 250 is one mighty concept. And it shouldn’t be criticized as hard – after all, it did serve its purpose effectively as a ‘guinea pig’ for Yamaha’s next-generation UTVs. Sure, you may need to think twice if you intend to use this bad boy for serious mudding or zippy, technical rides. But all things considered, this 4×4 is a well-rounded workhorse and play bike.
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.