Pros: affordable, easy to own, good power, easy to ride, FUN!!
Cons: rear disc brake, starting in cold weather
This is a perfect entry-level bike for a shorter rider who likes riding dirtbikes but also wants to ride on the street. This is the answer! It's not a big thumper, but it's quick and agile and easy to ride, even if you have little riding experience. I am just shy of 5'9" and I can easily put my feet on the ground when I'm stopped.
If you've ever ridden a dirtbike, you will have no problem riding this bike. The controls are basically the same with the addition of lights and signals. The electric starter is an added bonus - it's just makes starting effortless, which can be a bonus, say, if you stalled at a traffic light (been there, done that!) One touch on the starter and it's running again. I believe you can also have a kick starter installed (not included) if you like that better, or as a backup in case the battery were ever to fail.
The only "negative" thing I've found so far on this bike is that it doesn't like to start in cold weather. I even heard from a reputable mechanic that this is a "known" problem with these bikes according to Yamaha. Even if the jetting is modified, the problem still seems to exist. What I found that works is just placing a small space heater near it in the garage for a few minutes seems to do the trick. (DON'T put any heat source TOO close to any machine that contains gasoline!!!) If not a space heater, a work-light or other small heat source placed near the engine seems to warm it up just enough so that the engine will turn over. Besides in the cold, I have not had a problem getting it to turn over on the first or second try. It does take a minute for the engine to warm up enough so it will run smoothly without the choke out, but once it's warm, no problem.
The only other detail I think Yamaha should consider changing is the rear drum brake. Although I've never had a problem riding in the dirt using a rear drum brake, it would be nice to have a bit more stopping power on the road with a second disc brake. The front disc brake is excellent and strong. (The front brake is about 70% of the stopping power on a motorcycle).
The 225 is not a big engine, but it packs a good amount of power, spread evenly throughout the gears. As a smaller person, I like the fact that the power is not overwhelming, and makes controlling the bike easier. However, I still like something that moves a little bit, and this bike can get on it pretty well. I should mention here, though, that I wouldn't feel comfortable taking this bike on the highway. I've only ridden on local town roads and back roads, and a couple of more "major" roads, but not on a highway, nor would I like to any time soon. (I'm still pretty new to street riding). The seat is as good as any dirtbike seat, and gives a good unobstructed view, but I wouldn't want to go on 4 or 5 hour road trips on a regular basis without a different, more cushioned seat.
Maintenance on this bike has proven to be quite minimal, so far. You have to be willing to do a little work on your own, but this is true with any motorcycle/dirtbike. If you don't mind changing the oil, re-charging the battery, washing it, and a few other easy maintenance pieces, you're all set.
The best thing about this bike, however, is that it's a blast to ride! The whole reason I got into dirtbiking in the first place was the exhilaration of hitting the gas and going! This bike gives the same feeling, but it can go anywhere. If you live near a good riding area (you lucky dog), you can ride right from your house, no trailers, no anything. It's good in the woods, too. I take off the mirrors and protect the rear taillights, but it's definitely at home on the trails. If you're a serious dirt rider, you may want to change the stock tires.
With today's astronomical gas prices, a motorcycle, particularly a 225cc, is a very economical and fuel-efficient form of transportation. Although it may not pay for itself right away, it's pretty affordable to operate.
For more information and the specs, check out Yamaha's homepage at http://www.yamaha-motor.com. On the PRODUCTS menu, choose MOTORCYCLES, DUAL PURPOSE, XT225. The gallery and virtual tour are pretty nice, and give a good perspective on how the bike looks. The new 2003 XT225 is pretty sweet looking. Yamaha changed the blue-based graphics on the 2000-2002 models and replaced it with a really sharp black-based graphics, which makes this bike look a little cooler, in my opinion. New, it retails for $3999 which is a bargain compared to other new bikes out there. I got a fantastic deal on a slightly used 2000 model (ebay is a good source for used bikes) and paid just over half of what I would have paid if it was new. (If you buy a used bike, check it out throughly before buying and make sure the seller is reputable).
Anyway, I hope this was helpful!