Although the 2009 Yamaha WR450F didn’t suffer much refinement as this year’s model, it does stand out thanks to the amazingly strong-pulling motor having five titanium valves and a lot of appetite for the roughest off-road incursions. Backed up by its aluminum frame, the WR promises to remain the same adventurous machine on the trails in weekends and the dearest commuting friend for the first five days of the week.
Early cold mornings are no inconvenient for this bike’s future owners as they will be push-starting it and then keep an eye on the digital enduro race computer with speedometer, clock and tripmeter.
Inspired on the Yamaha YZ450F motocross bike, the WR450F came to life in 2003 after the motorcycle press had anticipated most of its one-off features.
The engine was a slightly retuned version of the 449cc, liquid-cooled, 5-valve, DOHC, 4-stroke that equipped (and still does) the YZ model so the two have evolved in parallel. The 39mm Keihin FCR flat-slide carb with throttle position sensor was there from the first place, as well as the five-speed gearbox.
Electrically started and technically advanced, you can definitely say the bike was a blast from the very first year. Having pulled it through exceptionally from the start, the all-new for the time WR 450F has followed an ascendant line and promises to go even higher in 2010.
Honda is not leaving any battle without a title and although we’re not talking about competition bikes, the 2009 CRX450X is Yamaha’s red nightmare. Powered by the 449cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder Unicam four-stroke engine fed through a 40mm Keihin flat-slide, it has the bang to go up against the YZ and with the Honda Progressive Steering Damper it also covers up excellently the handling chapter. For an MSRP of $7,499 (and not only), it is a great alternative.
The 2009 Kawasaki KLX450R is heavily refined and also inspires on the motocross version, the KX450F. It so offers great power, no matter the engine revvs, and sharp handling. Push-start the 449cc four-stroke, DOHC, four-valve single and you’re in for a tough decision between the blue, red or green dirt-spreader. If the last blinks an eye, you can have it for $7,499.
But these bikes are practically racing versions with headlights so if you’re looking for a more docile off-road motorcycle, the 2009 Suzuki DR-Z400S is the sweetest alternative. Its four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC engine won’t have you powered over bumps and through rivers like a Yamaha, Honda or Kawasaki engine will, but remember that your option was to go nice and steady on the motorway without suffering from severe back pain when finally arriving at your farm. Great for old McDonald! Priced at $6,099, not many cows will be sold in order to purchase the thing.
But the WR hasn’t inspired only on YZ’s mechanics, but on its design features too so this is why you’ll easily confuse it with a racing bike and consider it no stranger to the motocross track. What would slightly betray it are the lower ground clearance and the headlight. Apart from that, you’re hooked up with a racing bike.
With aggressive fenders and panels, two-tone seat and new decals, all perfectly blended in together and combining blue with white, there’s nothing to keep you away from it, like on the Suzuki for example.
Even though the front number plate was replaced with a headlight, the bike still retains the side number plates which give it a stylish note. The mudguards have the same role, but I’ll better stop before you start thinking I’m fooling you about this being an off-road bike. It really is!
Riders in search of a fun and practical dirt bike that is not necessarily meant to perform on the track (although it can and it will) have come to the right place. Yamaha may have not revised the WR450F for 2009, but does this bike actually need a revision? After spending a whole day wondering on the trails, we sure know it doesn’t need anything more that gas and a constantly opened throttle.
The four-stroke engine feels in no need for fuel injection as it is incredibly responsive and delivers constant power all through the rpm range. That is just the four-stroke magic of a dirt bike, but there’s plenty more to it. That 450cc, liquid-cooled DOHC; five-titanium valves motor also starts easily, cold or hot, and means serious business either you’re passing through a creek or climb steep hills. It provides impressive low-end grunt without overwhelming the rider. Sure thing though, no rider will start on this bike and the name gives a clue about performance so go easy on the clutch. Furthermore, the five-speed gearbox is forgiving when not running quite in the right gear and shifting is done effortlessly. Even the first gear launches the bike at speeds at which two-stroke engines usually require at least a shift.
Compact and sharply styled, the WR-F feels like it’s built to perform and it doesn’t disappoint at any point. Handling is fairly light and definitely responsive, but not quite like on the quarter-liter version, the WR250F. Yet, our 450 was stable at high speeds and soaked up the riding terrain’s imperfections with ease, providing a smooth and enjoyable ride.
It may not be street legal, but it is fitted with a digital endure computer offering data such as the speed you’re running with, the hour…so that’s very nice for a machine that was born on the motocross track. Plus, WR-F rider isn’t needed to go home before do bygone as there is always that helpful light to spare you of trouble. And so is the braking system which delivers the needed braking performance and more in virtually all riding situations.
Riding on a pair of 21-inch front and 18-inch rear Excel rims supported by Kayaba suspension is good news when the going gets tough. Also, that skidplate is very helpful especially when riding over rocks or jumping obstacles on slippery surfaces. The tires grip on very well and so the bike will inspire confidence at all times, but it never harms being cautious.
Although not featuring the wheel travel of straight off motocross bikes, the Yamaha WR450F (11.8-inch front and 12-inch of travel rear) is adequate for jumping and lands good even if the rider on top of it has a weakness for sweets. Still, I don’t recommend staying nowhere near that seat after a day on those trails, but that applies to all such motorcycles, not just the ones made by Yamaha.
Also to be appreciated at Yamaha is their talent of keeping the MSRP as low as possible even thought production requirements increase. In this case, the price tag will indicate a sum of $7,499, 300 bucks more than for the 2008 model year. This way the bike equals the competition in the price chapter and individualizes with…but you already know it, don’t you?
Having reviewed the bike’s qualities and missing defects we’ll simply prefer saying that it performs a magical attraction from the first time you lay your eyes on it and it has the engine and chassis capabilities backing it up in any situation that the trails might reserve for you. Keeping it low on the price is also a great advantage.
So what could you want more? Share your impressions or doubts with us and we’ll be glad to help you clear everything out.
Engine and Transmission
Type: liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke; 5 titanium valves
Bore x Stroke: 95.0mm x 63.4mm
Compression Ratio: 12.3:1
Carburetion: Keihin® FCR 39
Transmission: Constant-mesh 5-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain Drive
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension/Front: Inverted fork; fully adjustable, 11.8-in travel
Suspension/Rear: Single shock; fully adjustable, 12-in travel
Brakes/Front: Hydraulic single disc brake, 250mm
Brakes/Rear: Hydraulic single disc brake, 245mm
Tires/Front: 80/100-21 51M
Tires/Rear: 110/100-18 64M
Length: 85.6 in
Width: 32.5 in
Height: 51.0 in
Seat Height: 38.6 in
Wheelbase: 58.5 in
Ground Clearance: 14.4 in
Fuel Capacity: 2.1 gal
Wet Weight: 271 lb