New year’s YZ450F intends on taking even further the levels of performance and sweetness that come together with the Yamaha name so it brings up a range of small, but decisive refinements concerning especially handing and style. This might be exactly the bike you’ve been craving for as Yamaha ruled the AMA Motocross Championship last year.
Yamaha hopes that 2009 will be a very successful year for them on the tracks and trails around the world and it doesn’t just pray to God for that to happen, but launches improved bikes that will surely give it a bigger point on the map.
Of course, their big-bore YZ450F couldn’t have missed an improvements year at Yamaha, especially after the 2008 success.
The distinctive features which position it on top of the class are the five-titanium-valves of the consecrated motor, the lightness and yet great resistance of the frame, as well as the reviewed suspensions. Of course, Yamaha engineers felt like slightly modifying the engine’s pull so it redesigned the gas flow through the exhaust and obtained more grunt from down low and all through the midrange.
In order to handle as well as it accelerates, the YZ is now equipped with adjustable racing ProTaper aluminum handlebars and Excel wheels, as well as a gripper seat to keep that enthusiastic rider in place.
Mated to a five-speed gearbox, the engine’s capabilities are properly exploited and its versatile character reaches higher expectations. This year’s model comes with a new, shortened clutch lever which, as the bars, can be adjusted and fit a variety of riders.
Very well known is the fact that racing engines haven’t got quite a long life, but with the new dry sump lubrication system on this thing, your bike will have more oil flow and it will go on and on for years if properly maintained.
It is very easy to get caught up by the new Yamaha YZ450F, and the entire lineup actually, as you think at how great the 2008 model year proved being and how it could be improved. They actually upgrade the riding position through the four handlebar positions (standard, 10mm back, 10mm or 20mm forward). It features a redesigned swingarm as well as redesigned suspension linkage together with it. There are also weight reduced pieces such as the front brake hose clamp - which is now made out of aluminum - , the clutch lever, and lighter axle blocks.
We recently got the opportunity to experience the performance of a 2009 Yamaha YZ450F, but until sharing our impressions with you, let’s see where the Yammie is coming from in order to easily understand where it’s heading.
1998 is the year when the big Japanese manufacturer launched the R1 and also when the YZ400F was born from the need to replace two-stroke bikes on the motocross tracks. The bike is also known as the first production four-stroke two-wheeler and its specs page threatened every two-stroke bike that would have had plans for a brilliant future. With a 233 pounds weight and a redline going as high as 11,600 rpm, those worries were surely justified.
Ingeniously built and with practicability in mind, the engine would have slowed the machine down when the throttle was turned back, something that required a bit of practice for riders, but proved very efficient and once got used with.
Two years later (in 2000), the YZ400F had its engine displacement increased to 426cc, something that made all the difference when you would widely open the throttle and expect it to go like a train. One of the smartest moves that Yamaha had made with this bike is the fact that in 2001 it had titanium valves replacing the steel ones. The replacement had the great effect of reducing weight and implicit perform better. The frame was now made of aluminum instead of steel, also.
Having learned a very useful lesson from the first engine displacement increase, Yamaha people decided that it was time for yet another success jump and this one came together with the 449cc engine. It was the best engine ever and it stood up on the bike ever since with the necessary refinements, of course. In order to mark the big update, there have been also added new plastics on the YZ450F which now looked pretty close to what you can see today in its latest pics.
The big disadvantage was the fact that the new engine was pushed too much and there were only four gears to back it up. This made it a little rough on the rider, but things had come back to a normal in 2006 when the power was reduced and a fifth gear smoothened things out. Also in 2006, the YZ saw the aluminum single backbone frame and a 10 pounds weight reduction together with it.
A next big revision was to come together with the 2008 model year. This last before 2009 brought the revised intake port shapes, larger diameter titanium valves, shorter steering head pipe, and new front brake calipers.
In the motocross arena, Honda stands out with their 2009 CRF450R. The most distinctive feature of this open-class bike is the Honda Progressive Steering Damper and the innovative fuel-injection system (that actually requires no battery) feeding the 449cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine. So they make sure that they have a strong pulling and sharp handling motorcycle, a real opponent both for the Yamaha and the rest of the Japanese crowd.
Suzuki sure fits this scenario perfectly and the RM-Z450 doesn’t fail to impress in any matter for 2009. This too features fuel injection and the engine configuration is pretty much the same: 449cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke, DOHC engine. Suzuki claims to have improved aerodynamics for 2009 so their biggest RM should be a smooth flying bike on the motocross track.
Also knowing that winning on the track means big sales in most other segments, Kawasaki introduced the 2009 KX450F. The Lime Green competitor is being powered by a 449cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke single, DOHC, also fuel injected, and features a light and easy to work with chassis. Not bad at all!
If design would have had everything to do with the decisive vote, the Yamaha YZ450F would definitely occupy the first place as it is a very compact bike that has its body panels, seat and rear fender perfectly blended in one together with the other in a comma shape. I mean, just look at it from the side; it clearly gives a big clue on its track performance from a very first glance.
Even though not as close to the Italian stylish look Japanese builders keep trying to dethrone, the bike looks clean and easily stands out from the now last year’s model.
It looks tall, but at a 38.9-inch seat height it can easily be ridden even by small-sized persons. The fenders are very high and threatening for the competition lining up at the starting line and the Yamaha name on the white mudguards unveils the source of their nightmares. Handlebars have four adjusting positions and the seat has a new cover that offers better grip.
The bike also manages to exert that magical attraction with the help of the two color schemes available for it. Either Team Yamaha Blue/White or White/Red colored, it was the first thing that stood out on the tracks at the end of 2008 as it got a decent head start.
Straight off, the 2009 Yamaha YZ450F impresses due to an unmatched combination of linear power delivery and chassis stability making it easy for almost every motocross rider to get accustomed with the bike within a few lap times and not that much dirt spread. The bike has a natural evolution. They’ve improved the engine and the suspension, but not that much as the 2008 model year gets pretty close to the new model’s lap times.
The standard settings for the suspension and handlebars suit most riders and the 39-inch seat is the adequate solution for a bike in this class. But what amazes about the YZ45F is that it doesn’t show off its racing DNA if you’re not doing any efforts for that matter. Adaptive and very easy to ride, this racer won’t scare anybody with its engine’s jerks or anything like it at all.
Still, fast launches become the easiest thing after a few laps and that will be mostly because the rider would have experienced the cornering ability of this motocrosser. Yamaha has redesigned YZ450’s swingarm for 2009 and this not only lightens the chassis, but also ensures great traction and inspires confidence during high speed corners. The rear end follows the front wheel easily and the rider won’t struggle to impose ihis own rhythm, but simply comply with that of the bike.
The MX aluminum frame brings a major contribution at keeping the bike stable around corners and that is quite an invitation for twisting the throttle. Now, motocross four-stroke singles don’t feel most at home on top of their power bands, but YZ’s continues to pull strong even when you’d normally have to shift or prepare to brake before the corner that follows every straight track section.
Probably the best about the biggest Yamaha YZ is that it doesn’t actually feel like that. You can easily jump from an YZ250F straight on its seat and feel well at home with the riding characteristics while the performance is at a whole other level. I usually call beginner bikes confidence inspiring, but I guess I’ll have to make an exception here and say that if you give it time (which can very well be a weekend or so), the YZ450F is can be great second bike.
The brakes are very powerful and reassuring as well, but this won’t amaze you as much the fact that the front suspension won’t bottom out even where you’re expecting it too. Landing in potholes is no problems for that new swingarm, the piece that the major contribution to 2009’s upgrade.
We have to call it a great overall motocross bike as it invites you to ride, it is consistent in delivering power and it knows how to deal with that power. Experience sure counts, but the Yamaha YZ450F is a rule-breaker and it will make an exception for those tough characters that feel like going for it.
The resumed Japanese recipe to building dirt bikes consists in a powerful and easily exploitable motor that comes mounted on a light and nimble frame. Suspensions must be top notch and the riders properly accommodated through a great ergonomic triangle. Everything else is considered detail work for the masterminds with the drawing board in front of them, but the marketing department must really do its job in order for the bike to sell. And it very well did it as the Blue and White version comes with a suggested retail price of $7,399 and the White and Red with only $100 more.
With the 2009 YZ450F Yamaha proves that the best can be pushed even further and maintain its supremacy even if the competition is strong coming from behind. And if there was nobody to compete with, it would have done it with itself and we’d still be writing about it.
Engine and Transmission
Type: liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke; 5 titanium valves
Bore x Stroke: 95.0 x 63.4mm
Compression Ratio: 12.3:1
Carburetion: Keihin FCR MX39
Transmission: Constant-mesh 5-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain Drive
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension/Front: Speed-Sensitive System inverted fork; fully adjustable, 11.8-in travel
Suspension/Rear: Fully adjustable single shock; 12.3-in travel
Brakes/Front: Hydraulic single disc brake, 245mm
Brakes/Rear: Hydraulic single disc brake, 245mm
Tires/Front: 80/100-21-Dunlop 742FA
Tires/Rear: 120/80-19-Dunlop 756
Length: 86.4 in
Width: 32.5 in
Height: 51.4 in
Seat Height: 38.9 in
Wheelbase: 58.8 in
Ground Clearance: 14.7 in
Fuel Capacity: 1.8 gal
Wet Weight: 238 lb
New for 2009: