On The Verge Of The Next Generation

When Yamaha redesigned the YZ450F engine back in 2010, it really struck a balance between power and control. The 2015 version carried top-shelf racers such as Weston Peick and Justin Barcia to podium finishes, so there is no denying that the largest of the YZ family is already an accomplished model. Not content to rest on its laurels, the factory introduced a number of improvements for the 2016 model year that carried over into 2017. How does one improve upon success? Let’s take a look and find out.

Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha YZ450F.

  • 2016 - 2017 Yamaha YZ450F
  • Year:
    2016- 2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Displacement:
    449 cc
  • Price:
    8590
  • Price:

Design

2016 - 2017 Yamaha YZ450F
- image 737340
The result of all this weight juggling is a bike that turns around its center of mass with no need for pronounced body shifts fore or aft in the turns.

Weight reduction and centralization of mass are the key design components on this ride. The rearward-mounted engine allows for an under-seat fuel tank, putting the fuel weight closer to center, and leaving room for the forward-mounted airbox. Even the exhaust system is placed to centralize its mass and contribute to the nimble handling.

Lack of a traditional fuel-tank bump gives the upper lines an almost board-straight appearance with a gentle swale in the middle similar to trials bikes, just not as pronounced. The result of all this weight juggling is a bike that turns around its center of mass with no need for pronounced body shifts fore or aft in the turns. There is a downside to the shape of the seat and tank, though; no place to really hang a knee so it may feel a little nervous in the corners at first. Not a dealbreaker by any means, just something to get used to.

Chassis

2016 - 2017 Yamaha YZ450F High Resolution
- image 643071
The rider triangle got five mm deeper at the footpegs; a move that helps draw the rider's weight down and keep the overall center of gravity low.

Yamaha tweaked the aluminum, bilateral-beam frame a bit for the new 450F. The rider triangle got five mm deeper at the footpegs; a move that helps draw the rider’s weight down and keep the overall center of gravity low. Triple-clamp offset increased by 3 mm reduces trail and improves the feel in the corners, and the top clamp was bulked up a bit for strength.

KYB comes well represented on this ride with components on both ends of the bike. Inverted, spring-loaded forks tame the front end with compression- and rebound-damping adjustments. It seems that the forks are surprisingly responsive to even the smallest bumps, and you won’t really miss air-charged forks at all. A coil-over monoshock supports the rear, and comes fully adjustable as well. This is one bike that likes it rough and it handles better and better as the day wears on and ruts deepen.

Brakes got a boost as well with a 270 mm front disc (up 20 mm from last year), 245 mm rear disc and special pads. The wave-cut, front and rear discs help dissipate heat and act as a sort of self-cleaning mechanism — features that prevent heat fade and brake pad contamination.

Suspension / Front: KYB® Speed-Sensitive System inverted fork; fully adjustable, 12.2-inch travel
Suspension / Rear: KYB® monoshock; fully adjustable, 12.4-inch travel
Brakes / Front: Hydraulic single disc brake, 270 mm
Brakes / Rear: Hydraulic single disc brake, 245 mm
Tires / Front: 80/100-21 Dunlop® MX52F
Tires / Rear: 120/80-19 Dunlop® MX52

Drivetrain

2016 - 2017 Yamaha YZ450F
- image 737342
The new-in-2016 engine got a new cam ground specifically to expand the torque band down into the lower rpm ranges

The 449 cc, DOHC, short-stroke engine aspirates through a 44 mm, fuel-injected Kehin throttle body and four titanium valves. Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI) and a transistor-controlled ignition manage the engine, and automatically adjust for changes in air density or temperature, and the engine comes with the GYTR Power Tuner function that allows you to dial in your engine map on demand. Also on demand is the Launch Control System (LCS) that allows you to limit power output at the touch of a button. It doesn’t nerf the engine too much, just enough to ensure a good bite when you come out of the hole. The 2016 engine got a new cam ground specifically to expand the torque band down into the lower rpm ranges and a five-speed, constant-mesh transmixer sends that torque to the rear wheel via the chain final drive.

Engine Type: 449 cc liquid-cooled DOHC four-stroke; four titanium valves
Bore x Stroke: 97.0 mm × 60.8 mm
Compression Ratio: 12.5 to 1
Fuel Delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), Keihin® 44 mm
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Constant-mesh five-speed, multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain

Price

2016 - 2017 Yamaha YZ450F High Resolution
- image 643076
MSRP for 2017 is just $100 over last year's price.

You can score a YZ450F in the Team Yamaha blue and white or red and white for $8,699. Last year, Yamaha offered a 60th-Anniversary edition in yellow for about that price. All models come with a 30 day, limited factory warranty.

Warranty: 30-Day Limited Factory Warranty
Colors:
2016: Team Yamaha Blue/White or 60th Anniversary Yellow
2017: Team Yamaha Blue or White/Red
Price:
2016: $8,590 Team Yamaha Blue/White, $8,690 60th Anniversary Yellow
2017: $8,699

Competitor

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 High Resolution
- image 644714
2016 - 2017 Yamaha YZ450F High Resolution
- image 648619
Both bikes run top-notch suspension; WP on the Husky, and KYB on the YZ, but the YZ enjoys around a half-inch greater suspension travel front and rear.

There are plenty of 450s out from all over the world, so I wanted to pick a competitor that has recent race victories/ podium finishes that also made improvements on a proven design for this new year; the FC 450 from Husqvarna seems a likely candidate. Pricewise, the bikes are about the same. The Husky is just a trifle proud of nine grand, while the YZ comes in roughly 500 bucks cheaper. Not a big difference, and certainly reasonable if you must have that Husky name.

Engine size is also nearly identical, with a mere 0.9 cc advantage going to the Husky. Performance numbers are still scarce on the YZ, but I imagine they will be fairly close to the Husky with its 63 ponies. One small detail that makes the YZ stand out for me is the kickstarter. Nevermind racing; when you are out and about romping through the wilderness, redundancy is safety, and the backup starter is a comfort to me.

Both bikes run top-notch suspension; WP on the Husky, and KYB on the YZ, but the YZ enjoys around a half-inch greater suspension travel front and rear that may make a difference to some buyers. Ground clearance differs slightly as well, with Husky towering an inch and a half over the 13-inch clearance on the Yamaha.

He Said

“This is an already-proven design, and I am interested to see how the recent tweaks pan out in the coming race season. Since the 2010 redesign, this has been a straight-up turn-and-burn bike, and the designers keep tinkering to make it better. Caveat: I reserve the right to take that back if Team Yamaha has a crap year!”

She Said

My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "The YZ450F is definitely a contender in the motocross arena. Even after a major overhaul in 2014, Yamaha found even more improvements to make in 2016. Aside from the improved performance and handling, I liked the option of getting it in yellow. I’m not really a fan of "team" colors unless, of course, you actually are on a team with a group of riders and not just sporting the same colors as everyone else riding that bike."

Specifications

Engine:
Engine Type: 449 cc liquid-cooled DOHC four-stroke; four titanium valves
Bore x Stroke: 97.0 mm × 60.8 mm
Compression Ratio: 12.5 to 1
Fuel Delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), Keihin® 44 mm
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Constant-mesh five-speed, multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Chassis:
Suspension / Front: KYB® Speed-Sensitive System inverted fork; fully adjustable, 12.2-inch travel
Suspension / Rear: KYB® monoshock; fully adjustable, 12.4-inch travel
Brakes / Front: Hydraulic single disc brake, 270 mm
Brakes / Rear: Hydraulic single disc brake, 245 mm
Tires / Front: 80/100-21 Dunlop® MX52F
Tires / Rear: 120/80-19 Dunlop® MX52
Dimensions:
L x W x H: 85.8 inches x 32.5 inches x 50.4 inches
Seat Height: 38.0 inches
Wheelbase: 58.3 inches
Ground Clearance: 13.0 inches
Fuel Capacity: 2.0 gallons
Wet Weight: 247 pounds
Other:
Warranty: 30-Day Limited Factory Warranty
Colors:
2016: Team Yamaha Blue/White or 60th Anniversary Yellow
2017: Team Yamaha Blue or White/Red
Price:
2016: $8,590 Team Yamaha Blue/White, $8,690 60th Anniversary Yellow
2017: $8,699

References

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- image 681978

See our look at the Husqvarna FC450.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: yamaha-motor.com, husqvarna-motorcycles.com

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