2003 Yamaha WR450F vs YZ450F

Ken Hutchison | April 4, 2003
2003 Yamaha WR450F
Although the YZ is a capable steed it just cannot compare to the WR when it comes to play riding. In the hands of a capable rider however, the YZ is pretty much unstoppable.

For the average person, the WR is just awesome. Here I was with a 450cc 4-stroke, throttle pinned and going through the gears on one wheel, hanging with the track-focused MXers that went 1-2 in our 4-stroke MX shootout without so much as a concern for getting out of shape.

At the start of that particular ride I was determined to spend half the day riding the YZ. I was, after all, the proponent of the argument that the YZ should be considered as a good candidate for an all-around dirt bike and not just for track duty. But after sliding backwards in a hill-side rut, then trying to kick-start the YZ while my arms were so pumped up that I could barely pull the hot start lever, I was longing for the WR. Its tractable engine is almost unstoppable on hillclimbs, thanks in part to that low first gear, and firing it back up after stalling is a piece of cake.

After making the switch to the WR and promptly conquering the ascent I’d just failed at on the YZ, I sat and watched as my more skilled riding partner took three attempts before making his way over. The problem was that the YZ has to be ridden fast through the rutted terrain and this is not conducive to maintaining control.

2003 Yamaha WR450F
Brian shows off his patented perpendicular riding style during a particularly tough stretch of granite road. Seriously though, the WR450F is so fun to ride that it is difficult to fault it for being a bit overweight.

Sure, at 262 lbs. (compared to. the 231-lb. YZ) on our certified scales, the WR is a little heavier. But the trade-off is the assortment of amenities. The kickstand is a wonderful thing to have in the real world, and the ¼ inch square red-button that fires the electric start is nearly enough to make this bike the woods weapon of choice for all our riders almost immediately.

“The WR felt a little heavy compared to the YZ,” notes Chamberlain. “But compared to other 4-stroke enduros it feels super-light, way lighter than a DR-Z.”

When all was said and done, we came back to the question that defined this test: Is an enduro-bred bike like the WR450F better than the almighty YZ450F as an all-around dirt bike?

Both these bikes kick ass, but they are two entirely different beasts. The YZ has its purpose and, for a couple of riders, they would prefer to have the YZ as the sole bike in their garage. But majority rules in the land of democracy, and most of our riders selected for the WR as their ride of choice. 


Ken Hutchison

Editor |Articles | The ulcers keep piling on for the warden of the MotoUSA asylum. With the inmates running rampant around the globe, Hutch has opted to get in on the madness more these days than in years past and is back in the saddle again.

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