The new Yamaha YFZ450R is big news for the sport ATV market. Designed for motocross dominance, the new Yammie brings competition to the stock MX quads.
Yamaha claims the new YFZ450R is a multi-use quad, but this all-new ATV is aimed at gunning down the Suzuki LT-R450 and taking over the motocross track. The 450cc Sport ATV market is relatively new, and many of these high-performance 4-wheelers make sacrifices on both ends of the spectrum in order to provide service on the track and trails. Suzuki has long ruled the MX roost with its fuel-injected QuadRacer, but Yamaha has had enough and used its existing YFZ450 as a base model for this exciting new R model.
We completed the 2009 YFZ450R First Ride test at the Hungry Valley SVRA and LA County Raceway with Allen Knowles from CT Racing handling the rider impressions. During that time, it was apparent that the new Mikuni fuel-injection system, new crankshaft, engine cases, cylinder, head and cam profile do much for altering the motor characteristics. The YFZ450R has a healthy punch down low and thus a wider delivery than the standard Yammie 450. Power application from the 449cc motor is suitable for multi-use, but the handling and ergonomics really point to this bike’s specialty.
The front end has been widened almost three inches over the YFZ and by doing so reaches close to the 50-inch mark, the magical MX number. Oversized Kayaba front shocks (44mm) have greater oil capacity for increased damping and greater resistance to fade during long, hard rides. Things are different out back as well with the 46mm KYB shock and new linkage system attaching the 15mm-longer aluminum swingarm. A cast aluminum chassis is assembled with bolts rather than welds, but uses a steel lower rail to cradle the engine.
Knowles found that the 450R is capable of trail use, but, as you would expect, is generally a little wide and stiff. Ample adjustability helps improve the ride, but the CT Racing owner sees the best non-MX future for this machine on the sand dunes. Sand riders will appreciate the bike’s willingness to slide the rear end and additional stability during high speeds and jumping.
New bodywork allows for extra movement and encourages aggressive riding. The ProTaper handlebars offer four different settings and the thumb throttle has been revised to give riders a more natural interface with the machine. The seat is slim toward the front and widens into a semi “T” shape at the rear. Riders can easily hang off over the redone, quick-release bodywork. The rear plastic can be removed with only four bolts, and heavy wear areas have been reinforced to last longer.
Our tester was impressed with Yamaha’s new YFZ450R. Check out the two-part video review on the right from our counterparts at ATV On Demand, where another test rider claims it could be “the best ATV ever made.” Make sure to watch both videos and judge for yourself.