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2003 Yamaha WR450F vs YZ450F

Friday, April 4, 2003
2003 Yamaha WR450F
WR owners beware: Submitting an environmental impact statement may be a formality prior to riding this politically correct off-road machine.
On the other there is the 30-lbs. more portly WR which features an array of enduro equipment including a tripmeter, taller 2.6 gallon fuel tank, lights, USFS approved spark arrestor, a kickstand and, most enjoyably, an electric starter and the battery that comes with it. The tuned-for-torque version of the 449cc motor is capable of taking the bike anywhere it needs to go, although the extra poundage makes it more at home with at least one wheel on terra firma.

Looking at the bikes on paper, the YZ appears plenty capable of being a full-service machine. But how would it do when faced with the elements that the WR was specifically designed for?

The riding areas in Southern Oregon consist of massive mountain ranges covered with lush green pine forests, etched with hundreds of miles of trail systems that offer hours of challenging terrain. It is here that we would soon learn whether the large-capacity fuel tank, user-friendly powerplant, kickstand and the electric start of the WR outweighs the performance-first approach of the lighter and more powerful YZ.

Riding the bikes back to back reveals both surprising similarities and major differences. Both bikes are slim in the middle and easy to move around, thanks to the roomy riding position and control layout. Both bikes are relatively smooth, have great brakes and suspension that responds well to adjustments. The WR feels quite adept in the technical terrain as well as the high-speed stuff. The difference is that the WR feels more stable in most conditions while the YZ feels a bit twitchier and more susceptible to rider input.

Power delivery is by far the largest discrepancy in the performance capabilities of these two bikes. The YZ is ready to rip the instant you crack the throttle open while the WR gives you a moment to gather your senses before it really starts to get going. The YZ was praised for its awesome engine by some of the test riders but so too was the WR, albeit for entirely different reasons. The YZ provides incredible amounts of power right from the start but was chastised by some for having too much. The bottom-end tuned WR was heaped with praise for its user-friendly power delivery and an uncanny ability to go anywhere with relatively little effort. 


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