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2011 Yamaha YZ450F First Ride

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

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2011 Yamaha YZ450F - First Ride Video
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See the new motocross bike in action in this 2011 Yamaha YZ450F First Ride Video.
Yamaha reshaped motocross in 2010 with the introduction of its radical YZ450F, but for 2011 the silence from the blue camp is just as impressive. The Tuning Fork crew only made a pair of changes to the 2011 Yamaha YZ450F, and if you listen to what Yammie reps have to say, that’s as groundbreaking as the original full-blown redesign.

It may just be a clever way to spin an otherwise quiet R&D year, but at the same time, there’s a definite truth to the fact that we’ve heard little about the 2010 YZ-F in the way of recurring problems. Yamaha is proud to point out that the 2010 model wasn’t rushed into production and the engineers didn’t need to fix anything for ’11. The most recent examples that come to mind are the Suzuki cases that broke in 2008 and Honda’s heavy reworking after a new model in 2009.
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2011 Yamaha YZ450F - Onboard Video with Damon Huffman
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Want to know what it's like to ride the new YZ450F? Take it for a virtual spin with a lap around Racetown 395 with Damon Huffman.
Instead Yamaha simply expanded the fuel tank 200cc for a total capacity of 1.64 gallons (though it was the CRF race bikes that ran out of fuel this summer). The other change is a reshaping of the clutch actuation arm which has a slightly different cam shape and is 6mm longer. The result is a different arm ratio which is supposed to decrease the amount of free play at the lever over the course of a moto.

Everything else is the same for 2011, so the four-valve, dual overhead cam engine has the same 97 x 60.8mm internal bore and stroke. That means it should pump out the same 47.3 horsepower and 30.3 lb-ft of torque, or at least very close as every bike varies slightly.

“The power delivery is smooth and light feeling,” says professional tester Damon Huffman. “All it takes is a little feather of the clutch and the motor comes alive. I was really impressed with the power, whether you want to take it easy by lugging it or pinning it around the track - the engine is an all-around package.”

2011 Yamaha YZ450F First Ride
Huffman was happy with the engine delivery
and the handling. The Yamaha is the same
great all-around machine that it was in 2010.
Damon, who did not ride the 2010 model, also praised the YZ-F for building revs quickly which aids in a lighter feeling. Quick-spinning rpm is part of the 450’s snappy bottom end, which really felt at home on the soft traction of Racetown 395. We also appreciated it on the tighter, jumpy confines of Perris Raceway where carrying a gear high was always met with adequate power to hoist the bike and 180-pound rider over any obstacle. The Dunlop 756 rear tread was happy to eat up the soil on both tracks, but for more slippery terrain, we’d be happy to tame down the power output with Yamaha’s handheld Power Tuner.

Neither of our test tracks got rough, but the open layout of Racetown definitely allowed for the Yamaha to showcase its stability. The Kayaba fork and shock remain one of our favorite setups and combine with the bilateral beam aluminum chassis to give the rider a rock-solid ride. Huffman set the shock sag at 104mm and was pretty happy, though he did need to slow down the rebound significantly to keep it tracking. A little stiffer on the fork compression helped keep the front end up in corners and the Yamaha was good to go for Huff-daddy.

Fortunately, the Yammie also knows how to rail ruts. With a balanced feel and centralized mass from the unique engine layout, this bike was equally comfortable making the tighter turns of Perris’ compact layout. But without any little bumps to make use of the Kayabas’ supple nature, both ends felt a little undersprung on the slower, jumpy track. What we did appreciate at Perris was the tighter rider compartment since we didn’t have to move around as much to counteract high speeds.

“The overall feel of the bike is good,” says Huffman of the Yamaha’s ergos. “The massive radiator shrouds feel a little wide, but the rest of the ergonomics feel right. The seat is rather grippy (there were several riders with shirttails flapping), and the footpegs feel a tad high for the seat height, probably only affecting riders over six-feet-tall.”
2011 Yamaha YZ450F First Ride 2011 Yamaha YZ450F First Ride 2011 Yamaha YZ450F First Ride
A neutral chassis makes the YZ450 a great turner. For 2011, new graphics and a slick red/white special edition improve looks.

I stand 5’11” and had no problems with the cockpit. Huffman was more comfortable once he rotated the bars forward, but never had to make use of the extra handlebar mount holes. Two mounting holes and offset bar clamps make for a lot of adjustability, and would have given him considerably more room by moving the ProTaper bars even farther away. But the issue isn’t with the bars, it’s with the tall footpegs. It feels like Yamaha’s development riders were a little short on inseam, and this leads to a hunched over feeling while standing, though ultimately it’s not bad. We do like how wide the pegs are, which gives an extra solid platform.

2011 Yamaha YZ450F First Ride
2011 Yamaha YZ450F First Ride
The Yamaha proved its ability to adapt to fast,
open tracks or tighter layouts.
The Yamaha weighed in at 250 pounds with a full tank during our 2010 450 Motocross Shootout. The new bike should be a tad more with the extra fuel, and there’s no denying it still feels heavy. Yes, it hides the weight very well on the track, but it still isn’t as light as the 2011 Honda CRF450R, nor is it as thin with the somewhat thicker shrouds.

The standard blue version comes with new graphics and white on the lower radiator shroud, which updates the look significantly. Our test unit was the white/red special edition with black Excel rims, gold drive chain and a black rear fender which we find even more attractive. A red gripper seat cover looks twice as good as the grey one from last year, and add in the slick preprinted backgrounds from Dirt Digits (check out the carbon fiber print) and the ’11 Yamaha is one darn sexy machine.

For some reason, perhaps because the hype has died down or because the track conditions were virtually perfect, I actually liked the YZ more this year than I did in 2010. We’ll see if that’s still the case when we put it against the rest of the ’11 450 class. Regardless, the Yamaha YZ450F is a very solid bike on all fronts. As for the minor changes, an extra splash of fuel is always a good thing though we didn’t notice significant changes in the clutch. We adjusted the free play a regular amount.

“I thought the Yamaha 450 was a complete package,” agrees Huffman. “It has a great engine, good suspension on a stable chassis and the controls function smoothly. Really this bike does everything pretty well. It’s just a matter of dialing it in for your specific needs.”
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2011 Yamaha YZ450F Specs
2011 Yamaha YZ450F First Ride
Engine: 449cc liquid-cooled Single, DOHC, 4-valve
Bore x Stroke: 97 x 60.8mm
Compression Ratio: 12.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel-injection
Clutch: Wet multi-plate, cable actuation
Transmission: 5-Speed
Final Drive Gearing: 13F/48R
Front Suspension: Kayaba Speed Sensitive System 47mm fork, 20-position compression and 20-position rebound damping adjustment; 12.2 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Kayaba gas charged shock absorber, 20-position low-speed and step-less high-speed compression damping, 20-position rebound damping and adjustable spring preload; 12.4 in. travel
Front Brake: 250mm petal disc, dual-piston caliper
Rear Brake: 245mm petal disc, 1-piston caliper
Handlebar: Pro Taper
Front Tire: Dunlop D742FA 90/100-21
Rear Tire: Dunlop D756 120/80-19
Wheelbase: 58.7 in. Length: 86.3 in. Width: 32.4 in. Ground Clearance: 15.0 in.
Seat Height: 39.3 in.
Fuel Capacity: 1.64 gal.

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MikeD -WOW wr nut...No,no,no...wait  October 25, 2010 05:19 PM
I ain't that fanatic u quoted me. I like them, just that. I don't even own a dirt bike. Im not trying to convert anyone, just putting stuff out there so people can make "smart comments" and compare.

Is just that when i went to MMI i really saw with my own eyes what was what...true colors...and i worked on it...and learned there's always a way around things, unlike we(the masses) are told(2smokes can't pass emissions).
The Ficth system(old thech by now,came out in 2000) used on the Kawasaki STX1100DI was my favorite one(specially the water cooled ECM), not complicated at all as it might seem and not horribly BULKY. With todays advances in technology i bet the whole thing can be made way smaller for "2 wheeled" use.
Oh, and DI can be applied to 4strokes too, just look GM's N/A 306HP 3.6L V6. When have a mainstream 3.6L V6 made 306HP without a Blower or Turbo? Very rare, right? lol.
I think the biggest barrier for having it in bikes right now is being cost and bulk. Maybe im wrong.

As in xplaining...Nah, u do your own search, im really good at "absorving" content but not xplaining it to someone.
But search for E-TEC,DI and the system used on Yamahas own HPDI Series Outboards and u'll see is all out there it just needs "transplanting".
wr nut -re:Mike D. do explain more of the tech u talk please  October 24, 2010 01:09 PM
Mike.D would love a lily ass if it was only on a cr or kx 500. what a know it all who hopes for non-believers to be converted on clean ktm sales floors. i'm sure the atk700 makes him drool. really tho, fasinating all the tech stuff, keep it coming! The only reason i'm in favour of 4strokes is cuz they can be made fairly quiet for trails and still have reasonalbe grunt.
MikeD. -2 Smokes are not around because...  October 23, 2010 06:36 PM
DIRT BIKE Manufacturers never bothered on making them CLEAN and ADAPTING the CLEAN TECHNOLOGY...the technology WAS AND IS out there to do it, they just didn't bother to.

Almost positive it had to do with $$$...(Isn't everything about $$$ always anyways?)

Have any of the 4 Stroker "Faithfuls" heard of DI(Direct-Injection), Kawasaki's FICTH, Evinrude's E-TEC or DI Rotax engines on SkiDoos ?
They all Used the EPA's and California NAZY Emission Laws as Toilet Paper (They are that good).
KTM is at it(as in testing now) and i hope they kick each and every Non Believer OEM to a PULP and MOP the sales floor with their Lilly Asses.

YEAH, I thought so...
Stan -4 vs 2  October 22, 2010 01:42 PM
The reason people are buying 4strokes is because they are forced to.
Its true KTM's are not cheap. But if Honda, Kawasaki, and Suzuki made 2strokes, everybodies prices would be cheaper then any 4stroke(let alone maintenance costs which by the way would become even cheaper for a smoker then they are now). It's a shame Yamaha raised the price of their smokers thinking that people would switch over. Well that's not the case for most working class riders. As for power someone mentioned, well I think anyone who rides knows that's not debatable. But something in my earlier list I forgot. 4Strokes are more then 4x as loud. This is causing public lands all over this nation to close to OHV's.

wr nut -hello Stan  October 21, 2010 09:05 PM
Yamaha's 250 2 stroke is still going strong! Just wait till these Yamaha 450f mod's get sent over to the WR line up..can you say, better and cheaper$ than a KTM..besides Yamaha's 4 stroke motors are rock solid! Not everybody wants overpriced Euro components on top of average engines
So tell me -Please include this ifo  October 21, 2010 05:03 PM
What are the recommended overhaul or top end rebuild intervals on these bikes? What is the cost for this if a dealer does the work? I would like to see this included in your tests. Thanks
gee -hmm  October 21, 2010 10:45 AM
The reason 4 strokes are here is because people buy them. 2 stroke sales declined drastically.
W1LLPOW3R -yea but stan...  October 21, 2010 08:16 AM
...some of us don't want a bike that sounds like a Weedwacker...
Heath -True  October 20, 2010 02:36 PM
You look at a British enduro and the only people riding 4 strokes are sponsored or to rich,in a high wear situation no one wants to chance a four banger going pop.
Stan -Still not what people want.  October 20, 2010 01:35 PM
Over the last decade the motorcycle industry has been pushing 4strokes as the way of the future. Infact you can hardly find a Japanese 250 smoker anywhere while companies like KTM are making updated full lines of 2strokes. If the goal is to look cool on the world seen, then by all means make 4strokes. But if you want to sell bikes that are more affordable, cheap to operate, lighter, faster, easier to work on, and what the average racing/riding family want, 2 strokes are the way to go.