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21J Looks at the New YZ450FX

2016 Yamaha YZ450FX Part 1

The overwhelming success of the 2015 YZ2250FX led to Yamaha’s duplicating that effort only this time in a 450cc version. I thought for sure Yamaha would have come out with an electric start motocross model for 2016 but they didn’t. They’ve had an electric start bike competing in the World FIM European motocross championships for the past few years. Personally I believe part the reason is the weight. KTM has raised the bar way up there with their MX bikes that weigh around 240lbs with fuel and electric starter. The new 450FX weighs according to Yamahas specs is 262 with fuel and electric start. Obviously you can save weight by removing the kick stand add a light weight battery, remove the kick starter etc. etc. but you’re still not going to get near what a KTM weighs. Yamaha is going to have to do what KTM did which was to look at every component to see where they can save weight.

Having said all that just how does this new bike stack up; first of all I want to use this bike primarily for motocross, there are times when I’d like to have the grunt a 450 and only a 450 can offer, which means riding it in some Cross County events and the occasional desert outing. I had for a short period of time a 2015.5 KTM 450 Factory Edition (Dungey) so I can compare the two a little. I decided I wanted a bike I could do more things with, the Factory Edition is like a work of art and I couldn’t see myself flogging it around where it could get scratched.

I picked up my new YZ450FX on a Thursday and when I got home and unloaded it I had my first crash. As I stepped off the back of my pickup and on to the bike stand it started to wobble and I and the bike fell to the ground. Fortunately the bike didn’t get scratch and that’s because it landed on top me. Unfortunately I was pinned underneath it and had a hard time getting out. Later, I tell my wife about it and she said she looked out the window and wondered why my new bike was lying on the ground and I of course said obviously you didn’t see me lying under it.

I spent the next day or so getting acquainted and setting it up for me, with handle bars, foot pegs, brake and shifter etc. etc. And as they say, on the third day I rode it on the MX track. (MMX in Marysville) Nothing like taking a brand new bike to a mud fest, the sand track was muddy slippery and rutted not an ideal way to ride a brand new bike, actually the other track was better that day. The first thing I noticed riding the bike around my driveway (I Have a lot of driveway) was the wide ratio transmission, the stock gearing feels like it could do a hundred I thought it would work ok for trails and cross country, but felt it might be a little gappy for MX. Riding it on the MX track confirmed my feeling that the ratios might be a bit too wide for an MX bike. I had already changed the rear sprocket from the stock fifty to a fifty one. You can put a fifty two on it which I’m going to try in an effort to tighten the gap a bit, fortunately the 450 has enough power to overcome the gaps it will just take some getting used to.

The suspension was to stiff for me even though I backed the compression all the way out on the forks and shock, but after all it is brand new. For the next ride I decided I would take 25cc’s of oil out of each fork leg and installed a 52 tooth rear sprocket. It’s interesting in that it seems like most of the magazine test riders are always complaining about the forks blowing through the stroke and not standing up in the corners and most of the riders I know want the forks to move while cornering, but on the other hand most of my riders are trail riders. I didn’t get around to riding the new set up before it started raining and with Christmas and the New Year coming I decided to go ahead and have Bucky at SBB do the suspension.

While I’m waiting to get the suspension back I’ve been looking for ways to reduce the weight, I replaced the stock battery with the ultra light Shori. I took the kickstand off; I’ve ordered a GYTR kit to remove the kickstand bracket. I’ve also ordered a GYTR kit to remove the kick starter it’s supposed to save almost two pounds. I’m all in on the electric start either it works as advertised or it won’t. (Having ridden electric start only KTM’s for the past four years I feel confident) I also replaced the stock muffler with a GYTR (FMF) muffler spark arrestor. I’m hoping after all said and done I can get a good ten pounds off the bike, anything more than that would no doubt cost a lot of money.

My 250FX has a 22mm offset triple clamp and after some research I found out the 450FX has the same 22mm offset. Scotts contacted me to let me know the steering damper kit is now available for it as well. I also ordered a FMF quite core spark arrestor insert for the FMF/ GYTR muffler I installed. It’s just too loud even with the standard spark arrestor installed to pass a 96dba sound test for dist 36 cross country racing.