New YZ450FX Diet!

2016 Yamaha YZ450FX part 2 

After weeks and weeks of looking at my wadded up and dirty 450FX I was just chomping at the bit to at least clean it up while patiently waiting to heal up I finally got to clean it and look at the damage which turned out to be minimal.

While waiting to heal the Rekluse, Scotts steering damper along with the kick stand removal kit arrived. I couldn’t believe how heavy the kick stand bracket was. The other thing I’m going to remove is the kick starter with the help of a GYTR kit, that will save almost two more pounds. (I’m all in, the electric starter either works or it doesn’t)

My first ride with my recently healed body and all the new stuff on the bike was at our SOTMC (Sierra Old Timers MC) ride day at Est. I stayed on the Vet track in the back except for one brief foray on the front more difficult track. It felt good and I started out slow. After riding twice I thought the suspension felt a little hard then realized I hadn’t checked the tire pressures, I had pumped air into them the day before and thought I’ll remember to check them before I ride (Not) they both had over 30 pounds in them, needless to say everything worked much better after lowering the pressures. After having tried a fifty two tooth and a fifty one tooth rear sprocket I’ve gone back to the stock 13/50 combination. My thought was to close up the wide ratio gearing for MX, but I ended up making it easier for the motor to get to the real horse power which invites whiskey throttle. (Not a good plan) The 450 has plenty of torque and with the stock gearing have a longer steadier pull in each gear. 

Bucky of SBB who did the suspension rode the bike to check out his work. He rides a 2015 YZ450F so was the perfect guy to try the 450FX. He said he liked it a lot and didn’t feel much difference in power between the two. One thing I noticed between the two bikes was the vibration, the 450FX has very little vibration I’m not sure why exactly but it does have a new counterbalance and the motor mounts are totally different.

After removing the kick starter I decided to weigh all the stuff I’ve taken off, my hope was to have taken a good honest ten pounds off the bike to bring to an honest 252/254 pounds with fuel.

So as a recap I’ve replaced the stock battery with a Sherai, removed the kick stand and the bracket, removed the kick starter gears and replaced the stock muffler. And all the stuff added up to 10.7 pounds less the weight of the Sherai battery and the foot peg bracket. Not bad, the only things you probably wouldn’t normally do are remove the kick stand and bracket and the kick starter gears. Those kits are around $30 each.

I don’t think you could find enough ways or dollars to make the FX as light as the KTM, but it’s now 10 pounds closer than it was. A couple of riders who have ridden the FX and currently ride Yamaha 450F’s didn’t mention anything about the weight.

So now that I have it set up it’s now a matter of riding it and getting use to it like any new bike. I’ll do an update on it latter.

Doug 21J



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.

In one of my other articles I talk about it’s not a matter of are you going to have a get off, it’s when and how much it will hurt. Well I had one of those get off’s that produced a lot of pain and discomfort. Nothing broken according to the X-Rays but sometimes the spasms are worse than a break and that’s what I’m dealing with now.

I will say that just prior to me being cleaned out in a corner  by a kid on a 150 (At a super busy MMX) and then being run over the head by another rider, I was starting to get comfortable on the new ride. (The crash also waded up my new bike as you can see in the picture)

When I get healthy and have installed the steering damper, the quite core and the Rekluse I will get back to testing. I wasn’t overwhelmed by new gear spacing with a 52 tooth rear sprocket but I’m not going change it until I install the Rekluse.

Doug 21J


PS A recent CT scan confirmed the reason for my continuing high pain levels. I fractured six ribs at the spine numbers 2-7 and four transverse processes (The little boney arches on the vertebrae) numbers 4-7. The good news is none of the fractures are displaced, so I should recover fully.


KTM 350SXF is this ultimate MX/Trail bike?

Here I am again; when I retired I never dreamed my passion for motorcycles would turn into this ongoing hunt for the ultimate off road bike. It’s a good thing my wife still works; hopefully I’ll find the ultimate bike before she retires and my income is severally cut.

But in the meantime I’ve been wondering if a bike like the 350 could be a great do it all bike. I started by looking at the new 350XCF but at over $9000 I chocked, new SXF’s are selling for around $8000 OTD. I thought maybe the SXF could work, but if I’m going to tinker (Spend money on it) did I really want to buy a new one, so I started looking on eBay and Craigslist for a used one all over the country. What I noticed was most of the used bikes for sale had fairly low hours and my guess was most were owned by guys who bought them for woods/trail riding and they just didn’t work for them. I was able to buy one with less than twenty hours on for a great price and locally on top of it.

I started practicing on motocross tracks this year, haven’t done that in twenty plus years, I’m enjoying it but I don’t enjoy riding my 300 XC-W on an MX track, it’s set up for Cross Country/Enduro/Trail riding.  Some magazines have anointed the 350 as the best MX bike for 2011. They talk about things like lighter weight, or at least a lighter feel, a 250cc four stroke kind of handling/feel. They aren’t supposed to tire you out like a 450 does, they’re supposed to have 450 like power on the top end, but supposedly require an aggressive riding style in order to get the most out of it, etc., etc. well I wanted to find out.

My first few rides were on an MX track and with the stock gearing 14/50 I felt I had to be real aggressive (Lots of RPM’s) if I wanted power that
resembled a 450. The bike definitely felt light, didn’t pull my arms off, and didn’t wear me out as much as the 450 RMZ I had. To me most bikes when ridden in the upper RPM range tend feel as though the suspension isn’t working as well, not so on the KTM. I thought the suspension worked well
on an MX track, I believe the 350 is all I could want in an MX bike.

As you know from my other articles I’m a Rekluse fan so for me the next step was to install one. Unfortunately Rekluse does not offer their Core Clutch for this model. The Core Clutch is the $400 version of the $899 version, so I had to pony up for the $899 version. I also sent the suspension to Factory Connection; they do all of KTM’s off road teams suspension and I’ve had three other bikes with their suspension, and it works for me. I also ordered an Enduro Engineering tall seat, I’m over six foot and the older I get the harder it is to make that transition from sitting to standing and the tall seat definitely helps. In the meantime while waiting for all these new parts I find out my new/used bike fell into a KTM motor recall category, a possible transmission bearing problem, bummer, the good news is KTM will handle it at no cost. There’s a couple of ways of looking at the motor recall, I chose, I get to have somebody look at the motor and put in a new set of rings all for the price of the rings way of looking at it. (Turns out there was no pending problem with my bearing either)

I had to wait weeks and weeks for the suspension (Parts back ordered) and even more time for the Rekluse, it’s either been difficult for them to get parts as well, or it has become a very popular item for this bike. Turns out installing the New Core EXP is easier than installing a Z-Pro Start which I’ve done numerous times.

Finally all the parts arrived and installed now it’s time to see if it all works as well as I’ve hoped. I know the bike works well on an MX course, but will it work as a serious trail bike. l also changed the gearing to a 13/51 I believe the bike still has enough top end for all but the fastest fire roads or open desert. The motor has more than enough low end to pull it around and the 13/51 gearing should be low enough for 1st gear grunt work. Actually my first real trail ride was the week before I got the Rekluse; I went up to Foresthill and put about two and half hours on it.

After changing the handle bar location a few times, adjusting the new suspension settings a few times and learning a little bit about how the bike wants to be ridden I began to enjoy ridding it and by the time I finished I was really enjoying it. The problems I experienced were it required a lot of clutch work and an aggressive style to keep it from stalling in those real tight sections.  (Remember I’m spoiled with Rekluse on my 300) And it was very easy to lock up the rear wheel and stall the motor especially going downhill, not a recipe for having fun. A couple of things that stood out on my first trail ride were, the handling is as expected, great, the bike goes and stays were you point it, it’s a bit twitchy but stable or maybe what I should say is it is flick able and light feeling. The power down low is good, just a flick of the clutch will really get things going. (Remember if it had more low end it probably would be a 450 had and would begin pulling your arms off which it doesn’t do) The four strokes seem to me to have a more planted feel than the two stroke like when going through a rock garden and up steep hills.

My second and third outings with the Rekluse installed were to Mammoth Bar an OHV area with a sand MX track and trails with a lot of up and down hills and to Georgetown a forest full of trails. I’ve made a lot of adjustments to the clutch (I’m becoming an expert) to get the right amount of engine braking (From the factory it has very little engine braking, no doubt set up for the MX track) and I continued to tweak the suspension. But I felt so comfortable and confident I took the bike to Chalk Bluff another OHV area above Nevada City which is all about tight, tight trails, 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear stuff. I would not want to use this bike for trail riding; especially at Chalk Bluff without the Rekluse. But with the Rekluse there’s very little clutch work to do, no stalling no killing the motor if you should lock up the rear wheel. Just bend it around corners and gas it, it’s just magic. And when the trail does open up and has some flow to it the bike just rails. Again, it goes where you point it and stays there, lean it over and it doesn’t want to stand up. The bike can be ridden comfortably at any speed but it does prefer to be ridden aggressively and the faster you go the more stable it is. If you want 450cc torque you’ll have to ride a 450, but if you’re ok with having more torque than a 250cc two or four stroke this bike will provide it. The power is linear, no big hit, as the RPM’s build so does the power. Just leave it in a gear and wind up it to the next corner, in this sense it’s like riding a two stroke.

Bottom line for me, this is the excellent do it all bike I was hoping to get, is it the ultimate do it all bike, of course not, there is only the ultimate do it all bike for you, and this is just the current one for me.

Doug 21J

The following is a list of things I’ve added for my comfort and the bikes protection.

Works Connection Skid plate, I liked the look and it has a rubber mounted system to help dampen noise associated with aluminum skid plates. It works, it’s quite.

Rear brake rotor guard
Scotts steering damper
Enduro Engineering tall seat
Factory Connection suspension
Rekluse Core EXP auto clutch
Evans Waterless or Zip-Ty radiator coolant, this raises the boil temperature and eliminates KTM boil over’s.

Things I might add, larger gas tank, (Although the fuel millage has been great) and a side stand.

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