Over a yr in the past, the 2018 YZ450F arrived with fireworks and celebration. It had a brand new engine, a brand new chassis and nearly each half was redesigned. However that wasn’t what received everybody’s consideration. It was the primary manufacturing motocross bike that might be tuned with out being touched. You didn’t should open a toolbox, maintain a wrench and even plug in a pc to utterly alter the best way the bike ran. Now, the 2019 model of the bike has arrived with only a few obvious change. Yamaha continues to be giving us time to wrap our heads across the new world.
Yamaha all the time believed within the coil-spring fork and influenced a whole business to do an about-face.
BACK IN THE PHYSICAL WORLD
It might be considerably disrespectful to dismiss the superb work of Yamaha’s mechanical engineering employees on the YZ450F that was introduced final yr. It had a totally new electric-start motor. Yamaha, in fact, already had an electric-start model of the previous YZ450F motor. It was the one which was used within the YZ450FX and WR450F off-road bikes. It will have been straightforward to easily use that, however the engineers had the finances and the time to start out from scratch, in order that’s what they did. Solely the reverse head format was stored, so the exhaust was nonetheless within the rear. The brand new design was 2 levels extra upright, which meant that it was virtually straight up and down. Fascinating, as a result of so is the brand new Kawasaki’s, nevertheless it nonetheless has the exhaust up entrance. Yamaha had extra aggressive cams, a lighter piston and extra compression. One of the crucial shocking modifications on the time was the change to Mikuni for the throttle physique and EFI system. Yamaha already had a relationship with Mikuni for the EFI methods on the YFZ450 quad, so it wasn’t as huge a leap because it appeared. Crank inertia was decreased and the generator was rewired for much less output. It turned out that the older generator was overkill, and that resulted in an electromagnetically induced drag on the motor. A number of gears have been wider and the clutch was redesigned.
This yr Yamaha made only a few modifications to the YZ. That’s okay, as a result of final yr there have been a lot, and we’re nonetheless getting used to some.
By protecting the reverse cylinder, the consumption and airbox remained up entrance. That was a boon for the battery placement, which is underneath the seat. Often, engineers wrestle to stop the battery field from hampering airflow into the filter, however within the case of the YZ, the filter is on the opposite finish of the bike. The brand new chassis received extra inflexible, narrower and lighter, and the rider compartment was modified extensively, with a steering head that was farther ahead, taller bars and a decrease seat. All that was wrapped in new bodywork. Useless to level out, Yamaha caught with the KYB coil-spring fork that everybody beloved. It appears that evidently Yamaha single-handedly introduced the complete Japanese motocross business again to coil springs in entrance.
That brings us to the 2019 mannequin, which is just about the identical bike. Yamaha gave the entrance finish extra rigidity by growing the mating floor between the front-wheel spacers and the fork. The suspension was stiffened barely, the seat foam was made denser within the space immediately underneath the rider and the rear sprocket went from a 48-toother to a 49.
Yamaha nonetheless has good brakes, though they don’t have the sheer energy of Brembos or the brand new Kawasakis.
The actual breakthrough in tech is the Yamaha Energy Tuner app. It’s nonetheless obtainable for iPhone and Android smartphones. You obtain it (without spending a dime) after which join with the bike, which is broadcasting its personal Wi-Fi sign. In the event you’ve ever used the previous plug-in Yamaha Energy Tuner, you’ll acknowledge the interface. It permits you to add or subtract gasoline in 16 totally different zones, as outlined by a mixture of throttle opening and rpm. Similar for ignition advance. Nothing concerning the app has modified, however we do have extra expertise with it now that we’re a yr down the street. It’s a really superb device that allows you to do stuff that was unimaginable with carbureted bikes. We’ve to confess, although, that we’re dissatisfied with the general public response to the app. After a yr, we figured there can be an on-going web buzz of riders sharing maps and knowledge. Except for a couple of threads right here and there, it hasn’t occurred. A part of the difficulty is that the majority riders journey for enjoyable and don’t need to make it into work. The convenience of tuning makes testing extra tedious. Altering the needle on a 2008 Yamaha YZ450F with a Keihin carb was so troublesome that you can solely attempt three or 4 settings in a given day. In the identical period of time, you possibly can attempt 20 settings with the Energy Tuner app, and we’ve discovered that riders and tuners shortly get misplaced within the jungle looking for the magic combination. Most riders merely don’t have the bodily and psychological stamina to check precisely, lap after lap after lap. In the long run, you possibly can attempt three or 4 settings earlier than the rider loses his potential to be discerning.
That’s not a criticism of the know-how—simply the other. It’s an indictment of the human component. After a full yr of making an attempt totally different maps, we’ve returned to the map that was our favourite on the primary day of testing one yr in the past. We name it the “Preston map,” as a result of it was Travis Preston who suffered via the infinite laps of testing to develop it.
Yamaha’s Energy Tuner app is superb know-how. That is the Preston map, which stays our favourite.
BACK TO THE METAL PARTS
Whether or not it has the Preston map or the usual one, the 2019 YZ450F is a rocket, identical to it was final yr. It has large low-end energy and tongue-swallowing top-end. It’d or won’t be probably the most highly effective motocross bike on the earth. We don’t actually know or care. Final yr it held that honor, however this yr the Honda, Kawasaki, KTM and Husqvarna 450s all have had sufficient modifications to probably dethrone the YZ. This can be a matter for dynamometers and technicians in white lab coats to debate. So far as the typical rider is worried, the YZ has all the facility you can ever want. There are only a few alternatives to carry the throttle large open as it’s.
Of all of the new-age 450s with superpowers like this, the Yamaha is the one which looks like one thing even bigger than a 450. It doesn’t rev fairly as shortly because the Honda or the brand new Kawasaki, and it has probably the most linear development of energy. The Preston map is definitely slightly extra aggressive. It provides the bike a pointy little zap within the center. You wouldn’t assume this is able to work on a motorcycle so highly effective, however because it seems, most of us use that snap with a purpose to break the wheel unfastened for a flip or launch off an enormous bounce.
BACK HER IN
Within the motocross world, the broad matter of Yamaha 450 dealing with is extra divisive than something. Everybody acknowledges that there’s one thing a bit of totally different happening, however there’s no consensus past that. Is it good or dangerous? Is it the entrance finish? Is it the rear? We have now long-time employees check riders who assume the Yamaha is the best-handling motorbike ever constructed. We’ve others who refuse to experience it.
To interrupt down reality from fantasy, there are a number of issues to think about. The most important is driving method. We’ve discovered that riders who load the entrance wheel closely getting into a flip usually don’t just like the YZ’s suggestions. Others, who again it in like a flat-tracker, haven’t any hassle. There’s one other contingent of riders who merely assume the Yamaha feels massive and heavy. Make no mistake—the Yamaha is heavy. It ideas the Dust Bike Tremendous-Scale at 239 kilos with out gasoline. That’s 14 kilos heavier than the 2018 KTM 450SX-F. However, it’s about the identical because the Honda CRF450R and the Suzuki RMZ450, that are usually praised for his or her cornering potential.
For a Filth Bike Journal video that includes the 2019 Yamaha YZ450F, click on the picture above.
A minimum of there’s no debate concerning the Yamaha’s suspension. It’s unimaginable. By sticking to its weapons with the KYB SSS coil-spring fork whereas the remainder of the business went bonkers for air forks, Yamaha got here out on prime. The suspension continues to be wonderful, particularly in entrance. Coil springs are definitely value a few kilos of additional weight. This yr, Yamaha stiffened issues up slightly. We don’t know what the motivation was; we already thought it was a bit of stiff. However, it doesn’t quantity to something greater than a special clicker setting. We set the fork compression to 12 (eight is inventory) clicks and elevated rebound damping by a click on. Within the rear, most of our riders appreciated it with greater than the really helpful 100mm of sag. Most of our check riders nonetheless don’t just like the ergos of the brand new Yamaha. The inventory handlebar place is a bit too excessive and the seat is a bit low, forcing the rider to shift his weight too far rearward. We ran a taller seat with shorter bar pedestals final yr.
Is the 2019 Yamaha YZ450F probably the most highly effective bike within the motocross kingdom? We don’t know or care. It’s quick sufficient for any sane rider.
This motor hasn’t been round lengthy sufficient for us to know if it’s as dependable because the previous one. It in all probability is. There are a zillion of the previous five-valve Yamahas nonetheless driving round on their unique pistons. Yamaha’s check division claims that they might have the lightest bike within the class if they might loosen up their reliability requirements. They gained’t do it. We consider them.
From our expertise with the 2018 mannequin, we all know that the clutch is probably the most dependable of any Japanese bike. We will say that if all cable clutches have been this good, hydraulic clutches would by no means have been invented.
Whether or not the Yamaha will go down in historical past for its mechanical reliability or its digital inventiveness doesn’t matter. It stays one of the crucial vital motocross bikes of our time for quite a lot of causes, and for a lot of riders, it’s the perfect bike within the class. All good bikes can affect the races they enter at present. Nice bikes just like the YZ450F affect the bikes they race towards sooner or later.