Driving report Yamaha WR 400 F
Light and cross
With the WR 400 F, which is derived from the new Moto Cross model YZ 400 F, Yamaha wants to revolutionize enduro racing. MOTORRAD was able to gather its first driving impressions in the USA.
Check the play of the five valves and change the engine oil every five hundred kilometers. Yamaha’s message to future WR 400 F customers is clear: not a device for carefree enduro riders, but something for professionals.
The main differences to the Crosser YZ 400 F, which will be available at dealerships in the next few days: a lighting system with a 70 watt alternator, the larger, twelve-liter plastic tank with a matching seat, and 18- instead of 19-inch rear wheel , the side stand attached to the main frame and a softer coordination of the fully adjustable spring elements.
The high-revving five-valve engine loses part of its performance in favor of the FIM Enduro noise regulation. Instead of 98 as with Moto Cross, a maximum of 94 dB (A) is allowed. With modified camshafts, a more powerful, larger radiator, a different CDI unit and a rear silencer made of steel instead of aluminum, the compact and light WR engine should still produce a whopping 45 hp. Important for the enduro rider: The performance is softer in the middle speed range and not as brutal as with the 55 hp YZ 400 F, which is certainly an advantage on technically demanding routes. The transmission was also changed. The first two gears are shorter and the fourth and fifth gears longer than in the Cross variant. With a longer final gear ratio, the WR 400 F should be able to reach speeds of up to 150 km / h.
In order to get road approval, the competition enduro has to give up a little more. Although the homologation work has not yet been fully completed, one thing is certain: According to Yamaha, the WR 400 F will produce just over 40 hp in the street-legal version. Yamaha does not want to get involved in an extremely clogged 17 HP version, as is known from some other manufacturers of thoroughbred enduros.
Enough of the preface. Start preparations for the first test ride: pull the choke, unfold the kick starter, operate the valve lifter to lift the piston with the kick starter against the high compression of 12.5 above top dead center. And, very importantly, stay away from the gas. A careless hand movement has catastrophic consequences. The accelerator pump on the carburetor also injects so much fuel that the engine inevitably drowns. The only thing that helps then is to remove the spark plug, for which the tank must first be dismantled. If you stick to the rules of the start ceremony, the WR 400 F will always take the first courageous step. The single cylinder grumbles to itself, hissing at lightning speed with every gas blast.
When the engine is hot, an additional hot start button on the carburetor helps to clear a bypass line. This allows cool air to enter the intake system, which makes it easier to start the five-valve valve. And that occasionally goes out in the hectic of sporty driving. For example, when the WR is braked violently with the rear stopper in front of a hairpin and the low centrifugal masses are not sufficient to keep the engine alive. Then suddenly there is silence.
The unpleasant aspects of the WR 400 F are already listed. The ultra short-stroke single cylinder is really easy to rev? it lasts until the rev limiter is used at 11500 rpm ?? and hard to beat in terms of spontaneous throttle response. Topped by the even more aggressive acceleration of the YZ 400 F’s cross engine, which grabs a lot in the middle speed range. In return, the WR spoils you with soft power input and a wide, usable power range, which makes one or the other gear change unnecessary. Speaking of gear changes. These come off your toes so easily, even under load, that you are inclined to only use the clutch, which is not very easy to move, when starting.
On the chassis side, the WR 400 F is no less agile than its engine. On the narrow bench, the driver can move forward unhindered in tight bends and berms or stretch all the way back on undulating passages. The WR can be steered foolproof and precisely or simply controlled with the throttle. No wedging rear end when accelerating, no uncontrollably rising front end, no fidgeting or banging the handlebars on washboard slopes. With a live weight of almost 130 kilograms, the WR 400 F floats over difficult terrain like a hovercraft. This is also due to the softly coordinated spring elements, which leave nothing to be desired for a 75 kilogram driver and do not bend their knees mercilessly even in the event of violent jumps and potholes that suddenly appear.
E.However, when it comes to an obstacle that is difficult to overcome, Yamaha stands in its own way: the WR 400 F cannot currently be offered in large numbers. A disaster in view of the great demand. Yamaha justifies this bottleneck with insufficient production capacities. The first delivery, which will only be available at Yamaha Cross outlets at the end of March, has already been sold. Could WR fans have better luck with the second delivery? I don’t expect that until June.
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