Driving report: Yamaha WR 450 F

Driving report: Yamaha WR 450 F

Driving report: Yamaha WR 450 F

Well-equipped sports enduro

After five years of gentle model updates, Yamaha thoroughly revised the 450cc sport enduro – with a mixture of the tried and tested five-valve engine in the chassis of the 250cc motocrosser.

For a long time, the development of the sports enduro followed Yamaha a clear hierarchy: The changes to the motocrossers were made by the WR colleagues one season later.

But while both crossers have recently been extensively overhauled, the developers have been putting the enduros in the quiet corner since the 2007 model year. To remember her again now. At least to the larger displacement of the two Yamaha sisters. Because while the quarter-liter machine continues to be built unchanged, the 450 enduro breaks the aforementioned tradition.

The Yamaha technicians modernized the five-valve single previously used in the WR 450 F with a gasoline injection and implanted the pepped up unit in the relatively delicate aluminum bridge frame of the 250cc Crosser. Nevertheless – or perhaps because of it – the mixture feels typical Yamaha at first contact. The tank-seat line is a bit flatter compared to the previous model, but the relatively low handlebars continue the ergonomic tradition of Yamaha enduros. As does the sound. Despite the competition muffler, the single-cylinder chatters remarkably quietly after pressing the electric starter, retains acoustically even in the higher speed range and, last but not least, works as smoothly as butter.

Whether slippery stones or bone-hard, dried-out ground – with the successful combination of sensitive throttle response and smooth concentricity in the lower rev range, the injection immediately makes friends and the WR 450 F delivers one thing above all, even under critical conditions: full of traction. It makes it very easy for the pilot to plow through disgusting terrain with little stress. Especially since the unit, which is 2.6 millimeters longer than the current 450 cross engine, is later dedicated to the issue of efficiency and cultivates through the speed range with well-controlled pressure. It’s not as spectacular as, for example, the performance of the lively 450 top dog KTM, but it is user-friendly and easy on the condition. Not least because the suspension set-up of the WR 450 F complements these characteristics. The cartridge fork and shock absorber from Kayaba respond with sensitivity, swallow even the smallest bumps and offer top-class comfort. Not without side effects, of course. In undulating special stages, the shock absorber in particular quickly reaches its limits and rocks. The reason: at least for fast or heavy drivers, the spring of the shock absorber turned out to be too soft and has to be pretensioned excessively. With a dynamic sag of 95 millimeters, the static sag is only 15 instead of the correct value of around 25 millimeters. A harder spring and thus a higher rear when driving would probably also help the handling of the WR on the jumps. Because it is precisely in this respect that the 450 series abandons the Yamaha tradition of the heavy-to-feel, but extraordinarily precise, front end. Despite the shorter wheelbase of the 250 mm chassis, the blue one, which weighs 119 kilograms (factory specification) with an empty tank, only bends jaggedly around narrow berms when the front wheel is consciously loaded – but remains on course all the more stable on fast terrain.

Speaking of course. At 8,650 euros (plus additional costs), the price of the new WR is a good 300 euros lower than the previous model. Pleasing – as is the legendary reliability and workmanship of the WR models.

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