Driving report: Yamaha YZ 450 F

Driving report: Yamaha YZ 450 F

Driving report: Yamaha YZ 450 F

Track test of the factory Yamaha 450 Motocross

Going off the beaten track is currently popular in off-road technology. After BMW and Husaberg, Yamaha is now surprising with a highly unconventional design. The new YZ 450 F finds the path of virtue with it?

Germany, autumn 2008.

BMW starts series production of the sports enduro G 450 X. With the coaxial mounting of the swing arm and chain pinion, the clutch rotating on the crankshaft and a filigree stainless steel tubular frame, the Bavarians are technically extremely unconventional. Austria, also at the end of 2008. Husaberg has installed an almost upright engine in the new Enduro models with the cylinder lying almost flat. Japan, a few weeks ago. Yamaha introduces the new motocrosser YZ 450 F before. The cylinder head rotated 180 degrees, the cylinder tilted backwards and the air filter behind the steering head – with this concept the Yamaha engineers caught the stud freaks cold. Even the work around world champion Antonio Cairoli was based without exception on the 2009 model. The motive of these avant-garde layouts: More traction (BMW) and better handling by centralizing the masses (Husaberg and Yamaha). And there she stands now, the very new one. The mood is tense even with test pilot Didi Lacher, who is after all a six-time German motocross champion. After all, it is important to accept the unfamiliar and still answer the question objectively: What is the point of all the effort? The four-valve engine staples well in the state. Four-valve? After the R1 super sports car, the Yamaha technicians are now also giving up their previous trademark, the five-valve cylinder head, on the flagship off-roader. The R1 didn’t hurt and the YZ 450 F undoubtedly doesn’t care much about the brand tradition. The engine already grabs with pressure in the lower speed range, runs to its peak at mid-speed, and then flattens noticeably. No comparison to the smooth acceleration of the 2009 model. Nevertheless, the speed of the single is not overwhelming. Even on critical surfaces, it finds enough traction, and thanks to the potent center, it also invites you to shift up early. The lively, spontaneously appealing impression of the single is retained even in these situations. However, this is not only due to the shorter-stroke design and reduced internal friction, but also to the less restrictive silencer. From mid-speed, the YZ drowns out the competition by far. The days of exemplary quiet Yamaha crossers are numbered with the 2010 edition. Too bad. Especially since the background noise has not only changed aft, but also in the command post. Thanks to the air filter placed behind the steering head, the sniffing intake noise extends the unfamiliar soundscape. The subject of injection is almost forgotten. The self-powered Keihin system works completely problem-free in series tuning. In any case, readjustment by the so-called YZ Power Tuner (289 euros) is not necessary. Fine. Only a hot start requires a cool head. Following the recommended procedure – open the gas, step through it once, then close the gas and without stepping through the gas – in a race, probably pushes the coolness of a racer to its limits. In return, the Yamaha technicians went back to traditional strengths when it comes to chassis.

Whether small edges or badly driven acceleration and braking waves, the Kayaba spring elements still put everything away. Yamaha fans also know the driving experience very well. Despite the completely new aluminum bridge frame, the new Yamsel also feels very front-wheel-oriented. The only horse’s foot: residents that are driven through with little train destabilize the front. The machine becomes wobbly and has to be brought on course again and again with the support leg. The fact that the chassis technicians have probably also noticed this peculiarity is indicated by the rear, which is deeply adjusted in the standard setting with 45 millimeters of negative spring travel (without driver). The usual value is around 30 millimeters. When turning and in tight, smooth turns, the Yamaha remains stable and calm. We also know that from her. The blessings of said centralization of the masses are obviously only reflected on modern, supercross-like slopes. Even after sharp jumps, the YZ flies exceptionally well balanced and neutral, which significantly reduces the stress level of the pilot. Therefore: Despite all the spectacular conceptual changes, the YZ 450 F has unexpectedly remained true to its character. And this realization can – depending on your point of view – have both a disappointing and a relieving effect.

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