Review Yamaha WR 400 F

Review Yamaha WR 400 F

Jubilation, excitement, serenity

The WR 400 F can be cheered up to almost 12,000 revolutions, which makes the driver happy. The established competition from Europe is rather concerned – and rightly so?

Yamaha’s YZ 400 F hit the four-stroke cross scene like a bombshell at the beginning of the year, and from one day to the next the newcomer made the crossers from KTM, Husaberg and Husqvarna look old.

No wonder, because firstly, the YZ is a brand new construction, and secondly, it is designed as a thoroughbred crosser from the start. The case is different with the Europeans: They are already a few years old and born as enduros, only later and rather half-heartedly mutated into crossers. This suggests that the offshoot WR 400 F is encountering more resistance from the established specialists in the 400 enduro class.
A look at the performance curves shows that the change to the Enduro division required concessions. With a maximum of 11750 rpm, the WR penetrates into similar speed spheres as the YZ, but the usable band is narrower. In the middle area there is a notable gap between Enduro and Crosser, at 6000 rpm the WR is missing almost ten horses. In contrast, the difference at the top with only two horsepower is rather marginal. It should be noted that the test machine with measured 48 HP clearly exceeds the factory specification. But the comparison with the phenomenal cross engine is unfair, hence the values ​​of a Husqvarna TE 410 from the 400 comparison test in 1996: top 45 hp at 7900 rpm, at 6000 rpm there are already 35 hp. Not bad either, but at the top the Husky closes much earlier, and from 10,000 rpm the performance drops steeply. In a direct comparison of the two Yamaha 400s on the slopes, the driver can feel that test bench curves are not just gray theory. The punch of the YZ, which pulls out the arms, is missing in the WR, everything goes much more moderately and softer with her. The enduro shakes speed orgies hard at the limiter just as easily and casually out of its sleeve as the crosser.
Where does the difference come from? Certainly the voluminous steel exhaust is primarily responsible, from which only a mild breeze is allowed to whisper compared to the animal-like screeching YZ. In the tested, open enduro version, the WR remains below the noise limit in enduro sports, but does not quite meet the limit values ​​required for road use. The homologated 37-HP variant has to be a little quieter, this should essentially be done via a slide stop. MOTORRAD will test this version in the next few weeks and deliver the measured values ​​later.
Other differences between the Crosser and Enduro engines: The exhaust cam is identical, but offset by one tooth. In addition, the ignition management works with different maps. Despite the larger flywheel due to the 70 watt alternator, the WR can be slowed down or stifled more easily than the YZ if handled insensitively, finger exercises on the clutch lever are advisable. However, the clutch should not be misused too hard, a shifting pressure point indicates the limits of the load capacity.
A small question mark applies to thermal stability. The water-cooled WR does not have the robustness of an air-cooled Honda XR 400, turning in deep sand quickly brought it to a boil despite moderate air temperatures. European kettles are plagued by similar problems. The playful handling and razor-sharp steering precision of the WR tempts you to romp around in the tightest of spaces. A fleeting thought is enough, and the Yamaha bends out of the adjoining at right angles as if by itself, there is nothing comparable in this regard. On the other hand, the directional stability has a calming effect, only in very extreme cases when braking does the steering become uneasy.
The suspension is trimmed for comfort. It speaks cleanly and softly, also swallows deep waves. When you ride hard on a cross, you can feel the limits, then there is no progression, especially the fork hits hard against the stop in extreme cases. An ideal set-up for hobby, but committed off-road driving, more comparable to an XR 400 than to a Husaberg. Nothing stands in the way of long off-road stages apart from insufficient seating, especially since refueling breaks are seldom necessary. Although the twelve-liter tank is tall, it doesn’t bother leisure enduro riders. Athletes criticize, however, that they cannot slide forward far enough in curves.
F.azit: Like the YZ, the WR 400 F sets the tone. Although not as uncompromisingly tuned as the European four-stroke engines, it will be a tough opponent. That makes you curious about a direct comparison.

The WR in enduro sport

In sport, trophies are only given with the best equipment, provided that you have adequate driving skills. As with any other enduro, this means: You can screw it a bit. First of all, the suspension must be adapted to the weight and driving style. The comfortable series setup does not offer enough reserves in extreme situations. If you let it fly properly and weigh around 70 kilos or more, you need tighter springs and appropriate damping. The progressive elements of the YZ would be just right for racing locomotion. In any case, it is more cost-effective to revise the series parts at the chassis specialist. The YZ is also the measure of all things in terms of performance. The problems faced by the French enduro champion Stéphane Peterhansel in the world championship prove that it is not that easy to exploit their potential: he started the first races with an audibly modified exhaust and promptly had difficulties with the officials. The temptation is great, with other silencers you can also lose a few kilograms, but the pedantic noise controls of German inspection officers are unlikely to meet with approval. Less stress is brought about by other modifications: A cross-like sitting position, with which a lot of pressure, is advantageous for tight special tests the front section can be made. The French importer is also offering the smaller Crosser’s tank along with a seat and decoration set as a kit for around 850 marks. Eight liters of fuel should be enough for the usual stages in enduro sport in this country.

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