Yamaha takes it to the woods
With the introduction of the YFZ450R last fall, Yamaha hit the nail on the head for those in the market for a true out of the box motocross machine. Although some GNCC racers and trail riders chose to ride the Big Blue’s new steed in the woods, it was apparent that incorporating the YFZ450R’s fuel injected powerplant and developing a machine for both trail riders and racers alike was the next logical step.
We recently had the chance to check out Yamaha’s offering for the backwoods riders and racers – the YFZ450X. Unlike its predecessor, this quad was designed specifically to be ridden in tight woods. Big Buck Farm in Union, SC would be host of the Yamaha YFZ450X Intro. Big Buck Farm also hosts the Big Buck GNCC that has blessed the cross-country racing schedule for 13 years. This location offers a variety of terrain, including tight woods, grassy open areas, decent sized hills, rutted out trails, numerous water crossings, and the infamous Creek Jump that are all part of a 10+ mile course.
There are a number of differences between the YFZ450X and its motocross proven brother the YFZ450R. Those who were on the fence about racing the YFZ450R in the woods will be happy to hear that the YFZ450X fits a lot better through tight wooded sections.
The major difference when you first lay eyes on the new quad is the width. The X measures 46.1 inches, which is 2.7 inches narrower than the YFZ450R. The X is now same width as the original YFZ450, which it replaces in the Yamaha lineup. The new width gives you more cushion for error and the confidence to go faster though tightly wooded sections. As someone who grew up racing GNCC, I don’t know how many times it seemed that even stock width was barely narrow enough to fit though some trails.
Ergonomics on the YFZ450X are very similar to the YFZ450R with the exception of a few key components. Although there are many features that were brought over from the YFZ450R, I feel a couple actually worked better while riding tightly wooded trails rather than the motocross track or open desert. The seat is one item in particular that helped greatly while riding at Big Buck. It seemed that the T-shaped seat gave an extra cushion on your rear end when hanging off the bike going over awkward obstacles, rutted out sections, or maneuvering the bike over logs while doing a wheelie.
A narrow gas tank was also brought over from the YFZ450R, which significantly improved gripping the bike while riding aggressively. When riding woods you are more centered on the bike rather than hanging off towards the back or to the side. I felt that it was easier to grip the narrow tank with your knees on the YFZ450X compared to the original YFZ. The YFZ450X also has the same foot pegs as the YFZ450R measuring in at 65 mm wide – 20 mm wider and 12 mm longer than on the original YFZ. The wider foot pegs helped spread the load when landing off big jumps like the aforementioned creek jump. The improved pegs also help your feet stay put on the pegs in muddy conditions.
Additionally, both the YFZ450R and the YFZ450X come equipped with Pro Taper Handlebars that can be adjusted forward and backward depending on your preference.
Compared to the original YFZ, the YFZ450X has vastly improved shocks. The X comes with 9.4-inch piggyback shocks that are 28 mm longer and 8 mm wider in diameter. These new shocks also come with full high and low speed adjustments, rebound and compression adjustments and a tread style preload adjustment. The shocks are Kashima coated to prolong the shock life, which also reduces friction and increases oil life and durability.
The combination of the front and rear shocks worked very well once we had them tweaked to our size and preference. I felt that the rear end kicked a little going up rutted out, off camber hills and was a little soft when flat landing off jumps. A few quick adjustments to the shocks made a major difference on my speed no matter what the terrain. If you do find yourself needing to set your shocks past the furthest adjustments there is no need to spend a big wad of cash on new shocks. These shocks work well enough that you can just send them in to get revalved to your weight and riding style.
Yamaha also changed up the frame from the original YFZ. The frame is now made of cast aluminum and features an 11-degree rake compared to 8 degrees on the original. This markedly improves handling and places the A-arms closer together, reducing bump steer. The steering on the YFZ450X compared the original YFZ feels like it has a built in steering dampener – you’ve got to try it out to believe the difference.
The YFZ450X handled extremely well in most conditions on the Big Buck course. One thing we felt like it could improve on was the steering when weaving back and forth between particularly tight sections. We felt like the steering was a bit slow reacting. This could be fixed by simply adjusting the toe-in from the factory settings.
The YFZ450X possesses the same titanium five-valve power plant as the YFZ450R. The only difference between the engine of the YFZ450R and the YFZ450X is the mapping that is designed specially for woods racing. The new trail mapping is a key component when lifting the front end over obstacles like logs, ruts, and mud holes. The YFZ450X has a more linear power curve compared to the original YFZ. The power doesn’t feel as snappy as the original, but it still has that had quick hitting power necessary to get over obstacles and get you down the trail in short order.
Bringing the YFZ450X to a stop are dual piston hydraulic disc brakes up front and in the rear. The rear features a lightweight wave rotor that helps reduce brake fade. This combination makes for excellent stopping power when you do need to slam on the brakes to make a turn or dodge a tree or two.
New and improved wheels come wrapped in Dunlop tires. The new wheel is designed to help eliminate debris from getting caught in the rolled edge – something that was an occasional annoyance on the original YFZ when cleaning. The new wheels still feature a rolled lip, but it’s rolled to the inside instead of the outside, thus eliminating a crevice that debris can get caught in as well as making the wheel stronger.
Yamaha offers the YFZ450X in a variety of colors – standard Team Yamaha Blue, white/ red, and a Bill Ballance special edition. Named after the legendary GNCC racer, the Bill Ballance special edition features a few different options, including special edition Bill Ballance signature graphics and his acclaimed #1 plate. It also features a gold D.I.D. chain, silver wheels, quick release fasteners, and a signature Bill Ballance front bumper.
Yamaha also boasts a full line of GYTR accessories that you can purchase to further enhance the YFZ450X. GYTR offers both power and protection for the YFZ450X. Unlike any other manufacturer, Yamaha offers a full racing CNC ported head that can be installed right out of the box for those who are serious about getting the most power out of the already impressive 450cc engine. GYTR also makes several different products that help protect the YFZ450X (and the rider) from abuse like nerf bars, grab bars, front bumpers, and skid plates. Additionally, GYTR makes a few products that will help spiff up the looks of the YFZ450X such as graphic kits and shock covers.
Once again, Yamaha has come up with an exciting machine that meets the needs of its customers – from the average trail rider to the weekend warrior racer who attends all the GNCC races. The YFZ450X is a great machine for just about anybody. Its smooth power and handling make for a ride that everybody can enjoy.
|2010 Yamaha YFZ450X Specs|
|Engine Type:||449cc, liquid-cooled w/fan, 4-stroke; DOHC titanium 5-valve|
|Bore x Stroke:||95mm x 63.4mm|
|Fuel Delivery:||Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI) , 42mm|
|Transmission:||5-speed manual clutch|
|Drive Train:||2WD; Sealed O-Ring Chain, Eccentric Adjustment|
|Front Suspension:||Independent Double Wishbone, 9.4”. Kashima Coated Piggy Back Shocks, High/Low Speed Compression, Rebound and Threaded Preload Adjustment|
|Rear Suspension:||Cast Aluminum Swing Arm, 11.0”. Piggy Back High/Low Speed Compression, Rebound and Threaded Preload Adjustment|
|Front Brakes:||Dual Ventilated Hydraulic Disc, Twin Piston|
|Rear Brake:||Wave Style Ventilated Hydraulic Disc, Twin Piston|
|Front Tires:||AT21x7-10 Radial|
|Rear Tires:||AT20x10-9 Radial|
|Length/Width/Height:||70.7 x 46.1 x 41.9 in|
|Seat Height:||31.9 in|
|Ground Clearance:||4.5 in|
|Fuel Capacity:||2.6 gal|
|Curb Weight:||400 lb|
|Lighting:||30W Krypton Multi-reflector Headlights and 3.9/0.5W LED Brake light|