If you are in the market for a Yamaha YFZ450, is it better to pony up the extra money for a new YFZ450R or look to a used model? Let’s find out.

There is an age old question that we always ponder when buying a sport quad: do I spend the extra money and buy a new quad, or do I save some money up front and buy a used quad?

The answer to this question comes down to a couple things. First, you need to determine if you have the money to purchase a new vehicle up front. Second, you need to determine if it matters to you if you have the latest sport quad on the market. Third, you need to determine if the used quad you want is sufficiently reliable and has good resale value.

To put these thoughts and questions into perspective, we recently gathered up two of the most sought after sport quads to see if one stood out over the other and made a case for purchasing the new or used version. The good thing about this article is that you’ve seen these particular quads many times before. The older Yamaha YFZ450 and newer YFZ450R are two of the most popular, race-ready sport quads on the tracks and trails, and Yamaha, unlike all of the other quad manufacturers, still sells its 450-class fire breather. Thank you, Yamaha! So, the stage is set for this debate – do you buy the latest Yamaha YFZ450R, or is this older YFZ450 the way to go?

For comparison’s sake, your author owns his own 2006 Yamaha YFZ450, and I have owned it since it was new. The reason 2006 is a significant year in the life of the Yamaha YFZ450 is because this is the year over 80 changes were made to this quad. Some of the highlights of these changes included a move from 439cc to a full 449cc for the engine, modifications to the Keihin FCR carburetor and CDI system, easier thumb throttle push for prolonged riding times, a better radiator for increased heat dissipation, revised suspension settings with increased travel, a new cam-style rear swingarm, LED taillight, and much more. If you’re looking for a YFZ450 on the used market, we would highly recommend buying a 2006 or newer because of all of these changes.

Yamaha YFZ450R and YFZ450 Rear

The Yamaha YFZ450R that you see in this article is a 2019 model that we rode in the Glamis sand dunes earlier this year. Yes, it is better than the older YFZ non-R model in many ways, mainly because it has a wider stance (48.8” instead of 46.1”), several upgrades to the engine like a full EFI system instead of a carburetor (probably the most notable upgrade in many ways!), better ergonomics for both racers and trail riders alike, and upgraded suspension. All of these upgrades do make the “R” model better, but is it worth the extra cost?

When I looked on the used marketplace, a 2006 to 2009 Yamaha YFZ450 in “good condition” goes from anywhere in between $4000 and $5500. The resale on these is actually pretty exceptional. Back when a 2006 YFZ450 was new, it retailed for $6999 MSRP ($7249 MSRP for the SE model).

The latest 2020 Yamaha YFZ450R retails for $9099 MSRP ($9499 for SE model). With no other 450-class quad competition on the market, the price can’t be compared for low or high value. Compared to the new 2006 YFZ450, the YFZ450R’s price has increased by $2100, and that really isn’t too bad compared to market growth. You get a lot for that extra cost, too.

Buy Yamaha YFZ450 Tires

PROS and CONS of the 2019 Yamaha YFZ450R

The 2019 model is better in many ways, as it should be. It is wider at 48.8”, has EFI fuel management, standard four-position handlebars for different placements on the steering stem, re-tuned fully adjustable suspension with more travel, a T-shaped seat for comfort and maneuverability, more aggressive styling of the plastics, better stock tires from the factory, and a host of other upgrades compared to the 2006 model. The reason Yamaha made these changes was because the motocross quads of the late 2000s were all going towards the 50” width mark, so they wanted to be sure the YFZ could keep up.

The cons are still that the suspension is tuned for the track and isn’t really made for recreational riding (the Raptor 700R is supposed to handle that duty better), and the “R” needs an uncorked exhaust to deliver the full amount of 450 power that is just waiting to be unleashed. Other than those small things, which can easily be fixed with a couple of adjustments, there aren’t many cons to this quad.

2006 Yamaha YFZ450R Jump

You can read the full review (Link above), but the Yamaha YFZ450R flat-out rips in the dunes or on the track, and it does so by turning through corners with the upmost in precision. The engine is also magnificent on this quad because it has the ability to dig down low for a bit of bottom end, which is better when you add an exhaust, and then literally try and tear your arms off with incredible top end horsepower. This all comes together with great ergonomics that fit a wide range of riders. If you want a race-ready quad that is excellent on the trails and in the dunes, it doesn’t get any better than the “R”. Just do yourself a favor and add an exhaust; it wakes this engine up like no other.

PROS and CONS of the 2006 Yamaha YFZ450

The 2006 Yamaha YFZ450 actually has a lot of pluses to it, too. It is narrower (46”), thus making it a bit better trail carver. The suspension is still fully adjustable all the way around, as is the 2019 quad. Like the 2019, the rear swingarm has a cam-style chain adjustment, which was a huge upgrade over the 2005 model year. The YFZ is known for it’s point-and-shoot handling characteristics with exceptional turn-in and traction through the corner. Knife-handling is what you can call it. It is predictable and just puts a smile on your face every single time you ride it. Much like the “R” model, but it’s just a bit more subdued without the wider stance and excellent T-shaped seat of its replacement.

The cons are essentially all personal preferences, but they are worth mentioning. First and foremost, the ’06 doesn’t have fuel injection. Instead, the Keihin FCR carburetor needs to be manually adjusted for airflow changes (elevation, exhaust, filter, airbox mods, etc…) by adjusting the main and pilot jets, plus the needle. If you leave the stock exhaust on it, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice in the power department, but you also won’t have to worry about re-jetting it. If you like finding the right settings and working on your own vehicles, then this tuning assignment is right up your alley. However, as you probably know, tuning a carburetor isn’t an easy task for most people, and the EFI system on the 2019 model is very helpful in all of these scenarios because it does it all for you. In fact, the EFI system debuted in 2009 with the “R” models.

2006 Yamaha YFZ450 Bars

Also, the seat on the ’06 isn’t as easy to maneuver on when doing spirited riding. It isn’t bad, but it just isn’t quite as good as the ’19 model and its T-shaped outline.

The last major con is the fact that the overall ergonomics of the 2006 are a bit more cramped than the 2019, mainly because you can’t adjust the handlebar position from the factory and the footpegs feel like they are in a bit different of a position. The latter issue could be a detail of my specific quad only, because I have a set of old nerf bars on it with aftermarket pegs and heel guards. So, take that into consideration if/when you buy a used model. Make sure the pegs or aftermarket setup fits your ergonomic needs.

Buy Yamaha YFZ450 Nerf Bars

Since I have been riding the 2006 Yamaha YFZ450 since it was new, I can also tell you the issues that have come out of it. I am religious about changing the oil and filter at least once every riding season with Yamalube products (depending on how much I ride it). At that time, the air filter gets a full cleaning and a tacky filter spray treatment afterwards. I have never had any issues with the main engine or transmission, but I had to replace one water pump about five years ago. The swap was pretty easy and took me a couple hours with the right parts, which are still available at Yamaha dealers today. The battery has gone bad at least 3 times (I have it on a Battery Tender). And, the front light bulb just went bad after all these years, so I need to change that out soon. I regularly grease all of the fittings and check all of the bolts for tightness. Nothing has ever come loose unexpectedly. I wish I could tell you how many hours it has on it, but I don’t have a meter. I can tell you that I haven’t ridden it easy in the past 14 years, and I don’t intend to let off the throttle anytime soon. It is truly that much fun…

Which Yamaha YFZ450 Should You Buy?

Yamaha YFZ450R vs. YFZ450 Front

If you’ve read the PROS and CONS sections in this article, then I think you know by now that the 2019 Yamaha YFZ450R model has significant upgrades over the 2006 Yamaha YFZ450. I still LOVE my 2006 because of the phenomenal power band with an exhaust, filter, and jetting change on it that I performed myself. If you’re interested in buying a carbureted YFZ, JD Jetting still has jet kits for these quads that you can find on Amazon.

Buy YFZ Jet Kits

However, if you don’t want to continually deal with the jetting changes or cold starts, the EFI controlled 2019 is the way to go (again, 2009 years and up YFZ450R models are all fuel injected). The extra 2” in width only aids in the handling department, and the quad is just better in many ways – powerband, suspension, ergonomics, and overall seat-of-the-pants feel.

Am I going to keep my 2006 model? ABSOLUTELY. I love this quad and will probably never get rid of it. It is literally the perfect project quad because it is reliable, still handles like a dream, and is great for multiple terrains. It can climb any hill in the Glamis sand dunes, it is comfortable for day-long rides, and it has been a flawless quad for me.

2006 Yamaha YFZ450 Engine

The 2006 YFZ450 moved from a 439cc engine to a 449cc engine.

2019 Yamaha YFZ450R Engine

The newer Yamaha YFZ450R models feature a 449cc fuel injected engine.

If I had the money and could upgrade to the 2019 I absolutely would, and I’d probably keep both. The EFI system, wider stance, and revised ergonomics (the T-shape seat is awesome) are three features that I really like about the latest YFZ450R. It literally goes anywhere you want it to go and handles like an absolute dream. With the modifications that I have done to my ’06, I think mine is actually a bit faster than the stock ’19 model, but it isn’t by much. If you were to put an exhaust and filter on the ’19 model, it would be a heck of a ride, and fast to boot.

To recap with our initial questions, you first need to determine if you have the money to buy a new quad over a used one. The 2006 is a great model year and will serve you well if used is your direction. The styling of the old vs. new YFZ’s aren’t all that different, so that shouldn’t matter. Both look fast and great. And, we’ve established that the older model has been a very reliable and great quad to own, so you don’t necessarily need to buy a new one just for reliability. So, in this case, you can’t go wrong with either. It all comes down to the money that you want to spend on a quad, and also which one fits your personal riding ergonomics better. Those two things are going to dictate which Yamaha YFZ you buy.

2006 Yamaha YFZ450 Swingarm

2019 Yamaha YFZ450R Swingarm

The rear swingarm of the 2019 YFZ450R (bottom) looks pretty much identical to the 2006 model (top).

I hope all of this information helps you make an informed decision when it comes to buying a used or new Yamaha YFZ. In the case of Yamaha’s venerable sport quad, you can’t go wrong either way. However, the 2019 model is better in many ways and makes the better case for purchase. Happy shopping!

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