GET A HANDLE ON IT
You might be surprised to learn that most of our
engine changes (mapping, flywheel weight and gearing)
were made in the name of handling more than horses.
But, we did make a lot of other chassis changes. Here’s
(1) Fork height. We slid the forks up in the clamps to
steepen the head angle and to put more weight on the
front wheel. This lessens the looseness at the entrance to
turns, but it requires trial and error to avoid oversteer. If
you run a longer link, you will need to slide the forks up
in the clamps to maintain chassis balance
( 2) We lowered the rear sag from 100mm to 103mm in
conjunction with sliding the forks up. This got rid of the
YZ450F’s inherent stinkbug seat height.
( 3) A longer shock linkage helped even more with
chassis balance and worked well with the slightly softer
shock spring that the engineers added in 2016.
( 4) Most of our rear shock adjustments were made
with the high-speed compression adjuster. We tended
to turn it out to help the rear settle more under a load.
( 5) Always run the best front tire possible on the
awkward-turning YZ450F. Cheap rubber is a recipe for
We aren’t YZ450F defenders. We know better than
most that the YZ450F can be awkward-feeling on the
entrance to flat or sweeping turns. We have been critical
of Yamaha’s front-end response for as long as we can
remember. Superb handling has never been a Yamaha
strong point—suspension, yes; cornering, no. A contributing factor to the YZ450F’s ungainly feel is its weird
ergonomics. In stock trim, it feels too tall in the rear. It
gives the impression that it’s overly wide at the radiators.
It feels tippy and top-heavy. It isn’t flat enough for our
tastes. And, creative centralization of mass can’t make up
for the 238 pounds.
DO-IT-YOURSELF FRAME KITS
Many riders try to retro-fix the feel of the YZ450F by
moving the engine forward by 1.5mm to put more weight
on the front wheel, which essentially brings the weight
bias back to where it was on pre-2010 YZ450Fs. Prior to
the latest 2015–2017 YZ450F, DR.D offered engine relocation kits that moved the YZ450F engine forward 2.5mm.
The 2016–2017 DR.D kit relocates the engine 1.5mm
forward by using special eccentric swingarm pivot-bolt
spacers. Additionally, DR.D offers a kit that lowers the
radiators by 27mm in an attempt to bring the water
weight down on the frame.
The exhaust pipe is structural to the right-side subframe. The acute triangle of the YZ450F’s subframe would
not be strong enough to take the blows of motocross if
the exhaust pipe were not there. Which means, always
make sure that the right-side mid-pipe bolt is tight.
MISSING RUBBER GROMMETS
The rubber grommets on the upper half of the airbox,
radiator ductwork and where the flip-top part of the seat
plug in are prone to falling out. It is best to carry spares
in your toolbox. The ductwork grommets are part number
90480-01558, while the seat grommets are 1SL-24742-00.
The 2017 Yamaha YZ450F is
never going to corner like a
Suzuki or feel as balanced as
a KTM, but there are steps you
can take to improve the feel of