WHY SHOULD THE YZ450F WIN THE
The Yamaha has three attributes that no other
machine can touch. (1) Yamaha’s SSS suspension
is leaps and bounds ahead of the other offerings.
It has good damping, reasonable seal life and the
proper spring rates. ( 2) It kicks in an afterburner
above 9000 rpm that makes it a holeshot machine.
( 3) The YZ450F is bulletproof. In MXA’s experience,
it can take a licking and keep on ticking.
WHY SHOULD THE YZ450F LOSE THE
Although it is fast, reliable and super suspended.
It is heavy, odd and vague in the corners.
HOW MUCH HORSEPOWER DOES THE
56. 85 horsepower at 9800 rpm. It makes 34. 91
foot-pounds of torque.
WHAT IS THE POWER LIKE?
This is the ultimate machine for going flat out.
It is better off the bottom than in 2015 and still a
romper at high rpm.
WHAT DOES THE YZ450F WEIGH?
238 pounds. That is 11 pounds heavier than a
KTM 450SXF. That’s a lot of Ti bolts and gold
coins. None of Yamaha’s 2016 updates addressed
the weight issue; it is the second-heaviest bike
in the shootout.
WHERE DID IT PLACE IN LAST YEAR’S MXA
Third. The YZ450F lost a spot from its 2015
finish, but that is to be expected when the
Yamaha engineers didn’t make any earth-shattering
improvements and their competitors did.
HOW DOES THE YZ450F RATE IN THE
Power output: Very good. The 2016 Yamaha
YZ450F got a new cam and revised mapping to fill
in the bottom of the powerband where the previous
YZ450Fs were weak. The added bottom took away
some of the jumpy bark that wreaked havoc on the
YZ450F chassis at turn-in. What you get with the
2016 YZ450F is an easier-to-ride bike in the slower
sections of the track that is still a rocket ship above
Forks: Magnificent. If you want works-like
forks without any of the hassles of air pumps, the
YZ450F’s forks are the best forks on the track.
Shock: If you are over 200 pounds, you won’t
like Yamaha’s change from last year’s 58 N/m
shock spring to this year’s 56 N/m spring, but
everyone else will.
Overall handling: Yamaha made a boatload
of geometry changes to the 2016 YZ450F—to little
effect. We don’t blame any rider who has issues
with the way the YZ feels on the entrance of flat
or sweeping turns. But, any rider with a handful
of tools and an afternoon of riding time can
nibble away at the loose feeling with the
adjustments listed below.
Cornering: It was still vague at tip-in and tends
to push on flat corners. This could be mediated by
sliding the fork up in the clamps, swapping the
stock Dunlop MX52 for a better tire, lowering the
rear sag from 100mm to 103mm, and turning the
high-speed compression out a half turn and the
rebound in 5 clicks.
Shifting: Our biggest shifting issue has alway
been on the upshift from second to third.
Brakes: In 2016, the Yamaha YZ450F gets a
270mm front rotor. As expected, stronger brakes
boost stopping power, but they also help settle
the YZ450F chassis at turn-in, on off-cambers and
in direction changes.
Clutch: The best of the cable-operated,
non-hydraulic, coil-spring, Japanese-brand clutches.
WHAT WOULD WE CHANGE ON THE
If we could redesign the YZ450F, we would
start with the plastic pieces, especially the clumsy
airbox and the radiator wings. We’d replace the
airbox cover’s Dzus fasteners with something that
doesn’t fall out. We’d lower the gearing from 48
teeth to 49. And, it goes without saying that the
YZ450F needs to lose 10 pounds just to stay in
the game. The weight is a big downer, especially
on a bike designed to take advantage of
centralization of mass.
WHAT’S NEWSWORTHY ON THE YZ450F?
Yamaha’s launch control is nothing short of
brilliant. It uses a logarithm that automatically
returns the ECU to the stock map approximately
30 feet out of the gate. Added pluses include
GYTR’s Playstation-style programming tool,
absolutely bulletproof reliability and the third
most power in the class,
THE FINAL WORD?
Selected. It has an improved powerband,
awesome suspension, updated brakes and world
renowned reliability. But, it’s not without flaws that
relegate it to the status of an acquired taste.