YZ450F SETUP SPECS
This is how we set up our 2016 Yamaha YZ450F for
racing. We offer it as a guide to help you find your
own sweet spot.
KAYABA SSS FORK SPECS
Companies that have latched on to air forks are
gambling with your money. Yamaha’s SSS suspension
is a sure thing. Maybe eventually air forks will be this
good, but that’s not today’s reality. For hard-core
racing, these are MXA’s recommended 2016
Yamaha YZ450F fork settings (stock settings are in
Spring rate: 5.0 N/m
Oil quantity: 315cc
Compression: 10 clicks out ( 8 clicks out)
Rebound: 8 clicks out ( 10 clicks out)
Fork leg height: 4mm up
Notes: Yamaha discovered in 2015 that it could
run stiffer fork springs and get softer forks. For 2016,
Yamaha has refined what were already the best forks
on the market. What’s best about them? They work
for Beginners, Novices and AMA Pros. They don’t
care if you’re thin or fat, tall or short; they have a
setting for everyone.
KAYABA SHOCK SETTINGS
Yamaha’s idea of going to a softer shock spring and
then changing the offset on the forks to compensate
for the spring change has a Looney Tunes ring to it.
We can think of four different ways to achieve the
same thing. One thing we do know: once you preload the soft spring for your weight, it is not going to
ride lower, because when you preload a spring, you
increase its spring rate. The more you preload it, the
stiffer the spring becomes in the first inch of travel.
This means that 100mm of sag will always be
100mm of sag. Oh well, it’s all a numbers game, and
anything can be made to work with enough testing.
For hard-core racing, these are MXA’s recommended
2016 YZ450F shock settings (stock settings are in
Spring rate: 56 N/m
Race sag: 103mm (100mm)
Hi-compression: 2 turns out (1-1/2 turns out)
Lo-compression: 12 clicks out
Rebound: 9 clicks out ( 14 clicks out)
Notes: We ran a longer 143.5mm Pro Circuit shock
linkage—not solely for suspension purposes, but also
to give us more adjustment room with the head angle
and frame geometry. The longer link will drop the rear
of the bike almost 8mm and stiffen the initial part of
the stroke. We compensate for this move by turning
the high-speed compression out a half turn and the
rebound in 5 clicks. This is one of the changes that
Yamaha could have made without the story line. ;
( 4) Noise. You’ll get used to the unsyncopated rhythms
coming from the airbox as long as you never ride another
brand of bike. But if you do ride another brand, you’ll
find that riding the YZ450F is like having a boom box
in your lap.
( 5) Radiator wings. We much prefer the Cycra radiator shrouds over Yamaha’s double-wall intake system.
Yamaha’s system looks like it was designed by a heating
and air conditioning technician. Yamaha’s airbox designer
could do the same thing with 2 fewer pounds of plastic.
( 6) Gas-cap vent hose. It reminds us of one of those
tubes that they stick in you after you have a bad crash.
There must be a better way to vent the gas cap than a
random hose sticking straight up. Oh yeah, don’t tighten
the gas cap too tight, because for some reason it
tightens itself too tight without your help.
( 7) Weight. Not that many years ago, if a 450 was
under 240 pounds it was considered light. But, 238
pounds doesn’t cut the mustard today.
( 8) Exhaust pipe. We like it until we have to remove
it. Then we hate its Rube Goldberg mounting system.
Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE?
A: The like list:
(1) GYTR Power Tuner. The GYTR Power Tuner
($291.95) is the easiest-to-use programming tool in the
sport. It’s like a Playstation for your fuel injection. The
other brand’s mapping systems are Rubik’s Cubes.
( 2) Suspension. Kayaba’s old-school forks put all
the fancy air forks to shame. The buzz of air forks will
have a hard time beating the actual performance of
Yamaha’s SSS units.
( 3) Reliability. Nothing is as reliable as a Yamaha
( 4) Clutch. We admit to adding stiffer clutch springs,
but after Husky’s and KTM’s hydraulic clutches, the
YZ450F is third best.
( 5) Power. This bike is fast. Not because it makes
the most horsepower, but because it keeps building
horsepower until it is very high in the rpm band.
Q: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK?
A: This is a very good race bike. It has an improved
powerband, awesome suspension, updated brakes and
world-renowned reliability. But it’s not without flaws.
Sometimes flaws can be written off as personality quirks
The new triple
really the old
as opposed to deal-breakers—that’s how we like to look
at the 2016 Yamaha YZ450F. It’s quirky.