Here is a look at what might very well be the base for the 2018 Yamaha lineup. The images were posted by Yamaha’s Japanese motorcross team. Not a lot of details on what these bikes are other than they are the team’s current race team bikes for the 2017 season, yet they also look very production.
First off, notice there is no kickstarter—meaning magic button. The off-road bikes already have this feature. Not sure if there will be a kick option or if they will be 100 percent button start. Second, you can easily notice there is an all-new frame and more fuel positioned even further back or centered on the frame. The subframe extends back lower to allow for more fuel/weight shifted rearward. Motor mount position has been altered and you can see the cylinder/head, cases, and engine appear slightly different.
The plastics have also been restyled and appear very production. Although these bikes are what they call “Works race bikes” they are probably built from 2018 production or pre-production components. The story on Yamaha’s site (LINK) made some reference to a coil spring but we are not sure if they are the SSS or some sort of hybrid coil/air that have been spotted on several Supercross race bikes this season.
The current 2017 YZs are still in the hunt but are a little long in the tooth with regard to feeling a tad large, too wide around the shrouds and slightly heavier compared to some of the competition. We still don’t know what Kawasaki has up their sleeve for 2018. Honda will be running a revised version of the 2017 and Suzuki has rumors of a new 450, yet we have been hearing this for the past few years. As for KTM, you never know what they will offer. If they feel like they are under the gun, they could create a special 2018 FE if they feel the need.
We would imagine Yamaha is not going to toss out the playbook but rather update the YZ with a lighter chassis, electric start, and lighter-feeling chassis. They might up the overall power of the 250 and 450 to keep up with latest competition if needed. With these bikes out of the bag, we could see Yamaha show off the 2018 line as early as May or June.
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