Photos By Scott Hoffman and Trevor Hunter
The 2022 Yamaha YZ450F is back in a relatively unchanged platform and quite frankly, that’s not a bad thing. Since 2019, we’ve been praising the Yamaha for its overall level of comfort and ability for riders of all sizes and speeds to simply jump on the bike and feel at home. 2022 sees it go to a claimed more aggressive, sharpshooter character than the previous years, yet it still retains a lot of comfort in an age where most 450s are heat-seeking missiles rather than mere bullets. And with newfound success at the highest racing levels, even the hardheaded are having to make a change of opinion.
So what exactly did change for 2022? The biggest change is in the rear wheel. The hub is more compact for a lighter component, and the spokes are now in a triple-cross pattern out back. Aside from some bold new graphics, updated suspension settings complete the changes for the bLU cRU.
On the track, the YZ450F has a monster of a motor. In stock trim, it feels like it has all 450cc of power and then some. While it is straight-up fast, it is still very rideable. Off the bottom, the power can be initially a little jerky and upsetting, especially if you are riding in a lower gear and higher RPMs. From the bottom, it smoothes out a tad as it climbs the RPMs into the mid-top end in a more linear fashion to warp drive and you feel it. Whether you like to rev the bike or lug it, the bike will almost always pull you out of it as there is plenty on tap at all times.
What we enjoy the most out of this bike is the GYTR Power Tuner App. With the app, we can throw what feels like 100 different exhaust and cam combos on the bike in a blink of an eye and for free! Toggling between all of the different maps is pretty quick and easy on the app and it makes a world of difference simply switching between two different maps out on the track. Yamaha has the class-leading system for tuning activation on this bike.
Mapping is where we seem to vary from rider to rider. We all have our different tastes and preferred flavors of how we want our power delivered, and the GYTR App allows you to find that certain flavor. Our younger, more aggressive riders tend to like the “Magic Map” for smoothing out the power down low enough to get rid of the hard-hitting, jerky power but still having enough to pull taller gears through corners. It still has plenty of excitement and throttle response, but makes it a tad more rideable and controllable, especially when the conditions deteriorate. Our more seasoned riders preferred the stock map at Pala Raceway for riding a gear high that tamed the bottom.
The Jimmy Lewis Map (older, seasoned rider see pictures) was a map we developed at Glen Helen last year, but on a track like Fox Raceway where there aren’t any hills, it felt a little tame when riding a gear high. However, it was interesting to feel the three different maps along with the stock map (all zeros) and see how even small changes altered the character enough for riders to have strong opinions and it would really change how they felt about the bike overall.
Yamaha suspension is some of the best in the game and the new bikes don’t disappoint. Like the YZ250F, our changes mimicked each other from the small-bore to the big-bore, though those changes were minimal. Sag was set at 105mm. for 2022 the valving is claimed to be a little is stiffer in nature to combat any pitching with better hold up–riding higher in the stroke. Again, like the 250F, our bigger riders felt stiffening up the compression actually made it feel softer as it would previously ride lower in the stroke and get into some stiffer valving too easily.
Handling has seen major improvements over the last decade and the modern-day YZ450F is no slouch in this department. The latest iteration in 2018/2019 was like a Cadillac. It was very stable, turned good, and was very adaptable for the everyday rider. Since 2020, they’ve followed the trend and given us a more precise, agile chassis that isn’t quite as stable, but more reactive to rider input and offers improved cornering. It’s still one of the more comforting chassis in its class, really appealing to faster, more aggressive riders more so now than it did just a few short years ago. The biggest difference is how much lighter the newer version feels, and most of our riders are fans of it out on the track.
Down to the nitty-gritty, the cable clutch pull is as good as any cable cutch and we never felt the need for a hydraulic setup. Shifting was smooth and precise and gearing felt good. The bike has so much power that it can seemingly pull any gear at any time. Brakes aren’t spectacular but there is certainly nothing wrong with them. They are average, which is pretty dang good these days. Going to a smaller rear disc in the rear last year, the rear brake is less touchy and sensitive and for those of us who like to drag brakes, it is a welcomed feature. The Yamaha isn’t as wide as it is perceived to be and within a few laps, all of our riders felt right at home. Starting is sometimes sluggish after a stall and we have not been able to diagnose this to any one thing. Switching batteries, and altering the maps did not change this and the 2022 is still the same. Having the idle set properly does help but overall it is a bit of a mystery on how quickly it will fire back up when hot. This is one area we feel could be improved and it is problematic across the YZ four-stroke line.
A taller seat, an option available in the GYTR catalog, is something we’ve liked in the past, especially for riders 6’0 and above as it gets you out of the pocket and more on top of the bike. Even shorter riders can appreciate it as it makes the stock bars feel a tad lower when cornering. As of 2021, the handlebars now come in position 3 (front mount facing backward) rather than position 2 (back mount facing forwards), and all but our shorter riders have grown to like it. For those that lack height and arm length, it feels as if you have to reach for the bars and it makes the front end a little twitchy on the corner entrance. However, that’s a simple and free change that takes mere minutes before you’re back on the track.
Overall, the $9599 2022 YZ450F is very similar to last year which is a good thing. The bike has a complete package where everything works in unison and feels like it’s meant to be. With the ability to tune maps using the GYTR app, dialing in the motor is simpler than ever and really changes how the motor runs and how the bike handles. Suspension is usually a highlight with Yamaha and this year was no different. With just a few clicks here and there, we could get riders from 160lbs to 200+ comfortable on the tricky Fox Raceway circuit.
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