2023 YZ450F vs 2022 YZ450F | We Ride Trevor Stewart’s Factory Yamaha’s

Yamaha’s 2023 YZ450F was arguably the most anticipated bike of the year last year and for good reason. The previous generation was highly appraised amongst the moto media and weekend warriors alike, and changing to an all new platform has proven risky in the past. Our First Impressions of the bike after riding it last year at the GOAT Farm in Florida were positive, but we have yet to ride the new bike in more familiar conditions.

Stewart’s 2023 YZ450F.
Stewart’s 2022 YZ450F.

After seeing a 2023 YZ450F off-road build under the Purvines Racing tent at the last NGPC race, we quickly gravitated towards it and glanced over all that was determined needed to go off-road racing on the new motocross bike. You can check out some of the finer details on the bike HERE. After looking it over, Trevor Stewart granted us a day to ride both the 2023 and his 2022 race bikes back to back to see how they compare. Thus, we spent a day at Glen Helen going between both bikes to see how the two stack up against each other.

The power delivery on the new bike is incredible. When we rode the stock bike last year at the GOAT Farm, it blew us away at just how fast the bike was, yet still manageable. The bike packed a mean punch, often riding on the rear wheel alone, but not necessarilly ripping our arms off. Riding Trevor’s bike, tuned with an ECU from Twisted Development and an FMF 4.1 Slip-On, the motor is just as good, if not better. Off the bottom, it feels a little smoother and isn’t as quick to pick the front wheel up when getting hard on the gas. From there, it pulls smoothly yet progressively through the mid range and into the top end where the bike can be revved for quite some time. As you get into that upper RPM range, it feels as if you hit overdrive and the bike pulls that much harder. Though I don’t typically ride a 450 that high in the RPMs, it was impressive to see how good this bike ran on top for someone who does ride it a bit more aggressive and rev happy.

Trevor runs 14/50 gearing, up a couple from the stock 13/49. This helps spread the gears out a little bit and helps get the top speed without revving the bike out too much on the faster off-road courses. Likewise, it smoothens the power a little which works in Trevor’s favor as he’s a smooth and calculated rider. With this gearing, we rarely had to shift out of 2nd gear as it how the power to pull it through the corners, yet still have enough meat to carry it on the fastest straightaways and up the hills if we didn’t feel like shifting. We’ve experimented with going to bigger countershaft sprockets on our bikes in the past and have liked the handling characeristics of it, and this could be a good thing on this new Yamaha as well.

The ’22 motor is more what we’ve come to expect, yet it was almost hard to ride coming off the new bike. It didn’t have that same bottom end grunt that the new bike has, and we had to be a little mindful of our shift points and mistakes. Overall, it was still plenty fast but it was harder to ride and at times, it could get away from us whereas the ’23 felt more controllable despite being faster.

Enzo Racing has been a longtime supporter of Stewart and having had the chance to ride a few of his bikes over the years, I’ve always been a fan of their work and how he sets his bike up. This ’23 Yamaha, and the ’22 for that matter, were both setup really well and feel more than capable. The highlight of the Enzo stuff is the initial suppleness and the ground feel you have. The feel and comfort it offers is something I have yet to experience with any other suspension company out there. You feel so connected to what’s underneath you and is very confidence inspiring. As the bumps got bigger and the track got rougher, the suspension continued to impress as it had a nice, progressive feel through the stroke and avoided any harsh bottoming or spiking.

The chassis feel between the two bikes is quite astonishing at how different they felt. The new bike feels connected through the front end whereas the old bike felt more in tune through the rear end. The 2023 is 5-6 lbs lighter on paper, but feels 10+ lbs lighter on the track. It’s ability to cut down in corners, dart across the track, and lean into and through corners is much improved over the older chassis. The older chassis felt slightly more stable, but the new bike felt close enough in stability to more than make up for it in its newfound nimbleness that we feel it will be more than capable in an off-road setting. The biggest negative I felt on the older chassis is how vague feeling the front end felt. Coming into corners, I felt the front end wandering a bit and never settling quite as good as the new machine. This isn’t something we really noticed as much when riding our own YZ450FX’s in the past, but it was very apparent today when riding back to back with the 2023 model.

Overall, the new chassis feels lighter, slimmer, and much more agile than the older generation and with the minimal mods done, it feels ready to go race off-road. The Precision Steering Stabilizer kept the front end straight and steady without really affecting the bike’s turning abilities which was a positive. The motor on the new bike is oh-so fast and exciting, yet it does a good job and putting that power to the ground without spinning the tire up too much. We’re fans of the older generation Yamaha, and still are, but this new model that Stewart and the Purvines Team is helping develop has us very excited for what’s to come.

Purvines Racing’s 2023 YZ450F is still in its infancy in terms of off-road development, only having 11 hours on the bike at the start of the day, but the bike already feels more than capable. Trevor himself feels very confident in the new platform and with how stock this motorcycle is, it’s impressive how good it works. He already has a podium at the WORCS race in Blythe, only his second outing on it, so it’ll be interesting to see how his results stack up with more time on the bike and at what tracks it performs better or worse on. As of today, if I were to hand pick one of Trevor’s bikes to go grand prix racing, I’d be loading the 2023 and be off to the races.

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