First Impression: 2024 Yamaha YZ450FX West Coast Off-Road

2024 YZ450FX West Coast Off-Road Riding Impression

Story and Photos by Trevor Hunter

Earlier this year we got a chance to ride Yamaha’s all new 2024 YZ450FX off-road racer at Randy Hawkins’ facility in South Carolina which you can learn more about HERE. But, off-road is very diverse and we finally got our hands on our long term unit and put some desert miles in on the new machine.

The motor on this bike is so strong. We spent most of our time riding faster, more open terrain which suits this engine package very well. It offers a quick, free-revving pull that is very smooth yet exciting at the same time. From top to bottom, there is ample power and we feel it caters to a lot of different riding styles. If you like riding taller gears and relying on torque, the bike has it. And if you are rev happy or lazy to upshift, the bike revs rather high and pulls up top. We liked the stock maps in this terrain as it offered plenty of power when the speeds were high, but we feel we’ll need to tame the power a bit in more technical terrain as the power can be touchy with the throttle and unsettle the bike. The 5-speed wide-ratio transmission works really well as it always has. First gear is ultra low and fifth gear is tall enough to cruise faster than most bikes at a much lower RPM.

The suspension is firm and allows for hard charging and aggressive riding. The fork in particular has a smooth progression through the stroke with really good hold up. If you’re pounding whoops (which the desert has plenty of), you can attack them as fast as you want and maintain momentum in a straight line. Our faster riders could appreciate the setting, especially in the given terrain, but we’ll need to get some more riders on the bike and in more different terrain to see how versatile it is.

Handling wise, we struggled a little bit with head shake and a twitchy front end at high speed. As with most bikes, a steering stabilizer will greatly benefit this bike for fast desert riding, but we’ll work around the chassis setup to see if we can remedy it without throwing aftermarket parts on. The fork height stock is 8mm, but we don’t want to drop the forks any lower as we feel it will make it feel harsh and too stiff if we go that route with stock suspension valving. We ran sag at 100mm and like the balance of the bike, but we’ll try adjusting that in our next rides, along with trying to move the rear wheel further back in the swingarm. Overall, the bike feels very light and nimble but still carries over a planted nature that we liked so much on the old chassis.

Likewise, the slimmer chassis and updated ergos are appealing to just about every rider we’ve had ride it. While the old one wasn’t all that bad in terms of the width of it all, it did take some time to adjust to if you were hopping between bikes or very familiar with another machine. This new one is fitting with the rest of them and is more of a seamless transition. The updated ergonomics are much more appeasing and we don’t immediately feel the need to stretch out the cockpit. Stay tuned as we start racing and ridng this YZ450FX to see if it truly is an improvement over the well-liked previous generation, and what mods do and don’t work with the new platform.

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