Surprise! Yamaha Has An Electric-Start Off-Road 450.
Yamaha YZ450FX and WR450F are here. The Blue Crew added some growth serum to the fuel tanks of two existing off-road weapons for 2016 to complete its dirty bike lineup. In actuality, to create their latest masterpieces, Yamaha essentially started with the basic 2016 YZ450F platform, then went full off-road on each new ride with a slew of tweaks, specific parts, magic button and larger rear tire sidewall to name just a few features. There were rumors of this bike for some time, even Yamaha’s factory GNCC racers had privately announced they’d be racing “bigger” bikes very soon, but no real confirmation until now.
Yamaha is creating niche bikes for specific forms of off-road riding and racing whereas the customer no longer has to convert a motocross bike or hop-up a trail bike to fit their needs. Between the YZ and WR full-sized non-street legal line, Yamaha now offers nine different models to pick and choose from.
The YZ250FX as well as the WR250F were two very popular models this year, especially the YZ250FX in the closed course off-road sector. Because of this, we were not surprised when the tarps unveiled two additional new models for 2016. Although this journalist did not see the writing on the wall a few years ago, we, as well as most overlooked the fact there is a boss cast into the cases going back to the 2014 YZ450F (same part number for the cases as the 2016 motocross YZ450F) that was just asking to have an electric start mounted there. Not to mention the World Motocross Factory Yamaha race bikes have electric start system. Now two years later that mount is being used for a starter in the 2016 off-road lineup. Yamaha probably didn’t plan these two new bikes just last night, it has probably been in the works for years, or they just tossed in that mount just in case, you be the judge. This also might be a sneak look into the 2017 450 motocross bikes and/or racing might adapt this system into their race bikes for 2016 now that it comes on a production bike.
The new electric start on the WR and YZFX on the left and the YZ450F motocross cases with the unused mounting boss on the right.
The 2016 YZ450FXFX, much like the YZ250FX that was released last year, is a closed course off-road GNCC type race bike. Like we said up top, it is built off the YZ450F motocross bike but made for off-road. Pure YZ and pure competition with the parts one would expect from ride like this, 5-speed wide-ratio transmission, 18-inch rear wheel, electric start, slightly plusher suspension, kick-stand and riding on the YZ motocross chassis for accurate handling. For sure this bike is plenty capable of racing off-road, tackling a grand prix or even a day at the motocross track if desired. Parts such as the electric start and wide ratio transmission are often impossible to obtain when building a motocross to off-road conversion on your own.
The 2016 WR450F is another step further into the off-road world and completely EPA and Green Sticker compliant. The WR is a woods racer and a trail bike depending on who you are. Unlike the FX, the WR comes equipped with headlight, taillight, radiator fan, enduro computer, plush valved suspension for woods and trail riding, a mechanical-style muffler that is not only quiet but also a spark arrestor and an ECU that is tuned for woods/trail riding and limited for sound.
The two bikes, or should we say the three bikes (YZ included) share the same engine for the most part. Meaning the cases, cylinder, head, valves and cam timing are identical across the board. The main difference is the ECU in the WR is not programmable. Yamaha will have a race kit ECU for closed course racing. Just like the the YZFX, simply plug in a Yamaha GYTR tuner and the fuel and ignition can be altered just like the motocross bike. Internally the crank is slightly different compared to the moto bike–it is slightly larger to work with the flywheel and gear for the electric start. The clutch is the same as the YZ motocrosser but the springs are just softer and the actuating arms are a different length for an easier pull on the lever. Exhaust on both YZs are the same yet the WR is a mechanical style as mentioned above. Compared to the moto bike, the off-road bikes come with a more narrow cylinder head stay bracket, yet the lower engine mount are double the thickness, you can even see the small weld attaching the two brackets together. Both bikes come standard with a skid plate and a side stand. The fuel tanks are different colors because the WR tank has to be sealed per EPA regulations.
Although the suspension parts are identical KYB components to the YZ MXer, the valving is different in all three machines and set up for either off-road/GP racing or in the WR’s case, even more plush for trail and woods style riding. The shock springs are the same as the MXer, 56Nm, and the fork springs (yes they still have springs) are slightly softer and go from a 5.0 to a 4.5. Both of the new off-road bikes share the frame updates with the 2016 YZ450F motocrosser. Meaning the side frame rails near the footpegs are wider, there is a softer rear spring and more offset of the trip clamps compared to 2015 YZ450F.
Yamaha has a claimed wet weight on the YZFX at 262 pounds and the WR at 271. The WR has a list price of $8,990 while the YZFX is $8,890.
The premise of specific bikes for specific types of off-road is a concept that Yamaha did not learn from other manufactures as of late, in fact Yamaha is just following a format they already had in the early 70s. Back in the day the Yamaha lineup had motocross bikes, MX bikes, enduro and even thumpers long before they came back in style. So the addition of the 2016 YZ450FX and the WR450F is not too surprising after the 2015 announcements on 250cc versions that go farther than the track. This now puts Yamaha solidly back into the off-road game with regard to a full line of race and aggressive trail bikes as well as the existing line of fun TT-R trail bikes. The only bike missing is a high-level and very dirty street legal off-road machine.
Stay tuned because DBT will have tests on both of these bikes as soon as we can get our hands on them. They could arrive as early as November!