2022 YZ450FX BITD Racer

Story by Trevor Hunter, Photos by Harlen Foley

For the most recent round of the Best In The Desert Series, we changed things up from our normal KTM 450 SX-F for a blue variant in the form of a 2022 Yamaha YZ450FX. The reason for this? To start, we had some last minute issues arise with our KTM that would’ve been tough to get the parts. In a practice crash, we smashed a radiator and busted it up, causing us to lose coolant while riding in the aftermath. Also, this BITD race is quite different from the rest of the races being largely a “GP” format and racing after cars and trucks have torn up the course. As a result, bike setup is much different and more critical than what we’d typically run.

We felt confident in our YZF setup for GP style tracks and racing so we went with the stiff settings on the Yamaha in favor of the soft and plush settings that grace our KTM.

The Laughlin car course is very fast in nature. For gearing went way up from the stock 13/50 setup to 14/49. This gearing was about perfect for this course as we had just enough top end to reach high 90’s but spacing between gearing wasn’t too large on the five-speed wide-ratio transmission. We averaged ~60mph on day one of racing and ~55mph on a rougher day two of racing – speeds were definitely high on this course!

For mapping, we went with the “Magic Map” as it’s a fairly aggressive map that comes on smoother than stock but still pulls hard through the revs. On an all stock bike against some built 450’s, we pulled everyone on the starts and high speed straights at full speed. 

Our tires of choice were again the Kenda Parker DT rear matched with a Washougal II front tire stuffed with Nitromousse’s. The Parker DT rear is a great tire in nearly every condition and worked well in the varied terrain Laughlin offered. 

One “issue” we found with the Yamaha setup for this kind of racing is fuel mileage. Being limited to just a 2.8 gallon tank from IMS, we averaged ~17.5-18 mpg, and came in on fumes after 51 miles of racing. On a KTM, we could easily make it into the 60+ miles on a 3.0 gallon tank, and 110+ on a 4.5 gallon tank. Unfortunately, there aren’t really any solutions to this – planning fuel stops appropriately is more critical with the YZF.

After two days of racing, both Hayden Hintz and myself were in agreement that this was a better bike for this specific race. The Yamaha was set up with TCS Suspension valved and sprung for aggressive GP racing which worked wonders come Sunday where the course was torn to shreds from a full day of truck and car racing previous. Even on Saturday when it was much smoother, we could confidently charge into stuff and be more aggressive without repercussions having the stiffer setup. Also, the Yamaha felt more nimble and agile than our KTM – part due to the stiffer suspension being less wallowy, and part due to the big tank adding weight down low and not boasting a “top heavy” effect. Also, the power is plentiful but rideable and doesn’t need to be revved as much as the KTM. 

Overall, the race weekend went very smoothly with one holeshot and one second place start, but getting into the lead very early and setting the pace in the dusty desert. We won the Overall on both days of racing to win the weekend’s combined Overall nearly seven minutes up on 2nd place. 

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