Tuned: 2022 Yamaha YZ450FX Endurance Build

2022 YZ450FX Endurance Build

Story and Photos by Trevor Hunter

Our goal with this build was simple: build a bike that’s easy to ride and can run for 24 continuous hours. With our eyes set on the 24 Hours of Glen Helen, we picked Yamaha’s YZ450FX to be our bike of choice for a few reasons. 

To start, Yamaha’s are built well and are on the leading edge of reliability and durability in our eyes. We have hundreds of hours on the newest generation YZF’s and a proven track record in terms of reliability. Additionally, the YZ450FX is a very versatile bike that most everyone gets along with across all terrains and disciplines. Lastly, it’s a proven bike in this race as we were able to capture the win relatively trouble free last year and we knew what we could expect going into this year.

Year after year, we see bikes of all kinds show up to the 24 Hour well overbuilt and often plagued with problems as this race will exploit any weakness your bike may have. Because of that, we try to leave our bike as stock as possible, especially in the motor department, to ensure we have a reliable package that can go the distance. Not to mention, Yamah’s stock base is so good that there really isn’t a need to go crazy building a hopped up bike. As a result, this is what we settled on for this year’s 24 Hour and what we felt was one of, if not the best performing bike on the line. 

TCS Suspension was the biggest and most effective change to make this YZ450FX the bike it is.

Similar to last year’s build, our biggest change is in the suspension department. TCS Powersports worked tirelessly all summer long to help dial in the suspension and make updates as we saw fit. What started with just fork and shock springs, we continuously made progress and changes to valving leading up to the race, including running a KYB A-Kit part in our front fork. The bike’s handling proved to be its strong suit in pre-race testing and during the race as all four of our guys felt very comfortable instantly. 

Lights were again the Baja Designs dual squadron setup fabbed by Modified Machine Works. We’re running an XL Pro (40W of light) and an XL Sport (26W) using a WR450F stator and flywheel. In addition, the stock battery can’t take a big load so we opted for a Fire Power battery and have had nothing but success with one of those. Even with the flywheel and stator, we struggle to power lights off the stock battery so that’s a must have. For the day portion of the race, we started with a small Baja Designs Squadron Sport that could get us into the dark if a rider change were to happen in that transition period. Also, we liked the feel of some added weight on the front end with the heavier lights, so running this smaller light would give us some of the same effect during the day. We also thought it looked pretty cool so why not run it?

 

The GUTS Racing RJ Wing Seat with a tall foam transformed the cockpit while also helping with another grip point for our legs. As stated in our Product Test, the tall seat foam goes a long way in making the rider triangle more comfortable and easier to move around on with the flatter seat profile. Likewise, the extruding wings on the sides allow us to grip with our legs easier and more efficiently, saving our upper body from fatigue.

Something different from the norm was no steering stabilizer on the bike. The 24 Hour has quite a bit of slow speed singletrack, and much of the faster stuff doesn’t get overly rough. Combine that with the TCS setup we’re running and we felt more than comfortable without a stabilizer on the bike. Last year we ran a GPR Steering Stabilizer, including the top triple clamp, but we didn’t like the added rigidity brought on by that triple clamp. GPR has since gone to a newer split clamp design but we weren’t able to get our hands on one before the race. 

The rest of the cockpit is fit with a Pro Taper “CR Mid” handlebar, AME ½ waffle grips, a Works Connection clutch perch, and a stock front brake lever. The Pro Taper handlebar bend has a nice height and sweep to it which all riders felt good with. The WC perch gave the clutch a buttery pull, something appreciated when you’re deep into the race and can barely feel your hands. AME grips are comfortable and help save our hands from blisters and fatigue. We chose the stock front brake lever over an aftermarket one due to the feel and performance the lever provides. Most aftermarket, unbreakable levers feel mushy and soft in comparison to the stock lever which we aren’t a fan of. Acerbis K-Future Handguards mount directly to the clutch and brake levers, saving space on our bars and helping protect the levers and our hands in the process. Acerbis also helped out with a complete plastic kit to refresh our bike after the stock plastics had been abused.

Our wheel setup included our usual Dunlop/Nitromousse combo. Most of our riders regularly ride on Dunlop’s so it was easy to go with something they know and like, and Nitromousse’s last forever and we knew we wouldn’t have to worry about a mousse failure. Our front tire of choice for this race is a MX53 since it’s versatile for the icy ridge tops and singletrack but still performs well in the softer and rockier sections down low. Out back, we ran an AT81 which is what was available to us. It is a good tire, but we could also run a MX53 out back – both work well and have their advantages and slight disadvantages. Sunstar took care of our chain and sprocket needs with oru 14/52 gear combo. The XTG Chain can last the test of time without needing adjustment, something we need for this race. 

TM Designworks provided a Baja Endurance Slide-N-Guide Kit for us. The Baja Chain Slider and Factory Edition 2 Chain Guide both wear like iron and the chain guide can take a hit without getting bent or breaking. Likewise, a Bullet Proof Designs Swingarm Guard is mounted up to strengthen the chain guide tabs on the swingarm. We haven’t had an issue with Yamaha swingarm tabs breaking, but the guard will only help in a big hit. BPD also helped with a Rear Disc Guard that is more than strong enough to take a beating. 

We dig the gold.

Dubya USA helped us replace some stock hubs with a set of gold rims after our old rims were more square than round. The gold is a look and we’re here for it!

Of course, we had an IMS tank mounted up for quick refuels and to go the extra distance between pits if needed. We were burning ~1.5 – 2 gallons per hour on this year’s course.
Our Map 1 of choice for the 24 Hour.
Like last year, we ran the “JL Smooth” in Map 2.

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