TUNED: 2023 Yamaha YZ450FX Bike Build

The Best One Yet

Story and Photos by Trevor Hunter

The annual 24 Hours of Glen Helen has come and gone, and once again we put our Yamaha YZ450FX through the ringer as we aimed to win the whole thing with our Pro team this year. Building a bike for this race is fairly challenging. First, it’s a team race so we had to have four riders all feel comfortable and agree on a setup that they could go fast and ride efficiently for upwards of six hours total in a twenty-four hour time span. Second, it has to be durable enough to go twenty-four straight hours with zero issues, all while being raced at a very high level in a multitude of conditions. The 10.5 mile course consists of the MX tracks, rocky creeks, tight and twisty singletrack, 90+ mph straightaways, high speed chop, and bottomless silt. Lastly, it has to be setup to be able to charge hard at a fast pace but still supple and comforting enough to not beat up the four riders who will be putting in more seattime than they’d like with little to no sleep. And with that, we present you our 2023 YZ450FX Project Bike that we took racing to the 24 Hours of Glen Helen, ultimately finishing 2nd Overall after a tight battle for much of the race.

The light combo is a Baja Designs XL 80 and XL Pro. The white lens is used on the XL 80 and provides most of the light, while the amber light is used on the smaller XL Pro. In the thick dust, we often turn off the white light and solely use the amber light as it cuts through the dust better.
To power the lights, we use a WR450F Stator (Part #: BAK-81410-01-00) and Flywheel (Part #: B7R-81450-01-00). With that, we can power ~75w of lights. We were hoping we could power and XL 80 directly off the bike, but we found in testing at slower speeds that we didn’t feel comfortable with the draw of the light being more than the bike was producing. Thus, we ran the XL 40 off the bike and the XL 80 off battery pack that the riders carried. We used THESE BATTERIES to power the XL 80 light and could comfortably run about 100 minutes on a single charge.
We ran a voltage meter on the bike which displayed the bike’s voltage throughout the race which helped let us know if it dropped too low, we knew we wouldn’t be able to start it. The simple part on Amazon was very effective in testing and during the race.

The newly redesigned light cage is from Modified Machine Works. It’s VERY high quality, protects the lights from nearly all angles, and is a simple plug-and-play option for those looking at lights. They handle all the wiring, adding switches, etc and every part of this frame is thought out very thouroughly.
TCS Powersports again supplied the suspension work and has come up with a really good setting that all of our riders felt comfortable on instantly. The same setting that we used in our shootout, we made very minor suspension clicker changes thoughout the race and the bike just kept working better and better. As we put the lights on, we stiffened up the compression 4 clicks which was enough to help compensate for the heavier lights up front.
Dunlop’s MX33 was the rear tire of choice and worked good overall. It isn’t quite as durable as a MX53 or AT81, but it performed well and we felt comfortable running it for just over 7 hours before feeling the need to change it.
The MX53F front tire is very versatile and on an off-road course like we encounter, it’s tough to beat. It offers everything from hard pack, rocks, sand, loam, decomposed granite, asphalt, and more. We went about 16 hours on a single front and it was apparent we needed to change it. In year’s past, we’ve gone the whole race without changing a front wheel and felt fine about it, but this year seemed to be much tougher on tires than normal.
A Rekluse Torq Drive Manual Clutch was installed and offered a lighter pull at the lever, and a smoother, quicker power delivery than stock. It’s not a huge gain in performance, but it’s enough and the durability of Rekluse clutches are as good as any.
A Works Connection Clutch Perch also helps smoothen the pull at the lever and makes adjusting the clutch as it fades throughout the race a little easier.
IMS’s 2.8 Gal Fuel Tank is a no brainer for this race. The extra capacity allows us to go further on a tank of gas when needed, and the dry-break option is critical when you have upwards of 24 pit stops. We were burning about 1.5 gals of fuel per hour, or every ~32 miles, throughout the race.
The new Modified Machine Works Dry-Break Receiver is a very quality piece. It has a vent built in, so drilling into the tank is necessary. Also, the design utilizes a lip in it to help guide the dry-break probe into the receiver, making it that much easier and quicker to dump fuel.
Some heat shield tape is put on the underside of the tank to help keep everything as cool as possible over the duration of the race.

Some automotive radiator mesh is put on the louvers to keep brush and debris from blowing through the radiators when racing through the singletrack bushes.

Renthal 7/8″ Handlebars outfit the cockpit. The 790 Bend, which came stock on the 2005/2006 Yamaha’s, was a nice bend that everyone felt comfortable with and didn’t offer too much rigidity to the front end. the throttle tube is a Motion Pro Titan Throttle Tube. It’s used by a lot of the factory off-road teams and is very durable in crashes and impacts and fits well.
Nitromousse outfitted our tires with mousse’s to keep us flat free all 24 hours. We ran 18-305 inserts in our 120/90-18 MX33’s and 235-21 inserts in our 80/100-21 MX53F’s.
DDC Sprockets are some of the toughest in the game. They outfitted us with the 14/52 gearing we like to run on this gen YZ450FX. It smoothens and broadens the power, and more importantly smoothens the handling out, especially under acceleration. It helps the bike drive across chop and whoops rather than through it or in it and we feel it has a bigger effect on the handling than it does on the power delivery.
TM Designwork’s Factory Edition 2 Chain Guide and Bullet Proof Designs’ Swingarm Guard beefed up our swingarm.
A stock skidplate is sufficient for this kind of racing. It has all the protection we need and fits nicely bolting directly to the frame.
Guts Racing Seats are some of the best out there in terms of comfort and durability. We ran the +25mm Tall foam option, standard firmness, with a matching seat cover. The tall seat fills out the cockpit and makes it roomier for even our shorter riders.
The Corner Coach helps our riders harness the power that the YZ450FX puts out, keeping them in place on the seat under acceleration and through corners.
AME 1/2 Waffle Grips are old school but they work. They keep the four riders’ hands as fresh as possible over the course of 24 hours and offer good grip.
Bullet Proof Designs Rear Disc Guard protects the rear rotor from destruction out on the trail. It’s a very quality piece that we like to run on all of our bikes for a reason — they work! We also run EBC Sintered Metal Brake Pads out back for durability reasons. They typically easily last through the duration of this race, even when abusing the pads. The negative is they can be a touch grabby compared to stock, but overall they work really when for long races like the 24 Hour.

During the day, we run a Baja Designs XL Pro that can get us into the dark if we’re between pit stops as the sun goes down. Additionally, it’s a great backup light if our main system has any issues or damage in a crash.
Our front brake cable routing is pretty clean. We run a steel braided line from Core Moto that’s +4″ longer than the stock FX line. It gives us the clearance we need to get around the Modified Machine Works cage, but still fits fine with a standard number plate or the WR light shell. The cable guide is stock, but flipped around the accomodate for how the line routes with the light cage attached.
The JL Smooth Map was put in Map 1 and never touched for the entirety of the race. It offers a smooth, bottom-mid focused power that relies more on torque than revs to go fast. In a race like this, we try to be as easy as possible on the motor and this map acheives just that.
RAD Custom Graphics and Acerbis supplied the look of this bike and we’d say it was one of the best looking bikes in the pits (as well as one of the best working bikes).


And that’s it! It’s important to note how stock this bike truly is for a bike that’s competiting at such a high level. This YZFX boasts a stock exhaust, no steering stabilizer, stock triple clamps, and stock engine mounts. Aside from suspension, there really aren’t any performance upgrades to the motor or chassis. The clutch is more of a luxury item than anything, and the rest are just protection peices or personal comfort items. There really is no other bike that our Pro level riders would go out and race as stock as this bike (mainly no steering stabilizer) and go as fast or feel as comfortable.

As expected, the bike performed flawlessly. All of our riders had nothing but positive to say about the bike’s handling and performance, and durability wise it barely missed a beat. Stay tuned to the site for a full Race Report, as well as durability part on this bike including how it looked and ran at the finish of such a grueling event.

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