TAKE everything you know about Yamaha’s YZ450F MX bike and throw it in the bin, because in essence, that’s what the Japanese bike brand has done, but with good reason, and the future of MX in mind.
Everything is new on this bike; new frame, new engine, new bodywork, an electric start, and the world’s first smartphone engine tuning app on a production motocross bike, but it would be remiss of us to not go into a little detail about what the changes mean, and where they’ve come from.
The new YZ450F motorcycle was born out of the white heat of competition, using input from champion motocross riders around the globe. Riders like US AMA Champion Cooper Webb, MX World Champion Romain Febvre and current Australian MX1 Champion, Yamaha CDR rider Dean Ferris, all had a hand in crafting the new bike.
The tuning app allows riders to make fuel and ignition mapping changes, uploaded wirelessly to the bike via the onboard Wi-Fi system, while a log function lets you make notes about your riding location, conditions, and bike settings, giving you a baseline for future rides. The app can also monitor a range of data such as race settings, maintenance and system diagnostics, and engine run time.
The new high traction engine is the key though, with the brand having refined its distinct rearward-slanted cylinder design for the 2018 YZ450F – complete with a rear exhaust and forward-mounted downdraft intake system.
Inside, the engine features new cam profiles, a new crankshaft, a stronger high-compression box bridge piston design with DLC (Diamond-like-Carbon) coated pin, and now breathes through a new 44mm Mikuni throttle body. These updates increase the ability to get the power to the ground and give the rider an ideal balance of control and response.
The transmission and clutch have been overhauled for a more direct connection as well as enhanced durability. Revised gears with a wider surface area, updated clutch plates and a stiffer outer pressure plate combine to boost durability.
The YZ450F radiators and exhaust have also been modified for improved performance and weight distribution. The updated radiators are larger and angled more directly in the incoming air stream for improved cooling under the most demanding race conditions.
The innovative wraparound exhaust pipe design improves mass centralisation as well as power development, and now the rear end of the exhaust pipe moves forward to position the muffler closer to the centre of mass.
Returning for the 2018 model, Yamaha’s launch control system (LCS) is integrated into the YZ450F for optimised engine output that results in a quicker, smoother race start, boosting control out of the gate and ensuring the rider has the best chance to get the hole-shot and lead the competition into the first turn.
The new frame gains increased rigidity, new engine mounts, and significant improvements to bump absorption, stiffness and cornering. All plastics are new and a thinner front mudguard now directs more cooling air flow onto the larger capacity radiators.
The next generation of industry-leading, fully adjustable KYB spring-type fork suspension with speed sensitive damping also come standard on the new YZ450F, and provide exceptional balance between handling and bump absorption for race-winning performance.
The changes to the geometry and suspension result in a longer wheelbase (5mm) for increased driveability and handling, more ground clearance (also up 5mm) and longer rear wheel travel (up 2mm to 317mm), and because hookup is so important, the new model runs high grip Dunlop Geomax MX3S tyres.
The 2018 YZ450F will be available to purchase from August 2017, and comes in two colours – Team Yamaha Blue and a limited number – 100 units total – of Special Edition White models. Recommended retail price is $12,399.