YAMAHA YZ450F Everything is new
Weight: 239 lb (without fuel) MSRP: $9199.
Yamaha didn’t just update a few parts and add an electric
starter to the 2018 YZ450F. Everything was redesigned. The
idea was to design the bike around the electric starter rather
than add one after the fact. That allowed Yamaha to eliminate
the structures that would support the kickstarter. The frame
was made narrower to combat accusations of bulkiness, but
the overall concept hasn’t changed. It still uses the reverse
head with the intake in front and the exhaust port in the
rear. The seating position was changed dramatically, but the
suspension components are upgraded versions of the KYB
parts that were used before.
Yamaha came up with the most linear powerband of all
time. If it were any smoother, it would make a good locomotive
motor. If you want a little more hit, it can be had through
any smartphone using the Yamaha Power Tuner app. As
usual, Yamaha wins the suspension sweepstakes. The fork is
excellent in virtually all situations. So is the rear shock. The YZ
is well built; it runs cool, and the air filter stays clean because
it’s so high in the chassis. It’s also easier to service this year.
Yamaha still has the best clutch of the Japanese models, and
the brakes are fairly strong. In both areas, though, the YZ falls
short of the Austrian bikes. Compared to last year’s YZ450F,
the bike is narrower-feeling and the electric start is nice.
The Yamaha, like every other bike this year, gained
weight. It was heavy before, and it’s heavy still,
despite the ground-up redesign. It weighs 239 pounds
without fuel, but at least it has electric start and a coil-spring fork to show for it. The Yamaha isn’t especially
confidence-inspiring in turns. Despite all the progress,
it still feels like a big bike. Most riders feel the bike has
an odd seating position. The bars are high and the seat
is low, so the rider is very cramped in the legs, and it’s
a long reach up to the bars. That makes the rider feel
like he’s seated in a hole, and it’s difficult to get over
the front wheel. Some riders complained about the
Between the suspension and the overall quality,
the Yamaha has a lot going for it. It will probably be
the most reliable bike in the class (again), but it’s
disappointingly heavy. It’s certainly not alone there.
Even the weight could be overlooked if more riders
felt comfortable on it, but the Yamaha’s new layout
is wonky and its turning abilities are only slightly
improved. It’s a case of changing everything except
what needed to be changed.