DOLLARS AND CENTS
The YFZ450R SE costs an additional
$200 over the standard YFZ-R model.
At $8999, you’re buying a 9000-dollar
quad, but let’s face it, the $8799
standard model is a 9000-dollar quad as
well. Compared to the competition, the
Honda or standard-model Can-Am will
save you $1200 off the top, and a KFX
is still $700 less as well.
While these machines cost a little
less to get into, you really have to look
at the bigger picture with the current
450 market. Of those mentioned, the
slightly pricier Yamaha is the only one
with an MX, race-ready, 49-inch-wide
suspension system. For motocross,
desert or dunes, this wider track width
is the industry standard and will cost
you thousands in A-arms, shocks and
axles to upgrade too. The Yamaha not
only comes at a race-ready, 49-inch
track width, but it also features top-of-the-line KYB shocks. These shocks
are adjustable for high-/low-speed
compression as well as rebound. The
Yamaha’s shocks are truly as good as it
gets on a stock machine. In all fairness,
the Can-Am DS450X mx comes with
really great upgraded shocks and
a wider, MX-ready front end. The
difference being that the MX version of
the DS is $9699, making it $1900 more
than the standard model.
HOW FAST IS THE YAMAHA?
The Yamaha flat out rips. It’s not a
stupid, throw-you-back-on-the-seat kind
of power, but it’s fast. Yamaha’s fuel
injection delivers crisp, usable power
that is always there when you need it.
The super-smooth power curve is great
everywhere, but it really shines on the
track. The YFZ-R can make an average
rider look fast and a fast rider look
flawless; it’s just really that much easier
to ride than the competition. Power
comes on smoothly, the transmission
shifts like butter, and it doesn’t wear the
WHAT ABOUT PUTTING IT TO THE GROUND?
The YFZ-R’s assist and slipper clutch
really improves shifting feel and fights
fatigue with a claimed 25-percent-lighter
clutch pull. Yamaha’s slipper clutch also
drastically reduces the oft-dreaded four-stroke engine-braking characteristic,
improving cornering and improving
bump absorption under braking. It is not
a stretch to say that the YFZ-R puts the
power to the ground easier and more
efficiently than any other stock machine
we’ve ever ridden.
DOES IT TURN?
The YFZ-R turns really well with the
HOW’S THE SUSPENSION?
ability to stick a corner or just as easily
drift around it with the right amount of
throttle. The Maxxis tires work pretty
well on just about any terrain or type of
dirt you might find at the track. While
the tires work really well in groomed
dirt, they are still predictable and fun
to ride in the sand dunes. Only on the
biggest and steepest dune climbs did
we ever find ourselves wishing for a set
of paddles. The wider track width/stance
and lower center of gravity noticeably
improve cornering as well. We tend
to bang out around a hundred berm
shots in a typical photo shoot, and the
YFZ450R can be thrown harder into a
dune face or berm than you would dare
on any other stock ATV. It stays level
and planted, even when you hook a little
bit of extra additional traction.
The YFZ450R suspension is
unbeatable for a showroom stock
machine. When the YFZ450R came out
in ’09, the suspension was great but
had a few flaws in valving, etc. Over
the years Yamaha has continued to
test, tune and improve the OEM setup
to the point that they are at today.
With the help of racer/test rider Dustin
HOW ARE THE BRAKES?
Nelson and a handful of other talented
test engineers, Yamaha has really got
it beyond good. The ’ 14 or ’ 15 YFZ-R
stock setup is very comfortable being
ridden by a fast intermediate to a local
pro level. In fact, we’ve ridden many
project builds that were not on the same
level, even with thousands of dollars
worth of help from the aftermarket. This
is impressive in itself, but even more so
when thinking of how much work/money
it took to race ATVs in the recent past.
Braking feel is excellent. Both front
and rear feature ventilated rotors and
Front travel is 9. 8 inches, and the Kayaba
shocks have a Kashima coating, high-/low-speed compression adjusters, plus rebound
and preload. Front brakes have twin-puck
YFZ450R Special Edition is
a blast to sling around in the
dunes, and the sport quad
has three AMA ATV-MX
championships in a row and
nine GNCC XC1 ATV Pro
titles as well.