twin-piston calipers that will stop the
YFZ-R on a dime. The stock front-brake
lever is highly adjustable, looking like
something you would find on an SX or
Super Moto bike rather than an ATV.
The YFZ-R clutch perch also features
WHAT ABOUT COMFORT?
Yamaha’s easily removable parking
brake lever. The Yamaha parking brake
system allows for simple removal,
leaving you a sleek and desirable clutch
perch versus the clunky, awkward perch
found on most other brands.
The YFZ-R is comfortable and
enjoyable to ride, even for hours at a
time. Suzuki started the T-shaped seat
back in the late ’80s on the LT-250R,
bringing it back again with the late
LT-450R. They were on to something,
and Yamaha was not afraid to borrow
and improve upon it. The YFZ-R’s seat
is not big and ugly like the early LTs,
but it really gives you something to lay
into when trying to readjust bike position
with your rear end or inner thigh. The
seat is king, but the overall ergonomics
are impressive as well. Anyone up to
about 6 feet tall will find controls, bars,
and seat-to-peg height about perfect.
If you are 6 feet or taller, a taller stem
or lowered pegs will make the mighty R
that much more comfortable.
HOW IS WORKING ON IT?
We typically just perform basic
maintenance on our loaner machines,
but we had the pleasure of building
our last year’s loaner into a WORCS
machine. Yamaha has added tool-less
fasteners for attaching all the YFZ-R’s
plastics. They have also redesigned
electrical and battery mounting, allowing
it to remain on the machine when
removing plastics for easier basic
maintenance or repairs. Quick and easy
plastic removal really improves cleaning
efficiency, as well as making nearly any
repair a little easier.
WHAT’S IT LIKE ON THE TRACK?
The YFZ-R has been bred for the
HOW ABOUT THE TRAIL?
motocross track, but it’s equally as
good in off-road situations. We raced
a few WORCS races on the YFZ-R in
both stock and modded-out form, and
our test rider even won a National Hare
and Hound desert race on it. The power
delivery is perfect on a motocross track.
It’s not overpowering, but has plenty of pull
to get over the largest jumps on any quad-
friendly SoCal MX track we could find.
Besides the 49-inch track width, long-
travel suspension and great handling, the
real beauty of riding the YFZ-R is that it
doesn’t wear you out. The suspension is
stable and forgiving, the power comes on
with electric-like delivery and the clutch
action is superb. Dropping a gear while
entering a corner doesn’t cause excessive
unwanted engine braking, and traction
The YFZ-R comes stock with a wider
49-inch platform compared to the rest of
the field. In super-tight, wooded, XC-type
situations, you might even find it a little
too wide. In XC-racing situations, top XC
racers find themselves narrowing up the
YFZ-R with aftermarket A-arms, much like
motocrossers have been doing with wider
suspension on the rest of the 450s. While
this XC application will add costs similar
to widening an MX quad, the YFZ-R is still
a great trail machine for any and all of the
trails we ride out on the West Coast. The
YFZ-R’s decent-sized fuel tank and EFI fuel
efficiency also give you the range needed
to conquer the longest of rides.
IS IT THE ULTIMATE DUNER?
Yamaha sport quads have the duner
segment pretty well-covered. As for
stock machines, the big-bore Raptor 700
features not only a super-torquey, dune-
friendly power curve, but it is also one of
the most comfortable machines you could
throw a leg over. When the dunes are in
good shape, the Raptor 700 is an easy
choice for all-day dune enjoyment. When
the dunes are a little on the beat side, such
as our recent Yamaha SE trip following
Presidents’ Day weekend, you will really
appreciate the wider, longer-travel and
more refined YFZ-R suspension package.
When the dunes are anything but ideal,
the YFZ450R is the machine to be on.
Even after a good wind, it is really a matter
in the dunes
or on the
Last year the YFZ450R’s five-valve engine
got a new cylinder head with higher 11.8:1
compression, a new connecting rod, big-end
bearing and the industry-first A&S (assist
and slipper) clutch. The result is a bigger
midrange hit, more hook-up on the throttle
and less engine braking for better suspension
action. Clutch pull is lighter as well.
A large, oiled-foam air filter rides inside a large
still airbox, and the bodywork was revised in
2014 to allow more room in the cockpit for
body English. Quick-release fasteners hasten
plastic removal for maintenance.