The coming of more purpose-specific sport ATVs, brought forward in part with the arrival of brand new ATV manufacturers into the scene, has prompted long established Yamaha, to follow this path of further diversifying what was once the lone description of what a 450 sport quad is. KTM, well known for their now rich off-road racing history of the two-wheeled kind, was first to do that. Late in 2007, the respected Austrian manufacturer used this established credibility in off-road racing and engine-building to offer “ready-to-race” ATV units. The first was designed to run in GNC and GNCC competition. They later introduced a 450cc unit in 2008 that was setup for motocross competition. Then Can-Am followed suit and their DS line of sport quads since includes three models: a basic one; that stays pretty much the equivalent of what sport 450 quads had been so far, and like KTM, motocross and cross-country versions with race-ready add-ons such as fully adjustable suspension systems, stock nerf bars, tether kill switch, etc…
The needs of racers have always played a key part in the development of all types of motorized machines and their valuable input always finds its way onto vehicles sold for day to day use. For most, such a sporty ride is technologically advanced way beyond what would be needed for simple trailing fun in the woods. This fabulous ride takes this seemingly unimportant playful activity very seriously, in a racing approach. The new 2010 Yamaha YFZ 450X is based on the YFZ450R and will be replacing the original YFZ450. X as in cross-country and R as in racetrack.
To the woods
On the “to do” list of Yamaha’s new 2010 Yamaha YFZ 450X offering for cross-country style racing: tight trails, hill climbs, off camber turns, you name it. The main difference between the 2010 Yamaha YFZ 450X and the YFZ 450R, is the width of the vehicle, which is set at the commonly agreed upon standard of 46 inches, accommodating usage in narrow trails. It sits solidly to the ground despite the 3 inch loss compared to the R version for the motocross track; it holds on surprisingly well, more stable and effective in flat long turns than expected for a machine with this limited narrow dimension. This is, in major part because the upper and lower a-arm pivot points are close together to reduce the pivot angle. This was made possible through a narrower front part of the chassis, meaning less tire scrub and more consistency in steering throughout the whole length of travel.
Of course, bump absorption is all the more important in the woods and so the X stands better equipped than the basic 2010 Yamaha YFZ 450X in suspension, with new 9.4” Kashima coated piggy back shocks, which are 28mm longer, 8mm bigger in diameter and have a 2mm longer stroke. These are high and low speed compression adjustable, in addition to the more common threaded preload adjustment on the spring. This Kashima coating is used on the shocks to improve suspension action by reducing friction, which in turn increases oil life and durability of the precious valuable units. The new shock body minimizes scratches. Finely adjustable to accommodate the rider’s preferences or the type of terrain he or she expects to conquer, these eliminate the need for expensive aftermarket replacement shocks. For most riders, and even racers, those will do a fabulous job. The YFZ450X also uses different frame geometry to further improve the handling. The wide arc design increases ground clearance, which is more than adequate for most trails. The eleven degree rake and longer a-arms offer surprisingly good performance for a quad of such short width.
Riders can also quickly and easily adjust the handlebars in 4 different mounting positions. There are two sets of holes in the handlebar crown, and eccentric clamps able the rider to choose the standard setting, 10mm or 20mm forward, or 10mm back. In addition, the front brake and the clutch levers are also adjustable to precisely accommodate your hand size.
Ride like the wind
New camshafts designed to maximize torque in the low and mid ranges now insure more than enough power from bottom to top. The DOHC liquid cooled single cylinder 449cc engine is fuel injected, with a titanium five valve head, integrated oil tank and lines, a beefier case design, and a smoother counter-balancer, but the fuel injection mapping is specifically set for each ride. Maximum combustion efficiency and power delivery is exactly what we felt at the mercy of our thumbs. The power delivery is consistent, ample and linear. There is no weak spot in the power band, which gives more precise control to the rider in very technical sections. Feathering the clutch is never necessary and not dropping a gear can become a trail carving tool, preventing rear wheel spin and gripping hard to keep surprisingly good momentum in very narrow and tight turns. A new throttle design is easier to push compared to the YFZ450 and really fits in well with this ride`s enduro racing capacity. A two- hour race won’t kill your thumb.
The 2010 Yamaha YFZ 450X also comes with new, lighter wheels with an inner rolled lip to help keep them light weight, while still maintaining good strength for those rough sections. The stock tires on this ride, newly designed Dunlop® tires, aren’t bad at all either, they offer plenty of traction when needed, but also not too much when you want the rear to break loose into a slide. Yamaha also appears to have done a nice job with water protection, despite some very wet conditions and fun puddle skipping opportunities, nothing got into the system and it never even missed a beat.
Get on it and get it on!
The seat is spot on, narrow in the front and really wide in the back, providing the perfect balance of comfort and freedom of movement. It remains at a low 31.9″ to fully harness the rider’s weight, again, for a lower center of gravity. Throwing your body from side to side is easy and the shape of the seat encourages better body position in turns. It also helps cushion landings a lot better or the occasional tap in the rear after a small error in calculation through a series of whoops. Oddly enough, this seat design is also great for when you are actually not sitting on it. Even if the jump specialist is more the YFZ450R, the X can certainly offer the same great feeling during stable and predictable flights over small creeks or any other safe and time-saving occasion to fly found on a trail. It keeps the mid-section as narrow as a motocross bike. I guess you have to be a frequent flyer to know how this trait can be an advantage in the air. If you have never had the pleasure of flying on a motocross or ATV, these offer a surprisingly high level of control to the rider in flight behavior and this more narrow mid-section permits better movement and body position crucial to this control.
For me and my moderate talent for jumping, it meant the experience scared me less than on many others I’ve thrown myself up in the air with. As you might already know, the front to back tilt angle can be controlled with either braking the rear wheels to tip the front end down, or giving more gas to bring the rear down. You can also change the side angle in flight, and that seems, from what I have heard, to be something the YFZ450R is great at. We would rather leave that aspect tested by the pros! Champion like Bill Balance seems to approve of it, and I think we can take his word for it.
The 2010 Yamaha YFZ 450X is available in three different color schemes: a traditional Yamaha blue, an eye-catching red and white version and the Bill Ballance edition with white radiator shrouds and gas tank cover plus a few goodies such as a blue frame, gold D.I.D. chain, silver wheels, quick release fasteners on the plastics, and Bill Ballance edition bumper and graphics. Other accessories offered in the GYTR line include nerf bars, bumpers, grab bars, shock covers and other graphics kits. Yamaha has also has partnered with aftermarket manufacturers, to make available an oversized IMS gas tank, a Dynojet Power Commander, a GPR steering stabilizer, and several other products.
Everything is close to perfection; this one is especially great for any endurance racer on a tight budget.
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Yamaha Motor Website