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2012 Yamaha YFZ 450 First Look

2012 Yamaha YFZ 450 First Look

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Table of Content

The most noticeable advantage of this new 2012 Yamaha YFZ 450 is undoubtedly its lowered price. We’ve certainly all had to adjust to the times in some ways, and this vehicle might very well play a key role in keeping this struggling class of quad alive and well. Race-readiness can be a good thing for some, but it was pushing the class up and away from many passionate trail riders and dune-savvy guys and gals, having to settle for lesser rides, performance wise, to stay within budget. Being solely a leisure-oriented machine, the sport quad is obviously suffering the most from this recent global economic crisis, leaving many manufacturers no choice but to make drastic changes, some even stopping production of these models altogether.

If you’re looking into racing this beautiful and powerful Yamaha, you can always install your choice of high-performance fully-adjustable aftermarket shocks, for more control and adaptability to different types of tracks. It will be necessary if you want to climb right up through the ranks and be competitive enough to get up to the professional level. Yet, for most of us, who are simply into athletic type promenades in the trails, dunes, or just about anywhere else, this more basically-equipped, yet still upgraded in many ways YFZ 450, is sure to satisfy.

Although this year’s YFZ 450 is a lesser machine in many aspects, doing without price- heightening features such, as EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) or costly high and low speed compression adjustable suspension units, it does still have a few improvements over the older carbureted YFZ from back in 2009, mainly concentrated on the engine. More low and midrange performance can be expected with the same peak power output, thanks to a revised cam profile and cam timing, as well as a new ignition mapping. A TPS (throttle position sensor) was also added to enable more precise ignition timing, to pump more power out of this fabulous mill. This means a 12% increase in power, concentrated in the low to midrange.

Precise fuel/air mixing is achieved, thanks to a new larger 42mm Mikuni® BSR carburetor providing crisp throttle response with low throttle lever effort. The YFZ 450 has a powerful, industry-exclusive, five-valve engine. This 449cc liquid-cooled DOHC engine, which is a derivative of the motocross track specialized YZ450F motor, provides gobs of torque and steady power throughout the entire range of RPM’s. I feel, Yamaha sport quads have always satisfied me totally on that front. My generous body dimensions and more importantly, a little over recommended weight, have a tendency to make some 450 sport quads sort of die out on me and require a downshift when I find enough grip grinding hard out of a corner. With these YZ based engines; my weight never felt like it was a struggle for the quad. Fuel injection was a great upgrade, and it did help the YFZ’s purr a bit better and start with no hesitation, regardless of running conditions, but it was culprit, along with the higher valued shocks, in climbing the suggested retail price well over the psychologically important $10,000 mark.

The YZ-spec ratchet-type five-speed transmission and heavy-duty clutch used to deliver all that power to the rear tires with maximum efficiency will render this high performance ride more user-friendly. The controls are particularly smooth to operate and this means lightning fast and efficient shifting is made easier on the YFZ. Slipping between gears or hitting neutral simply won’t happen. Too bad it doesn’t have reverse. This can be a bit of a disappointment for some riders and racers alike. Although this is only a small detail, it is yet another addition that would have an effect on price; we agree that it is a good idea to not break their heads with a reverse gear for now. We don’t think it is something that should make a sport rider or racer look somewhere else; this bike has too many good things about it for that.

The adjustable piggy-back front shocks were replaced by KYB air-oil shocks, stolen from the first generation Raptor 700, but with valving in tune with this lighter quad and the more aggressive riding it encourages. At the rear, we find a preload adjustable Showa piggyback unit that is more than adequate to keep up with the front, but the ride will feel like the power is a bit much at times. Still, this new YFZ is a great machine to add aftermarket and GYTR accessories to, in a gradual and more personalized fashion. This is a process which can be hugely gratifying. Half the fun will be to take good care and transform this YFZ to your liking.

This all new YFZ 450 might very well be the best deal in sport quads right now. As a 2012, maybe not the very best deal you can get off the showroom floor, if you don’t mind buying a 2011 R or X version YFZ. Our friends south of the border can still get the ‘’R’’ version, but we Canadians can’t. No worries, this ride can still be turned into a truly competitive race machine, at a 400 class price. This means it can be a logical choice for leisure riders or a racer who would rather upgrade his race quad to his liking, than buy a race-ready version and hope its equipment accommodates well his or her needs and style. We think this price cutting trend is a real good thing for the sport in general, since it means fewer riders will have to settle for something less than a 450, which pretty much represents the ultimate in off-road high performance, and can serve a beginning racer well, throughout his or her entire progression right up to the Pro classes.

Video comparisons that Yamaha produced with Suzuki’s LTZ 400 could be considered unfair, but the new YFZ does cost a little less money than this other also long trusted, fun- inducing trail machine. Although the LTZ for long pleased us in many ways, this new YFZ 450 sort of renders it obsolete! Since the sad departure of the LTR 450, Suzuki just isn’t a contender in that race. This new Yamaha is clearly a better blast for your hard-earned money. A noticeable power advantage, a tiny bit more ground clearance, a longer wheelbase, more suspension travel and surprisingly, all in a lighter package! Who wouldn’t want a lower-priced machine that is simply better at everything? The fight for supremacy in the struggling 450 class is benefitting trail riders, which now have many solid rides made available to them, at more reasonable prices. Honda’s 2012 TRX 450 is even cheaper to buy, now displayed at a manufacturer’s discounted price of $7,999 on Honda.ca , a cool $1000 less than this new 2012 Yamaha YFZ. That one’s legendary durability and dependability remain attractive qualities. Can-Am’s base DS 450 model might also tickle your fancy starting at just $7,799.

Revamped, yet again, the Yamaha YFZ450 retains the same high-quality chassis design and engine features that made the original YFZ an awesome quad for racing or intense trail riding applications. This great performing machine offers 9.1 inches of front travel and 10.6” at the rear for a truly smooth ride. The cast aluminum swing arm and sub frame, aluminum upper A-arm, long travel suspension and lightweight chassis ensure that YFZ performance and the original YFZ450’s handling characteristics aren’t compromised by this surprising step back in time by Yamaha. Push-button starting, extra-large foot pegs, double-piston caliper on the rear brake, and superb looks, are all but a few of the other things we think have the power to make your entire ATV experience, fun and intense, at a reasonable price, thank you! This Yamaha is truly a great deal for any ATV fan!

For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Yamaha Motor Website

More from Yamaha on ATV Trail Rider :

Yamaha ATV Models – Yamaha UTV Models – Yamaha ATV Reviews – Yamaha UTV Reviews

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Alain Assad

Alain Assad

Off-Road Powersports Journalist
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