2014 Yamaha YZ450F - First Ride

Sixteen things you need to know about the new Yamaha YZ450F.

Yamaha YZ450F off-road action shot

Yamaha is no stranger to changing things up in the motocross game. In 2010, the company's radical redesign of the YZ450F was met with mixed success, pushing the handling to new levels for some but frustrating some other high-profile racers. But even in the face of adversity, the core concept of a reversed cylinder head and rear-slanting cylinder has been retained. What's more, there's even more emphasis on mass centralization with the new 2014 Yamaha YZ450F.

After spending two days testing the 450 at Zaca Station Motocross Park in California—in which Ryan Dudek and I tried different tuning options and learned about the bike from Yamaha's R&D; staff—we came up with the following points, which should give you a good overall feel for the new machine.

  1. The new YZ450F is a complete package. There's no standout feature because everything works so well together. The new seat (which covers the fuel cap) allows the rider to sit wherever, especially on the very front of the seat. Unlike a lot of MX seats, there is great cushion. The motor, the suspension, the handling, the ergonomics...they all combine to make the new YZ a bike you can ride without thinking about it much.

  2. The motor is much improved. Yamaha claims nearly 55 hp, but the standout characteristic is the underlying feeling of torque that the older YZ did not have. The new YZ is smoother on the bottom, yet it's reminiscent of a 250F in how quick it can rev. Outright power is impressive, and the excellent control via your wrist is just what a 450cc bike needs.

Yamaha YZ450F engine shot
    Off-road action shot of Yamaha YZ450F
      Yamaha YZ450F static shot
        Yamaha YZ450F in the air shot

          Final Thoughts

          For sure, the 2014 YZ 450F is improved. It’s easy to feel after a short time on the bike. It makes the old YZ feel a little bulky. Additionally, the previous YZ pitches forward and back and uses way more suspension stroke when riding. The motor, too, is much better. Although the list of improvements on the spec sheet is long, it’s the performance of the bike that matters most. Only some back-to-back tests with the other 2014 models will tell the full story, but if you liked this Yamaha in the past you’re going to lover this new one that much more.

          View images in photo gallery:

          Off-road test action shot #1 - 2014 Yamaha YZ450F

          Off-road test action shot #2 - 2014 Yamaha YZ450F

          Off-road test action shot #3 - 2014 Yamaha YZ450F

          Off-road test action shot #4 - 2014 Yamaha YZ450F

          Off-road test action shot #5 - 2014 Yamaha YZ450F

          Off-road test action shot #6 - 2014 Yamaha YZ450F

          Off-road test action shot #7 - 2014 Yamaha YZ450F

          Off-road test action shot #8 - 2014 Yamaha YZ450F

          2014 Yamaha YZ450F - static right-side view

          2014 Yamaha YZ450F - static left-side view

          2014 Yamaha YZ450F - handlebars

          2014 Yamaha YZ450F - tank shell

          2014 Yamaha YZ450F - engine

          2014 Yamaha YZ450F - engine zoom view

          2014 Yamaha YZ450F - rear suspension

          2014 Yamaha YZ450F - rear section frame view #1

          2014 Yamaha YZ450F - rear section frame view #2

          2014 Yamaha YZ450F - exhaust pipe

          2014 Yamaha YZ450F - air filter

          2014 Yamaha YZ450F - studio left-side view

          2014 Yamaha YZ450F - studio right-side view