2016 YAMAHA WR450F & YZ450FX - FIRST LOOK REVIEW

One is for aggressive trail riding, the other for winning closed-course enduros.

2016 Yamaha WR450F studio 3/4 view

Yamaha characterizes its all-new 2016 WR450F as an "off-road-legal enduro and an aggressive trail riding weapon." Seems like a fair assessment. Let's check out the hardware.

This all-new $8,990 enduro, available in November, is based on the potent four-stroke 449cc engine normally found in the YZ450F motocrosser. This means the new WR450F has the YZ450F’s rearward-slanted cylinder, replete with a straight intake on the front of said cylinder. Mass centralization is the idea here, and the cylinder head, the titanium valves, the cam timing, the compression ratio and even the 44mm throttle body are exactly the same as those of the YZ450F.

Additionally, the new 2016 WR450F is fitted with an enduro-specific exhaust silencer, an electric starter, an electrical system without a main switch, and an ECU with enduro-specific tuning. Moreover, in addition to the expected wide-ratio five-speed transmission, the new WR450F is fitted with enduro-specific multiplate clutch built to handle the abuse of riding hard in tough conditions.

2016 Yamaha WR450F studio side view

The WR’s Bilateral Beam aluminum frame—very similar to that of the YZ and made from castings, forgings, and extrusions—has been built to be light but strong enough to handle tough enduro riding. The engine mounts, interestingly, are tuned for a touch of compliance, which is appreciated by riders out on the trail. Another neat feature is the new electric starter; there’s no need for a key or a main switch—you just hit the starter button and go.

Besides the expected wide-ratio five speed gearbox and tougher clutch,  other enduro-specific hardware on the 2016 WR450F includes a larger radiator with a temperature-regulating fan, EPA-legal mufflers, a plastic skid plate, a kickstarter, a sealed O-ring chain, and even a standard side stand. Of course, the WR450 has a headlight and a taillight (an LED one), as well as an LCD race computer.

2016 Yamaha WR450F off-road trail action

Dunlop MX51s are fitted to the WR450F’s 21-in. front and 18-in. rear wheels. The suspension, by KYB, features a fully adjustable spring-type fork with speed-sensitive damping, and a piggyback-reservoir shock with adjusters for high and low speed compression damping, as well as adjustable rebound and spring preload. In addition to a larger front brake (270mm) and wider footpegs, the new WR450F has rubber-mounted adjustable bar clamps for better on-trail comfort.

The 2016 Yamaha WR450F, with a claimed wet weight of 271 lb., is scheduled to arrive at dealers in November, wearing the familiar Team Yamaha Blue/White colors. Price, as stated, is $8,990.

2016 Yamaha YZ450FX studio 3/4 view

2016 Yamaha YZ450FX

If you hope to win some Hare Scrambles or GNCC events, the new 2016 Yamaha YZ450FX is for you.

Yamaha says this electric-start machine with a large-capacity generator weighs nine pounds less than the WR450F, and it’s powered by YZ450F’s 449cc engine that has been tuned for the abundant top-end power needed in cross-country racing. Fully adjustable KYB spring suspension, identical to that of the YZ450F but with tweaked settings, is on duty front and rear, and the aluminum frame is very closely related to the YZ450F’s but with revised engine mounts. The tires are Dunlop AT81Fs, aggressive cross-country knobbies.

Like the WR450, the new 2016 Yamaha YZ450FX has a wide-ratio five-speed transmission, a tough enduro-specific multiplate clutch, an electric starter, and an electrical system that has no main switch.

2016 Yamaha YZ450FX static side view

Also noteworthy are the YZ450FX’s new 21-in. front and 18-in. rear wheels; they are lightweight pieces specific to the bike, as is a weight-saving aluminum racing muffler that’s repackable. Lastly, YZ450FX owners can order the GYTR Power Tuner from Yamaha as an accessory. This tuning device lets racers tailor the air/fuel mixtures and ignition timing to the rider (and race conditions) with a few simple touches of a button.

Like the new 2016 WR450F, the 2016 YZ450FX arrives in November, in Team Yamaha Blue/White. Retail price: $8,890.

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2016 Yamaha WR450F studio.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha WR450F studio.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha WR450F studio.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha WR450F studio.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha WR450F action.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha WR450F action.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha WR450F action.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha WR450F action.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha WR450F action.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha WR450F action.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha WR450F action.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha WR450F action.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha WR450F action.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha YZ450FX studio.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha YZ450FX studio.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha YZ450FX studio.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha YZ450FX studio.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha YZ450FX static.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha YZ450FX static.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha YZ450FX details.Yamaha Photo

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2016 Yamaha YZ450FX details.Yamaha Photo