2019 YAMAHA YZ450F: THE ’19s VIDEO SERIES

Last year this was a completely new bike, although it had the same overall layout it has had since 2010. That was when the reverse head arrived with the goal of centralizing the bike’s mass. Since then, there has been a sharp division when it comes to reviews of the bike’s overall handling. Even among Dirt Bike’s staff of test riders, there are those who love the YZ and those who don’t care for it. It boils down to riding technique. Pete Murray is among those who love it. Even though he’s no youngster, his cornering technique is still phenomenal and outrageously precise. He routinely shows the kids how it’s done.

The 2018 YZ was redesigned around a new electric-start motor. The frame was narrowed, the radiators were lowered and the rider position was changed. The 2019 model has only six changes.

2019 YZ450F CHANGES

  1. The contact surface between the front wheel spacers and the lower fork was increased.
  2. The fork is stiffer (damping only).
  3. The shock is stiffer (damping only).
  4. The seat foam is stiffer in the center.
  5. The right number plate was altered.
  6. One tooth was added to the rear sprocket (to 49 teeth).

The most significant  aspect of the YZ450F remains the fact that you can tune the motor without touching it. The bike broadcasts a wifi signal that syncs with any smartphone. That allows you to change the fuel mapping and the spark advance within certain parameters. This isn’t a sales gimmick. You can really change the way the bike runs for the better or worse. Last year, one of the first maps we tried turned out to be our favorite. We called it the Travis Preston map, although we since have been corrected. Travis had a lot of help in developing it.

After riding the new model we still feel the same way about it. Most of our riders love it. The YZ is crazy fast, but still very controllable. The power quality and quantity are still incredible. And there’s no debate whatsoever about the suspension. Everyone agrees that Yamaha still has the best overall suspensinin the game. Our lighter riders, weren’t especially thrilled with the stiffer settings. They already felt the bike was aimed at bigger faster riders. But it’s nothing more than a couple of compression damping clicks away from the previous settings.

The bike’s biggest shortcoming is its weight. Regardless of the various means that Yamaha has taken to minimize this, the bike weighs 239 pounds (without fuel) on our scale. That’s unchanged. It isn’t the heaviest bike in the class. The Honda and the Suzuki both weight 240 on the same scale, and the Suzuki doesn’t have electric start. Still, the Kawasaki, KTM and Husky do, and they’re much lighter than the Yamaha. The bike feels heavy when you ride it, and the fact that it’s so powerful only adds to the sensation.

As far as cornering is concerned, we still have the same division among test riders. When you’re on the gas, all riders agree that the bike is very stable. Riders who don’t bring the rear end around with throttle still complain that the Yamaha has a moment of instability in turns. As usual, there’s no right and no wrong here. We’ll have more thorough testing in the September, 2018 print edition of Dirt Bike.

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