Yamaha pulled out all the stops last year with the introduction of an all-new YZ450F that was lighter, faster and technologically more advanced than its predecessors. They flew us out to Florida to give us a tour of the amazing Star Racing Yamaha facilities and ride at “The Goat Farm,” which is the same place the team trains today and the very same place that Ricky Carmichael did his training. Yamaha’s new machine received mixed reviews from the staff. With only minor changes to the 2024 model, we picked up right where we left off testing on the 2023 model.

2024 Yamaha YZ450F

First of all, the 2024 YZ450F is shockingly fast, and for the vast majority of riders, it needs detuning, not hot-rodding. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the overall dyno champ of the 450 class last year, despite the sensation of power that it delivers right off idle. But, it does have the most rapid power gain between 7,500 rpm and 10,000 rpm. That’s the meat of the powerband when you’re shifting through the gears on the way to the first turn, and that’s what gives it that yank-your-arms-out-of-its-socket-type sensation. Yamaha has done a decent job of making all that manageable, but having easy mapping changes at your fingertips with the Yamaha Power Tuner smartphone app is irresistible.

Pete Murray on the 2024 Yamaha YZ450F.

Right away, we installed our favorite maps from last year. Test rider Pete Murray developed a map with Jamie Ellis from Twisted Development to make the power delivery more manageable for the average rider. Modifying the airbox generally means drilling holes to try to increase the airflow, therefore increasing performance. The YZ450F is not in need of this, so we decided to go the other way to actually restrict the air intake. If you pop off the portion of the seat that covers the gas cap, look closely at the bottom of the airbox lid; there’s an opening on the clutch side that’s closed off on the throttle side. We taped the open side closed (with direction from Pete again). This further reduced the intake noise during acceleration and gave the YZ a more manageable feel while in the meat of the power curve. All this was done with a couple of strips of strategically placed duct tape, which can be undone in seconds.

Yamaha also offers a complete hydraulic clutch system that replaces the cable version that comes standard. Now, we have tested some bikes that this would be a game changer for, but the YZ450F is not one of them. This is a great option for riders who prefer the feel of a hydraulic, but most test riders didn’t have a strong enough opinion for or against either system. They both performed well.

The really big changes last year revolved around the Yamaha chassis. One thing that all our test riders loved about the 2024 Yamaha YZ450F was the roomy layout. The 2022 model was cramped, leading most of our taller riders to install the optional tall seat and lower aftermarket footpeg assembly. That’s not necessary with the new-generation YZ450F chassis. Smaller riders might not care for the increased seat height, but if you’re anywhere near 6 feet tall, the new Yamaha is a good fit.

Yamaha air filters have a tendency to remain cleaner than conventionally located filters.

There’s no debate, the new YZ450F has quicker steering and lighter overall handling. Some testers like this and run that race sag around 102mm, increase the rebound damping a couple of clicks in the rear, and run fork height at 7mm in the front. Riders looking to increase stability opted to run 105–108mm race sag, slow the rebound damping down slightly and run the fork height flush. This gained a little stability back at higher speeds, but does also slow down those quicker-cornering characteristics.

Just like last year, there’s no doubt that the 2024 YZ450F is better than the previous generation. It’s lighter, faster, slimmer and more comfortable to a wider variety of riders. However, dialing in that newfound power can require some fine-tuning, and the overall handling balance might be as hard to achieve, just in the complete opposite direction.


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