FIRST RIDE: 2019 YAMAHA WR450F–THE WRAP

Yamaha quietly introduced the 2019 WR450F this month, and I do mean quietly. The bike is designed to make very little noise. More importantly to us, it’s a real trail bike, in stark contrast to the lightly modified motocross bikes that have become common in recent years.  The line between motocross bike and off-road bike has become more and more blurry. KTM XCs, Honda RXs and Husqvarna FXs all seem to advocate the view that all an off-road bike needs is an 18-inch rear wheel and a kickstand. The WR isn’t like that. It has a completely different personality than the YZ450F motocross bike.

So the 2019 Yamaha line now has three 450s. The YZ450F motocross bike was completely redesigned for the 2018 model year, with a new motor, new frame and wifi connectivity for engine mapping. In 2019, the YZ450FX came out with all those same features. Its mission was to be an off-road race bike, so it still was a very aggressive bike. The FX got a larger fuel tank, softer suspension, wider gear ratios, slightly mellower mapping, an 18-inch rear wheel, a kickstand and a few minor changes. It still had the motocross muffler without spark arrester. To give Yamaha credit, the FX has at least one more feature to separate it from the motocross bike, and that’s the wide ratio gearbox.

Now the WR450F has arrived as a late 2019 model. It has all the off-road stuff from the FX, plus a headlight, a odometer, a radiator fan, softer suspensions yet, a spark arrester, a very quiet muffler and altogether different mapping. This is the bike that Yamaha designed to meet the EPA and CARB requirements for noise and emissions as an off-road vehicle (as opposed to a closed-course vehicle, like a motocrosser). That official certification hasn’t come for the 2019 model year. There is some confusion over the evaporative canister that is yet to be resolved. So California buyers beware; this is a red sticker motorcycle for now. Oddly enough, this bike still comes to dealers with a throttle stop and a muffler within the muffler. We never rode our test bike with those in place. It was still super quiet. This bike does not get the wifi connectivity for mapping changes. In fact, the mapping is fixed and the black box is said to be tamperproof. The handguards pictured on our test bike are not stock.

As we tested the bike, it’s a true trail bike. It’s quiet and easy to ride. The knee jerk response most people have is to ask about “unplugging”it. It’s not necessary. The WR has plenty of power and Yamaha did a good job with the stock mapping. It isn’t one of those bikes that simply doesn’t work in clean and quiet configuration.  The bike certainly isn’t fast by the standards of a 450 motocross bike, but the power ain’t bad. One interesting benefit of having a milder motor is that first gear is more practical. On the FX, the super-low first gear doesn’t work well with the aggressive motor–it’s simply too much, too quickly. The WR’s first gear is much more practical. Our only real complaint is that the WR is hard to start. The bike likes a little throttle, but not too much. There’s no kickstarter, so you have to be frugal with the electric starter. Yamaha chose to give the bike a lead-acid battery instead of a lithium. There are pluses and minuses here. It’s heavy, but it also withstands cold weather much better than lithium.

 

We do understand the impulse to get more power out of the WR and apparently, so does Yamaha. Yamaha Parts and Accessories has a power-up kit that replaces the black box with a programmable one for $150. If you get the wifi communication unit ($300), it can be altered with a smart phone, just like the YZ.  This is a smart, affordable upgrade and allows you to stop anywhere you want on the road to making the bike more powerful. At some point, a competition muffler will have to come into play, but there’s more performance to be had with mapping alone. The full test of the 2019 Yamaha WR450F will appear in the July, 2019 print edition of Dirt Bike.

TWO STROKES EVERYWHERE!

Ricky Dietrich will be riding a 2006 Honda CR250R this weekend at the Wiseco Two-Stroke Championship.

I love the Two-Stroke Championship! It’s this weekend at Glen Helen, and the title sponsor this year is Wiseco. It seems like everyone is building a very cool bike. This week I got to shoot Ricky Dietrich on his 2006 Honda CR250R. Travis Fant shot a great raw video, which you can see here. We also got Zach Bell’s KX250 in the studio, and you can read about it here on Two-Stroke Tuesday.

 

Zach Bell will be defending his two-stroke title with a Precision Concepts KX250.

Mike Alessi will be back, so will Michael Leib–both past winners of the race. Tyler Bowers will be riding the Beast (his KX500). RJ Wageman will be on the prototype aluminum frame Suzuki RM250 that was built in house at Suzuki a number of years ago. It will be awesome! Here’s the schedule:

Friday April 19
Gates Open 7am-8pm
2-Stroke Only MX Practice 10am-2pm
Gate Fees $30 per bike for practice
$10 per person admission
$10 per night camping
Sign-up (Main Scoring tower) 1pm-4pm
Post Entry Fees $60 first class/$50 Second Class

Saturday April 20
Gates Open 6am-5pm
Gate Fees $10 per person admission
Sign-up (Main Scoring tower) 6:30am
Post Entry Fees $60 first class/$50 Second Class
Practice 8am
Rider Meeting over PA 9:30am
National Anthem 9:50am
Racing 10am
Open Pro Moto Race 4
125 Pro Moto Race 8
Race Schedule Posted after Practice

VIRGINIA CITY NEXT WEEK

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …

Crazy stuff happened at the last SuperEnduro of the season in Spain. Coming into the last race of the day, Colton Haaker was ahead of Cody Webb in the points, and if he finished in the top four, Colton would win the 2019 FIM World Championship. It all came apart on the final lap of the race, when he dropped back to fifth. Colton Haaker’s teammate Alfredo Gomez not only pulled over, but blocked Pol Tarres before the finish, allowing Haaker to finish third and win the title.  To make it even crazier, Haaker crashed over the finish line an knocked himself out! People have been fired up since then! This  clip shows the final lap.

HANGTOWN IS A COMING

This week, the pro riders of the AMA Supercross series will have Easter weekend off, then there are two races left in the schedule. After that, May 18 will be the start of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series at Hangtown in Sacramento. This is the oldest race on the schedule and actually predates the national motocross series. It wasn’t always at Prairie City–it started in Placerville in 1969, then moved a few miles away to Plymouth. It’s been in Sac since 1977.

Here’s the schedule for Saturday.

SCHEDULE
7 am – 2 pm Will Call
7:20 am – 7:35 am Mandatory Riders Meeting
7:35 am – 7:50 am Chapel Service (Pro Pits)
8 am – 8:15 am 250 Class Practice Grp B – 15 minutes 5 Free/10 Timed
8:20 am – 8:35 am 250 Class Practice Grp A – 15 minutes 5 Free/10 Timed
8:35 am – 8:45 am Track Maintenance
8:45 am – 9 am 450 Class Practice Grp A – 15 minutes 5 Free/10 Timed
9:05 am – 9:20 am 450 Class Practice Grp B – 15 minutes 5 Free/10 Timed
9:20 am – 9:35 am Track Maintenance
9:35 am – 9:45 am 125 All Stars Practice
9:50 am – 9:55 am 250 Class Group B Start Practice 5 minutes
9:55 am – 10:10 am 250 Class Practice Grp B – 15 minutes – Timed
10:15 am – 10:20 am 250 Class Group A Start Practice 5 minutes
10:20 am – 10:35 am 250 Class Practice Grp A – 15 minutes – Timed
10:35 am – 10:50 am Track Maintenance
10:45 am – 10:50 am 450 Class Group A Start Practice 5 minutes
10:50 am – 11:05 am 450 Class Practice Grp A – 15 minutes – Timed
11:10 am – 11:15 am 450 Class Group B Start Practice 5 minutes
11:15 am – 11:30 am 450 Class Practice Grp B – 15 minutes – Timed
11:30 am – 11:45 am Track Maintenance
11:45 am – 11:55 am 125 All Stars Race
12 pm – 12:10 pm 250 Consolation Race
12:15 pm – 12:25 pm 450 Consolation Race
12:40 pm – 1 pm Opening Ceremonies
1 pm – 1:10 pm 250 Class Sight Lap
1:10 pm – 1:45 pm 250 Class Moto #1
1:45 pm – 2 pm Podium Interviews
2 pm – 2:10 pm 450 Class Sight Lap
2:10 pm – 2:45 pm 450 Class Moto #1
2:45 pm – 3 pm Podium Interviews
3 pm – 3:10 pm 250 Class Sight Lap
3:10 pm – 3:45 pm 250 Class Moto #2
3:45 pm – 4 pm 250 Winners Circle
4 pm – 4:10 pm 450 Class Sight Lap
4:10 pm – 4:45 pm 450 Class Moto #2
4:45 pm – 5 pm 450 Winners Circle
5 pm – 5:30 pm Press Conference

ADAM C GO PRO

This is one of the best GoPro practice videos I’ve seen in a while. They got pretty creative with various angles and mounts, which is probably why GoPro featured it on their own site. Check it out!

That’s all for now!

–Ron Lawson

 

 

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