Project Grandpa started because the 2018 Yamaha YZ450F created some serious disagreements on the DB staff. It was definitely fast and the well suspended, and many felt it was the most sophisticated and reliable bike in the class. But some riders felt the Yamaha 450 was the most-changed bike with the fewest improvements.

The 2018 Yamaha YZ450F got attention in key areas.
The 2018 Yamaha YZ450F got attention in key areas.

Pete Murray was one of the most devoted YZ defenders. He loved the bike, but could see that it wasn’t perfect. After spending time on the stocker, he accepted the challenge of building it into a project bike that everyone could love as much as he did. On of the coolest things about the YZ is that it can be remapped with any smart phone. After messing with a few different maps, he settled on one developed by Travis Preston. Here’s how that recipe looks:

Travis Preston’s YZ450 map

Next, the throttle body went to Wade Wilcox at InjectioneeringHe took the YZ’s Mikuni throttle body, taper-bored it and reconfigured the throttle butterfly. Believe it or not, that was worth about two horsepower throughout the range. The bike also got a Dr. D exhaust and a Rekluse clutch pack. 

Pete Murray took on the 2018 Yamaha YZ450F project.
Pete Murray took on the 2018 Yamaha YZ450F project.

The chassis got more attention. For some reason, the 2018 model came with a lower seat and taller bars than the 2017 version. Both those changes serve to make the rider place his weight too far to the rear, and that makes cornering more difficult. Ride Engineering makes bar mounts that bring the handlebar location down 5mm and Yamaha’s own accessory department has a taller seat. The seat isn’t yet listed on the website, but a Yamaha dealer will know how to find it and the price is around $130. The most interesting change was the Dr. D engine relocation kit, which pushed the motor forward by 1.5mm. The Project was topped off by Dubya wheels, Polisport fluorescent yellow bodywork and Decal Works graphics.

Pete Murray and his very bright YZ450F project.

The end result was a Yamaha that everyone was on board for. There were two really surprising aspects to this project. First, the increase in power didn’t make the bike any harder to ride. It was the opposite–the bike actually felt lighter when the engine became more lively. And, believe it or not, the 1.5mm engine relocation made a noticeable difference. For the full story, check out the July 2018  print edition of Dirt Bike.


The 2018 Yamaha YZ65 and the KTM 65SX.

Last week we tested the new Yamaha YZ65 with the help of Gunnar Townsend and Grayson Townsend. The biggest question on everyone’s mind is “how does the YZ stack up against the KTM 65SX,” which is the class champion. The two bikes are very similar. They both have a 45” wheelbase and a 0.9 gal fuel capacity. Both have six-speed gearboxes with nearly identical overall gear ratios.

Gunnar and Grayson Townsend compared the Yamaha YZ65 and the KTM 65SX.

One obvious difference is motor layout. The Yamaha motor is designed conventionally with the gearbox behind the crankshaft. The KTM’s is stacked vertically, with the crank directly above the main shaft and countershaft. This makes for a taller engine vertically, but one that’s shorter from front to rear. Both motors have powervalves, but the KTM’s is operated by engine vacuum, whereas the Yamaha’s is driven by a mechanical ball-ramp. The clutch on the Yamaha,  is cable operated, whereas the KTM’s is hydraulic, with a Formula master cylinder. Formula also makes the brakes for the KTM, while the Yamaha’s are Nissin. Both bikes have rear shocks that are connected directly to their swingarm without linkage, but have very different forks. The KTM has a WP AER 35 air fork with adjustable rebound damping. The Yamaha has a coil-spring KYB with adjustable compression and rebound.

The Yamaha YZ65 will sell for $4599, and the KTM is $400 more.

The two bikes are amazingly powerful. In a roll-on acceleration test, we found that the KTM might have the slightest advantage in peak power. In mid-range power, they are the same. The Yamaha has a much larger carburetor (a 28mm Keihin as opposed to a 24mm Mikuni), and the motor will hesitate if the throttle is opened too quickly at low rpm. Our test riders felt the Yamaha was slightly larger. The YZ65 has the same seat height, but it’s a little wider and about 10 pounds heavier. The Yamaha also has slower steering geometry. The test riders felt that the KTM’s overall handling was a little nervous, whereas the YZ was very stable. The full story will appear in the July issue of DB.


The Campbell family just came back from a trailride with Tarah Gieger. Here are some fun facts about Tarah:

  • Shes the first woman to land a backflip.
  • She’s the only woman to compete in the Motocross des Nations (riding for Puerto Rico)
  • She’s the most decorated female athlete in the X Games.

Johnny put together a cool little video clip that makes us want to go trail riding:

“I was so amazed at how well the 250L handled in all the conditions we rode. With a very comfortable riding position and forgiving suspension. I thought I might override its abilities with my experience on rough and rocky trails but I never once felt like it was lacking anywhere. I had a blast on the bike all day in all sorts of different terrain.” — Tarah Gieger


Las Vegas will host the last round of the  2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series tomorrow, and all three championships will be decided. That’s pretty special. Jason Anderson has to get 10th or better to take the 450 class if Marvin Musquin wins. Aaron Plessinger and Zach Osborne lead the west and east 250 classes, and they will have to race each other in the 250 Showdown. Remember what happened last year? Adam Cianciarulo won, but the real fireworks were a few places back, where Zach Osborne cleaned out Joey Savatgy for the number one plate. Here’s how they all stack up:

1 21 Jason Anderson Rio Rancho, NM 338
2 25 Marvin Musquin CLERMONT, FL 324
3 3 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO 292
4 10 Justin Brayton Mint Hill, NC 264
5 4 Blake Baggett Grand Terrace, CA 264
6 34 Weston Peick Menifee, CA 235
7 15 Dean Wilson Clermont, FL 193
8 20 Broc Tickle Holly, MI 184
9 2 Cooper Webb Newport, NC 181
10 51 Justin Barcia Greenville, FL 163
11 27 Malcolm Stewart Haines City, FL 159
12 55 Vince Friese Cape Girardeau, MO 155
13 22 Chad Reed Dade City, FL 147
14 69 Tyler Bowers Lake Elsinore, Ca 146
15 14 Cole Seely Newbury Park, CA 124
16 60 Benny Bloss Oak Grove, MO 123
17 32 Christian Craig Orange, CA 115
18 94 Ken Roczen Clermont, FL 102
19 39 Kyle Cunningham Willow Park, TX
20 33 Joshua Grant Wildomar, CA
250 WEST
1 23 Aaron Plessinger Hamilton, OH 196
2 92 Adam Cianciarulo New Smyrna Beach, FL 183
3 17 Joey Savatgy Thomasville, GA 174
4 28 Shane Mcelrath Canton, NC 172
5 40 Chase Sexton Clermont, FL 150
6 1 Justin Hill Yoncalla, OR 128
7 11 Kyle Chisholm Valrico, FL 124
8 30 Mitchell Harrison Tallahassee, FL 115
9 32 Christian Craig Orange, CA 106
10 54 Phillip Nicoletti Bethel, NY 94
11 63 Hayden Mellross Clermont, FL 88
12 68 Justin Starling Deland, FL 82
13 52 Mitchell Oldenburg Alvord, TX 75
14 53 Bradley Taft Nixa, MO 64
15 42 Dakota Alix Jay, VT 61
16 59 Cole Martinez Rimrock, AZ 39
17 992 Jean Ramos Corona, CA 39
18 67 Justin Hoeft Castaic, CA 31
19 902 Killian Auberson Corona, CA 31
20 137 Martin Castelo Murrieta, CA 29
250 EAST
1 1 Zach Osborne Abingdon, VA 180
2 45 Jordon Smith Belmont, NC 165
3 6 Jeremy Martin Millville, MN 157
4 35 Austin Forkner Richards, MO 137
5 38 Luke Renzland Hewitt, NJ 109
6 76 Kyle Peters Greensboro, NC 107
7 43 Sean Cantrell Murrieta, CA 96
8 114 Brandon Hartranft Brick, NJ 89
9 56 Anthony Rodriguez Cairo, GA 72
10 57 John Short Pilot Point, TX 58
11 36 Rj Hampshire Wesley Chapel, FL 57 1
12 31 Colt Nichols Muskogee, OK 54
13 29 Martin Davalos Clermont, FL 53
14 49 Nick Gaines Ringgold, GA 51
15 47 James Decotis Peabody, MA 49
16 174 Joshua Osby Valparaiso, IN 49
17 373 Jacob Williamson Swartz Creek, MI 49
18 206 Thomas Ramette Guilherand, France – Metropolitan 44
19 570 Cody Vanbuskirk Harvard, IL 43
20 64 Michael Mosiman Sebastopol, CA 40


The Dominican Republic hosted the Machete Hard Enduro last weekend. South African Wade Young young was the winner over Graham  Jarvis and the young Manuel Lettenbichler. Cody Webb was fourth.


Cody Webb has been getting a lot of attention after winning the 2018 FIM World SuperEnduro Championship. The organizers put together this tribute to Cody last week.

That’s all for now!

–Ron Lawson




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