We spent much of this week testing various configurations of the 2021 Yamaha WR450F. The WR is a true-blue off-road bike, as recognized by the EPA. This year it got updated to the same platform as the current YZ450F, at least mechanically, but it’s a very different bike in terms of behavior.

The 2021 WR450F sells for $9799.

Making the WR into an off-road bike isn’t just about making the EPA happy. It’s about making the bike more appropriate for real off-road riding–not just racing. Yes, the bike is quiet–extremely quiet. It also gets a very different power delivery. It’s all done with the pipe and electronically. Then Yamaha went a little farther in consideration of what off-road guys might want. It has a radiator fan, a headlight, a taillight and an odometer. The suspension is softer, but the components are the same basic KYB units that come on the YZ450F motocross bike.
The required measurements for EPA approval are invisible–for the most part. The bike has no air pump, charcoal canister or O2 sensor, but it does still come with a throttle stop and an inner baffle. Yamaha still makes its customers remove the little pea shooter within the pipe and swap out the throttle stop in order to allow full throttle. It doesn’t especially make sense, but bureaucracy rarely does. The fuel delivery and spark advance are locked in place and there’s no compatibility with the Yamaha Power Tuner.

Pete Murray making very little noise aboard the WR450F.

The WR has a huge horsepower disadvantage compared to a full-race 450. It can’t pull through sand as well, can’t climb hills as easily and can’t keep up in wide open spaces. But, the tables turn on slower, tighter trails. That’s where horsepower isn’t always your friend and where the WR excels. You can gently roll the throttle open on a loose pile of rocks with a high expectation of forward motion. The WR’s suspension is also effective at dealing with rocks and stones. The bike’s one real short coming in that environment is a lean stumble down low. It can occasionally cough and die. To be fair, pretty much any 450 race bike does the same thing, but we hoped the WR to run better in that zone.

We had a 2021 YZ450FX for back-to-back comparison with our WR450F.

Off-road riders, in general, hate leaving anything alone. The kneejerk tendency for most WR owners will be to look for more power. It ain’t easy. Yamaha has done a very good job of encrypting the ECU so that it can’t be reprogrammed, and any other modifications will be of limited productivity. Yamaha’s accessory division has a solution. The $150 GYTR Competition Kit is a new ECU that isn’t locked and gives you the same mapping as the FX. We combined that with a Pro Circuit T-6 slip-on exhaust, which sells for $537, complete with spark arrester. Presto: the WR gains almost 20 horsepower. It runs even better than the YZ450FX, with a smoother transition off the bottom.With the Competition Kit and the slip-on, the WR is more difficult to manage in rocks and technical stuff.
If you want truly smooth, manageable power down low, you will have to dive into mapping. The Competition Kit is programmable, but you still need one more piece of the puzzle. The GYTR Communication Unit sells for another $300. This is the device that allows the ECU to talk to any smartphone via a wifi signal. It comes stock on every YZ four-stroke, but not on the WR. That opens up a whole world of opportunities. You can, for example, leave the stock quiet pipe in place and eliminate the low-end cough. You can also dial in the power for the Pro Circuit slip-on for a smoother low-end delivery. The Competition Kit, the Pro Circuit slip-on and the GYTR Communication unit add around $800 to the price of the WR, which starts off at $9799 ($100 more than the FX). We will have a one-on-one comparison between the WR450FR and the YZ450FX in the July print edition of Dirt Bike.

With the stock muffler, the WR can run much better, provided you have all the parts to use the Yamaha Power Tuner. Here’s the map we installed.


Trevor Stewart is one of our favorite people and we were delighted when he won the second moto of the World Two-Stroke Championship.  Whenever an off-road guy puts it to the motocross guys we love it! His bike was a borrowed YZ250 with an Athena 300 kit and he said it was one of the fastest bikes he’s ever ridden. Keep your eyes open for a Dirt Bike video featuring Trevor and a story in the July 2021 print edition of Dirt Bike.


Everyone has an app these days. Very few are worth the pixels and bytes they use, but we kinda like the Dunlop one that just came out. You can use it for redeeming contingency in GNCC and other off-road racing venues.


It seems weird to have GNCC races without Kailub Russell. He had been planning on racing some rounds of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series, but even that looks doubtful now. He was injured earlier this week while practicing. In the meantime, the GNCC world is getting huge turnouts. This weekend, April 17 and 18, the GNCC crowd is set to invade Union County, South Carolina for the second time this year. Right now, it’s anyone’s championship to earn or lose. Here’s how it looks:

Overall National Championship Standings:

  1. Benjamin Kelley (86)
  2. Josh Strang (83)
  3. Grant Baylor (80)
  4. Jordan Ashburn (70)
  5. Steward Baylor Jr. (67)
  6. Josh Toth (57)
  7. Jonathan Girroir (56)
  8. Craig DeLong (51)
  9. Ricky Russell (50)
  10. Cody Barnes (40)

As usual you can watch it live on RacerTV.com.


The Jimco Racing Silver State 300, the third race of Best In The Desert’s 2021 series, will run as planned from April 29 to May 2, 2021, north of Alamo, Nevada as the state begins to open up more fully.

Drawing for start position will be on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. The Jimco Racing Silver State 300 will feature a 300-mile point-to-point course open to cars and trucks, UTVs, motorcycles, and quads with the start line located 35 miles north of Alamo, Nevada on US-93 Freeway.

The event schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, April 14, 2021: Drawing for Start Positions (register before April 13, 2021, to be included in draw)
Wednesday, April 28, 2021: 12:00 PM PST Drivers Meeting Posted Online
Thursday, April 29, 2021: Time Trials for Classes 1000, 6100, 6200, 7200, Trick Trucks, Class 1500 & UTV Pro Turbo
Friday, April 30, 2021: Registration, Tech, and Contingency by Class (See details here)
Saturday, May 1, 2021: Race Day
Sunday, May 2, 2021: Awards Ceremony
Further details can be found on the event website: https://bitd.com/race-event/2021-silver-state-300/

Here’s how the Pro motorcycle standings look after the first event last month:

Nic Garvin (27) Fullerton, CA 83 83
Joseph Wasson (27) Scottsdale, AZ 79 79
Nic Colongeli (21) Hesperia, CA 76 76
Zane Roberts (21) Minden, NV 74 74
Hayden Hintz (21) Lakewood, CA 73 73
Jeff Trulove (35) Hesperia, CA 72 72
Danny Cooper (46) Las Vegas, NV 71 71

See you next week!

–Ron Lawson


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