Dune Champ – The YFZ 450R

Dune Champ – The YFZ 450R

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2013.yamaha.yfz450r.black.front.riding.on-sand.jpgYamaha brought a truck load of their sport ATVs to Glamis, and I was determined to ride them all.  After a great day on the awesome Raptor 700, I really didn’t want to give up the easy riding dune monster, but I thought I should get in some quality time with YFZ 450R as well.  

The YFZ 450R was designed above all else to bring home championships, which it has been enormously successful at doing.  Not every rider is a pro level racer, however, and there are probably more YFZs on the trails and dunes than on the track.  After all, those same features that make it a winner on the track also make it excellent on the trails.

Yamaha went with their proprietary casting technology when they designed the YFZ 450R, and every part of the chassis other than the lower frame rails is cast aluminum.  The lower frame rails remain high-strength steel tubing to retain flexibility, but also because the steel tubing allows for a lower motor placement and lower overall center of gravity of the entire machine.  Long travel suspension is found at both ends, along with high volume shocks that offer preload, high and low speed compression, and rebound adjustability.       

Powering the YFZ 450R is a 449cc, 4-Stroke, Liquid Cooled, Titanium 5-Valve DOHC engine which is unique in that the oil reservoir is carried within the engine cases rather than in an external tank.  From the castings on up, the engine was designed for the rigors of racing and power output is outstanding.  The ergonomics of the YFZ 450R were designed for high-speed action as well with an aggressive, charging riding position that feels very natural.  Yamaha completes the package with a narrow tank area, extra wide footpegs, and a large “T-bone” seat which is comfortable whether you are sitting on it or hanging off the side railing a corner.  2013.yamaha.yfz450r.close-up.engine.jpg

Riding the dunes at Glamis is a little like being able to steer the rollercoaster.  It’s an absolute blast, and as much as I loved the sometimes lazy, sometimes throttle to the stops ride on the Raptor 700R the day before, I was really looking forward to seeing what the YFZ 450R would have in the sand.  I was not disappointed. 

Riding the YFZ 450R in the sand is like taking everything the Raptor 700R does so well and ratcheting it up a gear or two.  It’s light, it’s nimble, it shifts perfectly, and it flies effortlessly.  The engine from the YFZ 450R never lacks for power, although you will find yourself shifting a little more often to stay at the perfect point in the powerband, but response from the engine is outstanding.  It both sounds and feels excellent in the sand.  With a wider wheelbase, it also slides extremely well with a shift of your body weight, and it’s very predictable.  Point it where you want to go, pin the throttle, and you’ll be carving huge bowls in no time.  At the end of day two in the dunes, I had the same problem I did after day one; I didn’t want to give the YFZ 450R back.  The YFZ 450R is an outstanding performance ATV that makes you feel like a pro, and it will make any rider better.

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May 20, 2013