Yamaha’s YZ motocrossers may be a step ahead of the WR by sporting such trickery as the KYB Speed-Sensitive System cartridge fork, but the WR is no slouch in the suspension department. Up front, its fully adjustable KYB 48mm cartridge-type fork delivers 11.8 inches of plush, controlled travel, while its KYB piggyback reservoir shock matches the fork’s performance with 11.6 inches of travel. The shock is adjustable for high- and low-speed compression damping as well as rebound damping and spring preload. The shock is mated to a tapered swingarm that uses YZ-style linkage to keep the rear suspension compliant whether hammering across adobe-baked whoops or plowing through sand.
Hauling the WR down from speed are to wave-style brake discs designed to reduce unsprung weight. Both the front and rear calipers feature aluminum pistons and offer plenty of stopping power with a linear feel, and the front brake lever is adjustable to tailor the braking feel to rider preference. The brakes are mounted to stout hubs laced to high-quality Excel rims measuring 21 inches in diameter up front and the off-road standard 18 inches in the rear (vs. a 19-inch rear for motocrossers). The wheels feature collars that make wheel removal quick and easy, bonus in events where pit stops to change tires may be necessary. The WR’s Dunlop tires offer consistent grip and feel regardless of terrain.
There are a lot of other neat details to appreciate on the WR as well. Chief among them is a digital enduro computer that offers basic speedometer, clock and tripmeter functions as well as a “race mode” with more advanced, enduro competition-worthy functions such as a timer, distance-compensating tripmeter and average speed. The computer is mounted on the WR’s triple clamp, which is forged rather than cast. Other WR-specific off-road equipment includes one-piece plastic skid plate shaves weight while still offering the engine cases a measure of protection from rocks and a s 35-watt headlight and LED taillight designed to maximize visibility while drawing a minimum of electrical current. Lastly, the WR’s air filter maintenance is facilitated by tool-less removal.
For a retail price of $8290, the Yamaha WR450F represents a lot of bang for the buck in the Open-class off-road world. Attributes such as zippy motor performance, excellent handling and plush suspension make it competitive right out of the crate. Its electric start and comfortable ergonomics all but assure that you’ll be able to enjoy hours of off-road fun with your pals during any off-road adventure.
And if a race should happen to break out, we’re betting on blue.