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By: Jason Giacchino
Email: offthepegs @ atvsource.com

November 2008 - Off The Pegs

Spying on the 2009 YFZ450R





With 2008 winding down to its final few months, I’ve been spending abundant time on and around the 2009 race ATVs--too much time my fiancé is quick to remind. Even as the weather in New York has been steadily deteriorating, the excitement being generated by the upcoming model releases is enough to keep me warm and fuzzy well into the cold dark months of winter.

While its initial announcement took place a few months ago now, Yamaha’s all new YFZ450R is finally creeping across the country through dealer networks at the time of this article’s writing. Now, I don’t know about you, but this is one of those machines that has not only captured my interest but has me up early making phone calls and waiting in line at the local dealerships for a sneak peak. No, I haven’t had an opportunity to log any saddle time (you can count on a full review once I do) but even from afar it appears the new 450R means business. Following are some of the observations, rumors, gossip, and suspicions I’ve managed to assemble from press releases, industry reps, dealers, and preliminary photos:

Recycled Soda Cans:
Taking a chapter from the Raptor 700, it appears the new YFZ will sport a three-piece cast aluminum frame that like the Can-Am DS450 series will use fasteners (rivets) rather than welds at the junctions.

Increased Width:
Yamaha wisely made the move to push the width of this motocross-specific ATV to the regulation maximum 50 inches. Nearly all of the next generation 450cc race quads are already (or are in the process of) running the full 50-inch width out-of-the-box stock eliminating the need of the consumer to purchase costly extended aftermarket A-arms.

Single Lower Frame Rail:
Taking a look just behind the front bumper reveals a very tricky single-frame rail design.    Not only does this setup reduce weight thanks to less material, it also allows for longer A-arms without sacrificed stability. It appears as though Yamaha has taken center of gravity and centralization of mass heavily into equation when laying out the YFZ450R’s geometry.





Redesigned Thumb Throttle:
Ever hear the term “Yama-thumb?” Apparently the factory has and redesigned  the thumb-throttle to accommodate the hoards of Yamaha riders out there who complained of stiffness, blisters, or numbness. With revised throw and ergonomics, not only has the throttle itself been tweaked but the lack of carburetion means an end to the rather heavy spring we used to find on the FCR carb which brings us to the next big update…

Fuel Injection:
Make no mistake, the ATV industry is a trendy place and not unlike the 2-stroke engine, the carburetor has all but fallen out of favor. In tune with this trend, Yamaha has done away with float bowls, needles, and seats in favor of microprocessors and fuel pumps.    Yes, the new YFZ450R will be fuel injected (leaving only Honda and KTM behind to fight the trend).

Saddle:
Despite the fact that it was once said that nobody wins sitting on their butt, Yamaha has developed a new seat that not only looks cool but appears quite functional as well. Like the Suzuki LTR450, the new YFZ’s seat shape fans out in the back but narrows to motorcycle-inspired proportions where it joins with the tank. We can’t help but wonder if these designs had been out earlier, could the derogatory nickname “couches” have been avoided when referring to ATVs?

Body Panels:
Not only does the stock seat cover come stock with a gripper material, the black body panels mated to the remaining plastic appears to be covered with the grippy pattern as well.

Bars:
You know the times are changing when the Japanese OEMs move away from generic in-house bars in favor of factory-mounted Pro Tapers. That’s exactly what you’ll find here.

Odds and Ends:
With all of the small details Yamaha has apparently considered then revised in effort to make the YFZ450R a more track-worthy successor to the standard YFZ450 (which will still be available, by the way) it’s rather surprising that they did not bother to include several racing requisites: Namely nerf bars or a tether cable/kill switch. While Austria’s KTM and Canada’s Can-Am have paved the way, the Japanese OEMs have proven themselves slower in adopting the trend. This is rather unfortunate as until these items are included from the factory, claims of a machine being race-ready off the showroom floor are simply false for a majority of racetracks across the country.


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