The list of updates for 2020 is long, has it made this new YZ 450F a better bike?
STORY SHANE BOOTH PHOTOGRAPHY MARC JONES
Yamaha have been busy developing a long list of changes for their premier class MX weapon, the YZ 450F. While it’s not claimed to be an all new bike, the changes are much more than bold new graphics, that’s for sure. We had the chance to spend a day on the bike at Cheyne Boyd’s Park 4 MX track, just outside Melbourne, Victoria. The crew from Yamaha Motor Australia laid it on for us; we had technical staff from in-house along with the full CDR team on hand to help us with bike setup, mapping and everything else in between.
First things first, what is new on this bike. Well it’s more a case of what isn’t. It’s had a complete overhaul, there isn’t much that has been left alone. At a glance it doesn’t look like a completely new bike when compared to the 2019 model, sure new graphics and an interesting grey option if you like but it doesn’t have any major line changes in plastic and design. In my opinion not a bad thing, I think the YZ looks good and it didn’t necessarily need a major facelift. So back to the question I asked, what’s new? Here’s the rundown of the major changes.
While not totally new it has had some major updates, the biggest being a rearward slanted cylinder and all new, more compact and lighter head. This new design also helps improve mass centralisation improving handling characteristics. There is also a new higher compression bridge-box design piston and new aggressive cam profiles.
The aluminium bilateral frame receives thinner main spars together with thicker bottom tubes and updated engine mounts. These changes aimed at sharpening up the handling and have also slightly reduced the weight of the frame.
There have been several small tweaks to the front end of the bike to improve rider feel, and cornering. The top triple clamp, front axle and handlebar mounts have all been re-designed and are also lighter. The standard handlebar position is 15mm further forward and 5m lower, than in 2019. Although this is adjustable.
The 2020 YZ has received redesigned brake calipers both front and rear. The front brake receives new pads that offer a larger contact area and compound paired with a redesigned, lighter 270mm front disc. The rear brake also has a new redesigned disc to go with the new caliper.
DUAL MAP SWITCH
The new YZ450F gets a dual map switch on the handlebar to allow riders to preload 2 maps via the smartphone tuning app then switch between them on the fly.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Tech stuff and theory aside let’s talk about what it’s like to have a 2020 YZ450F. Well straight up they are a clean looking beast. Took me a bit to take to the blue rims last year but I think I have now.
The smart phone tuning system really is impressive and there is nothing else that comes close as far as ease of tuning along with the other features that help you keep track of service intervals and run times. It’s simple and easy to use and right now Yamaha owns that field, no doubt about it. The addition of a dual map switch on the handlebar for 2020 is a great addition, allowing you to have 2 maps loaded and choose between them on the fly. Not new tech that’s for sure but a welcomed addition to the YZ 450F. There are 4 switches on the handlebars now so that is getting a little crowded, you have a start button, kill switch, launch control and dual map switch. Speaking of launch control, it’s there and functions well, helping you get off the line, manage a wheelie and get the power to the ground. Practice using it and you’ll learn it’s characteristics and it will help you manage your starts for sure.
The new handlebar position and firmer seat are all positives for me. The bike is easy to move around on and riding position is good. The handlebar mounts have multiple options available to personalise your riding position.
Electric start that works flawlessly and seems like a given but still isn’t standard across all bike in the class yet.