We expect wild stuff from Yamaha. Every ear at new-model launch time, we line up
at the Yamaha counter expecting a dish of something crazy, something different and something
groundbreaking. The conditioning goes back
years with bikes like the 1998 YZ400F, the 2002
YZ250F and, most recently, the 2010 YZ450F. So
what do we get for 2013? How about a reverse-cylinder, fuel-injected, four-valve 450 with a twin-spar aluminum frame and an airbox located in
front of the gas tank? What’s that? You want
more? That’s just greedy.
Yes, the Yamaha YZ450F is the most radical,
most unconventional bike of 2013, but it’s not
attracting much attention. That’s because it’s
unchanged this year, and it has changed very little
since 2010. The current version of the Yamaha
450F was such a shocker when it was first
released that it almost deadened our new-bike
taste buds. It will take something downright
stunning to outdo 2010.
STOP AND LOOK
In case you’re desensitized to the point of thinking the
new YZ isn’t anything thrilling, a little review is in order.
The wildest aspect of the bike remains the reverse,
rearward-tilted cylinder, which is just as unconventional
today as when it was released in 2010. This was done for
two reasons. First, it allows straighter ports on both the
intake and exhaust when coupled with the top-mount airbox and “Tornado-style” snail exhaust pipe. Second, it
centers mass near the center of gravity. In theory, this
should make the bike feel lighter than it really is. There
are a number of other features that came in 2010, some
of which were a very big deal for Yamaha. The switch to
a four-valve head meant Yamaha had to abandon the
five-valve design it had made into a trademark.
Still radical in a very tame way