WHAT WAS NEW
Yamaha shelved the carbureted version of the WR450
and refit a fuel-injected version of the engine into the chassis of a 2012 YZ250F. That machine was always touted as
one of the best handlers on the planet with its perimeter
aluminum frame. The combo motor powered by an electric-starter and a Keihin-based FI could be stripped of all
its button starting if a serious weight fanatic flew the blue
flag. The battery and starter on the WR tipped the scales
around 20 pounds.
To meet the government’s noise and emission require-
ments, the standard machine is fit with a throttle stop
and pencil-sized exhaust baffle. In this trim, the machine
is hardly fit to make a trip to 7-Eleven. By installing a YZ
throttle stop and removing the baffle, you lose the bike’s
green-sticker status and make it competition only—but it’s
still super quiet and runs quite strong.
Yamaha beefed up the suspension, using a version of
KYBs that were eerily similar to the superb dampers from
the MX line. They kept the machine thin and the gas tank
rather small at 2 gallons. The lines through the saddle and
airbox were smooth and ergonomically friendly. It had a
superb electronic odometer, enduro lighting, a side-access
air filter, strong O-ring chain and a long-lasting (though
anchor-heavy) steel rear sprocket.
In the cockpit, Yamaha fit the WR with Pro Tapers, an
AOF clutch perch, and nice enduro buttons, but they failed
to include handguards. The bike does come with an alu-
minum sidestand, though, to be honest, it lacks the tuck-
and-hide feature necessary to be truly enduro-ready.
The WR450F is a beefy boy, nudging the scales at a
hefty 262 pounds, sans petrol, but it feels much lighter.
The machine is very narrow and feels very race-oriented.
You don’t get the idea that this is a foof trail bike. It’s more
like a YZ250F with a big, electric-start motor. Cornering
is its strength, and it hunts, hits and sticks with minimal
input. It feels short and quick, and, honestly, the belch and
Yamaha shoehorned the new fuel-injected (last year) powerplant into a modified YZ250 chassis. It’s nimble, ergonomically
sound and very quiet even in its modified state (muffler plug
and throttle stop removed). As far as enduro/off-road accoutrements, it has good enduro lighting, a resettable and easy-to-read odo and a nice plastic skid plate. Too bad they forgot to
give it handguards!