throb aspect of the power are designed to improve traction rather than revving it hard and twisting the throttle like
it was the neck of a thief who just stole your iPhone.
As the speeds increase and the terrain gets nasty, the
WR stays predictable and stable. Yamaha’s focus on
using more current MX-based settings really helps the big
boy when the terrain gets hacked and the speeds get your
nose to run. For those of you who never rode the previous
version of the WR, it was whoppingly under-suspended
and limited to the tightest trails. With the YZ-based fork,
the bike can get on top of the bumps and build up some
speed. The shock is stiffer, too, and lets the bike hold
its gait through the rough stuff. There is a trade-off here,
though; the WR is no longer ultra plush over rocks and
trail, jerking in low gear.
The power is torquey, smooth and short. This makes
it super trail-friendly. It is easy for the rider to conquer
terrain, since it reacts like a tractor. Shifting is notchy at
best, and the clutch action is mediocre. The pull is quite
a bit stiffer than we prefer. Being a five-speeder doesn’t
hurt it in most off-road conditions, and fifth gear is just tall
enough to handle faster transfer zones. It is definitely more
violent than the older, carbureted WRs, though for an FI
bike it’s smooth and doesn’t lurch.
For riders demanding a bit more whack out of the
beast, Yamaha offers a competition kit—separate from the
bike itself. If you want a racer, you get a new CPU and a
throttle stop for $99. The CPU is traditionally a $399 part.
This definitely perks up the WR’s attitude, and if you add
a more flow-happy exhaust, like an FMF Q or Pro Circuit
5.1, you can retain a mellow sound and move the power
numbers up to a much more competitive level. The engine
still has a heavy flywheel feel, but with the Comp kit, it
runs smoother, harder, cooler and starts to laugh at the
bigger hill-climbs that haunt it in stock form.
Answer Pro Taper bars have a good
bend, the grips were both a love/hate
(depending on your hand size), the AOF
clutch is nice and the lack of handguards was a major groan.
The fuel-injected five-speeder is super
quiet, and some of the credit goes to
the header system, which is fit with
a mid-pipe canister that deflects the
exhaust note. It’s a button starter and
makes totally worthy power considering
its light bark.
Really strong bottom-to-mid power
highlights the powerband. Mated to
superb cornering traits, the handling
package is one that craves cornering,
both in the woods and more open trails.