This year Yamaha was super secretive about its
machines in Kyushu, keeping the YZ450FM under wraps
until right before factory rider Yu Hirata rode it for practice.
Once it was out in the open, though, QC was all over it. At
first glance, nothing jumped out at us. However, upon further examination, a few things are definitely different. The
frame is all new and features larger down spars. The main
weld is father away from the swingarm pivot point, and the
engine mount tabs are now located in the rear of the head.
There is also a large support tube now visible, connecting
the rear down spars to the down spars located at the front
of the frame. The front top-engine mounting tabs are gone.
It’s safe to say the frame geometry has been altered drastically. The swingarm is very different in design compared
to our 2017 test machine and features a weld in the center
down the entire length of the design. We have seen two-piece designs that looked similar to this in the past. Rumor
has it that Kayaba AOSS forks will find their way onto the
2018 production models.
Hirata’s YZ450FM features all-new bodywork. The
radiator shrouds are a one-piece design, making the airbox cover a small piece located directly above the seat.
The side panels and the rear fender also have a new
In the engine department, the Yamaha has retained
its rearward-facing design, but the top end sits more
upright than on the 2017 production units. The upper
engine mounts are in different locations, and the lower
engine mounts have a different shape. The bottom end
is also different. Yamaha eliminated the kickstarter altogether, so it is an electric-start-only model, just like current KTMs and Husqvarnas. On the ignition side of the
cases, the outer cover has a different bolt pattern, and,
if you look above that, you can see lower mounts on the
radiators that weren’t on the 2017 model. Of course,
there are some unobtainable items on Hirata’s YZ450FM
that will never see a production line, but our sources say
this is a good foundation for what is coming in 2018.