2012 YAMAHA YFZ450
Yamaha's own stellar YFZ450R sells for an incredible $8,599, and the lowest-priced 450 ($7,799) you can get your hands on is a base-model Can-Am DS450, which hasn't received an update since its introduction four model years ago. Honda's TRX450 ($7,999) is essentially a 2008 model, last updated in 2006, and the KFX450R ($8,099) also hasn't received any updates since its initial 2008 release. The LTR450 is not in production for 2012, and the Polaris 450 MXR and KTM 450's are in the same boat. Yamaha even dropped the YFZ450X for 2012- proving that this is a hard market for any manufacturer to market and sell a 450 sport machine. Why? We believe it's because people have a hard time paying extra money for a machine that is essentially the same as the used ones they can find for much cheaper. The 400 class will get you great sport performance at a cheaper price- Honda's 400X goes for $6,299, and Suzuki's fuel-injected LTZ400 will set you back $7,099. Both of these machines offer great trail-worthy performance with reverse, but won't get close to the high-revving, arm-stretching power of a 450 sport quad.
Thankfully, someone has been watching. The brains at Yamaha have been watching the market with a meticulous approach, and have brought a new sport machine to market. For months, every editor in the ATV industry buzzed about what it would be- a new Banshee replacement, a new Raptor 350- but Yamaha kept their lips sealed. What they introduced wasn't all-new, but it was groundbreaking- a high-performance 450 that is a full $1,000 cheaper than even the DS450, slated in between the 400X and LTZ400 price-wise. Think of it as a sport 450 for the price of a trail 400, minus reverse. Behold: the 2012 $6,799 YFZ450.
The 2012 YFZ450 comes with an engine that is just as high tech as any, but doesn't come equipped with EFI. Instead, its dual overhead-cam 5-valve engine is fed by-get this-a carburetor. After you ride it, you'll wonder why we even need EFI- this carb is jetted so spot-on, you would think there is no reason for the extra weight and expense. The YFZ450's engine makes power that competes with all the other 450s on the market- in fact, when we put the older model on our dyno, it even beat out the DS450 and TRX450 in peak horsepower. Now, with the increase in bottom end and midrange torque, it should be able to pull away from them easily, but we will wait for a shootout to cement that claim. By Yamaha's claims, the new YFZ450 engine will make between 1.7 and 6 horsepower more between 4 and 8,000 RPM, which is right in the usable part of its powerband. Not too shabby! A compression ration of 11.4:1 ensures you can safely run the YFZ450 on 91 octane pump gas with no detonation.
This machine has hit a home run. We always loved the older YFZ; it's nimble, light, quick, and in the right hands, can be a deadly racer. But what Yamaha has done here is separate the racing technology from what the core group of 450 riders really need- usable power, great handling, and most of all- and affordable price. At nearly $2000 less than its YFZ450R, Yamaha's 2012 YFZ450 is more than an entry-level 450: it's the first step in a revolution of high-performance, well-built, and lastly, far less expensive sport quads.
FOR THE FULL TEST, PICK UP A COPY OF THE DECEMBER ISSUE OF DIRTWHEELS MAGAZINE!
2012 YAMAHA YFZ450 SPECS
Engine type...Liquid-cooled w/ fan, 4-stroke, DOHC, 5 valves
Bore x Stroke...95mm x 63.4mm
Carburetion...42mm Mikuni BSR CV w/ TPS
Front...Double A-arm w/ KYB preload-adjustable shocks (9.1â€)
Rear...Swingarm w/ preload adjustable piggyback Showa shock (10.6â€)
Front...Dual 127mm hydraulic disc
Rear...Twin-piston caliper, 173mm hydraulic disc
Fuel Capacity...2.6 gal
Wet weight (Ready to Ride)...381 lbs