For 2017, Yamaha has continued to push the envelope as the leading Japanese manufacture to offer a variety of closed-course competition off-road motorcycles. Their lineup includes the YZ250X (two-stroke), YZ250FX, and YZ450FX; all of which are considered by Yamaha to be GNCC/woods-ready racers, based off of their flagship motocross models. For our initial impressions of these models, the Dirt Rider crew headed out to our testing grounds in order to learn more about what the Yamaha YZ-X motorcycles have to offer.
Much like the 250FX counterpart, the 450FX has also acquired some beneficial changes for 2017. Both models witnessed the removal of the kick-start assembly for weight reduction savings, new fuel and engine warning indicator lights hidden behind the front number plate, and revised suspension settings to aid in better handling.
This engine is not for the faint of heart! It is an absolute monster that has a ton power that might be a tad much for the average rider, especially when out for a casual trail ride. Compared to the rest of the X models, this bike seems to relate to its little brother 250FX the most, by being quick revving and very snappy, but with double the power output. We feel that the 450FX is best suited for aggressive and competitive riders/racers who will appreciate its raw power output and capability to go fast. In low traction situations, it is beneficial to bust out the Yamaha Power Tuner to dial in a mellower hit by adding fuel or retarding the ignition in the beginning of the power.
Although Yamaha did revise suspension settings for the new year, the 450FX still requires some fine tuning to become more comfortable. In general, we feel this bike can be twitchy at speed… and because of the motor you tend to be “at speed” a lot! The forks seemed a little harsh in the initial part of the stroke, but quickly became more compliant the harder and faster you rode. One of our testers noticed that this bike really transferred a lot of harshness into their hands at lower speeds, making it harder to hold on as the day progressed. On the flip side, the rear shock was very solid and predictable. It did not wallow, and felt consistent throughout the stroke.
The weight of this motorcycle is deceiving. One would assume, especially when lifting this bike on/off a stand, that it would feel like a tank when on the trail. But this is definitely not the case with the 450FX. It shows a nimbleness and finesse that can be surprising when a rider keeps up their momentum. But the slower you go, the more the weight and size of this bike becomes evident. Straight-line stability is the stand out handling feature for the 450FX, as it allows you to eat up short and long sprints without hesitation. Like the little sibling 250FX, this bike has a very wide cockpit that does not assist in making the bike feel any smaller. Our test riders agreed that if the radiator shrouds went on a diet to become a little more narrow, it would help translate into a more agile feeling motorcycle.