2019 Yamaha YZ450F Review: First Ride At Glen Helen
We took the 2019 Yamaha YZ450F out on the brutal Glen Helen Raceway track for some race-pace laps.Although the updates for the YZ450F are minimal this year, it’s always worth finding out how the changes work on an already proven motocross motorcycle.
1. For 2019 the YZ 450F has small changes. After a total revision in 2018 where the bike was pretty much new from the ground up, it’s not surprising to only see only a few revisions for 2019. Changes include stiff suspension settings, a more efficient electric starting system, increased rigidity at the front axle area, a firmer seat, and one tooth added to the rear sprocket.2. The stiffer front axle improves cornering noticeably. We didn’t expect to really feel much with those simple changes—new wheel collar, fork lugs, and axle brackets—but we where wrong. Riding the 2019 back to back with the ’18, the ’19 feels much more stable at turn entry. The Dunlop Geomax MX3S front tire is more planted, providing confidence to push it harder into corners.3. The firmer settings for the 2019 Yamaha YZ450F are to our liking. We have tested a number of Yamahas over the last few years and one constant is always there—great suspension. That especially holds true for the KYB SSS (Speed-Sensitive Suspension) fork. We have yet to ride a stock bike that is close.4. As you would expect from any modern 450 MX bike the YZ 450F is very powerful. With the stock map, it pulls hard off the bottom to the point where it is on the abrupt side. That’s great for deep soft turns. However, it can be a handful in other areas. From there, the midrange pulls strong into an average top end with not a lot of over rev.5. You can change the engine mapping, and a lot more, from your smartphone via WiFi using an included app. Just download the Yamaha Smartphone Power Tuner app onto your Android or iOS device. Using the app, you can change mapping, log race settings, check run time, maintenance records and check codes. We found it to be super easy to change maps, even for us less tech savvy people. For those who are able to spend more time with it, you can even build your own custom maps for different tracks and conditions. We really like this feature!6. We installed the Travis Preston Map, which is very popular among YZ450F riders, and we liked it. There isn’t a huge difference, but it seemed to take some of that abruptness out of the coroners and let the motor rev more freely all the way through the powerband. The engine felt smoother while also faster.7. Electric start is appreciated, and updated this year. Over the years four strokes have become easier to kickstart—especially in the EFI era. However, in the heat of battle, if you stall the motor, it still costs more position when you’re kickstarting than e-starting. Even when we’re in the pits, we just plain would rather push a button than kick a 450cc bike. According to Yamaha the updated starting system has less drag on the motor, but we couldn’t feel that.8. The 2019 Yamaha YZ 450F retains a comfortable chassis. Last year, Yamaha thinned down the chassis, making it more comfortable and easy to move around on. For 2019, nothing was changed in that area. While it is neither the smallest nor lightest 450 out there, right away we were felt at home and confident in the bike. Our test riders are all on the larger side, and the YZ450F suits them well.9. The YZ450F is ready to hit the track right from the showroom floor. With Dunlop MX3S tires, a ProTaper handlebar, Excel rims, comfortable grips, grippy seat cover (over firmer foam this year) and quality footpegs, there is not much needed. Plus, you can custom tune the power from your smartphone or tablet.10. Yamaha offers the 2019 YZ450F in a choice of two colors—choose wisely. We really like the standard is blue with its blue rims and blue valve cover. However, we also tested the white version, which is also striking with its black rims and valve cover, and teal accents. The white version should look better longer, as the blue can lose that new look pretty fast even though both feature the durable embedded graphics.11. The 2019 Yamaha YZ450F is available now, and runs $100 more than last year.Ty Cullins and Brandon Krause contributed to this review.Photography by Brandon KrauseRIDING STYLE
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