I recently had the chance to ride the 2015 YZ 450F at three different tracks over three days. Different tracks, different layouts, different dirt and this bike worked great on all of them. I am very surprised by how much I like this bike.
I immediately felt comfortable with how the 2015 YZ 450F handles. It turns well AND is stable at speed; this is a hard combo to find. Both ends of the bike have great traction, like it is stuck to the ground. The bike doesn’t feel particularly light or heavy, I would say average for a 450 on the track. The suspension also felt great, especially for a stock bike, but I can’t comment too much because all the tracks I rode it on were relatively smooth. Let’s just say with the riding I’ve done on it I’m very impressed.
The YZ 450 has a super strong engine. For me it comes off the bottom perfectly – strong, but smooth. The power delivery almost has an electric feel, it’s hard to be in the wrong gear in any situation. I felt it was easier to run a gear higher on this bike than mine (2014 KTM 450 SX-F), I could carry third and roll the throttle on with no clutch where my bike would be a little boggy if I were to do the same thing in the same corner.
To me the cockpit feels very cramped, kind of like a Suzuki. The adjustable bar mounts did help, but I didn’t get to ride enough different tracks to see how having them in the front position will change the bike’s handling. I would need to make some changes to make the ergos comfortable and not cramped for me. The bike does feel a little wide, I didn’t mind this though, the “wideness” made the bike seem easier to grip with my knees.
The Weird Yamaha Exclusive Stuff
Alright let’s face the facts, this is a great bike, but having a backwards engine does lead to some weirdo stuff only the Yamaha has. First with the odd airbox location you can hear it sucking in air, which isn’t horrible, but takes some getting used to. Airbox removal is odd and it feels like something is going to break every time you pull the top of the shrouds off. I imagine this plastic will wear and need to be replaced to snap into place properly at some point. Putting gas in this bike is also odd, popping off the little part of seat. This little piece of foam is another thing that I think will need to be freshened up at some point as it already is showing wear after less than 10 hours of ride time.
I can see why the YZ 450F won the 2015 PPS Moto 450 Shootout. It is an amazing bike that doesn’t have many faults. I have ridden a lot of bikes – a lot of GOOD bikes, this is one of the only bikes that I have hopped on and felt comfortable with the handling and power delivery right away. I really like this bike and if I were looking at a new bike, it would definitely be at the top of my list.