Off Road

Bike Launch – 2012 Yamaha WR 450

Author: Aaryn Minerds

Author: Aaryn Minerds


Bike Launch – 2012 Yamaha WR 450
The Intro With the release of the all new Yamaha WR450, was invited to head along to the press launch being held In Coffs Harbour NSW.

Having never been on an organised trail ride before and not having my L's for Road bikes, it was a launch I thought I was going to miss. After a chat to the boss and with a bit of time up my sleeve, I sent an email back to Sean Goldhawk at Yamaha letting him know I would be attending, if I could pass my riding licence!

The pressure was on , I headed out a couple of weeks later to the testing range and went through the half day course and with my heart rate beating at a million beats a minute nailed my riding test, well nearly, catching 3 points on the second to last test, I was allowed 20.

With my new licence in hand I boarded a plane and headed to Coffs Harbour , to meet up with the guys from Yamaha, Boris and his team for the Detour guided trails tour company, who would be leading us around Dorrigo and the surrounding areas, and a selection of other media who where were also along for the ride.

What's New

The Tuesday night on arrival was all about the presentation of the new bike. So what is new on the 2012 WR450? The short answer is just about everything.

The bike is pretty much all new from the ground up, the biggest change and also improvement on the bike would have to be the new bilateral beam frame , which was built in conjunction with the bikes little nephew , the YZ250F. Yep the WR450 was sharing a very similar frame as the nimble light little four stroke motocrosser. The new frame sees the bike sitting lower with a reduced seat height for 2012.
Bike Launch – 2012 Yamaha WR 450
The new WR450 now runs the same type of Bilateral beam frame as the YZ250F
The Engine has also had a major upgrade, most notably the addition of Fuel injection with a 42mm throttle body added to the already reliable and well liked five valve engine, which has been part of the WR 450 since its inception. Along with the fuel injection the engine also received a host of other updates including, A newly designed Cylinder head, new Crankcase and crankshaft and Balance Shaft to name a few.

The power delivery of the new Engine can now be match to each individual riders riding style or the type of riding they are undertaking thanks to the option of the Yamaha Power tuner. The tuner also allows owner to run diagnostic checks and can also help with the identification of malfunctions if they were to occur. The Power tuner comes with a choice of different maps built in as well as the ability for users to build their own maps to suit their personal preference.

The reduced fuel usage from the use of the new Fuel injection system has allowed Yamaha to reduce the size of the fuel tank with a 7.2 Litre fuel tank fitted and the addition of a fuel warning light that comes on when the fuel level drops to below 2 Litres, this addition will come in handy while riding in the bush miles from nowhere.

Radiator capacity has been increased by roughly 5% helping with cooling and performance, the exhaust system has also been redesigned to help with performance with a longer pipe with an addition of a Power Bomb resonator to help the flow of exhaust gases.

The Suspension has been upgraded all round with the WR now coming standard with the same forks you would find on the YZ range of Yamaha's , running the motocross suspension with settings designed for use in the off road world.

The Standard tyres that come on the WR450 are the Bridgestone Gritty, though the tyres used on our ride were, a Dunlop D952 120-80-18 on the rear and a Metzeler six days extreme 90-90-21 on the front.

The new WRF comes in full ADR requirement spec, though a free competition enduro kit will also be included with every purchase, which includes

.A compact front brake master cylinder kit
.Braided steel front brake line
.Cycra handguards
.Rear brake light switch
.Competition GYTR exhaust Muffler tip
.LED Tail light and licence plate holder
.Brake Snake
.13/50 sprocket set
.Wiring for power tuner
- (Power Tuner is an optional extra )
Bike Launch – 2012 Yamaha WR 450
The trails ridden over the two day's supplied the perfect mix of conditions and surfaces to really test the capabilities of the new WR450. - Photo Credit: Ikapture
How does it ride

That is the big question and a question we were given every opportunity to answer. Before I go to far I will remind everyone that this was my first organised trail ride, I have spent a bit of time riding in the bush with a few off road races in SA, but trail riding is something that is new to me.

The new WR450 to sit on felt larger than the bikes I am used to though I do spend most of my time riding motocross bikes. It had a wide feeling through the front, not uncomfortably wide, but wide enough to be noticeable. In stationary mode you could feel the weight of the bike, not excessively heavy in the set up we were running them in, which was with the full competition mode with the competition kit added and all extra ADR compliant parts taken off that were not needed for the ride.

The overall feel was quite comfortable, the lowered ride height had me sitting on the bike with both feet able to touch the ground which gave me a sense of comfort and would come in handy over the two days riding.

Taking off we spent the first part of the ride on slightly winding roads on our trip to the real riding which lied ahead. The bike was smooth and comfortable to ride on the road. I could actually envisage myself riding one of these to work everyday, well could at that stage, work now is a walk down a hallway, I doubt the wife would be happy with me making that trip each day on a WR450!

Hitting the bush for the first time I was a little nervous, not only was I contending with a new bike and a new type of riding but there was also something called the "corner man system" that I had to get my head around! Thankfully Boris and the guys from Detour were true professionals and had me covered and confident with the duty within a few minutes into the trail.

The bike was really was pleasant to ride in the bush, weather it be wide open trails, tight single trail, slippery wet clay, rocky washed out hill climbs or nasty looking water crossing the WR pulled this rookie trail rider though everything, with the only mishap being a get off up a hill climb that was probably a little out of my league, though with the help and advice from Ikapture (Greg Smith) and Adam Reimann I was able to remount and make it to the top on my second attempt.
Bike Launch – 2012 Yamaha WR 450
The pristine grass track provided the perfect testing ground for the Yamaha power tuner - Photo Credit: Ikapture
The new fuel injected engine played a bit part in making all sections of the trail a relative ease to concur, the smooth roll on , predictable power delivery was confidence inspiring in every condition, some of the uphill single trail sections we rode up I would have never imagined I could ride before the day started but the WRs tractable power had me powering up to the top on every occasion.

Early in the ride we were lucky enough to ride a freshly carved grass track at the Detour trail companies’ home base. It was an eight hundred meter piece of heaven which I could have easily spent all day riding. The track gave the perfect opportunity to test out the Power Tuner and some of the different settings available.

I am glad to say the Power Tuner really does help to find the perfect power delivery for each individual rider, the difference in settings is noticeable especially when changing the settings from one extreme to another. After just a few, ok a lot of laps around the track I settled on a setting that I did not again change for the two days of riding, a setting dubbed the Aussie.

Probably my biggest fear coming into the ride was the prospect of the water crossings catching me out and pulling me in to a wet and embarrassing end! I am glad to say I managed not to drown the bike, though there was at least one close call, all due to bad technique.

Heading towards the biggest and deepest crossing of the two days, I got the confidence up and was standing up on the pegs ready for the water, half way across I panicked and sat down which was a bad idea, It was at that point I realised that this bike was not all that heavy whilst in motion, I was sure I was going down at this point in time, however a little bit of luck combined with a little throttle and the little amount of strength I had seen me safely on the other side of the crossing.

I had already learnt on the first day that Creek or river crossings were not the only way to get drenched while trail riding, Pouring rain for the 30 minute road commute at the end of day one was a much easier way to get drenched , or riding to close behind a fellow rider who gets bogged in a deep mud hole. Trust me sitting inches from their back wheel as the open the throttle wide open does wonders for your new set of predominately white fronted riding gear!
Bike Launch – 2012 Yamaha WR 450
The exact moment that I thought I was going swimming, somehow both the WR and myself made it to the other side upright - Photo Credit: Ikapture
Overall Thoughts

Overall the WR was a pleasure to ride on the trail, the motocross spec KYB forks had the bike acting and handling like a nimble motocross bike, the power delivery was nothing short of sensational, the feel of the bike while riding was rock steady and was able to pull me through some of the toughest riding situations I have encountered.

The one thing that had me pre occupied over the two days was how much would it take to turn this bike from bush warrior to Motocross racer. The new look to the bike has it looking like a MX bike. Stripping the WR down to its bare essentials would have the bike looking like a slightly oversized YZ250F, which is a bike I have enjoyed on the race track.

I could really see myself with one of these new Yamaha WR450s sitting in the shed being used for my newly found interest in Trail riding, then being stripped down and raced in local off road events and the occasional motocross meeting. Don’t get me started on a set of 17inch wheels with slicks! This new bike really could be a versatile bike used for almost any purpose.

A shout out

A big shout out has to go to Boris and his team from the Detour organised trail tour company, I would highly recommend anyone looking for a great trail adventure to hit these guys up for a multi day ride, Boris has an intimate knowledge of the area and knows every trail and can tailor a ride to anyone’s level of riding.

The food and accommodation for the two days was first rate and healthy, well apart from the chocolates that occasionally made an appearance. It was my first trail ride and after the introduction given thanks to Yamaha and the guys and girls at Detour I will be looking forward to a lot more trail riding in the future.

Main Photo: The new Fuel Injected Yamaha WR450
Photo Credit: Ikapture

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