Ride Review

Fullnoise.com.au 2020 Yamaha YZ450F Review

Author: Aaryn Minerds

Author: Aaryn Minerds


The 2020 Yamaha YZ450F
Yamaha has done it again, coming in a little under the radar with the number of changes they have made for their new 2020 Yamaha YZ450F.

With an invite in our email box, we made the trip to Melbourne airport for the launch of the Yamaha's latest version of their very popular YZ450F race bike.

Being held at the Park Royal Hotel that sits adjacent of the actual Melbourne airport terminal, Yamaha's Marketing Manager for Motorcycles and ATV's Sean Goldhawk took us through all the updates with a host of changes being made to what we thought was an already great well-rounded package.

With a focus on giving the bike and improved front end feel and grip and even more usable power delivery the 2020 Yamaha YZ450F has been redesigned to provide a lighter, more powerful, and better handling motocross experience. The new 449cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, electric start engine features an all-new compact and lighter cylinder head with redesigned combustion chamber shape, steeper valve angles and more aggressive cam profiles.
With a focus on an even better power delivery and more front end feel in the turns, the 2020 is even a more well rounded package and will once again suit the majority of riders out there
The rearward-slanted cylinder houses a higher compression piston with low friction rings attached to a longer connecting rod. The transmission has been refined to provide smoother shifting, and a more efficient crank breather system has been adopted to decrease pumping losses. In all, the lighter, more compact engine produces increased power across the entire RPM range for stronger and more linear pulling power.

The new motor is housed in the latest evolution of Yamaha’s lightweight aluminium bilateral beam frame, which has been redesigned with all-new flex characteristics and provides improved cornering performance, traction and bump reaction to give the rider more confidence to push harder.

Other chassis components such as engine mounts, top triple clamp and front axle, as well as the class-leading KYB suspension with enhanced compression and rebound characteristics, are carefully refined to reduce weight while improving handling and performance.

To bring the new package to a stop, the 2020 YZ450F features a newly designed front brake calliper, brake pads and front and rear discs. The overall changes of the 2020 YZ450F deliver increased power output with more controllable linear acceleration and lightweight handling characteristics that mimic a YZ250F.
Always evolving, Yamaha's Bi-lateral beam frame has been updated for 2020
Now directly above is pretty much word for word on the updates Yamaha has given us in terms of significant changes for the 2020 model, but for how that feels on track, we spent a day out at Cheyne Boyd's Yamaha Park4 MX to cut some laps on the new bike, along with a quick re-visit of Yamaha's YZ250F which is unchanged for the new year model, along with a rare opportunity to ride a few laps aboard a full CDR Yamaha YZ450F race bike!

Having spent last year aboard a 2018 YZ450F, I was keen to see how the changes actually felt on track.

For myself the biggest and most noticeable change to the bike was the front fork action, while the 2018 KYB front fork felt extremely stiff near the top of the stroke, the 2020 model in stock trim felt a lot smoother and more progressive, and for myself was a much better starting point, giving more confidence in the front end.
The 2020 Yamaha YZ450F corners better than every giving a more predictable feel from entry to exit of a turn.
This year's bike certainly turns in better and held its line nicely through the mid part of the turn and exiting corners, both when running a rut or swinging higher on a berm, while the back end of the bike continues to be predictable, giving confidence coming out of every turn to get hard on the gas.

The power delivery on the YZ450F is as good as ever in stock form. Still, it is sort of a mute point in a lot of ways, as no matter what, thanks to the Yamaha Power Tuner App and a motor that has more power than any weekend warrior would ever need, with a few presses of your phone's screen you can upload a variety of different engine maps to get you close to the power delivery you are chasing, then fine-tune the power delivery further if you please but creating a custom map.
Feeling at home aboard the 2020 Yamaha YZ450F
I first thought the Power Tuner App might have been a bit of an overkill, and could lead to myself spending more time questioning what Map I should be running, much like I did with my suspension for a couple of years when the majority of manufacturers went to air forks, I was forever playing with different air pressures and settings chasing something.

But after spending the past two years living with a YZ450F and a YZ250F, the App has been a benefit, quickly finding a good base setting that I have ran the majority of the time, and then fine-tuning every now and then.

Overall the 2020 Yamaha YZ450F is again going to be a bike that will suit a vast majority of riders out there. With stable and predictable handling, a great suspension package front and rear all working with a motor that produces more power than you could ask for, and then can be programmed via your phone with minimal fuss to suit your riding abilities or requirements, there really is no reason you could not get this bike dialled in to suit your motocross needs.

KIRK GIBBS Monster Energy Yamaha YZ450F race bike.
One of those things you can only dream off, then bam next minute you have the opportunity to cut some laps on a factory race bike that was fresh from wrapping up the 2019 MX Nationals the week prior.
Now it is not often you get to ride a fully-fledged factory race bike, well not for myself anyway, I was actually lucky enough to spin some laps on Kirk Gibbs Serco race bike at Cessnock back in 2009 or 2010, I would have to go back and check the archives to be 100% sure what year it was, I also raced a Serco Yamaha a year or two later in the Vets class at Coolum, but that was more of a replica than the full race bikes that Ford Dale and Gibbs were running that year, along with Styke who filled in for Dale after he was injured.

Fast forward ten years later, and I have permission from Craig Dack himself to take one of his beloved full-fledged race bikes, the exact bike Gibbs raced the final round of the MX Nationals at Coolum aboard just a week prior and go and cut some laps around Park4.

It was only a couple of laps; literally I just rode two laps of the track, well three just to Marc Jones got a shot of me riding it.

I didn't take it for a spin to do a review on it; it was 100% selfish an opportunity to say I had ridden a bike that just about every Australian motocross and Supercross fan would love to do.
Along with the 2020 Production YZ450F and Kirk Gibbs 2019 CDR Yamaha race bike, I also spent a little time aboard a 2020 YZ250F, after racing the 2019 all year, I could not held but want to ride a bike a feel super comfortable on
The bike itself was a little noisier than the stock 2020 bikes we were riding, (The CDR race bike was a 2019 YZ450F) not in terms of engine note, it just sounded noisier internally, the first thing I noticed was the smell, it smelt different which I quickly realised was the race gas this bike was running compared to the pump gas in the production bikes.

The motor power-wise did not feel noticeably different, most likely because I was not turning the throttle anywhere near as far or as fast as possible, I was quite happy just enjoying my moment on a bike I thought I could only dream of throwing a leg over.

I didn't even notice just how hard the suspension was, it felt good, a little harsh when I three quarter jumped the uphill step up! But not crazy firm. It was not until I immediately jumped of Gibbs race bike and back on to the 2020 production bike that the difference was noticeable. The production bike felt like super soft when I got back on it; it was a bit of shock to the system.

It was a cool moment for sure, one that I won't soon forget, but it did get me thinking that it would be quite interesting to take this bike, or one of the factory race bikes and spend a day on a track that I knew and felt comfortable on and compare it against a stock production bike... Maybe one day... Maybe!

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