Yamaha have pulled the covers off an all-new WR450F that has inherited much DNA from its sportier YZ450F sibling for model year 2019.
Yamaha practically invented the market for durable but hard-core enduro motorcycles when it first brought the WR400F to market 20 years ago. That bike then became the WR426F in 2001 before growing to its currenty 449cc capacity in 2003, and gained electric start.
In the ensuing years the WR forged a reputation for class leading durability and went on to conquer the enduro sales charts in Australia, year after year. In some years, the WR450F was the highest selling motorcycle in Australia outright across all model categories.
This new kid on the block has a lot to live up to
In 2010 the YZ450F reversed its engine with the inlet not entering from the front and the exhaust exiting from the rear of the rearward slanted cylinder block. For 2019 the WR also adopts this layout but with intake/exhaust systems, fuel injection and ignition curves all mapped for enduro grunt rather than a motocross style top end.
The WR has not had to wait to adopt the latest YZ technology when it comes to the new and improved clutch though. Both the 2019 YZ450F and WR450F feature a new clutch with more heat resistant plates and a lighter pull at the lever.
The five-speed gearbox is also shared with the 2019 YZ450F right down to identical ratios. The dog gears have a revised shape for improved performance. For transit sections it would certainly be nice to have a sixth cog but Yamaha are obviously content that their wide spread of torque and smooth EFI response allows for a final drive tall enough to keep engine rpm under control at speed.
The standard kick-start back-up has now become and optional extra while the electric starting system has been improved and is claimed to require 60 per cent less load to fire the WR into life than that found on the outgoing model.
A mapping switch allows the rider to select between two power delivery maps on the fly while the smartphone Power Tuner app has been improved with WiFi connectivity and more functionality.
The backbone of the new WR450F is identical to the current model YZ450F but is tuned for a little more flex via lesser torque on the engine mount brackets.
WR450F also runs on the same KYB twin-chamber inverted forks as the YZ450F but of course with more enduro specific valving. The diameter of the fork tubes are 1mm larger on the WR450F than found on the YZ450FX and a new leaf spring mid-speed valve is claimed to vastly improve finer control of the fork oil flow and thus suspension response.
Likewise, the rear shock is also YZ sourced but with enduro valving while the spring is of a higher fatigue strength than the previous model and the reservoir increased by 30ml to help contain temperature spikes.
How much fuel does it carry?
One thing that has not gone up in spec’ as the WR has progressed through the model years has been fuel capacity. The early models had 12-litre fuel tanks but that went down to 10-litres in 2003, then 8-litres in 2010 before reducing again to 7.5-litres in 2012.
It improved marginally to 7.6-litres in 2012 and that modest upward trend continues for 2019 with the WR450F gaining a new plastic resin fuel tank. The tank from the current YZ450F was the starting point before the lower portions were extended towards the centre of the bike to help improve mass centralisation while a new more compact fuel pump has also played its part in upping the capacity.
The resin based bashplate is improved for 2019 in every aspect and protects the front lower parts of the frame from impact while also shrouding the water pump and protruding edges of the engine covers. It is also designed to pick up less mud on the trail.
Attention to detail continues down to the sidestand which is now sits higher and better hidden away and made from forged aluminium while up front the headlight cowl is positioned closer to the rider to help make the machine feel smaller from the cockpit.
A new front wheel speed sensor connects to an improved display and does away with the speedo drive to make front wheel changes simpler and quicker.
How much does it weigh
Yamaha claim a wet weight with 900 ml of oil in the engine sump and the 7.9-litre fuel tank full to the brim of 119 kg.
These changes should help propel the WR450F further up the sales charts once again, especially if Yamaha can undercut their European rivals on price. As this is a competition based machine warranty coverage is limited to three-months parts only. The machine is expected in Australia around January 2019 but the price has yet to be set.
2019 Yamaha WR450F specifications
Engine type – Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valve
Cylinder arrangement – Single reverse fed
Displacement – 450 cc
Bore × stroke – 97.0×60.9 mm/3.8×2.4 in.
Compression ratio – 12.8:1
Starting system type – Electric starter
Lubrication system – Wet sump
Engine oil capacity – 0.90 L
Fuel tank capacity – 7.9 L
Fuel delivery – Fuel injection
Ignition system type – TCI (Transistor Controlled Ignition)
Primary reduction ratio – 2.609 (60/23)
Secondary reduction ratio – 3.846 (50/13)
Clutch type – Wet, multiple-disc
Transmission type/Shift type – Constant mesh, 5-speed / Return
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