For 2016, Yamaha have introduced the YZF based engine layout, featuring the ‘reverse cylinder head, front facing air intake and rear exiting exhaust’. The reverse and rear inclined cylinder works toward achieving Yamaha’s infamous mass centralisation, and now incorporates a 44mm throttle body – up 2mm from last year, as well as a revised spray angle, improved throttle valve opening characteristics, revised starter motor location, a much shorter and quieter enduro spec muffler, and both an electric and kick start.
A large capacity generator provides 14v and 160W of power powers all the electric start, lights and fuel injection. The continued use of both a kick start and electric start is something I find to be very practical, as some manufacturers rely solely on electric starts and their consumers can all too regularly find themselves in battery drained predicaments prior to major rides.
In terms of power, the WR450F features an upgraded 12.5:1 compression ratio, and is unbelievably smooth throughout the entire power curve. As I have the typical meathead attitude and love motorcycles with a whole heap of torque from the bottom end, I was pleasantly surprised at the instant delivery of power from the WRF. I was expecting a slow acceleration off the bottom, followed by a quick over rev in the top end, but this tree-dodging machine rode very much the same as its YZ450F sibling. It could be ridden in second to third gear in almost any part of both the grass tracks and tight switchback single trails.
There was also very little need for any clutch use in riding the higher gears due to the smooth power delivery. When we used the Yamaha Power Tuner to transfer over to a softer, more enduro tailored ‘sook map’ as coined by Adam Reimann, I only needed two to three laps to determine that this particular setting wasn’t for me. As mentioned above, I’m all about punchy bottom end torque, so this particular wasn’t my cup of tea even in the tight and technical single trails. So we made a quick switch back to the standard mapping and I was as happy as a pig in mud again.
One quick tip is to not test the WRF’s power delivery on wet rock beds… I decided this was a smart idea and ended up in the hands of some friendly paramedics… On a serious note though, the various standard mapping options made readily available to consumers through the Yamaha Power Tuner provide ample settings to test and grow accustom to. Whether you like a slow, smooth, almost lagging power delivery, or a hard hitting, shoulder dislocating bottom end punch, you can personalise the WR450F’s power plant to suit your riding style thanks to the optional Yamaha Power Tuner.
Thanks to the latest EFI technology the WR is remarkably fuel efficient and a range of over 100km easily achieved from the modest 7.5 litre fuel cell. Long distance adventurers will need to opt for an aftermarket large tank solution.
Another major update for the 2016 WR450F is that of the wide ratio five-speed transmission. The new design features the same updated gearshift system as the YZ450F, but also includes new, more durable materials in the light enduro clutch. In addition the 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears have been set higher than the YZF, while the 1st and 5th gears remain the same.
Overall the transmission was very smooth, with an effortless gear-shift feel and as advertised a very ‘light clutch’. Moreover there were no issues regarding the clutch or transmission, and the standard 13:50 gearing ratio was also a big hit amongst all riders!
The redevelopment of the WR450F for 2016 has also seen updates made in the stopping department with the adoption of the YZF’s recently updated braking systems. As a result the WRF now features the large diameter 270mm front disc and the only distinction between the YZF and WRF’s braking operation is that the latter utilises a slightly smaller front caliper bracket.
The braking performance of the WRF was outstanding as expected, with only small height adjustments required for both the front and back brake levers for me to feel right at home. I was comfortable in applying the brakes rapidly on all of the terrain we came across in our rides, which was a huge confidence boost when needing to get comfortable and up to speed with the bike in only a short period of time.
For 2016 the WR450F will be available in its traditional Yamaha Blue colour way, and in Australia and New Zealand only consumers will also have the 60th anniversary yellow livery to choose from. This exclusive offer to oceanic customers has been provided as a way of celebrating the two nations’ role in the redevelopment of this bike. The new model will also feature the Black Excel rims as mentioned above, as well as WRF printed Bark Busters, and a lightweight black engine guard to protect the WRF’s under carriage. The 2016 WR450F is expected to land in Australian Yamaha dealer showrooms in late January, 2016. As it is primarily a competition based machine, Yamaha extends a three-months, parts only warranty on the WR.
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