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2024 YAMAHA WR450F REVIEW – “IT’S A GOOD THING YOU DIDN’T GO. YOU WOULD HAVE DIED.”

And he was absolutely right...

IMAGES BY GREG SMITH/iKAP & COLIN CHAN

ENDUROING BY AARON CLIFTON

BEER-SIPPING BY BORIS MIHAILOVIC

“Throw me at the universe!”

Sean Goldhawk called me the other week and offered to kill me.

 

“Love to have you and Aaron come to the WR450F launch,” he said.

It’s possible he’s using the Yamaha tape to stay on the track. That’s what I’d be doing.

“I almost died the last time I went dirt-riding with you,” I said.

 

“You’ll be fine,” Sean advised. “There’s some easy grass-track stuff in the morning, then if you’re not up for the hard enduro stuff in the arvo, don’t stress too much.”

 

“You said that last time. I rode off a cliff.”

He might have brought a snorkel.

“Yes, but until you did that you were fine. And you were fine afterwards. You just limped a bit. It was very fetching.”

 

Fetching or not, I’m not any kind of enduro rider, other than a stunningly crap one with splintered bones and pulped organs. Aaron, on the other hand, races motocross. And he races it on a 2024 Yamaha YZ450F, no less.

I’m thinking this is what metal balls look like.

He’s kinda perfect for this because the WR450F is more or less the wicked, hairy-balled, giz bitches YZ450F with a headlight and blinkers so you can road-register it. And of course, the suspension has been softened a little because it’s unlikely you’ll be jumping 10-metres into the sky to make that motocross tabletop.

 

Rest assured, I could also hurl myself into the sky on either bike. Nothing to it. Pin the throttle, elbows out, and hit that jump, right? Borrie would float, arcing through the sky like a winged bear, and camera shutters would whirr, capturing the celestial majesty of my progress.

If this was mine, there’d be a big pillow strapped to this to soften the impact my face would make.

Easy-peasy. The landing? Well, there would certainly be a landing. But it would not be one I would ride away from. Or walk away from. And to be honest, I am a touch too old to be learning that kinda stuff now.

 

But hey, a little bit of grass-track would hardly end me, right? When the enduro pissing contest started I would simply retire to Yamaha’s hospitality pavilion and take my ease.

 

And then I got sick. Like, legitimately unwell. In retrospect, it was like my body realised I was about to do something stupid, and shut me down.

 

I called in sick, so Aaron went on his own.

I would have hit that tree. No question.

His first words to me when he got back were: “It’s a good thing you didn’t go. You would have died.”

 

It had been raining for days, and what Aaron encountered on the press launch were some of the toughest conditions he had ever ridden in. But, as he realised, they were perfect for demonstrating just how good the WR450F is when it comes to serious, are there any girls watching? enduro riding.

 

This is the conversation we had over a few beers upon his return…

Learner Approved Motorcycle, bitches.

Boris: How’d you go?

Aaron: I’m not sure I was reviewing anything. I was just trying to survive.

 

Boris: Stop whining. Of course you were reviewing the bike. The harder the conditions the more thoroughly the bastard gets reviewed.

Aaron: Yeah…well, that’s probably true. I would not have done it on anything else. It was a true testament to how good the WR is.

My body-position would be entirely different…and more bear-like.

Boris: So you liked it?

Aaron: The bike truly is industry-leading. Just look at it! It’s an enduro bike based on an MX bike – a magnificent off-road weapon. It’s as nimble and light as the YZ, But not as…hard-edged, I reckon. The suspension is more pliable and plush, and the engine is still an angry thing, but runs a more subdued tune, and can be tamed further thanks to the Yamaha tuner app.

It’s got petals, like a flower.

Boris: What? You tune the engine via your phone? How did I miss out on that monkey-with-a-grenade possibility?

Aaron: Yes, the app allows you to customise your engine and traction-control settings to suit you, simply by using your smartphone. And the app is really easy to use. I made my own map for the mud in about one minute, and within two seconds it was uploaded to the bike and then I was off riding with the map I’d made a minute earlier. It is astonishing what you can do with that app.

Not sure there is a sweeter blue on this earth.

Boris: This is sorcery!

Aaron: At your age, ABS is sorcery. But this is so cool. It keeps track of your maintenance, has a race log, a settings guide for the suspension and engine…truly brilliant.

 

Boris: Does it call for an evac helicopter when you’ve ridden into an abyss?

Aaron: I can check. That may have come in handy. The trails I rode were…um, challenging.

I can do this…but not on purpose.

Boris: You’re still walking. Can’t have been that hard.

Aaron: This terrain in the dry? Sure, I can handle that. But the degree of difficulty was multiplied by ten thanks to the tropical rains. There was regular sloppy mud, but also that light brown clay that sticks to your boots and tyres like dog shit, and of the same consistency.

 

Boris: Did you crash and bring shame to me and your family?

Aaron: I dropped it gently on a wet log. I can cross logs relatively well, but in the wet and having to hit them at a 45-degree angle, well, that’s a different skill…

Aaron wasn’t kidding about it being wet.

Boris: Clearly one you need to work on.

Aaron: Did I mention it was wet? I mean no traction. Zero! It was so wet the front brake became the death lever. And who designed this trail?

Boris: Why is that important?

Aaron: They’d cut down some saplings, and left the stumps about a foot high, ready to impale me should I falter or crash. That could literally have been the hill I die on…”

The anti-gravity device works flawlessly.

Boris: Sounds like non-crash incentive to me.

Aaron: The rain on my goggles gave me a sort of bubble vision. I had no real depth-perception. The terrain, like I’d said, was dog-shit clay up a rocky hill full of water-filled washouts. I was hitting and sliding over things I’d rather have not hit or slid over. At one point, I sat waiting for my turn to take a on moderately snotty hill-climb, and as I sat waiting with both front and rear brakes applied, the bike was still sliding down hill on the wet clay.

Yes, the bloke behind you will use you for traction without a second thought.

Boris: Oh, I am so filled with sympathy for you. Look how sympathetically I sip my beer.

Aaron: Look, it really was a nice part of the world and I can see why people get into enduro riding. The creeks were like postcards, nice clear water, smooth rocks on the creek bed, and although the creeks weren’t that deep, the large rock shelf you had to ride over to get out of one of the crossings in particular was as greasy as a butcher’s shop floor. That said, it was the perfect place to put the WR through its paces – nice grass track areas, and as far as trails go, they had it all, creeks, logs, gullies, hills, fast and slow sections. It just would have been nice to ride it outside the monsoon season.

Dirt corners are not like road corners.

Boris: I actually stopped listening to you a while back. You’re not saying anything much about the bike.

Aaron: The bike was magnificent. I said that. It was easy to feel at home on the new WR. It fits me like a glove, and it’s slimmer with noticeably less lard than the previous models. And there are huge improvements as far as handling is concerned. Yamaha really did produce a top-shelf machine.

 

Boris: I’m quietly a little pleased I didn’t go. As good as the WR450 is, I’m guessing you need to be kinda handy doing enduro to make it dance.

Aaron: There’s a 250 version as well, you know.

No drought here.

Boris: Pfft. As if I, or anyone, would bother dying on that. Why isn’t there a 900 version? That’s the real question.

Aaron: Look, the 450 is a serious bike. You can adjust the forks without a tool. The engine is all new. The frame is all new. I’m not sure there’s anywhere it won’t go, and very little it can’t do. I love my YZ, which is a true weapon. The WR is that weapon, just aimed in a different direction. And it is a LAM. L-platers can ride it.

 

Boris: And probably should.

Aaron: No argument there.

It pays to have a clue about this stuff.

HOW MUCH? $17,999 ride away.

 

You can download everything you need here (https://www.yamaha-motor.com.au/products/motorcycle/off-road/enduro/wr450f) but here are some basics:

 

SPECS

 

Chassis

Frame Type: Bilateral beam

Suspension Front: Telescopic forks, 300mm travel

Suspension Rear: Swingarm (link suspension), 306mm travel

Brakes Front: Hydraulic single disc, 270mm

Brakes Rear: Hydraulic single disc, 240mm

Tyres Front: 90/90-21 Dunlop Geomax EN91

Tyres Rear: 140/80-18 Dunlop Geomax EN91

 

Dimensions

Length (mm) 2170

Width: 825mm

Height:1265mm

Seat Height: 955mm

Wheelbase:1470mm

Ground Clearance:330mm

Wet Weight: 117kg

 

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Boris Mihailovic

Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.

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