Yamaha led the way in four-stroke innovation off-road here in the United States, beginning with the YZ400F ridden to a National championship by Doug Henry more than a decade ago. Its WR line of off-road four-strokes also forced the hand of the Japanese competition, who eventually caught up to Yamaha.
For 2012, Yamaha is fighting back with a thoroughly redesigned WR450F (the first major redesign since 2007). If the last WR450F you rode felt heavy and slow to turn, expect a big change.
The new, big WR gets a compact aluminum chassis based on the ultra-nimble YZ250F, combined with new slim bodywork. The suspension is motocross grade stuff, as well, fully adjustable for compression and rebound damping, with the shock even providing separate adjusters for high and low-speed compression damping, as well as spring preload. Spring rates and valving will be designed for off-road use rather than motocross, of course.
The other big news is that the WR450F gets fuel injection for 2012 Say goodbye to carburetion and the need to re-jet for different altitudes. Yamaha has also confirmed that there will be a replacement ECU available to tune the new stock, green sticker WR for competition.
Of course, the 2012 WR450F still comes with electric start and premium parts including ProTaper handlebars and Excel rims. You also receive a digital enduro computer with numerous features (not just speedometer, clock and trip meter). We will ask Yamaha for a test unit and report back. U.S. MSRP is $8,090, and the bike should be in dealers in March of next year. For additional details and specifications, visit Yamaha’s web site.