Jump to content

An Old Farts Experience With a WR450F

Recommended Posts

I live in Iquitos, Peru where motorcycles and moto taxis (tuk tuks) are the primary form of transportation.  We live a ways out of town 3 KM up a pretty rough dirt road.  After riding a Honda CRF250L dual sport several years to get to town and occasionally riding trails I bought our son a CRF230F.  After riding that on some trails I decided its time to get back into dirt biking. It was so much more fun than the CRF250L dual sport.  I wanted a bigger bike as the frame on the 230 is pretty small and it does not have much power.  I really wanted a WR250F, but, unfortunately, they are not sold in Peru.  I definitely did not want a motocross bike, we only have Yamaha and Honda dealers where I live, so the WR450F was pretty much the only reasonable option.  The weight concerned me as I am 57 years old and not in the best of condition, and I was also concerned it would have way more power than I could control.  I rode a Huqvarna 125 when I was 16-20 and it was a blast.  Very easy to flick around.  After lots of reading I decided I could learn throttle control and only use what I needed.

So I got a new 2015 WR450F and could barely ride the thing!  The problem was the compression braking.  Any decrease of throttle felt like I was going to go over the handle bars!  Any small change of throttle seemed to have an extreme effect.  I did start adapting to it, but it was very difficult to control at low speeds on tight or rugged trails.  After some research,  I bought a G2 Throttle Cam System and that made a HUGE difference in controlling the engine response. Finally, I was able to actually enjoy riding it!  With the G2 Cam System I began riding a bit more aggressively and very quickly realized that while I was a fairly good trail rider when I was 18, the body does not remember things that well after 40 years.  My technique sucked and with the weight of the bike and my so so conditioning I got worn out very quickly.  I have to say I did find myself regretting my decision a bit, wishing I had something lighter.

I started looking up articles about how to ride a dirt bike, how to turn, ride woops, where to put your feet, how to position your body, etc.  While wishing I had a lighter bike, I also knew there just were not any real options where I live except a Yamaha or Honda 250F motocross bike and I did not want the gear ratio, power band, or suspension of one of those as most of my riding is on trails.  What I decided to do was focus on my technique and learn to let the bike do most of the work.  Where before I would try to go fast (for me) on trails, I backed it off about 30% and just focused on form and technique.  Body position, throttle control, standing on the balls of my feet with my toes turned in so my legs naturally gripped the bike.  I focused on being smooth, on flowing down trails and over bumps, accelerating smoothly out of turns and learning to keep the rear wheel hooked up and not sliding out.  Initially it was kind of boring but I kind of made a game out of it. How can I get down this trail at reasonable velocity while using the minimum amount of energy and let the bike do most of the work?  What I found after a couple of weeks of this is I was riding much faster than before, had much more control and did not get anywhere near as tired.  I was also having a lot more fun!  This is an incredibly stable machine and will easily soak up any kind of terrain I point it at.  I am still trying to figure out how to consistently get over the bikes tendency to stand up in corners.

All of this learning was on the stock, bottled up WR.  I was definitely disappointed with the power once I got used to riding it, but was content for a while.  I wanted to take out the throttle screw, but you cannot buy a Torx 25 security bit here, so I just rode it as is for a while.  I just got around to buying the competition kit and put in the ECU today without making any other changes – stock exhaust and stock air intake, restricted throttle.  My first ride with the default competition ECU settings.  WOW!! What a difference!  It is so much easier to pull the front end up and has more power and acceleration throughout the RPM range.  Honestly, I think I would like riding it with those default settings.  I did buy the power tuner and wanted to see what effect it really had.  I loaded the muddy/slippery surface map and took it out for a spin.  Seemed like a different motorcycle.  Much better traction, but with a very bottled up feeling that was worse than the original ECU, but it did have a hard hit in the mid-range.  I did not like riding with that map but can see how it would be useful in very slippery, tricky trails.

I next loaded a motocross map that was intended for use with a YZ exhaust, the other extreme as I was looking to see what kind of difference the power tuner can make. Good God Almighty!!  This bike is F@#K3ng FAST.  I could not believe this was the same motorcycle.  Without any other changes, just the competition ECU, this WR450F has more power than I will every really need.  I will be taking it to the shop soon for a variety of maintenance and I will have them change the throttle screw.  I am looking forward to see if that will give me a bit more power while at lower RPMs.  It definitely has all I need in the mid to top end.

I still think I would have been happier if I could have gotten a WR250F.  From all I have read they have plenty of power, and I am only 160lbs.  I do like my WR450F and have a lot of fun riding it, but there definitely  are times where the weight is a factor.  As long as my form is good it is not too much of an issue, but if I get off balance in a tricky slow section I really notice it.  It also limits my confidence learning to jump things as I find it very difficult to change its attitude in the air.  Do bear in mind I am 57 and not in the best of shape and finally accepting I will never ride a dirt bike like I did when I was 18.  I really do not want to get hurt again (hit a tree, broke a collar bone and damaged my rotator cuff and did not get to ride for 6 months) as healing takes a long time at this age, so I do not push it too hard.  One thing I do expect from this machine is a long life.  I will hardly every be using all the power of the engine, mostly staying in the mid rpm range, so I hope the engine will last a long time with just the standard regular maintenance.  My plan is to happily be riding this bike when I am 65!!  Maybe by then there will be better options in Peru and the wife will let me get one.  Dirt bikes are a great way to stay in shape and I see no reason can’t keep riding into my 70s.

We will be getting our son a YZ250F soon as he does ride motocross tracks on his CRF230.  I will get to ride that and see if I made the right choice not going for a motocross bike.  I will probably keep the stock exhaust as I do like having a quiet bike and I have no need for more power.  It is also very expensive to ship things to Peru, so I really can’t justify the expense of the FMF Q4 (over $600 by the time I paid shipping and customs) , though I would like to have it just because it sounds so much better🙂







  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Reply with:

  • Create New...