Transworld write up...06 YZ 450

First Impression: 2006 Yamaha YZ450F

By Brendan Lutes

Posted: 11.10.2005

It has been a long wait for the all-new 2006 Yamaha YZ450F, and along with everyone else we couldn’t wait to swing a leg over the always-competitive thumper.

This week Yamaha invited us out to the soon-to-be-opened Competitive Edge track in Hesperia, California for a day of testing aboard the big blue machine. And after slapping on our decals, and getting a quick run down on what's new for '06, we finally got to spin some laps. In a nutshell, this bike works quite well; however, like any motocross bike it has a couple quirks that need to be work out, but we'll get into that later.

New For 2006

When Yamaha returned to the drawing board to design the '06 YZ450F the number one goal was to give the bike a lightweight feel, and make it easier to ride.

The new aluminum frame is made from nine different types of aluminum that all work together to give the frame the same amount of vertical rigidity, and more twist rigidity than last year's steel frame. Overall, the new frame is also lower than last year, which helps to lower the center of gravity for better handling. Combine that with the weight savings, and the new frame is a huge improvement.

In the suspension department, like all other Yamaha bikes, the YZ450F is equipped with the new Kayaba Speed Sensitive fork. If you ask Yamaha for the explanation of what this means you'll get a bunch of big words. But for most of us this just means that the fork works much better in fast choppy sections on the track, but can still handle hard hits off big jumps. To put it even more simply, the damping force is controlled by the speed of the fork rather than the position, and the faster the fork moves the harder the damping resistance will be. In the rear the shock is also all new; with a thicker rod, bigger subtank reservoir, and titanium spring.

As for the new engine, it now has a five-speed transmission, and is repositioned in order to lower the center of gravity and improve handling. The cylinder incline is also changed four degrees, which allows the engine to sit more upright in the chassis, and is designed to give the bike a more balanced feel. Also adding to the lower C/g is the way the oil is routed throughout the motor. The oil tank is located inside the crankcase on the bottom front of the engine, and because of the location the C/g is affected.

Other little trick parts on the bike include: Pro Taper bars (they come standard on both the YZ250F and YZ450F), titanium footpegs, titanium shock spring, larger quick adjust clutch knob, anodized triple clamps, and re-designed rear muffler.

On The Track

Now the fun part—actually riding the bike. And after finishing the mundane photo shoot and video requirements we began spinning laps.

Our first impression of the bike was that it was quite good. The power delivery was smooth and linear, yet still fast and powerful. One thing that we liked the most about the new motor is the new five-speed transmission. One extra gear did wonders when blasting down the long straights found at Competitive Edge. All throughout the powerband the bike was strong, and we were pleasantly surprised that it didn't rip your arms off when it hit the meat of the powerband. Like we said, it just pulled smooth and strong.

In the suspension department this bike shines. With the new Speed Sensitive fork, and all-new rear shock, the YZ450F handled just about anything. On the chopped-out straights at Competitive Edge there were no instances that caused us to swap out, or get arm-rattling headshake—the Speed Sensitive System truly did its job. We even had an instance that tested out the bottoming resistance when one of our testers over-jumped one of the big tabletops that litter the fast course. In the end, though, all he came away with were a couple of sore wrists and a bruised ego.

Through turns was where the bike needed some help. Much like its smaller brother, the YZ250F, the YZ450F felt uninspiring through ruts and berms alike, and the front end had a vague feel. It just didn't feel as if it would bite and take hold. While this could be remedied with some different offset triple clamps, it still is something that we feel is important. After all, how much is a fast bike worth if it doesn’t turn well?

As for the new aluminum frame, it does its job well. The new stiffer chassis makes the bike feel more planted and compliant, and the lighter weight definitely is noticeable. Unlike previous years, the '06 YZ450F feels light and flickable.

Loading Up

At the end of the day we all had smiles on our faces, and were pleased with how the new and improved YZ450F performed. Yes, the bike does have a few shortcomings, but what bike doesn’t? At least the problems aren’t ones that can't be fixed relatively easily, and as always this test is just our first impression. Our one day at Competitive Edge is the first a many before the final verdict comes out in the magazine.

Now that we finally have bikes from all of the major players we can't wait for this year's 450cc four-stroke shootout. With all of the new machinery, it should be a close race. And this year's all-new YZ450F is a big improvement over the '05 model.

the thing still doesn't turn?!! not that i judge a bike by some dirt rag's opinions, but i think i'm gonna hold on 2 my crf for another year...

I may be wrong, but I seem to recall that TWMX always thought the CRF turned better than the YZ450 (I used to subscribe).

It seems they were in the minority in this opinion though.

sounds to me they should have lowered or raised the tubes in the triple clamp?

....yeah, that can't be good. Can't wait for a shootout. It'll still be a blast for mere mortals like myself, and if it proves as reliable as past models, its a no brainer. Can't rail berms when your home tearing down your valvetrain.

I just have to laugh at the comment's the journalist's make about the front end being vague on the YZF's. It is so obvious at least to me that these guys are not racers and have no clue on how to tune a bike. Case in point. I rolled my 06 YZF250 off the showroom floor and drove down to Blue Diamond MX park to break it in. The track was not groomed and extremely rutted. The first thing I noticed about the bike is that the rear end sag was not set up and the forks were very stiff being new, also the tires had 25 psi of pressure in them form the dealer. I adjusted the tire pressure but left the rest of the bike alone. I just wanted to get some time on the motor so I could drop the oil on it and beat the crap out of it at Atco Supercoss that upcoming Tuesday. Needless to say the bike really did not corner to well compared to my 05 CRF250 that I raced all year and the bike only turns O.K with a definite vague felling on the front end when you charge corners. It is just a charterastic of the geometry of the frame and my 20mm triple clamps were only a band aid. Anyway I was a little worried after reading all of the bogus on-line test reports about the YZF pushing in cornors. I did a little tunning which consisted of setting the sag to 99mm, pushing the forks up to the engraved line, backing out the fork compression four clicks and backing out the shock high speed compresion .25 of a turn. On Tuesday nite I was pleasantly surprised to see that that Atco had similar confishions to Blue diamond with rutted up corners. Needless to say the bike is a corner carving machine. I was blown away how planted and secure the front end felt on flat cornores, ruts and berms. Point it and it goes with out any argument. I was very impressed. As a closing note "05 CRF250 For Sale, cheap"

"As for the new aluminum frame, it does its job well. The new stiffer chassis makes the bike feel more planted and compliant, and the lighter weight definitely is noticeable. Unlike previous years, the '06 YZ450F feels light and flickable."

Well, so is it vague or planted? :ride: Seems like he makes a statement that its handling could be better, then turns right around and loves everything. Obviously trying to sell a magazine. Since when did Yamaha not turn well? Seems like all of those aftermarket clamps were for CRF's if I remember my history from just a few short years ago. The truth is all modern jap bikes are so good Ricky would dominate on any of them and there is nothing the magazines can really write about. Also is it the chassis (frame) that makes it compliant? or is it the forks? Aluminum was never what I thought of as compliant, well maybe aluminum foil! :p

:p:applause: idiots!

After reading most of what I could out of that garbled mess, I didn't really notice where he talked about the bike's shortcomings as he put it. He says it doesnt turn well? Isn't that what yamaha tried to improve upon? This is why I quit buying those mx magazines and just read what I can at Wal-Mart for

No doubt if the bike had been set up to turn like they wanted it to they would have complained that it was "twitchy" or "unstable" on the "long chopped out straights". (in 5th gear of course).:applause:

Yamaha has not changed the chassis geometry much on their bikes since 1996. I imagine the new aluminum frame shares the geometry of the older bikes .

If you ever ride one of the YZ's or YZF's with 22 or 23mm offset clamps, it spoils you. The stock bikes do turn and handle, but it is much better with a bit less offset on the clamps.

If it is so great, whay does'nt Yamaha change them? I really dont understand why. I felt no bad side effects from the change. If a person was to invest in some 23mm offset clamps (much less money than valves for the other thumpers) you will probably be rewarded with a bike that can turn inside of kx 65's.

Plus, you'll have an engine that lasts longer than the first tank of fuel. Well, thats not entierly fair. My friends RMZ 250 lasted for three tanks of fuel before needing major work.

I don't don't put much credit in transworlds review... They are more interseted in how their interns look on a bike and the write up reads like the person who wrote it was atching and not riding...

Look closly at the first image... NO powerbomb!

I have a conspiracy theory ...

US bikes, testers say they don't turn too well

Australia and UK testers, that I've seen, don't have that complaint.

US bikes have a Dunlop 739 front tire.

The others do not as far as I've seen.


sounds to me they should have lowered or raised the tubes in the triple clamp?

Sounds like that is what Racer X did during their test.

"The forks also complement the new bike, absorbing anything from chatter to hard landings with predictability. We dropped the forks from flush to the first line and got a much more positive feel out of the front end. Sag was set at 95mm."

Also, Racer X didn't seem to have an issue with front-end push...

"Yamaha engineers tipped the engine upright and focused on the centering and lowering the bike’s weight to give it that feel. Their theory paid off. The bike turns quick when you want it to, but it is also very stable around faster, sweeping corners."

The first thing I would do the bike is get rid of that 739 and put a better tire on it.


I will have that 739 taken off before i even bring the bike home...thats for sure.

The first thing I would do the bike is get rid of that 739 and put a better tire on it.


tell me about it...that tire is no good here.......

TWMX will probably be the only one that says it doesn't turn. They were the only mag that said that about the 06 YZ250 as well, in their video posted on their site. I've come to think TWMX is a little bit full of sh!t or at least some of their testers are.

DB magazine and Motorcycle news did some testing and didn't have what I would call rave reviews of it either. Looks sweet though. It is a toss-up for the prettiest 450 between the Yamaha and the Kawasaki (which DB mag says may be good enough to knock the Honda off the thrown!). :applause:

I'm not even a little suprised. I could have wrote this review for them weeks ago because it's exactly the same thing TW always says about Yamaha. They always trash Yamaha's turning. Even when no one else has a problem with it, TW has a gripe. For what ever reason they never like the blue bikes very well. Maybe Yamaha doesn't advertise enough with them to get a good review. :applause:

My '04 450F didn't turn with a dang either, but after getting a little professional advice, raising the forks in the triple clamps to the third groove in the fork, and setting rear sag, clickers, and high-speed adjuster correctly, it turns like a bandit. As usual, it's all in the set-up. I do plan to sell the '04 and get the '06 though!

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