426 vs. 450 ??? Need to hear from the woods guys

This is for all of you who traded in their old 426 for a new 450. I just sold my '01 426 last Friday and I'm now seeking a new 450. I know the 450 absolutely "Rips" however, I'm seeing alot of them out there for sale with only one ride on them. People are saying they didn't like the 4-speed transmission, even "A" riders!?!? I do alot of woods riding, probably 70% however I consider myself pretty fast. My 426 was rarely in first gear.

1. Is the 450 as fast as the 426 top-end?? This would really help in the straight stretches of hair-scrambles.

2. By changing the rear sprocket to 2-3 teeth bigger probably tames 1rst gear a little without loosing too much top-end, right??

Any input would really be appriciated, I'm bikeless..... :)

Thumpin, Though I dont have a 450, my understanding is that the final drive ratio is the same. If you were going to add 3 teeth to the rear sprocket, why not just put 1 less tooth on the front. It accomplishes the same thing for much cheaper. Good Luck with all of those decisions! :)

A memeber is selling his 450 and opting to a 5 speed.

Main reason

He says always looking for that 5th gear. Loves the bike works well but is not comfortable with only 4 speeds

BTW he also I believe changed the gears and was still not satisfied

using smaller front sprockets is a good solution cost wise in the short term it does however put more stress on the chain circling a smaller radius and will wear the drive system faster than a larger one. This is a concern magnified by the torque a 4 stroke 450 puts out.

Yeh, I've been riding for a long time and I never go to a 13 tooth in the front. Just way too much wear all around. If you can't change your rear sprocket by 3-4 teeth up or down and be happy, your on the wrong bike. Thanks again and keep 'em commin. I'm still not satisfied.....

Yes, Yes, Yes, This is a good question and one that keeps resurfacing.

My last ride a few days ago took me through some tight woodsy trail stuff with an occasionaly hill climb partially covered in snow, and I thought to myself, would the 450's 1st gear be up for this tight creepin through the trees stuff ????? Cuz there were times when I stalled out the 426 trying to get her straightend out through the trees.

Then I thought maybe a WR would be better, then I thought, TO HEAVY I must have a YZ oh boy, what are the chances they put a 5 speed in the 2004 ........... little to none .

Wooh..... :) "WR" No Way!! No offense to those Suzuki owners but I might as well buy a DR-Z. The weight is why I sold my 426. Even with the 426, I found myself feathering the clutch when it got real tight, we're talking nearly walking the bike through the tree's or what ever.

Thanks Again!!!

I got rid of my 400 and bought a 450F. I ride mostly in the woods some tight some open. I"ve ridden the bike three times and I love it. First gear is low enough to get through the tight stuff. The main thing I noticed is the weight difference. You don't get near as tired with the 450F. It seems that it will run as fast on top end as the 426 but it gets there quicker. My only suggestion would be to hang on when you hit the gas hard because it has a lot more anger than my 400(it throws a great roost at whoever is behind you). If you sit down much a gripper seat might be nice. I'm sticking with my 450 its just more fun to ride. The starting feature is fantastic! All you have to do is kick it one time. If its hot pull the hot start and kick it once.

How about the temp? Here in Florida my 400 will start to puke a little water in the summer on tight trails. I'm about to sell and I'm looking to upgrade to something better. Would like to have electric start, Cannondale's scare me right now and WR's are heavy and hard to come by. I want something lighter, but I don't MX so is the YZ the bike for me. :)


Well, one thing I found with any race bike in the heat of the summer, they don't like to go slow or they WILL overheat. Run 'em like their ment to be run, wide the @!#& open. Ha! Ha! :)

Anyway, back to the subject. I need more opinions from people who currently own '03 YZ450's, PLEASE.......


I know your a Yamaha guy but if you ride mostly woods and want a more versital bike , why not get a KTM 450 or 520 EXC. It has 6 speeds. First is low enough to climb a tree and 6th is tall enough to go 90+. If they are too heavy for your tasts you can pull the e starter and battery or go to the SX and put a 6 speed in it. Lots of guys go that rought as well. The 6 speed trany seems to run $500 or so to have installed. Just a thought. If KTM didn't make a great bike that fit my needs I would look at the other brands to see what would.

Ride on


Isn't there a special radiator cap that help out when the bike starts getting hot, so it wont overflow? I swear I was reading about that a month or so ago.

Sorry guys, we're gettin off the subject AGAIN!! :D I don't care about 400's and 426's or any other brand of bike out there. All I care about are people who ride the woods on an '03 YAMAHA YZ 450. Please keep ALL other replys to yourself or make your own post. It would be greatly appritiated........As far as the KTM reply, thanks, but KTM has a long way to go to catch up to Yamaha 4-strokes. They had to make a 520 and still could'nt keep up with the 426. Again, thanks!!! KEEP 'EM COMMIN................ :)

I ride alot of trails and I don't like riding the real tight trails with the yz450, first gear is too high . It's like trying to ride in second gear on other bikes. On open trails I run out of gears , I wish it had a fifth gear. Overall this is a very fast and fun bike to ride. I'am keeping mine and will just adapt to the bike. I did ride it on a track 2 times and that is where it really shines.

Hey guys, this all sounds good. I usually ride 2nd and 3rd in the woods on my (sold) 426 so 1rst gear shouldn't be a problem. If so, I think I'll add a few teeth to the rear. My 426 was the same when I first started riding it. I went from CR250 to the big 4 stroke and wasn't sure if I made the right choice. Between fighting the weght and getting use to the "constant power band" my riding inproved 200% and I was forced to ride much faster. Face it, that is the only way the 426 was happy. Who knows, with the new 450, it also may force me to ride faster. The way I look at it, thats a good thing. I owned my 426 for just over 2 years. It was by far the best motorcycle I ever owned. It just took a while to get use to it.

Again, Thanks for the Input!! Keep 'em commin........

The 450 is not too tall in first gear for the woods. If it is then your riding too slow! It might take a little time to get used to it but if you've been on a 426 then the adjustment period should be very short. Jusr ride it like its meant to be riden


Finally, some good news!! That's the only way I ride. I was gettin worried there for a while. I was beginning to think nobody ventured off groomed MX tracks. :) Just kidding!!

My history is a lot like yours.

I bought a 426 in 2000. It took me months to get used to the bike. Soon I realized that the 426 was the best bike, for any condition that I rode in. At the time I had two late model KX250s, a '97 RM125, and a 92 KX500. I eventually sold each of these bikes because they were not what I wanted to ride.

I never understood why some riders, and most magazines said that the 426 was not a "Woods" machine. I still think that it is second only to my new 450.

If you liked your 426, and I know you did, you will be exactly like me and love the 450. My very first ride on the 450 was in the Cascades in Oregon. Tight tree lined single track and lots of slippery rocks & roots. You simply could not have wiped the smile off of my face the entire day.

You will adapt to the added power within 30 minutes and you will forever appreciate the weight loss. I noticed the huge increase in power first, but the real treat is the 450's ability to stop. You will be shocked at how fast you can haul this thing down!

Woods riding is my favorite. The 450 is the ultimate. Do not even hesitate. I would gladly let you take a spin on "Big Blue" if you lived in No. CA.

Let me know if you have any other questions.


Hey Speedracer,

Thanks a ton!! I was beginning to think what a mistake I made selling my 426. I just had a hard time believing that Yamaha would make a bike of the 450 calibur and restrict it to MX only. Granted, it's probably not the bike for beginners, but for aggressive woods riders I can't see it being a wrong buy. I figured lighter, more power, more ergonomically shaped, better brakes and so on, that sounds like a serious woods bike to me. My only concern was the 4-speed.

Again, Thanks alot!!!

I have ridden on some long, technical woods rides on my 450. It took a little getting used to, especially in the slow, rocky, tree over trail, tight switchback sections technical stuff. If you are a woods only rider I think a 8oz flywheel or higher is mandatory. Unless you like your left hand and arm to pump up like a steroid junky while you're riding. Just remember, they make a WR that is built for the woods. Hope that helps

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