450 vs 426 ride report, performance,

Before I lay out the skinny on the WRs I want to disclaim my riding abilities. Over the years, I have owned the following bikes, 3 XR200Rs, XR250, XT650, XR400, KLX300, WR426 and now a WR450. I consider my self and advanced trail rider. I usually do one desert race and one enduro per year. I live in Emery County and ride the San Rafael Swell, Moab, 10 Mile and the Manti La Sal National Forest.

Mods done to the 450. Grey wire, jetting at 48 PJ and 160 main. Fly bars, Scotts Tripple Clamp, Snorkel removed, left side panel cut to match right side. Stock exhaust. I done the same mods on my 426 except for jetting.


STARTING: The electric start is nice, but it takes some getting used to. When kick starting the 450, give no throttle, but when using the electric start, the throttle needs to be slightly opened. The automatic compression is nice. Putting aside the automatic compression and electric start, the 426 starts as easy as the 450.

POWER: The 450 is starved for air. The air intake does not do this bike any justice. The air box on the 426 was perfect. The 450 air intake on the top of the box is very limited. I removed the snorkel which took some effort and a dremile tool. I also cut away the ¼ inch lip that went around the air opening. I cut the left side panel where your hand goes to lift the bike. I have no idea why they did this, anyway, it does allow more air in and now the panel matches the right side panel. The battery is the reason for the small air intake. The battery takes up the room. Sure wish that I could have the entire top of the air box exposed. I drilled every possible hole that I could on top of the air box. As a last resort, I may need to put some holes in the side of my air box. Until this bike can get more air, an aftermarket exhaust will not have a substantial increase in power. The 450 seems to have a more friendly low end over the 426. Bottom line, the 450 is not any faster than my 426.

SUSPENSION: The 426 and 450 are very similar. I could not tell much of a difference.

GAS TANK AND SEAT COMBINATION: The 450 set up is very nice when compared to the 426. I had a YZ tank and seat combination on my WR and loved this set up. The stock 450 is very sleek and nice. I am disappointed with the smaller gas take. First chance, I am going to get a 3.1 gallon tank.

WEIGHT: The 450 feels lighter and more agile over the 426. It is not a substantial difference, but it is noticeable.

CROSSOVER PARTS 426 AFTER MARKET PARTS ON A 450: My skid plate bolted up to the frame better than it did on my 426. One problem. The drain hole was in the wrong place. I took my dremile tool and cut another opening. My 426 tripple clamp worked on the 450. My 426 YZ tank and YZ seat will not work. The 426 rear fender stock or YZ will not fit. Radiator shrouds will not fit. The front fenders will cross over. My front disk guard crossed over. My frame protectors worked with a minor modification to the left side. The 426 exhaust would not crossover. It could be done will some minor welding.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Was it worth the extra cost to by a 450? Not sure. My 426 was a fantastic bike. Jumping on the 450 and riding a 426, is like putting on a familiar pair of boots. I am glad I bought the 450 but the 426 is still in the race.

do you have a pic of what the left side panel looks like after you cut it out?


Thanks for the comparison. I've been hoping to see one of the new WR450's in person so I could beg a ride on it.

I've wanted to sell one of my 426's and buy a 450 but it's hard to justify the purchase without riding a 450 first.

I, like you, love the WR426. It has delivered everything I've ever asked of any dirtbike I've owned.

I hate to sell a bike for 3to4000 that I paid 6000otd for, just to buy another bike for that'll probably be 7000otd. Although I haven't got a quotation from any dealers, the salespeople I've spoken with have told me that the shops are not offering discounts off MSRP.

Thanks for your comparison allison.

I have been reading a lot about both these Motorcycles as I had just purchased my WR426FP last June. I was kinda kicking myself in the ass for not waiting. But I'm glad I didn't.

The two Motorcycles have their pros and cons about them. The biggest advantage for the WR426FP if you ask me is the difference in fuel tank size.

Other than that, I think you can't go wrong with either one. As far as the handling goes, I believe it's all a matter of finding the right suspension settings.

I too am an upper level rider (and ex racer who is going to start up again) my self so my findings and beliefs should not be frowned upon.

Peace..............db :)

Allison, Thanks for the comp. W/ all the chatter about the new 450s, I can remain happily in love w/ my 426 and not feel that there is something out there that's incredibly bigger & better.

Yet!! :)

Thanks for the great write-up on both bikes... I too have both and have only spend about 6 hours on the new WR450. I'm not too sure how starved the airbox is but considering the 426 had all that open area at the top of the airbox and now it's almost completely covered by the battery makes me wonder if the bike could breath easier it could make more power, I personaly don't know....

I agree with you on most of your opinions, one I completely disagree with is the starting issue. Kick starting the 450 is way easier.. I can sit on my bike with both hands in the air and just start it with the greatest of ease.. Over and over again, when I first got the bike I took it down to my fathers house to compare it to his 426, we just laughed at how easy the 450 kick starts, as easy as an XR100. I can start my 426 on the 426 too it's just that Yamaha has done away with the whole drill, and the succeeded... Starting the 450 is 10 times easier.... I agree when using the E-start to give it a little throttle, mine too.

As far as the 450 not being any faster than the 426 is something that I also disagree with. The 450's new power curve is very noticeable, even though the power down low is smoother it doesn't give up much in the other areas, meaning my 450 has more power everywhere in the powerband and it's noticeable but more controlable (s?).

As far as the suspension goes, I've been pretty bad about frequent oil changes on my forks and I've never touched my shock.... The new bike feels perfect to me and better than then the 426, maybe my lack of maintenence is the biggest difference between the two bikes because the 450 is brand new and my 426 has thousands of race miles on it... That might have something to do with it... :)

As far as old stuff fitting up, I agree the tanks are way off.... But my father and I had zero problems mounting up his FMF pipe from his 01 to my 03.

Click on link to see photo:


The only problem I can see with mounting up an old pipe is that the rear mounting tab near the seat bolt is off by about 1/8 of an inch but with a Dremel you could elongate the hole to make the pipe fit. But some of the FMF's (like my fathers) have that funky band around the muffler that can slide back and forth so it fits perfectly..

For me the new WR450 was an easy decision for me. I welcome the e-start and with the new bike being lighter it was a no brainer for me. I will be sad when my 01 WR426 gets sold because the bike was so good to me, but the new bike is better in everyway...


I wonder if the YZ air box will bolt to the WR sub frame? Of course that would mean losing the battery, but I for one don't see the need for an e-start. Sure, it would be nice, but I could do w/out one (I have up to know, so....)

It isn't going to happen anytime soon (already bought a new bike), but I wanted to buy the WR and "YZ" it as much as possible. Jetting, air box, exhaust, no battery, no e-start, no coolant catch, headlight, kickstand etc. I'm dying to see how much weight you could lose (I think Dan Lorenze already lost 5 or 6 lbs. off his), I would think you could get it to w/in a five lbs. of the YZ w/out too much trouble.

Yamaha obviously tried to make a do-it-all bike, which is great, but like the WR 426 I suspect this will be one of the more heavily modified bikes out there. Too bad they couldn't squeeze another .4 gallons into the tank and keep it relatively slim, I think at 3 gallons swapping to a bigger tank would be much less desirable/popular. 3 gallons would do it for the races I run, I don't know if 2.6 would do it, might take that one extra pit (in which case it might as well be 2 gallons).

I predict it won't be long before the aftermarket makes a kit to remove the e-start (block off plate, harness caps etc.), someone like Dr. D or Zip Ty. Such a kit might include a larger air box that uses YZ side panels. I don't have much practice with them, but I can R&R the seat on my YZ twice as fast as those goofy dzus fasteners on my friends' KTMs, and I've seen a few of these get lost on the trail.

Just my take on things.

Thanks for that report Allinson, lots of good info there.

Just goes to show that no matter what you can not please eveyone. I needed a new bike now that my '00 YZ 426 is getting old. I would have bought a YZ 45o but they made it a darn 4 speed. Now that I have e start, lights and the 5 speed. I dig this bike! ---Mike

On the left side pannel, I used my dremile cut off tool and just followed the impression that is there. It looks no different then the right side pannel. Opening this up seemed to help a bit in getting more flow in.

I had a feeling that the FMF pipe would cross over from a 426 to 450. This is because FMF pipe mounts on the rear are movable. My YZ426 pipe would not mount. You are right about it being off by about 1/4 inch.

I just purchased the FMF Q for my bike which should be in this week. How was the Sound and power from the FMF Q compared to the stock muffler? :)

I also just went from the 02WR426 to the 03WR450 and hear are my take on things:

(Comparing stock to stock)

I’m trying to get in the habit of turning the ignition off

It seems to have marginally more power throughout the RPM range, nothing to really rite home about though.

The wheel comes up noticeably easer

It kick starts with no effort at all, and the 426 was a 1st or 2nd kick bike

The e-start seems like it’s going to kill the battery or burn out the starter. ( If you follow the manual and not touch the throttle) It does need to be opened just a bit.

It seems lighter and more flickable, maybe just due to the slim YZ feel.

As far as I’m concerned the #1 reason I’ll take the 450 over the 426 is the auto decompression. Not for starting it standing still, for how easy it is to bump start it after stalling the motor. With the 12.5:1 compression the 426 made for a hair raising experience trying to bump start it going down steep loose technical trails, the rear tire just wants to slide around, you would have to coast until you get down to a simi flat area, put the kick stand down and do the routine. I hated that about the 426. Ok, I know, just learn how to ride and don’t stall the motor right? Well, I can hold my own with any riding group I’ve ridden with and I ride with some pretty dame fast riders, but I still once and a while get to concentrating more on keeping it on two wheels then pulling the clutch in before I use a little too much back brake (Only going down steep loose technical trails did I have this problem)

One thing I don’t like about the PC T-4 pipe I put on, is the clearance between the pipe and the bottom of the nitrogen reservoir is about 1/8”, the stock pipe had about ¾” clearance. So I’m hoping my leg doesn’t get blown off. Any advice on that or getting this thing to kick like a YZF would be greatly appreciated and I hope that my insight will help.

My e-start is the same way. I have to slightly open the throttle before it will start. When kick starting, it is back to the old routine of not touching the throttle and she fires right up. When the bike is cold, I have not figured it out yet. I try the e-start, but at times it feels like my bat is going to die. I am going to put a post and get some information on starting with the e starting.


I'm with ekemner, what are your (anyone who's used 'em) impressions on the "Q" series silencer? Does it rob/alter the power too much?

BTW If you need to bump start any WR or YZ, just pull in the compression release and the clutch. Let the clutch out first, after the wheel is turning, then let out the compression release and it starts without any trouble or sliding at all.

Cool I wish I would have known that before. I only had my 02 426 3 months when the news broke on the new 450 and befor that I was a die hard two stroke man. Never had that problem before and now still don't with the WR450. Thanks for the tip, I'm dumb A** That totally makes sence now that I think about it Dough.

I went form a Wr400 to the Wr450. My impresison is the 450 has a much broader, flatter torque curve but does not have the top end charge of the old 400. My 400 was YZ timed so this made some difference. I am not impressed with the power output of the 450. I pulled the cork out of the exhaust, cut the throttle stop and removed the snorkle. Do we know yet if the 450 can be YZ timed? The starting issue is not an issue to me. The e start is nice but I never had a problem with kick starting 400.

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