YZ450 or WR450

Thinking about getting a new bike, but I'm trying to decide on a YZ or a WR, I race D38, lots of desert mud hills, whoops, lakebeds. The only downside I see with the YZ is the 19" rim, the WR has a light and e-start.........input please.


twosixtwo industries

Hey Al,

Tough choice, no simple answer. I wish there were a model in between, frankly.

YZ450 Pro:

  • Lighter
  • Faster
  • Better base suspension
  • Excellent handling
  • Adequate top speed with stock gearing (AL 5 speed models)


  • Close ratio trans limits effectiveness in tight sections versus high speed sections and makes gearing selection a problem
  • Lack of electrical power for lights and difficulty in adding it on
  • Power is "high strung" at low speeds, although manageable
  • No e-start

WR450 Pro:

  • Wide ratio trans covers a broader speed range from tight sections to lake beds
  • Powerful base electric system expandable to over 100 watts for running lights
  • E-start
  • Smooth at low RPM


  • Heavy
  • Less power (easily correctable)
  • Base suspension needs work

Personally, if I had my way, I think Id start with an '07 or later WR and modify it. The rear shock needs work, but can be set up as nicely as the YZ, which really isn't quite perfect, either, and both need a little tweaking to perform really well. Dave Johnson at Smart Performance has done some great work with KYB forks, and has a kit for the WR fork now that makes them the equal of most anything out there. You could also use a set of forks from an '06+ YZ450. That, and dump some of the extra weight, and it might be the best choice.

If the lighting issue isn't important, and you don't care about the starter, it would be cheaper to add the wide ratio trans to a YZ.


if i were you, i would get the yz, and toss a wr tranny in it. then, the bike will be every thing you need, and be a beast while doing it:ride:

If I had to do it over again, and for my style of riding I would of got a 07WR. But I have a 06 YZ450. Dont get me wrong. I totally love the bike. I have it geared low. 53 rear 13 front. Its good for woods riding. I do lose on the fast fireroad stuff. But it does still move pretty quick.

When its time for total rebuild I'll put a WR trans in it. Its getting close.: )

If you race "C","B" level WR, "A" level you Need a YZ.

Just toss the 19" and buy a 18" wheel for the YZ, all wheels on WR/YZ are interchangable.

YZ at Expert level because less weight and superior suspension.

I have raced both the WR and the YZ. I liked the YZ with the WR tranny and cams, but I liked the WR cause of the e-start, lights, easy access filter and suspension. The YZ suspension is a tad on the harsh side compared to the WR, buit the WR is horrible on big hits until you get it re-worked.

The WR takes a little more time to set-up than the YZ due to the emissions and other things you havw to rip off and throw in the garbage.

I like both of the bikes for differnt reasons, but my prefernce is the WR with YZ cams and e-batt dry cell battery for lighter weight. It is cheaper to go that route rather than put WR cams and tranny in the YZ, plus you get the magic button!

Jason Raines

If you race ... "A" level you Need a YZ.

YZ at Expert level because less weight and superior suspension.

IMO, the close ratio trans of the YZ is a greater handicap in A than in the lower classes. (talking about desert racing here, as that is the OP's subject). Lighting a YZ well enough to race Expert at night can be a deal breaker. Not that a YZ can not be competitive, of course. But the WR's suspension and power can both be brought up to levels that are equal to a good modified YZ. True, the WR pales in a stock for stock comparison, but it is still good basic material for the purpose, if you ask me. The weight is less a handicap in the desert than in MX, or even Hare Scrambles.

There are a couple of nearly stock WR's racing in D38, in fact, and they do pretty well. As for what's needed to win at the Expert level, overall or within a class, look what the fast guys are on at the next race. It's still 75% rider.

4oshun12 is my brother and most of the time he's on a BRP, so the "heavy" WR would still be light. I have a WR so I'm a little biased.

I agree Gray, i'd love to see an in between model. Wide ratio, no estart, cartridge suspension, no headlight, and a 18" wheeel. Like a KTM xc-w(although they have a very light e=start). It would never happen, though. Wouldnt it be nice if you could special order a bike like you can with a car? Pick and choose the tranny, suspention, valving, ect... I suspect that not enough bikes vs. cars are sold to make it feasible.

sound like a good idea, will take some time tho.

My 2 cents. I didnt want the weight of the WR so i picked up an '08 YZ 450f. I've got the gytr heavy flywheel, 51 tooth rear sprocket, and pump gas. I love it and would never trade it for a WR even if i was paid. It never stalls and with the 51 tooth sprocket the gearing is fine even for tight technical single track and is still excellent on the MX track. I have it jetted for my elevation/ temps and it almost always starts within 1-3 kicks, 5 kicks tops! I have no complaints with this bike on MX or single track. YZ 450f FTW. bill804

I have owned an 07 wr and now an 09 yz. All I can say the yz feels 60 pounds lighter than the wr and handles so much better.

I feel the yz makes a much better offroad bike than a wr.

I ride single track and desert. The wr flat wears you out where's the yz does not.

The yz does fine with a pipe,06 cdi and a Rekluse Pro.

how much would one expect to pay for a WR tranny?

That depends on what model you want to convert and whether you intend a hybrid box or a complete WR box. The '03-'05 4 speed YZF' require the entire, complete trans, including shift forks and shift cam, should be about $7-800 altogether if bought new. The '06-'09 YZ450 can reuse its original output shaft and forks at least, so a complete changeover drops to about $450(?) A hybrid setup (4th and 5th WR gears) needs only the 4 gears for 4th and 5th.

'10+ models need to change the output shaft due to a splining change, but can be converted, also.


I was in the same boat as you about 6 months ago. WR or YZ? I ride primarily singletrack and occasional desert ride so the WR would be perfect. When I compared the two side by side the WR would be a perfect only bike. It has everything I needed and was going to have to add to the YZ. Except for the 30 pounds of weight, I'd have to try to remove that from the WR. I was even considering removing the e-start and battery from the WR to drop weight. I'll only buy a FI bike so the 12 WR was the only choice. I searched around for clean, used 2010+ YZs and 2012 WRs. There are no used 2012 WRs for sale so when I found a 2011 YZ with less than an hour use I bought it right away. The difference in what I paid for the YZ to a new WR have paid for the 18" real wheel, lights, flywheel and one day I'll try swapping the transmission.

The YZ is certainly limited in the transmission, but that was expected going in. Everything else is perfect. Very happy with the backwards engine YZ.

Had a similar dilemma , I absolutely love my '11 Yz450 but there are some trade offs as mentioned above ( greys comments ).

Solution :- bought a GasGas Ec300 for trail / tight tech stuff.

Both low hours.

Best part, cost me less than 1 brand new bike.

I have owned my 07 WR450f for 2.5 yrs now, and had YZs prior. IMHO I would rather have a YZ450 with a Rekluse. The YZ is so much lighter, handles better and set up to race/ride right away. The rekluse will allow you to use the stock YZ transmission and you don't need electric start because it wont stall anymore. I would also just buy a Tubliss inner tube setup for the 19" instead of getting an 18" wheel($100 instead of $500). It protects the rim and allows you to run less pressure. You will want to consider a larger tank for either bike for trails and desert.


A mate of mine has a '10 Yz450 and he was having stalling problems ( inexperience ). I suggested to him he try a Rekluse , we fitted it and it really is awesome! Holeshots in 2nd gear, hold a gear longer, no more stalling into corners, acts like an auto car in 1st gear so you just work the throttle to get through tech etc

Works great on a 450 with all that useable power. Definitely worth some serious thought .

Yeah, I was the last one of my riding group to get a Rekluse, because I just didnt understand the benefits until I rode theirs. They really have an amazing product, but it is a costly investment. You can still use your clutch like normal, only you dont have to use it at all... It will make anyone in my opinion a better rider, especially in tight single track. The clutch slips perfectly without losing any low end grunt, and I didnt lose any engine braking which I am used to having.


Update: 2012 Wr450f

Went out for a ride yesterday with a friend who has a '12 Wr, 1200k on clock, all nicely run in suspension & engine wise ( NBC: gearbox's on these are TIGHT new ).

Suspension: an absolute delight.

Front forks: takes the square edge hits amazingly. Tracks perfectly through rutted, rooty, rocky trail trash. Of the few jumps on the trail took them without any fuss- plush. It carved the sand sections, just throw it in/ get a bit of wash out and just gas it to get it pointing in the right direction.

Rear suspension: it's a Yamaha , not much more to say really. New shock does an awesome job, hooks up, tracks and just eats up the trail, including the numerous whoop sections I went through ( aprox 100 metre sections continuous ).

Engine: running the "Woods map" , now that the motor has "loosened up" this map works very well in the tight stuff and just open the throttle right up for the open stuff, a great all rounder. Good stall resistance , pretty lively when you give it some throttle and very manageable . Had zero problems starting with the E leg.

Of special note: when you the gearboxes on these feel knotchy and are an absolute pr@ck to find neutral ( I've assembled / ridden more than one ), after 1200k's - slick, light changes and no problem at all snicking neutral when stationary.

Handling: precise, stable, planted and a nice light feel to it.

Con: felt heavy at a stand still BUT once you get moving it honestly just disappears!!! I personally feel that the extra weight is what contributes to such a plush, planted and controlled ride.

I am seriously considering if I "trailise" my '11 YZ or just trade on a new Wr, I was honestly that impressed ! :-)

And before anyone asks, no I am not a hard and fast Yamaha guy, I swapped rides with my GG this day and own another brand again of road bike. BUT Yamahas have served me well over the years, some of my best memories have been on them ;-)

Did I miss anything ?

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