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The 2020 and 2021 Yamaha YZ450F’s are identical minus some different graphics, so this gave me a chance to experiment more with standard settings as well as other aftermarket mods for this machine. For a bike that may get some flak thrown its way in the professional motocross racing world, this Yamaha YZ450F machine has treated me exceptionally well this year in my racing endeavors. I have won a Loretta Lynn’s title as well as a Vet World Championship on the exact same machine and haven’t had a huge maintenance list to go through.
Is the Yamaha YZ450F the lightest bike? No. Does it corner the best? No. Does it have the best cockpit? No. To me, when I answer those questions with a “no”, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. I don’t want a twitchy machine that has tons of cornering strength anyway. When you have a bike that can corner excellent, chances are high that you will have some stability issues. The Yamaha is a great middle of the road machine that does everything good. Below are some key settings, as well as mods, that I have rolled over into my 2021 YZ450F. These can help you drop your lap times, give you
Suspension: If you’re sticking with stock valving the 2021 Yamaha YZ450F’s suspension settings are still slightly soft (once suspension is broke in) at times on bigger bumps at speed. Going slower on the action as well as stiffening the compression really helps the whole bike remain planted around the track. The comfort that the KYB SSS fork/suspension has is unmatched and the track toughness it provides makes your life so much less stressful on set up. This setting below will work for most riders ranging from 165-195 pounds with no gear.
Compression: 6-7 clicks out
Rebound: 7-8 clicks out
Low Speed Compression: 8 clicks out
High Speed Compression: 3/4 turns out
Rebound: 7-8 clicks out
Engine/Power Tuner App: I have tried several maps on the YZ450F, but have always came back to the two below. The stock engine has a lot of bark (rpm response) from 0-10% throttle opening and for the tracks that we have out here (on the west coast) it’s too much at times. For you east coast riders try the “TP5” map as that should be enough bottom to mid range delivery to get you out of that soft soil, yet keep it manageable/linear to hold onto for a 20 minute moto (YES, I AM JEALOUS OF YOUR DIRT!). For all the rest of you, try the TP 3.0 map as that is the map that I use 80% of the time. The linear/easy to roll on throttle delivery along with the longer pulling power that this map has makes it a tractor around the track. This makes connection to the rear wheel much more apparent with this TP version. Yes, these maps will also work on your 2019 YZ450F, so give them a try.…
Seat: If there is one problem area of the Yamaha it is the seat. The seat still breaks down quickly and can feel clapped out. This makes you feel like you’re riding in the Yamaha and not on top. I would say go get a taller GYTR seat, but for some reason, they don’t have any at this time! Come on GYTR, get it together! Since the tall GYTR seat is scarce at the moment, I am sticking with a standard height/density GUTS foam which is actually a little firmer than the OEM foam. If you still can’t find the GYTR tall seat then go to gutsracing.com and get yourself a standard foam.
MX3S or Pirelli MX32 Mid-Soft Front Tire: Yamaha will not want to hear this, but I feel the Yamaha corners better with a Dunlop MX3S/Pirelli MX32 Mid-Soft front tire rather than the stock MX33. If you’re having trouble with initial lean into corners, get yourself a Dunlop MX3S or Pirelli MX32 Mid-Soft front and thank me later.
Gearing: I tried a 13/50 gearing set up for all you novice riders, but it didn’t work as good as the stock 13/49 set up. The stock gearing is just fine for 90% of tracks because the Yamaha’s engine has so much torque that it can pull third gear. Yes, even for you novice riders! Third gear is that “lugable” that you will not stall through corners, just make sure to cover the clutch lever.
Triple Clamps/Offset: The Yamaha YZ450F doesn’t need aftermarket triple clamps nor does it need an offset change. The rigidity balance that the stock clamp has is a blend of comfort and performance that is hard to find with aftermarket clamps. Still having a hard time in corners? Don’t purchase clamps, simply go to a 102mm shock sag setting or go to a fork height of 7mm. I suggest trying one or the other, not both at the same time. This keeps balance as well as keep the superb bump absorption of the chassis/clamps. Some other machines accept aftermarket clamps better than others, but this Yamaha has the most comfort/performance with the stock clamp. Don’t go backwards on your set up by purchasing parts you don’t need!
Muffler: I go back and forth between the Pro Circuit and FMF muffler systems if I am not running the stock muffler. Both systems are smoother off the bottom end and pull more in the mid range than the stocker. I like this because it can actually calm the chassis down a little on acceleration bumps. There is nothing wrong with the stock system, but if you MUST get an aftermarket system go with one of these two brands.
Enzo Re-Valved Suspension: If there is anyone that knows KYB suspension it’s Ross from Enzo Racing. Ross has been doing my Yamaha bump sticks for years and even though I can be a pain in the ass, the guys at Enzo always seem to find a setting that makes me happy. What exactly did I want to improve upon from the stock stuff? I loved that the stock suspension had tons of comfort in the small bump category, but I needed a little more hold up from the stock suspension when pushing it harder over bigger braking bumps. The fork has a tendency to dive a little when off throttle and that can upset the shock leading into area one of the corner. The Enzo guys improved upon the fork by adding more hold up with the valving, but not going so stiff that the Yamaha gave me deflection on braking bumps. Enzo also incorporated their spring tubes. When I tested back to back with the Enzo spring tubes as well as the stock spring tubes the Enzo setting gave me a little firmer feel through the mid stroke and allowed the bike to be more balanced off throttle (less diving). My fork is still relatively soft in terms of a setting, but it makes for more front end feel through corners and that is key for me because I am a front end steering rider. The shock was also firmed up so that the rear of the YZ450F didn’t squat too much under acceleration. An Enzo high speed adjuster was installed on the shock and that can be felt under heavy loads such as g-outs and jump faces. The Enzo adjuster is slightly different internally (the Enzo guys can explain it better to you then I can) than the stock adjuster, but on the track the rear of the bike tracked straighter under acceleration as well as kept a firmer feel to the end stroke. I kept the stock spring rate in tact on both ends of the bike, but only beefed up the valving in order to achieve a well balanced YZ450 on or off throttle.
Vortex ECU: I haven’t been that vocal about this mod because it’s so hard to justify spending $800 bucks on an ignition when the Yamaha ECU/Power Tuner app is so good. However after working on a ton of settings on the standard ECU, I decided to try the Vortex to see if I could make the power broader with it versus the stock piece. I have worked on settings with Chad from XPR and I can say that we have spent many days with at the track trying to make the Yamaha not spool up so quick (light crank feel). You might be asking yourself, “what the hell is spool up”? The Yamaha has a quick revving light crank feel and sometimes that feeling can cause lack of rear end traction when exiting corners. Now this is great when traction is high and the dirt is deep, but once the track gets rough, this Yamaha can be too much to handle compared to a KTM or Husqvarna. Adjusting the ECU via Power Tuner App helps a little, but for safety reasons Yamaha only allows certain parameters, but the Vortex ECU has a wider range of adjustment. Adding the Vortex ECU helps lessen engine braking and also gives the Yamaha a longer power character. Now usually when you get less engine braking in any particular engine character you might feel a more free feeling engine, but with the mapping that Chad created, it makes the power more controllable with less pitching off throttle. The maps that we came up with help rear wheel traction out of corners, allows the rider to ride in third gear even easier, yet allows me to use second gear longer out of corners. Once I got a map (with the Vortex) that wasn’t too powerful, I have noticed an improvement in chassis feel when the track gets rough. The YZ450F can be pushed harder through bumpy conditions now that the delivery of the Yamaha is much broader with less engine braking. I used XPR’s mapping in the Vortex ECU at Loretta Lynn’s and World Vets as I felt more connection to the rear wheel with Chad’s map at the end of the day. I would recommend anyone looking to get more connection as well as more power to get with Chad and ask for the Keefer National & World champion map.