Photos by Peter Marcelli
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I remember a time when there were bikes you could purchase that was garbage. Luckily in my race career I have never really ridden or owned a bike like that and since the mid 90’s there really hasn’t been to many bikes made that were bad. By today’s standards, there really is not one bike that is bad or a really bad purchase. Since the days of four-strokes taking over and the constant development of the chassis and motors as well the amazing electronics that come on them, these race bikes are all truly amazing. The latest bike I have gotten to ride and test is the all-new YZ450. I have ridden and raced this bike for well over 10 years and have seen when it was tough to ride, it had a very heavy feeling, and for everyone, that knows it has always been hard to turn. Well, this new version fixes all of this and has the necessary improvements to make any consumer happy as a pig in poop.
When I first laid eyes on the new bike I was happy. I could see a much sleeker, almost more modern look like its competitors have had and where I felt this bike lacked. Don’t forget, our sport is full of posers and wannabee’s so the “look” of this machine right away makes you feel like a champ even though you’re beginner gate filler with no visor and uses rope for tie-downs. Once \i was able to sit on the bike I already felt faster. Ow, this may not make sense to some but being a guy that has ridden the same bike for quite some time you get comfy with what it delivered and to be able to feel like the bike was smaller, and nimble before you rode it gave this sense that you could throw it around like a ragdoll and be uber-aggressive. I actually decided to ride my personal 2017 first to compare back-to-back. I loved my 2017. I rode this bike right off the showroom for 5 weeks at MP Countyline not even setting the sag and loved it every minute on the track. So this new machine had big expectations for me.
Luckily for me, I was able to ride this bike for more than a month after this day but first initial thought on the bike was the good feeling in the pocket. The way you ride the bike these days is way different than the old 70’s, 80’s and 90’s style. The whole elbows up and over top of the bike don’t work anymore. The way to make a four-stroke work and use the amount of useable power it delivers is more like a street bike racer now. A tucked and pocket racer is a better, faster, and able to use the power properly. This new bike foot peg to seat is smaller and easier for a racer to find that “sweet spot” for comfort and confidence. I could feel this right away and attack and be way more aggressive than my personal bike. This new change really allows a faster racer be more aggressive and a first-time racer/rider get comfortable faster allowing their confidence to rise faster. This can be a good thing or a bad thing because there are a lot of racers that are not good enough with the amount of power and comfort these new bikes give but in saying that, this new pocket on the all-new 2018 YZ450 can get a “newby” comfy faster which could allow them to be more aware of the bikes power.
Over the month I had this puppy the comfort of it got better and better. Again, I didn’t touch anything, not even clickers other than making sure they matched. Being a tubby Vet guy you can get lazy really easy with the 60 horses this bike has but for some reason the bike gave me this fountain of youth feeling. I could whip this thing like I was 16 again. I could charge corners for lap after lap with hesitation that I might be riding over my head. The smoothness of the motor didn’t rip my flabby beer arms out of their sockets giving me arm pump after two laps like the previous version. Luckily for me, I’m skilled with the throttle so I could handle that but for a sub-par talent, they would be sent into the trees when trying to tame the beast. This new motor has that option to be lethal but it also has the ability to be much more welcoming and useable with the three maps you can use from stock. The bike has options for every level and that’s key because it’s not just made for the pro but also has to be able to be ridden by a beginner because pros don’t buy bikes.
The final positive to the bike is the Wifi ability with your phone to change your maps on the fly and the electric start. Just like a helmet camera these days your new YZ450 has the ability to give you info through a downloadable APP to your smartphone where you can control the mapping, but also the time between oil changes, hours on your piston, information from race to race, and insert different maps according the track changes throughout the day. The simplicity of it all is amazing and gives that extra little edge to the consumer that over thinks there bike and loves to tinker. The difference being the only tool need is your phone.
Lastly, the electric start; yes!! I must have reached a kick start at least 20 times over the course of the month I rode this beauty. It’s so handy, easy, and likely the greatest thing I have ever had on a bike. It’s been around on other brands for sometimes but to now have it on a YZ450 is like figuring out that peanut and jelly would be so good. This part alone is the seller for this bike. No longer can your beer belly get in the way of trying to raise that leg up to kick after a crash. Simply pushes, start, take a breath and go!
To sum this up the 2018 YZ450 gets an overall double thumbs up. Some could say I’m biased here but some could also say that I would know what’s good and what’s not with my years of riding this bike. The only negative for this machine is the price which is $10,499.00 but as someone shared to me with the amount of technology inside this machine, moving parts, and time put into it this price is well within what it should be. If it’s a money issue then just know you can’t take cash with you when you leave the earth so might as well rip it apart with a new YZ450 before it’s too late.