From its extreme mass centralization, straight-shot air intake system to its out-of-harm’s reach airbox, there’s a lot about the YZ450F that just makes sense. Put it all together and you’d think you’d have the ultimate motocrosser, at least that’s what Yamaha was hoping for when it completely redesigned the YZ450F in 2010. With such radical changes, expectations, however, were very high for such a revolutionary machine and for many of us those expectations were not quite achieved. The new YZ was, in fact, an excellent motorcycle but ended up having some quirks. As a result, not everyone who rode it loved it, thus the YZ didn’t become the game-changer many had thought it would. On paper, the radically different YZ looked awesome, but on the track, it was just another very good motocrosser, one that pretty much fell into that either you love it or hate it category.
For 2014, the YZ450F got its first major overhaul since 2010. With the intentions of getting rid of those quirks, Yamaha went through the YZ450F with a fine-tooth comb and pretty much tweaked and re-tweaked every part on the machine. Even though it looks fairly similar to last year’s YZ, it truly is an all-new motorcycle. Something like less than five components are interchangeable with the previous model. However, Yamaha stayed true to its primary concept.
The 2014 YZ450F retains its reversed motor (though the motor really isn’t reversed, just the head), rearward slanted cylinder, forward-mounted airbox and under-the-seat fuel tank configuration, all for the sake of lowering the bike’s center of gravity and tightening up mass centralization for improved handling. But, looking back, Yamaha engineers felt they didn’t go far enough with the previous model.
Yamaha’s primary focus with the 2014 YZ450F was to improve mass centralization even further and to achieve this they did many things, like lowering the already low fuel tank (while giving it more capacity – 1.6 to 2.0 gallons) even further and rerouting the exhaust system. It still exits out the rear of the cylinder but instead of immediately coiling up in front of the shock (aka “tornado”), it now wraps low around the entire cylinder before exiting out the right side of the bike like it did before, but the tip of the muffler is now 7.1 inches closer to the center of the bike. The factory race bikes have already been using this design for a while.
One of the biggest gripes people – including us – had with the previous YZ450F was how it felt between your legs. It was wide and bulky toward the front where the radiators literally hang out. Yamaha redesigned that whole area, reducing the distance between the widest part of the radiator shrouds by 14mm (7mm each side). While they were at it, Yamaha made access to the now larger air-filter element easier (there are less parts to remove, including the fuel tank) and reduced that distinctive “sucking” noise from the airbox that really annoyed some riders.
By pulling back and lowering the fuel tank, Yamaha was able to cleverly hide the fuel cap under the seat, giving the rider a perfectly smooth surface to slide up on.