Thanks to James Stewart’s hype and a host of ultra picky magazine test riders, almost everyone has heard that the new Yamaha YZ 450f chassis has room for improvement in the handling department. The claim is that the YZ450f has a tendency to get a bit loose heading into the entrance of certain turns. Ironically, those same complaints come from individuals that also confirm the new YZ 450f is without a doubt, the most reliable motocross bike on the market, and that it’s handling is also vastly improved over the pre-2010 YZ 450f models. Nevertheless, just as every rider can always improve upon his skills, every bike… no matter how great, will always have some way it could probably perform better. We honestly think the YZ 450f is a phenomenal bike, yet agree that the front end has a tendency to get loose in specific conditions. The good news is that with a little help from expert’s like Doug ‘The Doctor” Dubach, who has spent countless hours doing research and development for Yamaha, the YZ 450f’s handling characteristics can be greatly improved for very little of your hard earned cash.
Here is what Doug Dubach, his crew, and a host of other smart engineers have discovered… combining a longer rear shock linkage with a rather simple engine relocation kit, the new YZ 450f can handle spectacularly. Our own team’s YZ 450f now, honestly, handles just about as good as any bike we have ever owned…and we have been riding for 35 years. We are actually quite amazed at how the YZ 450f can literally ‘turn on a dime’…regardless of any negative gossip floating around the pits. The longer rear shock linkage successfully lowers the bike’s rear end, while the Dr. D engine relocation kit lowers the front end, for a more perfect balance. As a result, the YZ 450f has a lower center of gravity, while most importantly, the bike’s weight is moved farther towards the front wheel to make the front tire stick better. Consider for example, the simple concept of how a dirt bike’s front end can often grip better when lightly applying the front brake. That improved front end grip is from a forward shift of weight… and the effect of the YZ 450f engine relocation kit is a somewhat similar concept that successfully moves weight forward.
We tested Dr. D’s YZ 450f engine relocation kit via several Chronic MX team riders, who all have lots of seat time aboard the new YZ 450f. They tested at several southeastern tracks in Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina. Unanimously everyone noticed an improvement in the bikes front end manners. Team Chronic MX has chosen to run Yamaha’s for the last decade due to their incredible reliability and proven performance. Ironically the same year that riders complained about the new YZ 450f chassis, amateur’s all across the country were placing the exact model bike on top of podiums. In 2012 for example, Yamaha won a total of 11 championship titles at Loretta Lynn’s, more than any other manufacturer…several aboard Yamaha’s new YZ 450f. ”Riders turned the podium blue this week, from the PW50 to our new YZ450F,” said Donnie Luce, Yamaha’s amateur motocross coordinator. Meanwhile, Paul Whibley continued to put his new YZ 450f on the podium in 2012, after winning dozens of OMA and GNCC off-road races and several championship titles in 2010 and 2011…all on the new YZ 450f chassis. Therefore, just because the new YZ 450f doesn’t work for James Stewart, certainly doesn’t mean it wont work for you.
Ironically, one of our own Team Chronic MX’s YZ 450f’s parked right next to Doug Dubach’s #15 on the starting gate at Loretta’s this year. The point however is not to prove that the YZ 450f truly is a winning machine. This review is about how to make the new YZ 450f an even better bike. And that’s where the Dr. D engine relocation kit comes into play. The kit retails for $149.95 and is quite possibly one of the single best improvements that can be made to the new YZ 450f Yamaha. The only other aftermarket improvement that may be equally as effective in improving performance (not handling) was via Injectioneering’s throttle body modification: ( http://www.chronicmx.com/secret-weapon-of-the-pros-and-the-ultimate-yz-450f-cure-injectioneerings-throttle-body-modification/ ). The Dr. D kit is definitely a great product though, and we’d be inclined to purchase it first if you can only afford one of these ‘cures’. The kit comes with motor-mount inserts that allow the engine to be moved forward in order to shift valuable weight back onto the front wheel, for increased traction and better overall handling. Apparently the YZ450F’s new frame has a slightly steepened head angle which relocated weight farther rearward. By moving the engine forward approximately 2.5mm, a shift in weight occurs towards the front wheel. That shift in weight is exactly what ‘the doctor called for’ in order to get the new YZ 450f chassis perfectly dialed in. We highly recommend this aftermarket product if you have a new 2010 and up Yamaha YZ 450f. Installation is not the most fun part, and can be tricky, but Dr. D has created a very helpful instructional video to make the project much easier. Stay tuned for more helpful tech tips and product reviews, and be sure to follow us on facebook http://www.facebook.com/ChronicMotox . Cheers, Chronic MX.