Seeing as the 2009 YZ450 didn't receive any major motor or suspension changes this year, it's no surprise that new blue is essentially a slightly tweaked version of last year's model. And what stood out on that bike? Ridability, among other things, was the 2008 Yamaha's prominent characteristic, and the new model is no stranger to this same ease-of-use. Thanks to a hearty but well-mannered motor, the YZ-F is less "get up and go" and more "I'm here if you need me." In other words, the mellow nature of the bike's delivery doesn't wear you out, doesn't knock your socks off and doesn't feel very fast. On the stopwatch, though, the benefits of a usable 450cc power spread can be a bit surprising. As far as the chassis goes, the Yamaha again exhibits a nimble and easy-handling feel that can be in part attributed to the narrow seat and shroud setup. With stock settings, the suspension was a little stiff for my weight and riding style, but even still it took hard hits and chop like a champ. The stock ProTaper bar is killer, and the overall fit and finish of the YZ-F is also solid. But can this bike win our shootout? It's too early to tell, but if the stopwatch is any indication of its potential, I wouldn't be surprised to see a Yamaha on top this year.
-Chris Denison/5'10"/155 lb/Intermediate_I'm not really too much of a 450 rider; I only race one once a year for Mammoth. So I was a little on the timid side about the power of this big 450. After doing a few laps, I realized that I was having no problems controlling the bike at all. With such a smooth powerband, it made me think that the YZ450F was a little slow and lacked power. But by the end of the day, I realized that what made this whole bike was a great motor. It was pretty close to identical to last year's bike. Suspension, handling and just about everything else on this bike worked together perfectly. I was able to get on the bike and just ride without making any adjustments. Even coming straight off a 250F, there was no challenge in the transition to a bigger bike.
_-Tyler Ruiz/5'10"/180 lb/Intermediate_The motor on the 2009 YZ450F was the first thing that caught my attention. A lot like the 2008, it had plenty of power, but was still deceptive due to the smooth power delivery. At first I found myself wanting to downshift because the motor sounded like it was bogging down. Well, maybe it sounded like that (but it definitely wasn't slowing down), and after a couple of turns I was one happy rider. It was pulling strong and putting traction to the ground. Most of the power was in the bottom to midrange, so the YZ liked to be short-shifted. Well, what do you know-a four-stroke that's made to be ridden like a four-stroke! I've never understood why people like to ride four-strokes on the rev-limiter. After all, that's not where the power is, and who wants to replace valves more often than their oil?The suspension on the Yamaha was very plush and worked great all around. I only had a couple issues that could easily be remedied with some minor suspension work. With the back end kicking coming into hard-braking corners, I felt that the bike could use a little more hold up in the front. This would also help with those unexpected pothole landings and make the bike a little more stable at high speeds. I'm sure that would affect the cornering a little, but that shouldn't be a problem because this thing turns on a dime. Can you say, "corners like a Suzuki"? Yes, I said it. And yes, it does. As long as you're fully committed, you can throw this bike into any tight, rutted turn and come out smiling.If I had to pick out something that I didn't like about the YZ, all I can come up with is the skinny feel. At 6 feet 1 inch, I'm more comfortable on the wider bikes like the Kawasaki and Honda which are the bikes I'm used to riding. That's just rider preference, though.
_-Chris Barrett/6'1"/185 lb/Pro