The Legendary YFZ450 Returns, Offering the Most Performanc
e for the Dollar in Sport ATVing Today!
Over the past 20 years, Yamaha has been the undisputed leader of the Sport ATV class–– at least, in our opinion. They’ve done it by offering a larger number of available models at any given time, and by leading in innovation and new model development.
While financial times have gotten harder for many prospective ATV enthusiasts, the price of purchasing a sport ATV seems farther and farther out of reach, unless you are willing to settle for a smaller displacement machine with more limited performance. Even big blue has fallen prey to the falling dollar forcing them to turn their innovative skills in a more financial friendly direction.
Creating a new budget model would cost millions of dollars in development and production costs, which, of course, would have to be built into the model’s retail price. To keep costs down, Yamaha turned to existing technology, resurrecting the legendary YFZ450. With the R&D long since paid for, plus the addition of a few cost-cutting updates and enhancements, Yamaha is delivering the 2012 YFZ450 for $300 less than it cost when it was released back in 2004, and $700 less than when it was shelved back in 2009!
The 2012 YFZ450 isn’t an updated 2004 model; it enjoys nearly all of the improvements that were available on the 2009 model. For the re-release, Yamaha wanted to improve the YFZ engine’s ride-ability, without taking away from its historically exhilarating power delivery. To start, they tweaked the cam profile to increase bottom-end and midrange power. Next, the YFZ’s 39mm FCR was swapped out for a 42mm BSR carburetor. They credit the new carburetor with improved throttle response, reduced throttle effort, and for helping maintain the engine’s top-end power; however, we are unsure as to what effect this will have on the engine’s power output in a highly modified state of tune. It’s likely that the carburetor switch was also a price-reducing tactic, with the FCR retailing for around $600. Yamaha claims the YFZ enjoys a 12% increase in power from 4000 to 8000 RPMs, with an 18% increase from 4000 to 6000 RPMs. Peak horsepower remains virtually identical to the 2009 model and the increased low-end and midrange power comes at the small expense of 4% power between 9000 and 10000 RPMs.
Suspension was a component where Yamaha worked to cut costs without compromising performance for the average rider. The 2012 YFZ’s shocks provide the same 9.1-inches of travel up front and 10.6-inches of travel at the rear wheels, identical to the previous model YFZs. What’s missing are the front shock reservoirs and the compression and rebound adjustments at both ends, although preload adjustment remains. While this sounds like a big deal, honestly, most riders don’t take advantage of the tuneability found in today’s high-end suspension components. If you feel you would benefit from the extra adjustability of the YFZ’s old shocks, you can find them reasonably priced on Ebay. If you are planning on modifying your YFZ for racing, the difference in its retail price will go a long way in purchasing a set of aftermarket suspension.
The YFZ450 is still one of the lightest ATVs in the 450 class, although Yamaha is claiming a minor increase in weight of 9 pounds, from 372 pounds in 2009, to 381 pounds in 2012. We found this a bit surprising, as we expected the suspension components to actually be a bit lighter.
Other updates to the YFZ include new, lighter weight, aluminum wheels with a rolled inner lip, which provides greater strength and prevents dirt from entering. New front Dunlop tires reduce unsprung weight and were designed to reduce steering effort. The latest version is available in black or white, with your choice of four One Industries 2012 Yamaha Graphics, plus the seven other styles One Industries offers. Purchasers of a new Yamaha can customize their One Industries graphics on the One Industries website using their One ID feature.