Yamaha launches 2023 competition range with all-new YZ450F

Yamaha has launched its off-road competition range for 2023, featuring changes across the board for the lighter, more compact YZ450F.

2023 Yamaha YZ450F, in Icon Blue on left of shot, Monster Black on right

Yamaha has launched its 2023 competition motorcycle range, with the headlines surrounding the YZ450F.

The YZ450F is of course Yamaha’s flagship motocross bike, and the current generation has been around since 2017. For 2023, it is all change, though. 

Overall, the Japanese manufacturer's philosophy with the new YZ450F motorcycle could be summarised as 'more power, less weight'.

Most of the notable changes are centred around the engine. That is where the weight has been saved, as well as obviously where the adjustments to the power and delivery of the power have been made. 

The reality of 450cc motocross bikes is that they essentially have too much power, a bit like a 1000cc sports bike. Ultimately, you are almost never using all of the power and torque capability of the motor, so keeping that power manageable and linear is the most important thing, especially on production models. 

For the 2023 YZ450F, Yamaha has tried to increase the linearity of the power across the rev range, which has also been increased by 500rpm.

Theoretically, this should mean the 2023 YZ450F is more accessible to a larger group of riders and riding styles; because the power is better spread through a larger rev range, it should be possible to lug it from low down in the power band, just as well as revving the motor out towards the top of that rev limiter.

One of the factors behind the altered engine characteristics is the new air intake layout, with larger diameter (39mm) titanium intake valves. These increase the air intake volume by nine per cent, and necessitated a change in the exhaust system - from ports to silencer - to optimise the new engine.

Overall, the new 450 motor should be more rideable, more powerful, but also lighter. The YZ450F is 2.3kg lighter overall for 2023, and much of that weight loss has been found in the engine. 

The engine is also more compact, and a revised transmission layout means for a slimmer motorcycle and smaller bodywork. On the one hand, this can make the 2023 YZ450F a bike on which the rider is able to be more mobile and agile; but on the other hand it can make it more difficult to grip with your legs, which could impact control. 

That is perhaps why Yamaha has tried to improve the ergonomics of the rider triangle, with 5mm lower footpegs, 5mm higher seat height and adjusted handlebar position. 

The handlebars are also adjustable between four positions for added malleability, and a similar philosophy has been used with the suspension. It is still from KYB, of course, but now the forks feature hand-adjustable compression damping, and adjustments can be suggested by the Power Tuner app. The suspension at both the front and rear has updated internal valving. 

Finally, we come to electronics, where we find a traction control setting with three modes, new launch control, and updated engine mapping to match the updated engine. As before, the power can be more finely tuned via the Power Tuner app.

The YZ450F is not the only bike in this announcement, though, although it is the only one with major changes. 

Vital MX’s Michael Lindsay notes that the previous generation of motocross machines from Iwata saw the YZ250F updated the year after the 450, so perhaps we will be waiting until 2023 for the new-generation Yamaha 250 four-stroke motocrosser.

For the 2023 model year, the YZ250F is the same as before, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The bike has undoubted pedigree, having won the 2022 250SX West Championship with Christian Craig; the 2021 250SX East Championship with Colt Nichols; the 2021 250SX West Championship with Justin Cooper; the 2020 and 2019 250SX West Championships with Dylan Ferrandis; the 2020 250MX Championship with Dylan Ferrandis; the 2018 250SX West Championship and 2018 250MX Championship with Aaron Plessinger; and the 2021 MX2 World Championship with Maxime Renaux. Furthermore, with three Grands Prix left in the 2022 MX2 World Championship season, Yamaha’s Jago Geerts holds a 23-point lead over KTM’s Tom Vialle, the 2020 MX2 World Champion.

Yamaha is also back for 2023 with its two-stroke motocross range of the YZ250, YZ125, YZ85 and YZ65.

On the enduro side of things, Yamaha will be offering once again the WR450F and WR250F, both derived from the adjacent motocross machinery.
And, finally, there will remain the TT-R50, TT-R110 and TT-R125 for more casual off-road riding.

The 2023 Yamaha YZ450F, YZ250F, YZ250 and YZ125 will be available in two colours: “Icon Blue” and “Monster Black.” They are of course easy to distinguish between: the blue colour is essentially standard, factory Yamaha paint, while the black colour features Monster Energy graphics akin to those found on the factory race bikes of the Star Racing team in the US, and the Wilvo Yamaha Factory Racing Team in MXGP. 

For the remainder of Yamaha’s off-road competition offerings, just the “Icon Blue” colour will be available. 

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