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We look at the age old question - is a motocrosser suitable for bush work?


A common question the brains trust here at ADB get asked on a regular basis is, “does the current YZ450F work well in the bush?”  For this very reason we decided to spend a day in the bush on the 2022 YZ450F and get some answers for ourselves.

Before I even threw a leg over the new YZ450F I was quite positive it was going to be very capable in some good old Aussie bush terrain for a number of reasons. Way back in another lifetime when I raced for Yamaha Australia I had the choice to race either a YZ or WR and I chose the YZ every time. During those few years I hardly missed the top step of the podium in Australia while dodging between the trees and because of that I have some fond memories of racing YZ’s in the bush.

Fast forward a few years to an 18 year old up and coming Matthew Phillips. I remember seeing him lay waste to everyone in Australia at selected AORC rounds on his YZ450F. He then took it to the Finnish ISDE showing up some of the world’s best enduro racers. Next up was Daniel Milner, every time he jumped on a YZ450F he was generally on the top step of the podium weather it was at an AORC event or the A4DE.

Then there is the fact that the YZ450F was laying waste to everyone here in Australia and the USA during the respective 2021 National Motocross Championships with Luke Clout and Dylan Ferrandis as the pilots. National MX tracks get torn up like crazy and end up rougher than hessian underpants. So for a bike to work and be successful in those conditions it should handle the extra elements found when dodging trees and rocks.

One might wonder why anyone would want to ride or race a YZ450F in the bush when Yamaha have their off-road targeted WR and FX models available. The fact that the YZ450F is $3,000 cheaper than the WR450F and $1,300 cheaper than the YZ450FX is a good reason to start with. Also with ninety nine percent of Off-road racing being held on private properties these days any form of road registration is not needed.

The A4DE is the only race that requires road registration and you can get around that with a one-off permit that is available for MX bikes. Just these reasons alone make the YZ an attractive option out of the Yamaha 450cc range.

After spending the good part of a day dancing between the Ironbarks on the new YZ450F the first question I wanted to answer is why a pro would want to race a YZ over the WR to start with? This is a pretty simple answer really. The YZ is lighter and faster, eight kilos lighter to be exact.

This alone gives it a better power to weight ratio than the WR just to begin with. What pro racer would not want the lightest 450 possible when running a slalom through the saplings and pulling up for hairpin turns.

So how did I find it to ride in the bush?  Honestly a lot easier than I expected. The YZ is known for having a monster of a engine, even on open flowing MX tracks, so I was a little concerned it might be a handful between trees. When I started grabbing fists full of throttle the YZ would build up speed at a pace I was not entirely comfortable with, especially with big gum trees so close to the track.

What I did enjoy with the strong YZ engine though, was always having power available no matter what gear or throttle position I was in. The YZ is happy lugging in a tall gear or bouncing off the rev limiter. This made it easy if I was lazy and didn’t want to change gears between corners. The only aspect of the power that took a bit of time to get a feeling for was the initial quarter part of throttle movement. Unless I was very smooth with my throttle movements the touchy throttle gave me a very jerky ride.

My only real gripe with the YZ450F is with the starting. Yes it is electric start, but I didn’t like how sometimes it started first press of the button and other times it took five or six presses to get the YZ fired into life. (Exhausted your thumb did you mate? ED.)

I was also very impressed at how light the YZ felt weaving between trees. Its weight of 111 kilograms is not heavy but it’s not light either when comparing specifications with other manufacturers. Either way it holds its weight really well, feeling like a really light bike when in action.

The ergonomics on the YZ are quite open and roomy making it an easy bike to move around on. I feel larger riders would be right at home. Swapping in and out of ruts the YZ has a very stable front-end feeling that makes picking lines and dodging trees relatively easy.  Both ends provided a very firm feeling that is to be expected from standard MX suspension. What I did like was even though it was very firm it never kicked sideways or got out of shape. I just had to slow down sooner than I liked because it’s physically hard to go fast for long with the firm ride that both ends provide.

I really liked the action of the cable clutch. It has a reasonably light pull and provides perfect feeling when riding that fine line between engagement and slipping. The only time I had to adjust it was during our messing around stopping and starting for pictures.

For myself I would definitely race the YZ over the WR model. The YZ is a lot closer in specifications to what I want as a race bike. If I got a WR I would only be stripping off all the ADR gear and trying to make it as close to a YZ as is possible anyway.

Would I buy the YZ for bush riding? YES.  I am a massive fan of the Yamaha Power Tune App so between that and some suspension modifications to make both ends more forgiving and  friendlier in off-road conditions I could find myself very happy and at home on this powerful machine between the trees. I feel the YZ450F is a lot like some of the previous Yamaha’s I raced and loved. It doesn’t do anything amazing but it does do everything very well, making it a very versatile bike.

How to set the YZ450F up to race in the bush with no budget to worry about.

In no particular order here is what I would do.

  • Take a drive to a suspension tuner you trust and get a more off-road friendly setup in both the forks and shock. This will make the YZ more forgiving on the body over rocks and tree roots.
  • Fit a G2 throttle tamer tube to take some of the aggressive feel out of the first part of the throttle action.
  • Add some kind of skid/bash plate for protection.
  • Install flag style hand guards to stop branches snagging the levers.
  • Go two teeth bigger on the rear sprocket so first gear is a slightly slower in tight terrain.
  • Fit an oversize front brake for a bit more braking power ,
  • Fit a full titanium exhaust system that has optional end bungs for performance tuning ,
  • Change to some handlebar grips that are more forgiving on the  hands ,
  • Use an O-ring chain for durability on long rides ,
  • Install front and rear mousse tubes.


2022 Yamaha YZ450F


DESIGN: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valve
BORE & STROKE: 97.0 × 60.8mm
STARTER: Electric
EMS: Fuel Injection
TRANSMISSION: Constant mesh, 5-speed
CLUTCH: Cable operated




FRONT SUSPENSION: Telescopic forks,
REAR SUSPENSION: Swingarm (link suspension),


FRONT BRAKE: Hydraulic single disc, 270mm
REAR BRAKE: Hydraulic single disc, 240mm


FRAME DESIGN: Bilateral Beam

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