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Kirk Gibbs’ CDR Yamaha YZ450F | Factory Ride

We take a detailed look at the CDR Yamaha YZ450F ridden by CDR team rider Kirk Gibbs.

Kirk Gibbs: I raced for Yamaha all my Junior career and up until 2012, but when I came back in 2019 the bike had changed considerably. There was still a familiarity about it and then, working with the CDR Yamaha team, it didn’t take long to fine tune everything to my liking and I was comfortable on the bike in a very short period. The stock bike is so good now that very little really needs to be done.

The bike I raced in New Zealand [over the summer] was very close to standard and we were still able to get the job done there. But the CDR Yamaha Monster Energy Team YZ450F is on another level. The power is limitless yet still so easy to use, the suspension is tailored to my liking and the bike feels brand new every time I sit on it.

Kirk Gibbs Technician: Allister Kent

One thing that didn’t change on the 2020 YZ450F was the ergo set-up. Kirk Gibbs retains the standard triple-clamps and even runs the ’bar mounts in the standard back/forward position. He mounts a Renthal 996 handlebar and Renthal diamond-pattern handgrips. The standard levers and perches remain.

The only other change to the layout is a slightly higher seat for comfort. CDR Yamaha found in testing that some padding in the centre of the seat gave the riders a better position on the bike and, combined with a gripper seatcover, he feels more planted on the machine. He also has some sharpened footpegs for more grip.

The GYTR engine package – head, cams and piston – are exactly the style of power Kirk likes in his bikes. There is an increase in power but, just as importantly, it keeps the same delivery as a standard engine. With the GYTR package, the power is broadened right across the rev range, which allows Kirk to run that higher gear and pull that low rpm.

The use of the Vortex ECU gives the team some adjustability in the power delivery. Using the low, mid- and high-rpm clicker adjustments, the team can fine tune the power and they can also program maps that increase or decrease the rev limit as Kirk or the conditions require.

The team has had a long relationship with Pro Circuit but the PC exhaust we use is just an off-the-shelf unit and it works perfectly with the GYTR motor combination.

Owner/Manager: Craig Dack

One area we think is important to invest in is suspension. The YZ450F already comes with class-leading KYB components but the team’s status allows us to access some special KYB parts to make the best better. The CDR Yamaha Monster Energy Team put a lot of emphasis on ensuring the valving is suited to the rider, the spring rates are right and the balance and geometry of the bike are right before throwing any parts at it. No part will fix an unbalanced or poorly setup bike.

The overall feel of the bike is undoubtedly firmer than standard to handle the pace of a professional racer, but it keeps a plush feel for comfort. The shock uses a baseline of 102-105mm ride height while the fork can be slid through the clamps to get the front-end feel Kirk wants. That can range anywhere from flush with the clamps on a whooped-out sandy track, to 5mm through to sharpen up the steering. Kirk Gibbs rides with a lot of faith in front-end traction and you can see how well the CDR Yamaha is set up as he is able to change direction on a hard and smooth surface easily and effortlessly.