New Mini from Yamaha

Mini’s step into the VictorYZone

Yamaha have just dropped this little jewel of a video, hinting that something new might just be around the corner for your mini rider. 

With a huge gap between the PW50 and the YZ85, the bLUcRU are often left bibles for kids wanting to move up to a bigger steed, allowing other brands to pounce on a kid not ready for an 85. 

Our guess would be a new 65 from Yamaha in the coming months. But only time will tell.

2018 Yamaha YZ450F

Yamaha are continuing their path of being the leaders of innovation with their YZ-F range. But is a fancy smartphone app enough to keep the bLU cRU ahead of the competition? We sent Mitch to Aussie to find out.

Words: Mitch Pics: iKapture

Just looking at the fleet of 2018 YZ450Fs parked in a line next to the track at Coolum, you could see as well as feel that this is an important model for the boys in blue. With a decent amount of changes working their way through to the MX1 machine for 2018, it shows that Yamaha means business. But with all the limelight being stolen by the smartphone app which allows you to tune the engine, I was a bit more interested in what else has gone on underneath the white and blue shrouds.

For 2018, big blue has had a makeover and a few new techy upgrades to satisfy the bLU cRU fans out there. The factory fitted electric start isn’t the first we’ve seen on a four-stroke machine, but a moto first is the Smart Phone Power Tuner App, but more on that later. An electric start was probably more important back in the days when you could give yourself a hernia trying to start a hot YZ400, but with the technology in the modern machines it’s much less of a hassle. But, when you’ve crashed in first place of your local motocross race and you’ve got the second-place man bearing down on you with a victorious grin on his face, ready to roost you into oblivion, being able to hit the button and get going is suddenly going to be high on your list of priorities. The system is compact and utilises an ultra-lightweight lithium battery which incredibly sees the 2018 machine tipping the scales at a kilo less than last year.

Updates to the reverse-cylinder powerplant – another moto first for Yamaha – see changes made to make the power delivery more linear while also improving handling. Updates include changes to the cylinder head, piston, cam profiles and engine cases to accept the electric start, while the cylinder itself is more upright by two degrees and has a higher compression ratio. The idea of this is to improve weight distribution, with the increased weight at the front of the YZ-F giving more front-end grip and feel in turns.

Fuel is fed to the motor via a new 44mm Mikuni throttle body which replaces the Keihin item from last year. With the Yamaha having an aggressive feel to the power delivery in previous versions, the switch to the Mikuni throttle body combined with the rest of the changes to the powerplant has given the YZ450F a more linear delivery when opening the taps and unleashing the 62-horsepower that is rumoured to be produced.

In order to deal with all that power being developed by the Yamaha, the gearbox and clutch has also seen updates, with the ratios remaining the same in the ’box, just with beefier cogs (2nd, 3rd, 4th) inserted. The clutch has received improved plates along with a stiffer outer plate to reduce any fading issues from hard clutch use, while the shift lever and selector drum have also seen some changes to improve feel and allow for a shorter and more direct stroke.

Mass centralisation has long been a mantra for Yamaha, and was one of the main reasons for their move to the reverse cylinder format (combined with a more direct air and exhaust flow), and the 2018 YZ450F has been improved further still with the exhaust can now moved closer to the centre of the bike. The change in the look of the YZ-F due to this and combined with the new shrouds, graphics and blue wheels make for a dramatic difference from the 2017 model and there’s no doubting people will know you’re on the 2018 machine.

And There’s More

And it’s not just the motor that has seen changes in the new model, with the suspension, frame and overall feel of the YZ450F all featuring updates. While not exactly all-new, the KYB spring-type AOS forks are excellent and have received updated internal valving for more controlled damping. They’re renowned for being one of the best forks on the market, which are joined by a new and just as impressive KYB rear shock.

The YZ450F has always felt like a reasonably big bike, not heavy, but just a bit big from the cockpit. Changes to the chassis have been made to address this, with the completely new aluminium bilateral beam frame not only looking less complex than the outgoing hydroformed “S” pipe, but is also narrower by 16mm in the tank area and 18mm in the seat. While the handlebars have been raised 5mm, the seat is 8mm lower in the middle, increasing to 19mm lower at the rear. Rigidity has also been increased in order to further improve handling and feel in the turns.

Final changes have seen the fuel tank capacity drop to 6.2-litres from 7.5-litres which isn’t exactly going to make it a favourite with the dual purpose crew, but it’s obviously been done to lessen the bulky feel in the cockpit which has plagued the YZ450F before. The saddle has also been altered to improve movement for the rider, while the shrouds have also been redesigned, making the new model much easier for the rider to move around on.

Sand Destroyer

Now all these changes sound flashy – but how did it go?  Well, after getting chauffeured about in the mighty Rental Rav with Captain Alan from Yamaha NZ, I got to check out what’s what with this new beast at the release in Coolum, AuzStraya.

The Coolum track offered some soft loamy conditions which always makes it tough when judging the true potential of a bike, with the power-sapping sand not allowing us to sample the real potential of the powerplant or the finer aspects of the suspension. But as I cut some lines through the morning, the bike began to feel more and more comfortable.

The most obvious improvement is the re-designed chassis, with the trimmed-up frame making the 2018 YZ450F feel a lot smaller than the models that have come before it. With the higher ’bars and lower, narrower saddle, the feel of the 2018 YZ-F is majorly different to the outgoing bike and it’s incredible how nimble the Yamaha is on the track and in the air. The increased rigidity of the chassis offers a more stable platform to work with when making minor adjustments to the clickers, too, although it was encouraging to feel that Yamaha has done a good job of getting the suspension to a comfortable starting point for most punters straight out of the box. With the KYB AOS forks responding with changes in feel despite only small adjustments to the clickers, it’s easy to see that if you’re in the ball park with this bike and don’t need heavier or lighter springs, you could get to a pretty good setup straightaway.

The YZ450F has never been short on power, with a delivery which isn’t what you’d call subtle. With the changes to the engine and the switch to Mikuni for the throttle body, getting on the gas and making the most of the big numbers being produced by the Yamaha powerplant is now much easier, especially with the changes you’re able to make with the new tuning app. With the stonking torque produced from this powerplant combined with the smoother delivery, the YZ-F is now a prospect for the less confident rider who might normally have been intimidated by the hit from the previous version. Instead, the Yamaha now produces power that progresses through the rev range, meaning all you need to do is try and keep up with shifting gears. Thankfully, the updated gear selector with its shorter throw and more direct feel meant that missed gears were never an issue.

Getting forward on the YZ-F is also much improved with the new model, with the smaller, narrower profile at the front making transitioning to the front much less of a stretch. Whether the 6.2-litre tank is going to become an issue is yet to be seen, but with most YZ-Fs heading to the motocross track, it’s going to be more than enough to handle a moto and some. And if you want to go trail riding, go and get the YZ450FX which we’ve tested later in this magazine.

But now for the best bit, the tuning App. For 2018, Yamaha has produced a world first with the release of their Smart Phone Power Tuner App which allows you to monitor your bike’s condition, set maintenance schedules, create a race log for each event or ride you do, and best of all, tune the power delivery of your bike. Yep, Yamaha have integrated their existing Power Tuner tech into the app so you can send/receive maps, create your own and even share them with your mates, all using the on-board Wi-Fi system. How cool is that!

Victory Zone

Now being fortunate enough to be part of the crew here at DRD and getting to test all the best that the manufacturers have to offer, it’s hard to pick a best bike as it’s all down to personal preference or who your favourite dealer or brand is. Yamaha have done a great job and it’s going to be incredible to see how the other 2018 models compare as they arrive. But one thing is for certain, if you’re a Tru Blu fan, then this is the next bike on your wish list. And after riding the new YZ450F for a day at Coolum, I can safely predict that Yamaha have done enough to place their new Blue Beast at the pointy end when we’re start finding out which 2018 MX1 bike is the best of the best.

2018 YZ450F specifications

Price (inc GST)                       $14,399

Engine type                             Single cylinder, liquid cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valve

Displacement                         449cc

Bore & stroke                         97.0×60.8mm

Compression ratio                12.8:1

Starting system type             Electric starter

Lubrication system               Wet sump

Engine oil capacity               0.90-Litres

Fuel tank capacity                 6.2-Litres

Fuel supply                             Fuel injection

Clutch type                             Wet, multiple-disc

Transmission type                Constant mesh, 5-speed

Frame type                            Semi double cradle

Caster angle                            27°20′

Trail                                         121mm

Tyre size(Front)                      80/100-21 51M

Tyre size(Rear)                       120/80-19 63M

Rim size(Front)                       21×1.6

Rim size(Rear)                        19×2.15

Brake disc (Front)                   270mm

Brake disc (Rear)                    245mm

Suspension type (Front)         KYB twin chamber, speed sensitive, 48mm telescopic fork

Suspension type (Rear)          Swingarm (link suspension)

Shock absorber (Rear)            KYB coil spring/gas-hydraulic damper

Wheel travel (Front)               310mm

Wheel travel (Rear)                317mm

Overall length                         2185mm

Overall width                          825mm

Overall height                         1285mm

Seat height                             965mm

Wheelbase                              1485mm

Ground clearance                   335mm

Wet weight                             111kg

Colours                                    Team Yamaha Blue; White

Warranty                                 Three months, parts only

Available                                 From Sept 2017

 

Yamaha T7 World Raid Prototype

It seems the light-middle weight adventure riding market might be the next big thing, with Yamaha Motor unveiling their own class concept in the Yamaha Ténéré 700!

In obvious direct conpetition with the new KTM790, the Yamaha version look decidedly more off-road orientated, with the guise of an actual Dakar bike. This fight to gain the upper hand in Adventure touring can only be beneficial to the public as we will see a whole plethora of new models released over the coming few years. We can’t wait! But until then, here is all the Yamaha guff on its new 700 Adventure! 

Inspired by the remarkable levels of worldwide interest generated by the T7 concept presented in 2016, Yamaha has created Ténéré 700 World Raid, a prototype model which is being used to develop the final specification of the production model.

Featuring the rugged rally-inspired character of the original T7 concept bike, and developed using the information gained from intensive testing of the T7 during 2017, this lightweight adventure bike is unlike anything else currently offered.

In contrast to many models available today from other brands, the Ténéré 700 World Raid’s low weight and slim chassis give excellent off road performance for more extreme riding in a wide variety of terrain – and its compact 689cc CP2 engine delivers a wide band of tractable and easy to use power that make it ideal for on and off road adventure riding.

This motorcycle knows no bounds, and is designed for riders with an active attitude who yearn for the feelings of total freedom associated with adventures on two wheels. Designed with Yamaha’s rally winning DNA, the motorcycle that captures the genuine Ténéré spirit is just over the next horizon.

In contrast to many models available today from other brands, the Ténéré 700 World Raid’s low weight and slim chassis give excellent off road performance for more extreme riding in a wide variety of terrain – and its compact 689cc CP2 engine delivers a wide band of tractable and easy to use power that make it ideal for on and off road adventure riding.

This motorcycle knows no bounds, and is designed for riders with an active attitude who yearn for the feelings of total freedom associated with adventures on two wheels. Designed with Yamaha’s rally winning DNA, the motorcycle that captures the genuine Ténéré spirit is just over the next horizon.

The steel chassis has been reworked and improved in key areas in order to achieve optimized on road and off road handling, and features capable upside down front forks and a monoshock rear that are designed to perform well in all conditions.

The Ténéré 700 World Raid features the same rugged-looking rally bike silhouette as the T7, with a number of fine tunings, such as a lower seat height, that make the future production model accessible to a wide range of adventure riders.

The fuel tank has been developed to give a useful range between refills, while at the same offering excellent ergonomics and contributing towards the machine’s low weight.

Carbon fiber is used for the side panels, front fender and the one-piece rear tail, and the cowl is equipped with a Dakar Rally machine inspired 4-projector headlight assembly.

The cockpit area is designed to enable the rider to locate additional equipment such as navigation devices, and this exciting adventure bike features the T7-inspired color scheme, with Racing Blue and carbon fiber bodywork

 

The 2018 World Raid

Inspired by the huge levels of interest generated during the last 12 months, Yamaha will be taking the Ténéré 700 World Raid prototype on a challenging trip across the world throughout 2018.

During this special World Raid, a team of Yamaha riders will take on a number of tough adventure stages across the globe, enabling Yamaha fans in America, Australia, Africa and Europe to see, feel and hear the future of adventure riding.

KTM’s Concept to Rally-ity!

KTM re-enter the light-middle weight adventure category with a stunning example of things to come.

790 Adventure

KTM pulled the covers off its all-new, KTM 790 ADVENTURE R prototype at the world famous EICMA show in Milan today, along with a hinting how the Austrian firm’s model line-up will further expand, thanks to a completely new engine generation with its 799cc LC8c parallel twin powerplant.

KTM CSO Mr. Hubert Trunkenpolz (the T in KTM) updated the assembled media and guests on the status of the company, scheduled for another record year of growth and profit in 2017 – underlining its position as the largest European motorcycle manufacturer. Not surprising as they have a habit of buying other manufactures. With a completely new engine platform, an expanding R&D facility, increased staff globally and now more than 280 World Championships in its trophy cupboard, KTM refuses to shut the throttle on progress.

Is this what the ADVENTURE community has been eagerly awaiting? A lightweight, compact midrange travel enduro with outstanding cross-country ability.

The KTM 790 ADVENTURE R prototype fully embraces the Austrian company’s READY TO RACE philosophy. With its high dashboard tower, single seat, tiny LED lights and low-slung fuel tanks, the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R is clearly inspired by the KTM Rally machines that dominate competition the world over. The LC8c punches hard from inside its lightweight and extremely rugged chassis, complete with top-quality WP Suspension components front and rear. Naturally, a production version of this would come with the very best electronic rider assistance package too.

While it’s currently just a “prototype”, it looks damn near to production as it gets!

RALLY 450

As a clear example KTM’s consistent forward progression, KTM also presented an entirely new generation KTM 450 RALLY in a bid to claim a seventeenth consecutive Rally Dakar victory. 

Representing two years of intense development and debuted at the OiLibya Rallye Maroc in October, the bike is faster and lighter while being more agile and stable. Wrapped in new bodywork and housed in a bespoke, freshly developed chassis is a new 450cc single cylinder engine. Controlled by a new engine management system and a revised throttle body, the result is better peak performance and improved throttle response. And in the true KTM style and for non-factory pilots, a customer version KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA will become available during 2018.

This is the bike that will take on the Dakar in the impressive hands of Sam Sunderland and Toby Price!

2018 KAWASAKI KX250F

In 2017, we saw an all-new KX250F hit the floors. It was lighter; more nimble, faster revving. After a big year, you could expect Kawasaki to rest on that one for a while, but it seems the Green Team weren’t done yet.

Words: Broxy Pics: Paul

There was no mistaking the Kawasaki as it was rolled out of the Dr. D van, as its plastics are certainly unique, and not just for their colour. The solid strip of plastic running from the fuel cap to the side plates stands out visually, even though it is completely unnoticeable when you hop on the bike. As well, the green 250F has to be the narrowest 250 of them all – something the engineers worked hard to achieve last year.

There was hardly a single component from the 2016 bike that would fit on the 2017 model. When asked, ‘what did they change?’ the answer is ‘well, basically everything’. With a new frame, engine, intake, air box, swing-arm, radiators, seat, tank, linkage, shock spring, fork spring, and many smaller changes, there really isn’t much of the original left.

The most noticeable change is in the radiator department, where Kawasaki has shaved over three centimetres in the shrouds area between your knees, despite having increased the fuel tank size. It was the closest thing to sitting on a two-stroke that you will get from any of the Japanese manufacturers, aside from rival Yamaha’s YZ.

Kawasaki’s 2018 KX also handles more like a two-stroke. While it may have lost some of its stability, no one was complaining, because it is so much easier to throw around than the previous model. Even the power had become more revvy, to the point where your left foot had to remember how to tap dance again. All of this was well and good, but Kawasaki decided it wanted more traditional four-stroke power for 2018. I was amping to discover the end result.

Less is More

You have to understand the language that manufacturers give you in a bike release. ‘Bold new graphics’ has become a euphemism for ‘Basically the same as last year’, while ‘Optimised settings’ could mean anything. Kawasaki likes the word ‘Revised’, which is how they describe almost everything on the KX from the air intake boot, to the injector angles and cylinder head.

What amuses me is how they used ‘revised’ to describe a change to the compression ratio. Why? Because this year, it is slightly lower than it was in 2017 and in the meantime, everyone else is wanting to increase their compression for more power. What was the company thinking? Reliability over performance? Well, while I don’t know about any reliability problems, obviously, Kawasaki knew what it was doing with the power, because this engine actually has more grunt than it did last year.

As testament to this, Pirini Motorbike Park is a good test of horsepower because of its open layout, and the sandy sections will punish a lack of torque. We also had plenty of slippery sections from recent rain, giving us a very good gauge on performance. What stood out to me from the start, was how linear the power had become. An increase in torque was the most likely answer to why that would be, giving it a feeling of safety. The bike is obviously still only a 250, but the torque almost guarantees that a slip of the clutch is enough to get the motor humming without dropping off the boil.

The trade-off to this extra torque is that I felt the bike struggling to rev out as cleanly as last year. A quick change to the white (aggressive) coupler would probably help, but I didn’t mind. As mentioned earlier, last year’s bike felt more like a two-stroke in how it revved, meaning you rode higher in the rpm range. This seemed to leave the rider dancing on the gears more, whereas this bike is closer to your traditional four-stroke power. Objective achieved Kawasaki, but how exactly did you achieve the change?

For 2018’s KX, we have seen a fatter header pipe, which I assume, helps extract the exhaust gases out faster. By itself, that would make the bike louder, except that the header pipe is now 30mm longer. The result is a bike which is actually quieter than the previous year’s model, something I really appreciate because Kawasaki’s bikes are typically on the louder side. Now the KX plays a more enjoyable melody and the neighbours shouldn’t get quite as annoyed, either.

Other changes include a ‘revised’ intake duct and a shorter intake funnel, along with many ‘new’ things. In this category, is a new intake camshaft, new fuel pump and new cylinder head design. There is also a new throttle body with a less vertical injector mounting angle. This works in tandem with the other injector closer to the air box, which has set this bike apart since 2012.

The normal injector is tasked with giving low to mid-range power, but the higher the rpm and harder you turn the throttle, the more it switches to the second injector, which gives the fuel time to break into smaller drops and cool down more. This technology is fine tuned to the point where how it behaves, depends on whether you are in a low gear like first or second, or in one of the higher gears. This is not new, but very cool nonetheless.

On the Pro Circuit

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the weight of all these changes. The list of changes to the 2018 KX250F’s powerplant is almost like Kawasaki giving your new motor to Mitch Payton for an overhaul even before you receive it and not charging you any extra for the privilege. Changes to the head no doubt help the flow, while increased pressure is the result of the new fuel pump. Even the intake valve timing has been advanced. This is all in addition to new ECU settings which still work with the couplers to allow for a quick and easy change of maps.

Something we didn’t mention about the exhaust is the resonating chamber, which was only available on aftermarket pipes in years gone by. Kawasaki seems to be doing all it can to help its riders, and while the KX250F still won’t top the horsepower charts in its class, it will make you accelerate quicker with less effort. What’s not to like?

The other major area that Kawasaki wanted to fine-tune after last year’s mammoth effort, is the suspension. One of the few bikes that avoided the air fork craze, the KX250F has stuck to Showa 48mm Separate Function Front Forks, a name referring to having a spring in one fork and all the shims for rebound and compression dampening in the other. For 2017, the spring weight was increased, but for 2018 it was dialled back down again. The lighter spring seems to work better because it enables an increase in preload, an adjustment rarely seen on a fork. From there, the compression and rebound shims have been changed in the other fork. It sounds like there was a focus on suspension under load, especially through braking bumps. I found the forks very friendly under braking, and I was giving them a hard time. This bike comes standard with a massive 270mm front disc, meaning you can load the front as much as you like with just one finger.

As is usual for Kawasaki, there is a ‘bling’ coating on the fork tubes, obviously in black to match the fork guards and wheel rims. What is less obvious is the ‘self-lubricating Kashima coating’ on the inner shock body. It apparently improves wear resistance and shock action, which Kawasaki aimed to improve with more valving changes. Interpreting the technical language, it sounds like they sped up the rebound dampening.

Kawasaki claim that the new shims improve the ride feel, traction and rear wheel feedback. Personally, I prefer to avoid those traits for the sake of a more forgiving ride. A few laps on this bike proved to me that the KXF250 really did need those changes, because it was now very settled, even over some nasty acceleration bumps. This bike feels like it has embraced the fact that it is not a 450 and seems to get the most out of its lighter weight – which leads on to the biggest thing I noticed about this wonderful machine.

Float Like A Butterfly

The craziest thing about this bike is its manoeuvrability. I really don’t think you can ride this bike without appreciating how easy it is to move around. For years, Kawasaki’s bikes have felt narrow between the legs and easy to move in the air. Since the big changes last year, that feeling has jumped another notch. A flat seat probably contributes, making it easy to move forward and back. Having that narrow feel through the radiator shrouds totally invites you to sit forward for the turns, yet it is a feeling akin to it having a short wheel-base which really stands out.

A quick turning bike is not usually the most stable, which is where the faster sections at Pirini really work as a test. Sure, it may be less stable than some bikes at high speed, but not so much as to make it a liability – not even close. Then you get back to the tight stuff where it shines once again. This is the balance I think Kawasaki has always been looking for. With a bike that is easy to move, you quickly become friends. It is easier to spot a line and go for it. I must admit to full confidence at hitting some lines that I probably shouldn’t have. Then if the line I was in became difficult, I didn’t have trouble changing to something different.

In the same sense, the way the bike feels in the air is distinct enough that I can’t just pass it off as being in my head. Turn the handlebars and the gyroscopic effect of the front wheel is enough to move the rest of the bike into the same plane. Turn the front wheel back in line with the track and the bike will soon follow. This is what I noticed most aboard this bike, and while I can’t explain exactly why, it is a lot of fun. But, there is one last thing which absolutely needs a solid mention, and that is how this bike will get on down the start straight.

I wanted to give it a solid test because of how much the power of this bike has changed. After all, from reading the promotional material on the KX, you would be disappointed if it didn’t give you a better run down the start line. So, you are sitting on the line in neutral. With the bike idling, find the big red button just to the left of the handlebar pad. By pushing and holding that button for a second or two, you have engaged what they call ‘Launch Control’. If your heart rate doesn’t bump up just a notch when you see the flashing orange light firing like a machine gun, then you are just not in the moment enough.

Boosting off the line in second gear, I found it hard to break loose and spin the rear tyre, quite like I would like when the launch control is engaged. But then, I often can’t spin the rear wheel as I would like to with launch control off, either! Without loads of practice on lots of different soil types and conditions, getting the perfect start without the launch control is something of a lottery. What I can tell you is, that a slightly messed up start WITHOUT the launch control engaged, is almost always worse than if you were using it.

So how does the 2018 hold up off the start? Like I said, I struggled to get it spinning, but I could definitely feel the torque in action. Using the launch control somehow amplified that feeling of torque, even though it probably shouldn’t have. There is a big difference between the bike just sounding like it is going good, and actually pulling. Fortunately for Kawasaki, this was definitely the latter – it pulled hard!

Looking back over the changes for 2018, it is as if Kawasaki felt it had gone too far in some areas last year and not enough in others, so they just got stuck into it. I can’t imagine how many hours of testing this kind of development would take, but it is certainly not in vain. This bike is an improvement, enough to keep the Kawasaki faithful happy for at least another year or two.

2018 Kawasaki KX250F Specifications

Price: $12,695 + ORC

Type                                            Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, single cylinder, DOHC, 4-valve

Engine Displacement              249cc

Bore x Stroke                            77.0 x 53.6mm

Compression Ratio                 13.4:1

Carburation                              Fuel injection: 43mm x 1 with dual injection

Fuel Tank Capacity                 6.4 litres

Transmission Type                 5 speed return

Final Drive                               Chain

Frame Type                             Aluminium, perimeter

Dimensions (LxWxH)           2172 x 825 x 1270mm

Wheelbase                               1478mm

Trail                                         123mm

Seat Height                            945mm

Kerb Weight                          104.7kg

Suspension Front                 48mm upside down telescopic Separate Function Fork (SFF)

Suspension Rear                   New Uni-Trak

Tyres Front                            80/100-21 51M

Tyres Rear                              100/90-19 57m

Brakes Front                          Single semi-floating 270mm petal disc, dual piston caliper

Brakes Rear                           Single 240mm petal disc