YZ450 vs CRF450

jboomer

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#1
Well, my buddy got his '04 YZ450 yesterday. He invited me out to the track today to run it through its gears and compare it to my '04 CRF450. SWEET! Best word to describe it!

#1- 4speed tranny! It felt like it was always in the perfect gear! The power hit a little harder off the bottom and pulled exceptionally well all the way to the top. The CRF feels like it is between gears sometimes (one of the mag tests said the same thing), too high a gear and you've got to slip the clutch a little, too low a gear and you're bouncing off the rev limiter and it doesn't want to go. I'll be adding one tooth to the rear sprocket to see if this will correct it. The YZ never complained and I never had to slip the clutch..which brings me to #2.

#2-The clutch....no comparison to the CRF. I love a soft feeling clutch, the smoother the action, the less my arms seem to pump up and the less fatigued I am toward the end of a moto. The CRF's clutch is like butter! Nice easy pull, so far I haven't had any problems with fading (even though I have had to slip it a few times) unless riding in the woods (which I loss feel at the lever REAL quick). The YZ clutch was pretty stiff! Fortunately you don't have to use it often.

#3-Suspension....the fork seemed overly harsh on the YZ. Granted we put the first 3 hours on the bike today so it didn't have a whole lot of time to break in. The rear suspension felt really good after an hour or so (the race sag actually increased within that time frame). As a matter of fact, the rear suspension "settled" about half an inch after 3 hours of riding...toward the end of the ride it felt great. When we first started, I was on my tip-toes just sitting on the bike (3 1/2 inches of sag...I'm 5'11 185lbs), after we finished we were at about 4 inches on the sag. The fork was pretty harsh throughout though. It never bottomed on hard landings, just the "initial" part of the stroke though was kinda rough. The CRF on the otherhand, although pretty stiff first breaking in, it was never THAT harsh. Now the CRF forks are INCREDIBLE (as is the rear suspension), I'm sure the YZ's will get better, but I doubt they'll be as good. Which leads me to #4.

#4-The seat....once again NO comparison. The YZ seat was like sitting on a concrete bench. I'm sure it will soften up a little, but like mentioned by someone else, there's not much padding there, so softening up may be a bad thing. The CRF seat is AWESOME! It's as soft as the clutch is "butter!" I don't really know what too soft feels like, so I have no basis of comparison here, but I LOVE the stock CRF seat...and when it sacks out, I'm going OEM!

#5-Tires....the CRF comes with a Dunlop 756 on the rear, where the YZ comes with a Dunlop 739. I may be mistaken, but I believe the 756 is a soft-intermediate tire where the 739 is an Intermediate-hard terrain tire. The track we ride on is pretty much 50/50. Today, it was pretty muddy, although there were a couple of "concrete" like turns. I never slipped, slid, or otherwise felt out of control on the YZ. Although on my CRF I would have spun out consistently on a couple of turns that the YZ would hook up a little better on. But, that's something that is easily fixable (ie. new tires).

#6-Turning....my CRF will hold a line like it's on a rail! It requires the rider to use the handlebars a little to keep it going where he wants it to go, but it's very smooth! I can sweep the outside line or dive into the inside line or I can lock up the rearbrake, swing the ass around on a dime 180 degrees, pop the clutch and be gone (point and shoot)! The YZ didn't like to turn as well though. On flat turns with no berm or traction, it would sweep through pretty well, but in a rutted turn, it didn't want to "settle" into the rut. I constantly found myself climbing out of the rut and screwing up the line. On sweepers though with light-powdery dirt, it tracked VERY well and was very predictable (the CRF isn't quite as predictable, I don't think). It seems like the YZ is torqueier, while the CRF is a little more 'light in the flywheel' (more 'flighty' maybe?)...similar to a two stroke, maybe the best of both worlds. Kinda hard to explain.

#7-Ergos....I think it was Nikki that mentioned she felt like she was sitting 'on-top' of the YZ, but sitting 'in' the CRF. Boy, that's a perfect way to explain it! I think it's a combination of the hard seat and where the mass is located. The YZ feels kinda top heavy....well, that the weight is spread out from bottom to top more uniformly. The CRF feels like the weight is located more toward the bottom and it's lighter feeling up top. I think this is the optimal way to carry the weight (down low), especially when jumping. I was a little timid initially to get the YZ in the air because of how the weight was distributed, as well as the "feeling" the front end would be unpredictable off the face of the jump. But, this wasn't the case once in the air. It jumped very well, would respond to body english in the air great, and would land without any harshness. The CRF is the same way. Except it was confidence inspiring from the get-go. I think they both jump extremely well, are very predictable (as long as you keep control of the throttle), and are very sensitive to body english. I notice that on my 2-stroke, I was constantly clutching, gassing, and braking in the air to get the bike in the attitude I wanted it for landing. On these 4strokes I can use my body to "put" the bike where I want it....much easier!
The YZ's footpegs seemed to be a milimeter or so canted (can't remember if it was forward or backward) and really made it obvious your feet were on footpegs. The CRF though seems to have them setup perfect....where you don't even think about it. I know this is a weird statement, but I was constantly "aware" of the footpegs down there on the YZ.....something I found kinda distracting.

All in all, I love both bikes! The YZ's 4 speed is sweet! The sound level is so close, I couldn't tell a difference and both bikes run like champs! I wouldn't be disappointed in having either one of them parked in the shed! Although, the clutch pull, softseat, and goodlookingness of the CRF makes it MY bike of choice. I love the rubber mounted Renthal's setup on the CRF, but I wish it had the YZ's Excel rims too! We pretty much polished all of the blue paint off the YZ's frame in three hours, so now it "looks" used. The CRF on the otherhand still looks almost brandnew after two months of riding! The exhaust is about 3 inches shorter than the fender on the YZ, my buddy jokingly made a comment that he might as well take it off now because the first loop-out is going to rip it off. The CRF's pipe is a couple inches shorter (actually the whole system is pushed toward the front of the bike, causing an annoying bulge right where my right leg goes when diving into a right-hand turn). So all in all, they are both SUPERB bikes! I love the YZ, but I love my CRF the most!
 

Yogurt

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#2
Sounds like another case where, "Yamaha is the motor company and Honda is the chassis company." So it's all up to the rider in which he or she puts more priority on. Very good riding comparison! Are you sure you don't work for one of those testing/shootout magazines? ;)
 
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#3
Hey that was a thorough, well written, and pretty objective review. Good work.

Thanks.
 

DougRoost

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#4
Nice review. BTW, I disagree that Yamaha is the motor company. They essentially did a single cylinder version of their YZF streetbike engine whereas Honda completely rethought the 4 stroke engine for dirtbike. That Unicam design is more compact and contributes to the lower center of gravity. Even though I love KTMs and have returned to 2 strokes, I've ridden my buddy's CRF450 and it would be my 4 stroke MX bike of choice, too.

I wish you had another buddy who had a KTM 450SX so you could compare that to your CRF...
 

Yogurt

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#7
True, I do believe that Honda has the compact, simpiler Unicam thing going on, but Yamaha does have the more harder hitting powerband going on in all their bikes. And trust me, by all means, I love Honda's sooo much more. :debil: