The Japanese makers have pretty much rolled over and played dead in the off road market. Between the worlds four largest motorcycle manufacturers, there has not been a serious new enduro release in how many years now? Let’s see, there was the ill-fated Suzuki RMX450, whatever happened to that anyway? There have been some interesting medium size dual sport bikes. Yet for a real off road bike you have to go back to the 2008 Kawasaki KLX450 to find something sort of new.
So the biggest news around the intertube right now is the possibility of an all new Yamaha WR450. All the Euros are talking about it. It will purportedly look something like the above picture. Of course it makes sense, an update for the WR line is way over due. Let’s see if Yamaha can get it right by keeping the weight down and getting the performance correct. If it is another case of a moto bike gaining 30lbs to add and electric starter, that just isn’t going to fly in this day and age.
The Yamaha WR line has always been one of my favorite bikes to ride. The quick revving motor and sharp handling always make it a hoot to ride. Excess weight and low ground clearance have been the biggest hindrance to making it a great race bike. Paul Whibley and the Am-pro team have been making the YZ450 look pretty good so far this season, so we hope some of that can transfer over to a production bike.
I have been staring at this pic of the “new” WR450 for a couple of days now wondering how real it might be. At first I just assumed it was the typical photoshop work of adding a headlight to the mx’er in the hope that it might be something Yamaha might actually build. But the more I look at it the more I tend to think it might be the real deal. There are plenty of details added to make it a true WR. It has the correct sidestand and tail light. Even more interesting is that it has a mechanical odometer drive. I mean would anyone in their right mind add that to a mock up photo? Come on Japan, lets get in to the 21st century here.
But then the real thing hit me. Where is the E start? Would Yamaha really have the audacity to market an enduro bike without a magic button. Now that would really be going against the grain. Where KTM has added the button to nearly everything it makes, could someone be successful by doing the opposite? There is some logic to it, it is the biggest culprit to weight gain over the YZ. If the bike can really start in one or two kicks easily, why not? This is not like the original Yamaha four strokes that needed a mystical routine and good luck chant to bring to life. Even KTM has backed off of their E start only bikes, by making sure that all the newest generation of XCW and XCF machines have the back up kicker. So bring it on Yamaha, step away from the crowd show some innovation of your own. You can certainly do it with motocrossers, bring us something new in the enduro world!