I've been thinking about this for a while, see my 'Pondering' thread a couple weeks back. Maybe some infor here to help the next person considering the same change.
I finally located a new 2016 Model WR450F and bought it, based in small part on favorable reviews here (thanks again!), the fact that it's a big evolutionary jump in technology over the Honda, high confidence in Yamaha, but mostly a simple case of gotta-have-it-it's-time-for-a-change. I tried, but there was no possibility for a test ride on the Yamaha around here. Meantime I read everything available pro and con.
I know I'm always curious about prices: $9140 OTD, cash, including the Competition Kit ECU and throttle screw upgrades, not yet installed. It was the only new WR450F within 250 miles of my home.
I'm a sr. citizen in the deep south and own a little land. My riding is 50% geared-up trail banging - mix of trail types, open dirt areas, sand, woods, and including ATV mudded up stuff. It’s the South. No desert, sad to say - it looks like fun. Well, it's all fun. I'm pure amateur and nowhere near the skill of anyone reading this. Still, I suspect anyone who doesn't love dirt bikes of serious mental defect. I do like to jump (small ones.) Anyway, the other 50% I just hop on and knock around the fields and woods wearing whatever I have on. But ALWAYS a helmet glasses and gloves. Technically I probably don't belong on this class of bike. But I love the power, and it's not available in anything else.
So, the comparison is between an absolutely box-stock brand new 2016 WR450F and a slightly worked over (jetting mostly), 2005 CRF450X I've had for a few couple years, excellent condition.
I've truly love my X. Easy to start and ride, very fast, reliable, tractable, strong, comfortable and forgiving. The only downside for me is handling which can be top heavy and less-than-nimble. The desert guys say it's absolutely the top of the heap and I believe it.
Riding / Handling. A pure revelation, truly no comparison – so light and nimble and quick. Strange thing is on paper they weigh the same that's hard to believe having ridden both. Krannie said it feels 50lbs lighter than the X, I thought he was exaggerating. He was not. Jumpable (the X not so much), unbelieveable!
Suspension. A little stiff but I haven’t done any adjusting yet. As part of the the great handling it inspires high confidence. If anything the bike oversteers a little for me. That may be workoutable.
Size. I haven’t compared measurements but it looks and feels much smaller, as well as lighter.
Tires. They’re fine for the riding I do. Faster guys, and there are many, may see it differently.
Power – I shouldn’t comment yet because mine is still corked. And I DO MEAN CORKED. No power - far less power than an old tired 250. Yamaha did it to comply with the BS, still hard to believe how much they had to choke it. Unanimous agreement that with simple ECU / throttle stop mods and drilling the peashooter from the exhaust, it will just scream. Cannot wait to get it going right!
CONS: (Mostly very minor)
Yamaha Owners Service Manual: this is marginal, and a big sad surprise. Writer had English as a 3rd language. Poorly written, organized and formatted, imo. It does have the information needed, mostly, but you have to hunt it. No index! And I still don’t know, for example, if the ECU reacts to an coolant overheat condition. It book says there is an engine temp sensor, but not what it does, maybe I just haven’t found it yet. Very poor compared to the Honda.
No dipstick? Gotta just about lay on the ground to see the oil level. C’mon, guys.
Only ONE QUART of oil for both the engine trans, half the X.. Really doesn’t seem enough for such a HiPo engine/trans, especially one that runs as hot as this one. But Yamaha should know. More a worry than a con.
No coolant overflow tank. As with the I’m not sure this matters, but I was used to it on the CRF450X, it’s kind of reassuring
Gotta remove the skid plate to change the oil. Please..
Near impossible finding Neurtral with the engine running. OK, just shut it off and Neutral is easy.
The bike actually sits higher than the 450X, this probably isn’t fair comparing a box stock bike to one that’s been adjusted and broken in. No big deal.
Intake noise. To me it sounds like there’s a small lawn mower exhaust pipe on the seat in front of me connected to the throttle. This was well documented and no surprise, slightly aggravating.
I wish they had added a tach / speedometer / temp gauge to the computer. Would have been cheap to do and very nice to have. I’ll add a Vapor.
And the big one – this bike gets HOT, and that’s in its detuned choked and restricted. That exhaust pipe encircling the engine turns it into a blast furnace. Legs and feet (left especially) get so hot that I cannot ride the motorcycle for more than a few minutes without full gear or other effective heat shielding on my legs and feet. On the CRF450X you can ride in shorts and flip flops if you are dumb enough, without burning. I looked hard before I bought the bike and saw no mention of this, so I was surprised. NOT BLAMING YAMAHA. It is a barely de-tuned race machine, and I should have found a way to test ride. But I do wonder how the dual sport guys riding this bike, and others like me who don’t necessarily gear up every ride, manage it without roasting. If any aftermarket maker ever manages a straight out the rear pipe/muffler I’ll be first in line. Probably a pipe dream (sorry!).