2009 WR450F review and experience


29 replies to this topic
  • usedtobefast

Posted February 24, 2011 - 06:35 PM

#1

I thought I would post up my experience with the WR450F.

I am an A (expert) enduro rider, but semi-retired, I race about 4 events a year and the rest of the time if spent fast trail riding.

I've have a lot of bikes in the past, KTMs, YZs, KXs.

My latest bike prior to the Yamaha was a KTM four stroke and while it never broke down on me the high maintenance was wearing me out.

I was looking for a new bike in 2010 and ended up buying a new 2009 WR450F.

The thinking was:
- seemed like most reliable, lowest maintenance, high performance 4 stroke
- I had a 2002 YZ250F that I had liked and a 2004 YZ250 that I had liked
- Charlie Mullins was hauling on one (but I wasn't sure how much of a WR it was)
- I should be able to turn the bike into a KTM killer and be reliable and have lower maintenance

I bought the AIS removal kit to get all the jets, but left the AIS on as I am in CA and some riding areas actually look for that.

So I did the uncorking, removed the pea shooter from the muffler, snipped the grey wire, rejetted the carb, removed the airbox baffle, but left the AIS on.

I also replaced the stock seat with a Guts racing cover and tall medium foam to get a softer seat and improve the seat-to-footpeg distance (was too cramped for me, but I'm only 5'10").

On the first ride I was pretty happy with the power, clutch, and brakes. The transmission seemed very notchy but was ok. The handling seemed fine, nothing great, nothing bad.

But the suspension was odd to me. Stock, it was deflecting off rocks and roots kind of excessively. Ok, stopped and lightened up the fork compression. Still not so great, made a few more clicks. Oh, I weight 160lbs so spring rates were good stock.

Then I went over a few small jumps on a simple track area and the forks bottomed fairly easily and moved thru their travel way too easily.

Very odd ... on rocks/roots the forks felt non-compliant, but easily blew thru the stroke on small (3 foot) jumps.

I had planned on a revalve so I wasn't that concerned ... just not sure who Yamaha thought would ride the bike. Seems like it would work fine if you didn't have any rocks or roots around, but where is that? :smirk:

So I sent the forks and shock to a well loved by thumper talk suspension shop and I'll admit, I was expecting a dramatic improvement.

When I got the bike back together and went for another ride the problem was a bit better but still way worse than any stock KTM I'd ever had.

Same issue. If I softened things up for rocks/roots then any small jump would blow thru the travel. If I set it up for normal jumps that I would do in an enduro then it would deflect badly on rocks/roots. So basically the range of what it could handle was very limited which is really bad for enduros as the range of conditions are pretty extreme.

Another odd thing popped up ... the bike seemed to be a slow turning (I'm thinking not that big a deal, I can play with the rear shock preload) but it was also very twitchy and had headshake at not that fast of speeds over not that rough ground.

So back to the suspension shop for round 2.

Went over my experience and hoped for a big improvement again. I don't think the suspension shop did that much on round 2, maybe raised the fork oil height, not sure.

Go for a ride, same issue, too much deflection if set up for any kind of fast riding/little jumps, too soft if set up for some trail junk.

Ok, back to suspension shop for round 3.

This time the shop make things more stiff. So it was ok at jumps but worlds worse on rocks/roots and deflecting all over the place. And now it was so stiff that I couldn't dial the clickers down to a point to reduce the deflection.

So at this point I made up a list ... 3 columns ... one was everything I loved about the bike, everything that I liked (was ok), and everything I disliked about the bike.

In the "Loved" column I had nothing. In all the rides and testing nothing really stood out as great.

In the like column there were several things. Noise level was nice, brakes good, clutch good, I liked the power and gear ratios, ergos ok, nice fit and finish, ahhh, pretty blue color.

In the dislike column was the horrible suspension and bad handling. Also didn't like the notchy shifting (although it worked ok). Also, the gas tank size was too small so I was going to have to buy a larger aftermarket tank.

So at that point I figured I would need to buy a gas tank, switch to a difference suspension tuner and hope they could work some magic, and hope the suspension improvements fixed the handling issues (slow turning yet lots of headshake).

So another ~$600 into the project.

And there was nothing in the "Love it" column. Thought about it a while and decided to see if I could sell it at a reasonable loss. I figured if no one would buy it at a decent price then maybe I continue along.

And someone gave me a reasonable price, bike gone.

I know I'm risking hate mail coming on a WR450 forum and saying I had a bad experience with one, but I just thought I'd report up what my experience was.

And for the question "What did you buy next?" ... I got a 2011 KTM 300 XC ... oh so nice ... stock.

  • JDLowrance

Posted February 24, 2011 - 07:27 PM

#2

Agree with most of your post and you did get a better bike in my opinion. Unfortunately it's not green stickerable...at least not leagally. Would love to have a 300XC and still may buy one for red sticker season.

The suspension is a bitch. The shock is not so hard to get sorted with valving but the forks are a pain in the ass. My stuff has been back to Factory Connection 3 times plus the original re-valve. Didn't cost anymore than the initial price of admission but still a pain in the ass.

It's finally sorted and runs and handles quite well. The best thing about the Yamahas are the reliability. My 525 had it's niggling issues (no major failures other than the rear master cylinder) but required a shit load of maintenance compared to the WR.

Still want that 300 though. Holding out hope the rumors that KTM are working on direct injection are true. That would be a bike! Green stickerable as well!!

Enjoy the 300!

John

  • rdjockey

Posted February 24, 2011 - 07:29 PM

#3

First time I heard someone say bad stuff about a wr except for having a crappy seat. Hope your letter box doesn't get bombed or worse, thanks for sharing your experience good luck dodging bullets dude

  • the_smoo

Posted February 25, 2011 - 04:08 AM

#4

everyone's entitled to an opinion.. there is not one bike on the market that suits everyones riding style, if there was we would all be riding it...

  • miweber929

Posted February 25, 2011 - 05:33 AM

#5

So what's your point about this thread? Pointing out to satisfied people you didn't like the bike and went back to a KTM? Cool, for you that is.

I went trail riding a couple years ago with a few guys and I had my mildly woods setup CR250R and one of the guys had just bought a KTM 250 XCW (?) and a 250 XC. He was trying to decide if the W transmission was different enough to warrant owning the 2 bikes (more money than brains).

Anyway, we swapped rides as I was WAY curious to the KTM hype and wanted to ride a "new style" actual woods bike that got glowing reviews in every bike magazine, not my ex-'crosser $1200 00 CR thst I redid over the winter. All I can say is the KTM to me was a complete let down in power, ergo, handling, feel, everything but suspension softness as my CR was still rocking stock valving and settings. I could not wait to get my bike back and never looked back.

Until I got my WR. I miss the lightness of the CR. but the WR is a great all around bike. For what it is. Expecting it to be a factory racer is ridiculous.

JMHO

Mike

  • whoops dude

Posted February 25, 2011 - 08:48 AM

#6

really? I just messed with the clickers on my stock suspension and it is butter for me. We weigh the same. different strokes for different folks I guess.

  • Just_a_trail_rider

Posted February 25, 2011 - 09:04 AM

#7

I thought I would post up my experience with the WR450F.

I am an A (expert) enduro rider, but semi-retired, I race about 4 events a year and the rest of the time if spent fast trail riding.

I've have a lot of bikes in the past, KTMs, YZs, KXs.

My latest bike prior to the Yamaha was a KTM four stroke and while it never broke down on me the high maintenance was wearing me out.

I was looking for a new bike in 2010 and ended up buying a new 2009 WR450F.

The thinking was:
- seemed like most reliable, lowest maintenance, high performance 4 stroke
- I had a 2002 YZ250F that I had liked and a 2004 YZ250 that I had liked
- Charlie Mullins was hauling on one (but I wasn't sure how much of a WR it was)
- I should be able to turn the bike into a KTM killer and be reliable and have lower maintenance

I bought the AIS removal kit to get all the jets, but left the AIS on as I am in CA and some riding areas actually look for that.

So I did the uncorking, removed the pea shooter from the muffler, snipped the grey wire, rejetted the carb, removed the airbox baffle, but left the AIS on.

I also replaced the stock seat with a Guts racing cover and tall medium foam to get a softer seat and improve the seat-to-footpeg distance (was too cramped for me, but I'm only 5'10").

On the first ride I was pretty happy with the power, clutch, and brakes. The transmission seemed very notchy but was ok. The handling seemed fine, nothing great, nothing bad.

But the suspension was odd to me. Stock, it was deflecting off rocks and roots kind of excessively. Ok, stopped and lightened up the fork compression. Still not so great, made a few more clicks. Oh, I weight 160lbs so spring rates were good stock.

Then I went over a few small jumps on a simple track area and the forks bottomed fairly easily and moved thru their travel way too easily.

Very odd ... on rocks/roots the forks felt non-compliant, but easily blew thru the stroke on small (3 foot) jumps.

I had planned on a revalve so I wasn't that concerned ... just not sure who Yamaha thought would ride the bike. Seems like it would work fine if you didn't have any rocks or roots around, but where is that? :smirk:

So I sent the forks and shock to a well loved by thumper talk suspension shop and I'll admit, I was expecting a dramatic improvement.

When I got the bike back together and went for another ride the problem was a bit better but still way worse than any stock KTM I'd ever had.

Same issue. If I softened things up for rocks/roots then any small jump would blow thru the travel. If I set it up for normal jumps that I would do in an enduro then it would deflect badly on rocks/roots. So basically the range of what it could handle was very limited which is really bad for enduros as the range of conditions are pretty extreme.

Another odd thing popped up ... the bike seemed to be a slow turning (I'm thinking not that big a deal, I can play with the rear shock preload) but it was also very twitchy and had headshake at not that fast of speeds over not that rough ground.

So back to the suspension shop for round 2.

Went over my experience and hoped for a big improvement again. I don't think the suspension shop did that much on round 2, maybe raised the fork oil height, not sure.

Go for a ride, same issue, too much deflection if set up for any kind of fast riding/little jumps, too soft if set up for some trail junk.

Ok, back to suspension shop for round 3.

This time the shop make things more stiff. So it was ok at jumps but worlds worse on rocks/roots and deflecting all over the place. And now it was so stiff that I couldn't dial the clickers down to a point to reduce the deflection.

So at this point I made up a list ... 3 columns ... one was everything I loved about the bike, everything that I liked (was ok), and everything I disliked about the bike.

In the "Loved" column I had nothing. In all the rides and testing nothing really stood out as great.

In the like column there were several things. Noise level was nice, brakes good, clutch good, I liked the power and gear ratios, ergos ok, nice fit and finish, ahhh, pretty blue color.

In the dislike column was the horrible suspension and bad handling. Also didn't like the notchy shifting (although it worked ok). Also, the gas tank size was too small so I was going to have to buy a larger aftermarket tank.

So at that point I figured I would need to buy a gas tank, switch to a difference suspension tuner and hope they could work some magic, and hope the suspension improvements fixed the handling issues (slow turning yet lots of headshake).

So another ~$600 into the project.

And there was nothing in the "Love it" column. Thought about it a while and decided to see if I could sell it at a reasonable loss. I figured if no one would buy it at a decent price then maybe I continue along.

And someone gave me a reasonable price, bike gone.

I know I'm risking hate mail coming on a WR450 forum and saying I had a bad experience with one, but I just thought I'd report up what my experience was.

And for the question "What did you buy next?" ... I got a 2011 KTM 300 XC ... oh so nice ... stock.


I have a 2005 wr450 that I had similar experiences on. It was the perfect bike for long and agressive trail rides, but the wrong bike for racing. I went to a yz250 for racing and now race a ktm450, which is better suited as a race bike. Stock suspension on the KTM only needed new springs and its good enough to race, even with my 215lb fat ass on it.

Oh... I still have my wr450 and love it tremendously. I'll get rid of it when it breaks down or wears out, which means I'll keep it forever. I still ride it. I got the suspension figured out after a couple thousand dollars and a three different tuners. Stiffen the valving on those forks, keep it high in the stroke, then use AirCell cannnisters to soften it for the rocks and chop. Its magic. WR also needs MORE POWER.

I only stopped racing mine because of the weight and inability to turn.

Otherwise, the WR's are great bikes for everything but racing.

  • gsa102

Posted February 25, 2011 - 09:23 AM

#8

everyone's entitled to an opinion.. there is not one bike on the market that suits everyones riding style, if there was we would all be riding it...


+1

The WR suits me fine for what I do. If I ever get faster, my thinking may change. And you can put yz forks on the WR...

  • wanawakeboard

Posted February 25, 2011 - 10:41 AM

#9

Its kinda funny how guys get mad because usetobefast said somethings bad about his wr experience, I have a wr450 and I can accept the fact that the bike may not be for everyone. For me I love my 08...
some guys like taco bell while others eat Mcdonalds... I prefer the taco bell myself...
but if you like Mcdonalds hey have a mcmuffin on me....
great post of your experience on the wr.
There are a few things I might have tried to remedy some of the problems you felt you were dealing with but you have moved on to a bike you are happy with... now go ride that puppy!

  • usedtobefast

Posted February 25, 2011 - 12:18 PM

#10

So what's your point about this thread?


Didn't think this had to be a WR love-fest forum :smirk:

Basically wanted to share my experience good & bad. On ktmtalk they certainly tell the bad so you get a more accurate view of a bike.

On the CR vs. KTM part, I agree. I've ridden 07 and 08 KTM 300s and wasn't all that impressed. I currently have an 04 YZ250 with Factory Connection suspension that is wonderful.

The new 2011 KTM 250/300 XC bikes are really nice. I'd say my YZ250 is kind of close but has a more narrow gearing range (5 speed close ratio vs 6 speed semi-close ratio), and it took a decent amount of work to get the YZ setup and adjusted for offroad.

And I think with another round of money and effort and maybe 3-4 months I could have gotten the WR in good shape but that's not how the cookie crumbled.


Expecting it to be a factory racer is ridiculous.


I guess this is a mistake I made ... I thought the WR450F was Yahama's Enduro and GNCC bike of choice (or least a great starting point).

From Yamaha's website ...

"The Tougher The Trail The Better" and they do mention the "digital enduro race computer" and they have a picture of Jason Raines saying he won the Eastern AMA Hare Scambles series. All that sounds kind of racy to me.

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  • usedtobefast

Posted February 25, 2011 - 12:23 PM

#11

I have a 2005 wr450 that I had similar experiences on. It was the perfect bike for long and agressive trail rides, but the wrong bike for racing.

Otherwise, the WR's are great bikes for everything but racing.


Totally agree with this. I noticed when I was out doing suspension testing and trying to ride at race pace things just weren't working. So I'd think "heck, I'll just slow down and ride this thing out of here" ... and it started to be kind of nice/fun. Maybe a mid-pack C rider pace.

But I couldn't afford to have 2 bikes that new/nice/expensive so I needed to sell it to get a different bike

  • beezer

Posted February 25, 2011 - 01:19 PM

#12

The WR450 is a confused bike stock. The suspension is great for the roots and rocks around here. Maybe it sucks in the desert but there aren't too many deserts on the east coast.

You can't ride the bike the a stock motor.

KTM is selling lotsa bikes these days for good reason.

I wouldn't mind having one.

  • Just_a_trail_rider

Posted February 25, 2011 - 01:45 PM

#13

The WR450 is a confused bike stock. The suspension is great for the roots and rocks around here. Maybe it sucks in the desert but there aren't too many deserts on the east coast.

You can't ride the bike the a stock motor.

KTM is selling lotsa bikes these days for good reason.

I wouldn't mind having one.


Funny you should say that. I really enjoy the wr up in the Sierras. Different kind of riding. But in the desert where there are miles of big whoops and big rocks, you just can't be bottoming out. One good ride on a yamaha in the desert and you'll put it away til you get the suspension done. Brakes are sub par also for racing.

I'm saying this and I LOVE my wr! But I gotta be honest...

  • CanadianWR450

Posted February 25, 2011 - 02:30 PM

#14

I certainly don't mind seeing posts of ppl who are not "ecstatic" with a WR, and these posts are good for ppl in this forum checking out the WR from making a mistake in getting the wrong bike for what they need it to do, and then thinking how much the WR sucks ass. I love mine for what I do with it, but I'm certainly no racer. After a spring change the suspension does what it needs to do for my needs, but I'm willing to bet you put a A class rider on my bike, and they would have a VERY different review. Handling wise, well, I have had the bike 3 years, and I am still not comfortable with it in high speed tight cornering. Used to figure it was me, and my lack of skill, and experience....right up until I tried a friends XC-W 300 out. On mine...it's like you need to concentrate on getting the thing around the corner, and still hoping you don't eat a tree in the process....the KTM....your brain simply seems to only think "turn", and the bike seems to just turn all by itself.
Am I saying the KTM is better then the WR? Nope. Nothing against the XC-W300 at all... awesome bike infact, but I'll take my big bored 5 valve for the style of riding I do over the 300 any day....(wouldn't mind my motor in the KTM chassis though...).notice i said riding and not racing (not that the free modded, cammed and, piped big bore WR engine is lacking in power to race...)

  • beezer

Posted February 25, 2011 - 03:35 PM

#15

Once you go through all the nonsense the WR is a great bike.

But I always wondered why Yamaha didn't put YZ forks on it or a real exhaust system. A properly jetted carb would be nice too.

I have a plate on mine so it makes for a pretty neat dual sport but I could do that to a KTM 300 too.

  • Just_a_trail_rider

Posted February 25, 2011 - 10:05 PM

#16

Once you go through all the nonsense the WR is a great bike.

But I always wondered why Yamaha didn't put YZ forks on it or a real exhaust system. A properly jetted carb would be nice too.

I have a plate on mine so it makes for a pretty neat dual sport but I could do that to a KTM 300 too.


I don't think it really needs yz forks. The open chamber forks are just fine and are better than 99% of the people who think there is something wrong with them.

Carb is easy fixed with an adjustable leakjet, AP spring and the JD jetting kit

I always thought that the WR needs the rake of the yz to help it turn. Its amazingly stable at speed, but that works against it when you have to toss it around a corner.

  • miweber929

Posted February 26, 2011 - 04:22 AM

#17

I guess I wasn't thinking this needed to be a lovefest, and I certainly am not mad at the OP or what was said about our bikes (can't speak for everyone) or pissed someone didnt like their WR but I just didn't see a real point to the thread as it didn't feel like a compare or a trying to help vibe to it. It felt WR bashing and KTM kool-aidy which is why I asked what was the point.

This should have been posted in the KTM section, not WR in my opinion.

Anyway, the WR is not the racer out if the box the KTM is. It always amuses me how people bash KTMs maintenance in one breath and applaud it's performance over the Japanese bikes in the next. KTMs are built and designed to race, and need to be treated accordingly. That's why they are so much better performing out of the box.

Not my cup of tea, but more power to ya.

  • bandit99

Posted March 02, 2011 - 03:59 PM

#18

I had an 05 WR450 and hated it. I could never get it to run right. I even had a very reputible shop try to tune it on a dyno. It had a low end bog and just ran lean. It is possible the carb was bad. The bike would not turn no matter what I did. It was great going straight but scary cornering. I am sure it was the suspension rake. This was the old steel frame so the aluminum frame may be different. I would like to try a newer version that maybe isn't a lemon.
I currently have a Husky TE510 which is an ok bike. It is heavy and can over heat on a hot day. It does turn nice with good power, fuel injection and a license plate.
I want to get a new 450. The WR450 is probably not on my radar due to my bad experience with it. I have tried the KTM 450 EXC and the CRF450X and can say I think they are better bikes, especially out of the box. Since I have a plated bike I may go Honda since it is cheaper.

  • Just_a_trail_rider

Posted March 03, 2011 - 08:10 AM

#19

I had an 05 WR450 and hated it. I could never get it to run right. I even had a very reputible shop try to tune it on a dyno. It had a low end bog and just ran lean. It is possible the carb was bad.


On my 05, I had that friggen "bog" which drove me crazy for a while.

Then I adjusted the AP timing, replaced the pump spring and went from a 50 to a 40 on the leak jet. This fixed it. After that, I added the flexjet screw (:thumbsup:) and an adjustable leak jet.

That bike runs so good now I can't bring myself to get rid of it, not even for a newer one.

  • NemadjiMan

Posted March 03, 2011 - 08:28 AM

#20

...the suspension was odd to me. Stock, it was deflecting off rocks and roots kind of excessively. Ok, stopped and lightened up the fork compression. Still not so great, made a few more clicks. Oh, I weight 160lbs so spring rates were good stock.

Then I went over a few small jumps on a simple track area and the forks bottomed fairly easily and moved thru their travel way too easily.

Very odd ... on rocks/roots the forks felt non-compliant, but easily blew thru the stroke on small (3 foot) jumps.

So I sent the forks and shock to a well loved by thumper talk suspension shop and I'll admit, I was expecting a dramatic improvement.

When I got the bike back together and went for another ride the problem was a bit better but still way worse than any stock KTM I'd ever had.

Go for a ride, same issue, too much deflection if set up for any kind of fast riding/little jumps, too soft if set up for some trail junk.


First I want to say thanks for your honest opinion about your WR. Sounds like you tried to make it work for you and it just didn't work out. I've got a 250, I'm 155lbs and my suspension is still stock. The forks are deflecting and bottoming pretty much as you described. And I'm no fast guy by any means.

I've been thinking about a fork revalve or installing YZ forks and revalving them. Would you mind spilling the beans on which suspension tuner you used?? I wouldn't run away from them but, it would help me and maybe some other folks figure out which way to go before spending a bunch of money and sending stuff out multiple times. :thumbsup:




 
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