Before introducing the Yamaha Wolverine 450 in 2006, Yamaha aimed to bring sport-utility quads to the forefront of the ATV scene. It did so successfully with the 350-cc Wolverine – until the lineup hit a roadblock and stopped upgrading the vehicle.
As the industry flourished, consumers and enthusiasts grew more demanding of the already impressive quad. They could not have been more surprised when the Japanese manufacturer finally released the 450-class Wolverine a decade later.
Introduced in 2006, the Yamaha Wolverine 450 4×4 took the sport-utility segment by storm. Featuring a robust but lighter chassis, impressive tire-and-wheel system, low-upkeep shaft drive, aggressive bodywork, and a smooth-revving 421-cm3 engine, the four-wheeler embodied sport and genuine fun.
The Yamaha Wolverine 450 4×4 shared a similar fate with the 350, in the sense that it was overlooked and produced alongside greats such as the Raptor, Grizzly, and YFZ450 lineups.
While the timing did not pan out well for the quad in terms of sales, the fact that it entered the ATV scene when it did speak volumes about its competencies. Continue reading this guide, as it sheds light on the hidden secrets (and attributes) of this short-lived four-wheeler.
Jack of All Trades
2006 saw the launch of the Yamaha Wolverine 450 4×4, which succeeded its groundbreaking 350-cm3 sibling. Given the 10-year gap between these two vehicles, many expected the bigger-engine version to be more sport-natured and enhanced with an independent rear suspension, EFI, and power steering. But the manufacturer seemed to have taken two steps forward but a step back with this much-awaited brute.
Yamaha marketed the mid-size quad as a hybrid when its avid following preferred to bring out more of its sportiness. To add to the irony, it was the Kodiak that was at the receiving end of the “goods” consumers wanted for the Wolverine.
The Right Direction
In hindsight, this strategy (if it were really meant as such) was afoot in the right direction for Yamaha – as dual-purpose vehicles are all the rave nowadays in the ATV arena.
But back then, this proposition did not excite riders at all. Off-roaders seemed to silently agree on observing the law of excluded middle when riding four-wheelers. This meant that ATVs were used only for one of two things – farm work or racing – making versatility an almost non-existent concept. Even in the early 2000s, you will seldom find ATV owners doing recreational riding, rock-crawling, and drags using only one vehicle.
The industry’s segments and sub-segments had yet to be clearly defined, and positioning the Wolverine 450 as a “Sport 4×4” did not make much sense to many off-roaders.
The vehicle did not have the features of a hardcore workhorse to be rightfully called a utility. Nor was it anywhere near pure-sport machines like the QuadRunner and Raptor series to be considered a sport quad.
The Wolverine lay somewhere between these classifications, giving it a do-it-all characteristic not present in other 4x4s. That was exactly what Yamaha wanted – for the wheeler to be its own category.
Master of None?
Yamaha purposely built the Wolverine 450 to answer the demands of the growing recreational market. The quad had specs that can traverse rocky, slippery inclines and deep mud, as well as technical wooded trails.
Additionally, it was beginner-friendly and equipped with convenient functions – all intended to satisfy the whims and needs of riders while increasing revenue and market share for the lineup. But despite its fantastic handling, practical features, and adaptability, sales of the Wolverine series plummeted. This incident, along with other reasons people can only speculate, soon forced the Japanese firm to close shop on its manufacture after only five years of production.
A decade after its production end, savvy ATV aficionados now wish the Yamaha Wolverine 450 could have stuck around longer. Talk about a classic example of buyer’s remorse. The next few sections highlight just how much current off-roaders are missing out on.
2006 Yamaha Wolverine 450 Specs & Features (YFM45FXV)
Engine & Lubrication
Similar to its 350-class predecessor, the Yamaha Wolverine 450 4×4 is powered by a 4-stroke powerplant that almost has the same bore-stroke ratio as the former.
Interestingly, however, the 450-cc Wolvi has a slightly smaller Mikuni BSR33 than the 350’s 34-mm carb size – this is because its motor is borrowed from the Yamaha Kodiak. A higher compression ratio aptly compensates for this deficit while ensuring a greater power output from the vehicle.
|Engine Type||4-Stroke OHC|
|Cylinder Arrangement||45°-inclined, Single cylinder|
|Carburetion System||Carburetor, Mikuni BSR33 x 1|
|Engine Cooling||Liquid cooling|
|Engine Fuel||Unleaded gasoline, PON/RON rating of at least 86/91, containing MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether), < 10% ethanol, or < 5% methanol w/ appropriate cosolvents and corrosion inhibitor|
|Fuel Capacity||14.5 L or 3.83 US gal (reserve – 4.5 L or 1.19 US gal)|
|Bore x Stroke Ratio||84.5 x 75 mm (3.33 x 2.95 in)|
|Displacement||421 cm³ / 25.69 in³|
|Top Speed||50-55 mph (80.5-88.5 km/h) – based on test rides by ATV publications|
|Starter System||Electric starter|
|Air Filtration||Wet element|
|Engine Oil & Quantity||2.3 L (2.43 US quarts, oil change) / 2.4 L (2.54 US quarts, filter change) of SAE 10W-40 4-stroke motor oil Options: SAE 5W-30, 10W-30, 20W-40 w/ API grade of SJ+ meeting JASO T903 MA, MB standards|
There is no resource online or elsewhere that documents the power output of the Wolverine 450. I can only assume it would be a little over its 350-cc sibling’s figures – 27.6 hp/28 PS (20.6 kW @ 7,000 RPM). Similarly, its fuel economy is also unreported. Based on forums, it averages at 14.7 L/100 km (16 mpg) on dirt-road-style riding.
Among the differences between the 350- and 450-class Wolvies is in their power transfer. Instead of a manual tranny, the Wolverine 450 utilizes a CVT belt, eliminating the need for shifting (which newbies may find troublesome). This type of powertrain is made more convenient with a limited-slip front differential and selectable driveline modes actuated via an On-Command® 2WD/4WD button found on the handlebar.
|Clutch||Wet shoe, automatic, centrifugal type|
|Transfer, Transmission Type||V-belt, UltraMatic™|
|Gearshift Pattern||F-N-R-P (left hand operation)|
|Drive System||Shaft drive|
|Secondary Reduction Ratio||7.944 (39/24 x 24/18 x 33/9)|
|Transfer Gear Ratio||Forward – 1.652 (38/23); Reverse – 1.706 (29/17)|
The four-wheeler shares the same electrical components as most of the other Yamaha quads. However, the stock OEM stator is rumored to be unreliable, driving owners to go for an aftermarket replacement like an HO stator (view on Amazon) that also fits Grizzly and Bruin models.
|Ignition||DC-CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition)|
|Spark Plug||NGK DR8EA, w/ a gap of 0.6 – 0.7 mm (0.024 – 0.028 in)|
Torque: 17.5 Nm (1.75 m-kgf, 12.7 ft-lbf) or 1/4-1/2 turn past finger tight
|Fuse||30 Amp (main); 15 Amp (headlight); 10 Amp (ignition, auxiliary DC, signaling system, backup); 3 Amp (4WD)|
|Battery||12V (18 Ah)/10 Hr, YTX20L-BS format|
|Battery Dimensions (L x W x H)||6.88 x 3.44 x 6.12 in (175 x 87 x 155 mm)|
Like the Wolverine X series, the 450-cc Wolvi came with Maxxis radial tires mounted on steel or aluminum wheels (depending on year and trim).
These can be replaced with either Dunlop or Carlisle AT489C ATV Tires (view on Amazon) should your stock knobbies reach their tread limit – both will work great on the quad. Just make sure not to go lower than 37 kPa (0.37 kgf-cm2, 5.3 psi) when airing down your tires or beyond 250 kPa (2.50 kgf-cm2, 36 psi) when seating the beads.
|Front Tire, off-road/road air pressure||Maxxis M937 AT23 x 8-12, tubeless|
40 kPa (0.41 kgf/cm2, 5.8 psi)
|Rear Tire, off-road/road air pressure||Maxxis M938 AT23 x 10-12, tubeless|
40 kPa (0.41 kgf/cm2, 5.8 psi)
|Front Brake Type||Dual disc brake (right hand operation)|
|Rear Brake Type||Single disc brake, wheel-mounted (left hand/right foot operation)|
Despite a slightly larger displacement and frame, the Yamaha Wolverine 450 retains its long-travel suspension and wheel travel – exact, same measurements as its 10-year-old sibling.
The oil-damped rear shocks particularly lend to the vehicle’s superb handling, even on rough terrain. Steel wheels were changed to aluminum rims for the 2008 Yamaha Wolverine 450 onwards to improve unsprung weight and overall suspension action.
|Caster, Trail||4°, 19.3 mm (0.76 in)|
|Toe-in||2 ± 4 mm (0.08 ± 0.16 in)|
|Turning Radius||3 m (9.84 ft)|
|Front Suspension Type, Travel||Independent, double wishbone, coil spring, oil-damped (5-way preload adjustable), 160 mm (6.3 in)|
|Rear Suspension Type, Travel||Swingarm type, coil spring, oil-damped (5-way preload adjustable), 180 mm (7.1 in)|
Both front and rear shocks are set to #2 setting from the factory. You may adjust this to match your weight, needed grip, and riding/terrain conditions.
The Wolverine is slightly shorter than YFM350, giving it a low center of gravity and vehicle height. Thankfully, this does not affect ground clearance. The seat is excellent for riders who are up to 6’0″ tall but may feel a bit cramped for taller operators, especially on the left side. A 2-Kg storage compartment and 1,100-lb trailer hitch capacity bring out the utility nature of the quad.
|Length||1,978 mm (77.9 in)|
|Width||1,063 mm (41.9 in)|
|Height||1,095 mm (43.1 in)|
|Seat Height (Unloaded)||840 mm (33.1 in)|
|Ground Clearance||220 mm (8.66 in)|
|Wheelbase||1,233 mm (48.5 in)|
|Curb Weight||250 Kg (551 lbs)|
|Vehicle Load Capacity Limit||100 Kg (220 lbs) – combined cargo, rider weight & accessories|
|Towing Capacity (Optional)||500 Kg (1,102 lbs)|
The 450 uses a tubular steel frame and plastic body material available in Team Yamaha blue/white, Racing Blue, red/white, black/red, and white/silver. Styling-wise, it took bits and pieces from the Raptor (that handsome front end) and YFZ450.
Sharp fender lines make room for taller tires, and a digital speedometer (view on Amazon) keeps track of speed, mileage, and other essentials. Full floorboards offer excellent underside protection.
|Switches – Ignition, Engine Stop||Standard|
|Headlight||Krypton bulb, 12V 30/30 W x 2|
|Brake Light/Taillight||12V 21/5 W x 1|
|Indicator Lights||LED (neutral, reverse, coolant temperature warning, park indicator)|
Wolverine 450 Pros and Cons
When it came out, the Yamaha Wolverine 450 did not look impressive at first. But do not let its looks deceive you. It takes one to swing a leg over the wheeler and take it for a spin in the woods to realize how much of a champ it is. On this note, here is a non-exhaustive list of the all-around machine’s highs and lows.
- On-Command® 2WD/4WD modes immensely improve the vehicle’s terrainability and lend to its invaluable flexibility, allowing it to negotiate twisty/technical trails more easily than a pure utility 4×4.
- Its high air intake and large-capacity radiator lend to the Wolverine’s outstanding durability and consistent engine performance.
- The Wolvi is 75 lbs lighter than the Kodiak, making it more efficient and easier to maneuver regardless of the terrain.
- An internal engine counterbalancer reduces vibration to the operator and makes for a smooth ride.
- GYTR accessories (especially the bolt-on ones) fit perfectly and may even enhance power and help shed some more weight off the vehicle.
- The stock tires’ tread design provided little to no sidewall roll and made getting out of deep mud a breeze.
- A redesigned seat and floorboards offer added protection from splash, mud, and debris.
- Unlike other high-performance quads, it caters to both nouveau and experienced/skilled riders.
- When switching from 2WD to 4WD or vice-versa, you need to back off the throttle.
- Riders above 6’0″ may not find the vehicle easy to get aggressive on.
- The Wolvi may not be the best choice for folks who are heavy on hauling/yard duty, as it can be used only for limited work due to the absence of front and rear cargo racks.
Clearly, the Wolverine’s strengths outnumber its drawbacks. No wonder this mean machine has been considered the sportiest 4×4 ever produced during its time.
How Much for this Do-It-All Quad?
Auction listings for the 450-cc Wolverine range between $1,650 and $4,999. Most resale units online are 2006 to 2007 models in good working condition. These pre-loved vehicles have a relatively low count of hours and mileage.
Units at the higher end of the price spectrum are found on known websites such as ATV.com, while those sold for less than $2,000 are from trader sites and private owners. There is hardly any repair work needed even for these secondhand 4x4s. Worst-case scenario, you may only need to do a thorough carb cleanup, inspect electrical components, replace the battery, or get a paint job done.
Surprisingly, original list prices are not that far from auction values. The table below consolidates MSRPs, retail, and trade-in values of all Wolverine 450 releases (2006 to 2010 models) for your convenience (Source: Nada Guides):
|Year – Trim – Model Number||List Price||Retail/Trade-In Values|
|2006 Yamaha Wolverine YFM45FXV||$5,999||$1,585 – $2,085|
|2007 Yamaha Wolverine YFM45FXW||$5,999||$1,680 – $2,210|
|2008 Yamaha Wolverine YFM45FXXL||$5,999||$1,765 – $2,320|
|2008 Yamaha Wolverine YFM45FX5PX – Special Edition||$6,249||$1,845 – $2,430|
|2009 Yamaha Wolverine YFM45FXYL||$6,199||$1,845 – $2,430|
|2010 Yamaha Wolverine YFM45FXZW||$6,399||$2,300 – $3,025|
Yamaha is a Japanese conglomerate world-renowned for its industry-leading motorsport and off-road vehicles, personal watercraft, and outboard motors. Yamaha eventually ventured into motorcycle production, parting ways with its musically-inclined parent company.
The firm has, since then, made giant leaps in the automotive industry – from spawning the ATV industry to manufacturing award-winning motorized vehicles.
At present, Yamaha continues to live by its mission of “Kando” by creating life-enriching products and services.
Conclusion – Yamaha Wolverine 450 4×4
Although underrated, the Wolverine 450 successfully addressed the imperfections of its smaller predecessor. The product line’s decade-long hiatus was not in vain, as it gave Yamaha more than enough time to put all the right upgrades into the quad.
The combination of an unrelenting, mid-range powerband, well-tuned long-travel suspension, aggressive stock tires, relatively lightweight (and darn good-looking) frame, and reliable UltraMatic™ transmission was more than enough to turn the 450-class Wolverine into a powerhouse. So much so that it did not require having IRS or fuel injection.
Unfortunately, its launch happened at a time when both off-roaders and consumers did not know any better. But the tables have turned. Now, everyone can agree that the Yamaha Wolverine 450 is undoubtedly the best vehicle of choice if you want to have fun in the sport, extreme trail riding, and mudding realms.