ATV racing has a significant history that dates back to the mid-’80s. During this time, participants used ATCs like the Honda ATC250R, Yamaha Tri-Z 250, or Kawasaki KXT Tecate 250 (as they were the only machines available).
Honda finally released a performance-driven four-wheeler in 1986. But what ultimately dominated the sport came out two decades later — the Yamaha YFZ450.
The Yamaha YFZ450 is a revolutionary mid-size ATV designed for racing and recreational riding. Produced in 2004, this competition-oriented machine dominated the Baja 1000, FIM Asia and European, Pro AMA ATV MX, and GNCC Championship series and is the go-to quad for casual riders and enthusiasts.
Even today, savvy enthusiasts acknowledge that the Yamaha YFZ450 is the epitome of sport-squad supremacy. It is, after all, the forerunner of most high-tech ATVs domineering the modern speedway.
Case in point, the YFZ 450’s lone challenger in 2015 was the Yamaha Raptor 700 — a machine with almost double its displacement. But if you don’t quite agree, read on and discover the awesomeness of this racetrack royalty.
The King of Sport ATVs
The Yamaha YFZ450 is a high-performance, sport-tuned machine introduced in 2004 and the first in its segment to unapologetically target full-on racers. It boasted a race-bred framework, push-button electric starter, lightweight aluminum components, and cutting-edge suspension.
Given its modern features and no-qualms racing attitude, it naturally (and quickly) gained popularity among recreational aggro-riders and off-road enthusiasts.
Since its launch, the YFZ 450 has been a dominant force in ATV racing, winning Baja 1000, FIM European, Pro AMA ATV MX, and GNCC Racing Series championships left and right.
For racing enthusiasts out there, here is a non-exhaustive list of pro racers who have proven that the 439cc four-wheeler is unstoppable:
- Chad Wienen: 6-time AMA ATV Motocross Champion (2012—2017)
- Bill Ballance: 9-time GNCC ATV Champion (2000—2008)
- Dustin Nelson: 4-time WORCS ATV Champion (2005—2008)
- John Natalie: 3-time Pro AMA ATV MX Champion (2011, 2013, 2015)
- Daryl Rath: 2-time FIM European ATV Champion (2008, 2012)
Its stellar track record and role in shaping the direction of off-road racing technology are more than sufficient reasons for the YFZ450 to be deemed one of the most iconic and influential quads in the landscape. Nonetheless, the machine is not confined within this ‘golden playing field.’
Outside the racetrack, the ATV is a capable trail carver and sand rover. Although feeling its heightened performance and power surge is inevitable as you close in on its RPM limit.
2006—2010 Bill Ballance YFZ450BBV/W/XBBZ
The YFZ450 Bill Balance Edition was named after Pro ATV Racer Bill Ballance, a nine-time GNCC Champion, and the only rider to emerge as champion in both the GNCC and the WORCS (World Off-Road Championship Series) ATV racing tournaments.
The special-edition trim was only produced from 2006 to 2007, although JD Power and Auto Evolution provided MSRP and retail pricing details for 2009 and 2010 releases.
The 2007 iteration of this homologation unit featured a unique Red/White color scheme, with Bill Ballance’s signature on the front fender.
Meanwhile, the 2010 YFZ450 XBBZ version came standard with “special graphics, a gold D.I.D. chain, Yamaha Racing Blue frame, silver wheels, quick release body fasteners and a grab bar (view on Amazon) by GYTR sporting the champion’s #1 plate.” (Total Motorcycle).
To alleviate rider fatigue, the unit received performance upgrades such as racer-friendly ergonomics, a padded saddle, a wider front track with longer A-arms, an adjustable rear shock, and a slipper clutch.
A larger airbox, ISC (Idle Speed Control), and new carburetor settings (fuel injection with a 12-hole injector and 42-mm Mikuni throttle body for the 2010 installment) improved start-ups, throttle responsiveness, and power delivery.
Yamaha YFZ450 Specs & Features (YFZ450S)
The quad comes to life via a liquid-cooled, 4-stroke DOHC power mill with a 95 × 62 millimeters (3.74 × 2.44 inches) bore-stroke ratio, 11.9:1 compression ratio, and forward-inclined single-cylinder arrangement. Piston displacement is 439 cm3 (26.79 in3).
The air-fuel mixture is handled by a 39-mm Keihin 5TG1 carburetor and a reusable dual-stage foam air filter (view on Amazon).
Overall engine configuration lends to a YFZ 450 top speed of 70—80 mph (112.6—128.7 km/h, unofficial). All other performance figures are as follows:
|Horsepower||30—39 bhp (22—29 kW) @ 9,000 RPM|
|Maximum Torque||32 Nm (3.26 kgf-m, 23.6 ft-lbf) @ 8,500 RPM|
|Fuel Economy (average)||40 mpg (5.88 L/100 km, est. @ 40 mph)|
|Fuel Tank Range||approximately 105 miles, 169.9 km|
(TIP: The power mill can be swapped out for a same-spec Keihin FCR MX, Keihin PWK, Lectron H-Series, or Mikuni TMX carburetor. Of these options, the Lectron H-Series is your best bet for a metering-rod design. Conversely, the Mikuni TMX would be ideal for off-road and racing applications.)
Fuel & Lubrication
The fuel tank capacity for the 2004 Yamaha YFZ450 is 10 L (2.64 USgal, 1.9 L/0.5 USgal reserve included) of premium unleaded gasoline or petrol. This storage capacity has remained unchanged across all production models of the ATV despite changing to fuel injection in 2010.
Lubrication-wise, it has a forced pressure (dry sump) system with a trochoidal oil pump and oil cooler. The pump is driven by the crankshaft and circulates oil through the powerplant to lubricate relevant moving parts. As for the oil cooler, it is located behind the bumper, at the front of the quad.
Oil and other fluid requirements for the ATV are shown in the table below:
|Periodic oil change||1.75 L (1.85 US qt)|
|With oil filter replacement||1.85 L (1.96 US qt)|
|At disassembly||1.95 L (2.06 US qt)|
|Radiator||0.58 L (0.61 US qt)|
|Coolant reservoir||0.29 L (0.31 US qt)|
|From low to full level||0.16 L (0.17 US qt)|
Depending on ambient temperature, you may go for other multi-grade oils suggested in the owner’s manual. Otherwise, the recommended viscosity is SAE 10W-30 Yamalube 4-stroke oil or its equivalent — with a minimum API certification of SJ and meeting JASO T903 MA/MA1/MA2 standards.
A 5-speed constant-mesh return system (left-foot operated) and wet, multi-disc clutch assembly deliver power to the wheels. Meanwhile, a Daido 520MXV chain final drive (with 96 links + joint) is responsible for wheelspin and optimized for off-road terrain.
Its steering system is tied to the suspension and uses ball-and-race bearings, lending to increased durability, reduced maintenance, and improved handling.
The machine is also equipped with safety features like a speed limiter and TORS (Throttle Override System) — a fail-safe that stops the engine if the carb or throttle cable malfunctions during the quad’s operation or the carburetor switch becomes inoperable. 2014 production models and onward were upgraded to include an assist & slipper clutch.
As for stock gear ratios, see the table below for reference:
|Primary Reduction Ratio||62/22 (2.818)|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — 1st||29/12 (2.416)|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — 2nd||27/14 (1.928)|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — 3rd||25/16 (1.562)|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — 4th||23/18 (1.277)|
|Transmission Gear Ratio — 5th||21/20 (1.050)|
|Secondary Reduction Ratio||38/14 (2.714)|
Ignition & Electricals
The Yamaha YFZ 450 has a DC-CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition) system with a timing of 7.5° B.T.D.C. @ 1,800 RPM, a digital-type advancer, and an NGK CR8E plug with an electrode gap of 0.7-0.8 mm (0.028-0.031 inches) responsible for spark ignition.
An F5TG/MORIC A.C. Magneto with a nominal output of 14V 120 W @ 5,000 RPM serves as its charging system. This component is augmented by a 12V 12 Ah/(10 HR) GT7B-4 battery, which powers the lighting and other electronic accessories (if any).
You may go for a YT7B-BS, YTX5L-BS, or YTZ7S format like Fire Power HJTZ7S-FP Featherweight Lithium Battery (view on Amazon) if your stock battery requires replacement. Note, however, that’ 04-’13 production models only take YT7B-BS batteries. Similarly,’ 10-’11 and ’17 iterations of the quad only work with YTX5L-BS formats.
In case you are wondering, here are the assembled dimensions for each battery format (sans wiring harness and mounting accessories):
|Format||Capacity / CCA Rating||Dimensions (L x W x H)|
|YTZ7S||6 Ah/(10 HR); 130 CCA||113 x 70 x 105 mm (4.44 x 2.75 x 4.12 inches)|
|YT7B-BS||6.5 Ah/(10 HR); 120 CCA||150 x 65 x 93 mm (6.00 x 2.56 x 3.69 inches)|
|YTX5L-BS||4 Ah/(10 HR); 80 CCA||114 x 71 x 106 mm (4.50 x 2.81 x 4.19 inches)|
And here are the lighting assembly details:
|Description||Wattage x Quantity|
|Headlight||Krypton bulb, 12V 30/30 W x 2|
|Tail/Brake Light||12V 5/21 W x 1|
|Neutral, Coolant Temperature||12V 1.7 W x 1 (each)|
Tires & Brakes
Factory tires consist of tubeless Dunlop KT331A/KT355 radials — AT21 × 7-10 at the front and AT20 × 10-9 at the rear. These knobbies mount on cast-aluminum panel wheels measuring 10×5.5 AT and 9×8.5 AT, respectively.
Hydraulically operated triple-disc brakes (160 mm/6.3 inches front and 200 mm/7.9 inches rear) comprise the ATV’s tire-and-wheel assembly and provide stopping power.
Recommended cold-tire pressure for the stock knobbies are 30 kPa (0.30 kgf/cm2, 4.4 psi — front) and 35 kPa (0.35 kgf/cm2, 5.0 psi — rear). They can be aired down using a Milton S-576D Pro Digital Tire Inflator with Pressure Gauge (view on Amazon) if there is a need to enhance contact patch in off-road riding conditions. However, you may reduce the tire pressure by no lower than 3 psi (0.21 kgf/cm2, 20.7 kPa).
Enclosed in a tubular, hybrid steel frame with a non-adjustable aluminum subframe is an independent double-wishbone at the front and a rear aluminum swingarm (IRS link suspension). Each unit provides a respective wheel travel of 230 mm (9.06 inches) and 256 mm (10.08 inches), augmented by piggyback reservoir Kayaba shocks.
The caster angle is 5° with a trail length of 21 mm/0.83 inches. This seemingly diminutive trail length lends to the YFZ450’s impressive stability, cornering, and other sport-oriented mannerisms.
The distance between the axles (wheelbase) is 1,280 mm (50.4 inches). The turning radius is 3.5 m (11.5 feet, 137.8 inches), while the minimum ground clearance is between 255 mm (10.04 inches).
Dimensions & Capacities
The overall dimensions of the quad are 72.4 x 46.1 x 42.9 inches (1,840 x 1,170 x 1,090 mm — L x W x H). Curb weight — including engine oil, fluids, and a full fuel tank — is 169 Kg (373 lbs.).
Seat height is on the low side at 31.5 inches (800 mm) but can accommodate small to larger-built riders. Variations in the machine’s length, width, and height across different markets exist and are contingent on compliance with local regulations.
The 2004 Yamaha YFZ450 features a sport-oriented, aggressive styling with sharp lines, bold colors, and a muscular build. Its unique design includes a sleek front hood, angular headlight, and front fenders that give it charm and a distinct look.
Moreover, its compact and lightweight frame complements its overall appearance and improves its handling on the track.
The release of Special-Edition trims began with the 2005 YFZ450, which featured a black frame and front bumper and a unique graphic scheme and color combination.
Since then, Yamaha has released other SE models (including the Bill Ballance Edition, YFZ450 SE2, and YFZ450R SE, to name a few), often to commemorate racing victories.
Throughout its production, the YFZ450 was made available in Blue/White, Black/Red, Team Yamaha Blue/White, White/Red, Team Yamaha Yellow/Black, Yellow, and Black/Blue. Today, SE trims come standard with a GYTR front grab bar and have swapped the classic Team Yamaha Blue body paint for Gray Metallic.
How Much is a Yamaha YFZ 450?
The listing price of the YFZ450 (S, R to XAL/RFL/RDW/REO designations) from its launch to date ranges from $6,699 to $10,299, with considerable increases in MSRP happening only in 2010 and 2022 ($500 a year since then). Limited edition trims (SES, R SE to XSEA/RSED/RSFB) from inception to date sold from $7,099 to $10,699.
Outside of North America, the quad fetched €8,499 in Italy and Spain, €7,999 in other parts of Europe, ¥1,050,000 in Japan, and £6,799 in the United Kingdom.
Models with a “W” in their designation offered custom graphics but were priced relatively similar to same-year standard versions. Interestingly, a YFZ450BB (different from the Bill Ballance homologation release) was produced beginning in 2012 and sold for $6,799 — almost $2,000 cheaper than base models at the time.
There were also homologation units released within the YFZ450’s production run, as follows:
- 2006—2007, 2010 Yamaha YFZ450BBV/W, XBBZ (Bill Ballance Edition) for $7,449—$8,799
- 2007 YFZ450SE2W (Special Edition II) for $7,499
- 2014 YZ450R SE MX (Motocross) for $8,899
- 2015 YFZ450R SE GNCC (Grand National Cross Country) for $9,299
As for auction and retail pricing, base models are valued between $1,615 and $10,095, with post-2016 models still selling for at least 75% of their original MSRP in the used-bike market. Limited edition trims fall between $1,750 and $10,590. Meanwhile, homologation units range from $2,715 to $4,120 and are typically heavily used.
Lowdowns & Customer Feedback
- The YFZ450 is designed to be ready to race out of the crate.
- The machine features a lightweight and durable aluminum frame meant to provide excellent rigidity and handling.
- It also has high-performance hydraulic disc brakes to deliver superb stopping power, even in wet or muddy conditions. Avid followers believe these brakes are the best offered on a production quad.
- Tire traction is exceptional, and the weight distribution is top-notch, which greatly assists the machine in effectively transferring power to the rear wheels during intense acceleration.
- Its low seat height improves riders’ stability, control, and comfort while providing better visibility of the terrain ahead — a crucial advantage for folks with physical limitations or those riding in challenging off-road conditions.
- The suspension on the YFZ450 is remarkable, effortlessly absorbing the most severe impacts without any indication of bottoming or loss of stability.
- For older models, a high-performance carburetor and high-flow air filter help maximize the engine’s power and efficiency.
Yamaha Motor Company Ltd. is a renowned Japanese manufacturer known for class-leading personal watercraft, motorcycles, and ATVs like the Yamaha YFZ450. Starting as a reed organ maker in 1887, the firm became a motorcycle producer and eventually expanded to other industries.
Over the years, the OEM has launched thousands of models across various automotive labels. Yamaha is a force to be reckoned with in the motorcycling and ATV landscapes.
Conclusion — Yamaha YFZ450 Sport ATV Review
In conclusion, the Yamaha YFZ450 is a powerful and versatile quad with an undeniable presence and indomitable reputation in the off-road racing landscape. Its impressive speed, agile handling, and responsive suspension system make it a champion wheeler regardless of terrain.
Thanks to its advanced technology and exceptional capabilities, it is a popular choice for riders of all ages and skill levels. And with the right mods and upgrades, this machine will remain a top contender in the world of ATV racing.
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.