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Yamaha shows off the new 2021 WR450F

More power, sharper handling and improved braking for MY21 enduro favourite.

Ahead of its release later this year, Yamaha have previewed the 2021 version of the WR450F.

A firm favourite with Australian enduro riders, the WR450F has built its local reputation on reliability and performance in both work and play trail environments, from hardcore AORC competition to weekend trail bashing.

Those attributes continue for 2021, but the YZ features that have driven WR450F development in recent years have been dialled up for 2021.  A key change on the upcoming model is its new bilateral aluminium beam frame, taken from the 2020 YZ450F and offering a lighter overall feel, but tuned to deliver the increased turn-in performance and improved stability necessary for enduro applications.

The front end is lighter but stronger, with revised rigidity from new triple clamp, axle and handlebar mounts, while the ‘bar sits 15mm forward and 5mm lower compared to the 2020 model.

Yamaha previews 2021 WR450F

The 450cc engine in the 2021 WR450F is essentially the same single-cylinder powerplant used in the YZ450F, but with enduro-specific settings for intake, exhaust and ECU. Lighter and more compact than the 2020 model’s engine, this powerplant also features a new compression ratio of 13.0:1 (up from 12.8:1) and more aggressive cam profiles.

A handlebar-mounted mapping switch allows two different engine maps to be selected on the fly, while fuel/air ratio and ignition timing is also adjustable via your smartphone using Yamaha’s free Power Tuner app.  The Power Tuner can also serve as a log for vehicle data like engine run time.

Yamaha previews 2021 WR450F

Complementing the new engine is a tougher five-speed transmission with enduro-specific gear ratios and special attention paid to third and fourth gear durability.

KYB suspension carries over from the 2020 WR450F, and it’s still firmer than what it was a few years ago, but settings have been revised to suit the new frame. The front and rear disc brake set-up carries over, too, but braking performance is improved with the application of YZ450F componentry (larger pistons, revised caliper body and new brake pads), but this doesn’t come at the expense of added weight.

Yamaha previews 2021 WR450F

Other new features include a smaller multifunction dash with warning lights now incorporated into the instrument display, while chromoly footpegs shave grams off the overall weight compared to the 2020 model’s stainless steel pegs.

Familiar WR450F features, like tool-les air filter removal, 7.9-litre fuel tank, electric starting and a range of compatible accessories (including the Competition Kit), carry over for 2021, as does Yamaha Team Blue colouring, but with new-look graphics for the new year.

All-new for 2021 is a special “Aussie Edition” WR450F with special finishes and locally-developed bolt-in parts. Limited to just 400 units, the Aussie Edition will be exclusive to Australia.

Yamaha previews 2021 WR450F

As in past years, MY21 WR450Fs are ADR compliant and can be recreationally registered in most states.

Priced from $15,499 ride away, the 2020 Yamaha WR450F is due for local release in December, 2020.

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Phil Suriano

Phil Suriano