A decade ago Yamaha led the four-stroke revolution in dirt bikes. By taking its high-revving, R1-style, five-valve technology and applying it, first in motocross with the YZ400F, then enduro with the WR400F and massively successful WR250F, the Japanese firm rode the vanguard into a new era. It won world championships, hearts and sales.
But eventually European competition got the better of the blue fliers. They took the WR formula and copied – then improved – it. KTM has had Yamaha beat for many years now, but so too has a legion of others, including Husqvarna, Beta, TM and Sherco. Yamaha didn’t exactly sit still – in fact it tweaked the WR formula every two or three years – but never with the success of the original. The WR became known not as the racer of choice, but as the great ‘trail’ bike.
Yamaha reckons that’s all changed for 2012. Project Leader Masaki Kamimura says he has taken the WR project back to its roots in developing the new WR450F.
Read the full, world first, test of the 2012 Yamaha WR450F in next week’s MCN, on sale 11 January.
Don’t miss out, subscribe to MCN from just £1 per issue.