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First Ride: Introducing the 2016 Yamaha’s

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The fleet of 2016 Yamaha’s await us excited media last week at Moto Park. Photo by Allison Kennedy

They say that Fall riding is the absolute best because usually the tracks are in great shape and the weather has lost the heat and humidity of the summer. When we received the invite to attend the Yamaha Ride Day at Moto Park last week, I was extremely excited because I knew the conditions would be near perfect. When Brian Koster and I arrived at Moto Park we were greeted by Rick Lewis and Matt Fletcher of Yamaha Motor Canada Ltd. They informed us that there would first be a presentation of the new 2016 off-road models, and then we would be free to ride either the motocross track or the trails for the rest of the day. On a beautiful mild October day, it sure didn’t get any better than this.

Since I had not ridden a Yamaha for almost two years, I was very excited to throw my leg over one again to see what changes had been made. From watching all of the racing this past season, I knew that the 2015 Yamahas were obviously very good bikes. Not only did Matt Goerke win the MX1 title at the Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals aboard a YZ450F, but also at the amateur level we saw riders like Casey Keast, Marco Cannella, Nick Denniston and Jake Tricco find success on this storied brand. With so much success now in the rear view mirror, it is clear Yamaha has its eyes set on the future.

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The 2016 YZ450F comes in two colours, blue and of course this very cool looking 60th Anniversary Edition Yellow. Photo by Allison Kennedy

While my partner Brian Koster focused more of his efforts on the off-road models, I couldn’t wait to ride the machine that Matt Goerke and newly signed Brett Metcalfe will race next year at the Nationals, the 2016 YZ450F. Although this new 450 isn’t completely different than last year’s, it does have a few new features. For 2016, Yamaha has updated the 450F with a new launch control system. This launch control system allows riders to engage it with a simple touch of a button while on the starting line for a smoother release off the gate. Once a rider shifts to third gear, the launch control is disengaged and the power is returned to normal. To go along with this new feature is a brand new ECU and revised ignition mapping. Also new is the massive 270mm front brake rotor that will give a rider increased stopping power and a more precise feel when braking. For 2016, Yamaha has also updated the frame, the suspension settings and the transmission to help make the shifting smoother. This bike isn’t all new, but Yamaha has taken what they learned on the race tracks in 2015 and applied it to the 2016.

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With great handling characteristics, it’s easy to throw the 2016 YZ450F around in the air. Photo by Allison Kennedy

Once I took to the perfectly groomed Moto Park track I was immediately impressed with how the 2016 YZ450F worked. The handling was precise and predictable; with the KYB conventional forks, the 450F front end did exactly what I wanted it to. With the larger front brake rotor, the braking action was very strong. Even with all these new and updated features, the thing I liked most about the new YZ450F was the good old Yamaha horsepower. This bike is very fast, but the power delivery is still very smooth. After riding it for a few laps it became very clear why Matt Goerke and Bobby Kiniry had such great starts this past summer. With superb handling and a great power plant, the new 2016 YZ450F sure didn’t have too many weaknesses. MXP had a great day of riding at Moto Park and we’d like to thank Yamaha Motor Canada Ltd for this incredible opportunity. Both Brian Koster and I had a great time riding the new Yamahas. Please look for a full report on the 2016s in the upcoming issue of MXP Magazine.

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With updated suspension settings and a slightly stiffer frame, the 2016 YZ450F corners like it’s on rails. Photo by Allison Kennedy

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