When it comes to high performance sport ATVs, the Yamaha YFZ 450 is one of the most popular choices for its combination of speed, handling, and thrilling ride experience. But just how fast can you go on the YFZ 450? What’s the top speed this sporty ATV is capable of reaching?
In this in-depth article, we’ll explore the key specs, capabilities, and real-world top speed tests of the YFZ 450. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the maximum velocity this powerful racing ATV can achieve.
Table of Contents
Overview Of The Yamaha YFZ 450
First, let’s start with a quick overview of the Yamaha YFZ 450 for those less familiar with this phenomenally fast quad.
The YFZ 450 is a sport-oriented ATV first introduced by Yamaha in 2009 as part of the Yamaha YFZ series. It’s predominately designed for high adrenaline off-road riding, with its strong 449cc fuel injected engine, manual 5-speed transmission, and high-end suspension components built for handling tight trails and motocross tracks at speed.
While the YFZ 450 is not street legal in most states due to its lack of lighting and other required road equipment, it has cultivated a loyal following for its incredible acceleration, nimble handling capabilities, and durability that allows riders to push it to the limit lap after lap.
Brief History Of The YFZ 450
Yamaha first unveiled the YFZ 450 for model year 2009, replacing the previous YFZ 450R sport ATV.
The new 450 featured a more powerful fuel injected 449cc engine, updated chassis, new front and rear suspension, and improved ergonomics – all aimed at enhancing its handling, control, and high speed ride performance.
Over its production span until being discontinued after the 2017 model year, the YFZ 450 underwent several refinements but kept its core DNA as Yamaha’s premier high-output sport quad. It continues to have a devoted following today among amateur and pro ATV racers.
Key Features And Specs
Here are some of the standout features and specifications that enable the YFZ 450 to reach exhilarating top speeds:
- Powerful 449cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke engine – The YFZ 450’s muscular 4-stroke engine displaces 449cc and utilizes Yamaha’s advanced fuel injection system for excellent throttle response and power delivery. It pumps out up to 39 hp, allowing the ATV to rocket from 0 to 60 mph in the 4 second range.
- 5-speed manual transmission – The 450 uses a 5-speed manual transmission to optimize the power band and enable higher top speeds by reducing gaps between gears. It also has reverse gear for added maneuverability.
- Dual rear disc brakes – With all the engine power pushing this machine, dual hydraulic disc brakes on the rear wheels provide strong stopping force when needed. The front uses dual disc brakes as well.
- High end suspension – Fully adjustable KYB piggyback shocks in the front and rear help soak up bumps and provide greater high speed handling and control.
- Durable aluminum frame with steel bottom frame – The YFZ uses an aluminum frame that combines rigidity for sporty handling along with enough flex to absorb impacts over rough terrain. The tough frame stands up to hard riding.
With specs like these, it’s clear that the YFZ 450 is engineered for performance ATV enthusiasts looking to ride hard and fast. Next, let’s look specifically at what kind of top speed this ATV is capable of.
YFZ 450 Specifications Table
|449cc, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke single cylinder
|Mikuni fuel injection
|5-speed manual with reverse
|39 hp @ 7,500 RPM
|82 ft-lbs @ 6,000 RPM
|Dual hydraulic disc brakes (front and rear)
|Independent double wishbone, KYB piggyback shocks, fully adjustable
|Independent double wishbone, KYB piggyback shocks, fully adjustable
|L x W x H
|81.3 in x 46.1 in x 31.9 in
Please note that specifications can vary slightly depending on the model year. It’s always best to check the owner’s manual or official product specifications for the most accurate information.
Determining the Top Speed of the Yamaha YFZ 450
So what kind of maximum velocity can skilled riders expect to hit on the YFZ 450? Let’s dig into the specs, test reports, and real-world top speed evaluations to determine how fast this machine can actually go.
Yamaha Reported Top Speed
Yamaha themselves have stated a top speed capability of 72 mph (116 km/h) for the stock YFZ 450 model when unleashed in optimal conditions.
This published spec reflects their internal testing and estimates for what riders can reach on an unmodified machine based on the engine performance, gear ratios, and other limiting factors.
However, keep in mind that Yamaha’s stated top speed is a theoretical estimate. Actual velocities that owners experience may end up higher or lower based on riding conditions, cargo, and individual machine factors.
Owner Reported Top Speeds
When looking at real-world tests and owner reported velocities, a picture emerges that the YFZ 450 can exceed Yamaha’s conservative 72 mph rating under certain situations.
Here are some top speeds recorded by existing YFZ 450 owners:
- 73 mph GPS verified top speed clocked by owners on stock models
- 75+ mph achieved with lighter riders
- 78 mph reached with aftermarket exhaust and filter mods
- 80+ mph speeds attained with more extensive engine modifications
Now keep in mind these are rider-reported GPS based speeds that may involve ideal conditions like flat ground, no cargo, lighter riders, and high-RPM operation. But the reports indicate the 450 is capable of exceeding 72 mph from the factory, and has additional speed potential when modified.
What Determines Top Speed?
Given the evidence that the YFZ 450 can surpass the 72 mph mark, what enables it to reach those higher fast velocities? Here are the key factors:
1. Rider Weight and Position
The combined weight of the rider and how they are positioned on the ATV has an impact on top speed. Heavier loads place greater strain on the engine. Sitting upright instead of in a tucked position creates more drag. Optimal speed is achieved with a lighter rider (under 200 lbs) tucked forward in a racing position.
2. Gearing and RPMs
Gear ratios determine the rotation speed of the engine needed to propel the ATV to a certain road speed. Lower gears enable faster acceleration but are rpm-limited. Highest speeds are attained in the top gear near redline RPMs.
3. Tire Pressure and Condition
Proper inflation (4-6 psi) reduces rolling resistance between the tires and ground. Worn, over or under-inflated tires create drag and limits speed. New tires with adequate pressure minimize losses.
4. Aftermarket Modifications
Common mods like exhaust, air filter, fuel programmer allow the engine to breathe better and spin faster, potentially increasing maximum velocity if tuned properly. More extensive engine build ups can enable 80+ speeds.
5. Altitude and Conditions
Riding at high altitudes robs engine performance and hinders top speed. Hot temperatures are less dense and cause power loss. Cool, dense air at sea level allows for faster speeds. Flat smooth terrain is ideal vs hills or rough ground.
As you can see, there are a number of variables that impact how fast the YFZ 450 can ultimately go. Under optimal rider weight, gearing, tire, and atmospheric conditions, speeds over 75 mph are possible from the factory. And further gains can be achieved by modified engines unleashed at high rpm.
Next let’s look at some of the key specs and design factors that enable the YFZ 450 to reach its thrilling top velocities.
YFZ 450 Specs That Enable High Speed
The YFZ 450 is packed with performance hardware that allows it to achieve its blazing fast top speed capabilities. Here are some of the key technical specifications and components that allow this ATV to see speeds over 70 mph:
Strong Fuel Injected Engine
At the heart of the YFZ 450 is its powerful 449cc single cylinder 4-stroke engine, featuring:
- 449cc displacement – More displacement translates to greater power potential
- Liquid-cooling – Maintains optimal engine temp for consistent performance
- 5 titanium valves – Allows the engine to rev higher and breathe better
- 38mm Mikuni® fuel injection – Ensures excellent throttle response and power delivery
- 11.4:1 compression – Higher compression squeezes more power from each stroke
- Forged aluminum short skirt piston – Lightweight durable piston can handle high rpms
With these performance oriented components, the 449cc motor can churn out up to 43.5 hp. This high horsepower enables the YFZ 450 to reach speeds well in excess of 70 mph.
5-Speed Manual Transmission
The engine connects to a 5-speed manual transmission that optimizes the power band and allows the 450 to keep accelerating through a wide rpm range:
- Wide ratio transmission – Higher top speeds by reducing rpm gaps between gears
- Manual clutch – Gives rider launch control and torque management
- Reverse gear – Improves low speed maneuverability
The transmission is geared to enable speeds over 70 mph in the higher gears when the engine is screaming near redline. The ratios are optimized for acceleration and tapping maximum horsepower.
Strong Braking Power
Controlling these high speeds requires serious braking force, which the YFZ 450 capably provides via:
- Dual hydraulic disc brakes in the front – 245mm disks for strong, fade-free stopping power
- Dual hydraulic disc brakes in the rear – Optimized rear brake balance and feel
- Steel braided brake lines – Offer better braking feel and response
The four wheel disc brake setup brings the ATV down from speed quickly and smoothly. Critical for maintaining control during high velocity riding.
A high performance suspension system improves handling and gives the rider greater control when travelling at speed:
- KYB piggyback shocks with compression and rebound adjustment – Allow riders to dial in the suspension for their weight and riding style
- Low friction Kashima coating – Improves small bump compliance and smooth action over choppy terrain
- 9.1 inches of front suspension travel – Soaks up bumps and ruts when landing jumps at speed
- 10.6 inches of rear suspension travel – Increased control and traction while accelerating out of turns
The dialed in suspension plays a key role in allowing the YFZ 450 to carry speed through corners and rough sections.
Lightweight And Nimble Construction
The overall construction of the YFZ 450 also enhances high velocity handling:
- Tight steel frame – Provides rigidity for sporty handling along with enough flex to absorb impacts when riding fast over bumps
- Compact ergonomics – Allows rider to grip tight for control and cut through the wind with tucked position
- 405 pound dry weight – Lighter weight places less strain on the engine compared to heavier utility ATVs
- 2.6 gallon fuel tank – Smaller capacity tank keeps weight down
The tight and nimble construction pairs with the potent engine to enable a thrilling top speed experience on the YFZ 450.
How to Increase the Top Speed of the YFZ 450?
Here are some popular methods YFZ 450 owners use to elevate their ATV’s maximum velocity:
- Install aftermarket exhaust system – Reduces backpressure and frees up horsepower.
- Upgrade air filter – Improves airflow to the engine for more power.
- Have fuel programmer tuned – Optimizes timing and fuel for specific mods done.
- Gearing changes – Taller final drive gears reduce revs needed to hit a certain road speed.
- Engine rebuild with performance parts – Higher compression piston, port and polish head, camshafts, etc.
- Reduce weight – Remove unnecessary components to improve power-to-weight ratio.
- Smooth chassis – Ensure proper suspension setup, replace worn bearings/bushings, align wheels.
- Tire upgrade – Sticky radial tires create less rolling resistance.
With the right combination of modifications, experienced tuners can extract an additional 10-15mph top speed from the YFZ 450.
What is Considered a “Fast” ATV Speed?
Now that you have a sense for the top speed potential of the YFZ 450, how does that velocity compare to other sport and utility ATVs? What is considered a “fast” ATV speed?
To put things in perspective, here are benchmark speed capabilities for common ATV types:
- Utility ATVs – Maximum speed around 45-55 mph. Examples are the Honda Ranchers and Kawasaki Mules designed for work use.
- Entry level sport ATVs – Can reach around 60-65 mph. Such as the Suzuki QuadSport and Yamaha Raptor 90 targeting younger or novice riders.
- Mid-level sport ATVs – Peak speeds of 65-72 mph. Models like the Honda 400EX and Arctic Cat DVX400 built for recreational trail and dune riding.
- High performance sport ATVs – Top out over 72+ mph. The speed demons like the YFZ 450, KFX700, and TRX450R.
So how fast is the YFZ 450’s 72+ mph top velocity? Quite fast! It exceeds speeds attainable by most utility, entry-level, and mid-sized sport quads. Only the top-tier high performance sport models can reach such exhilarating speeds over 70 mph.
Pros Of Choosing The YFZ 450
Now that we’ve established the YFZ 450’s credentials as a wicked fast racing ATV, what are some of the benefits and advantages of this speedy quad?
1. Thrilling Speed And Acceleration
The biggest pro of the YFZ 450 is the adrenaline rush of powering this machine to speeds over 70 mph across open dirt. Pinning the throttle kicks the engine into high gear as the terrain flies by at blurring velocities. Just holding on tight as the capable chassis rages ahead.
2. Precise, Responsive Handling
The race-tuned suspension, light weight design, and refined ergonomics let the YFZ carve through corners and slices through whoops with precision and control. The intuitive handling instills confidence to charge ahead at maximum speed.
3. Durable, Reliable Construction
The 450 makes use of tough components like the steel frame, forged piston and transmission gears that hold up to intense use season after season. Less time wrenching means more time enjoying high speed rides.
4. Strong Braking Performance
The quad’s dual hydraulic disc brakes on all four wheels provide the stopping power needed to rapidly shed speed before entering corners. This enables riding at higher velocities while maintaining control.
5. Huge Aftermarket Support
The YFZ 450’s popularity means an enormous aftermarket scene of upgrade parts to bring out its performance potential. With a few targeted mods, the top speed can be elevated even further.
Cons To Consider
While the YFZ 450 is purpose-built for high speed blasts, there are some downsides to weigh as well:
1. Not Street Legal
Lacking DOT approved lighting, mirrors and other road gear means the YFZ 450 is restricted to closed course riding and trails. You can’t legally ride it on public streets to enjoy those high speed capabilities.
2. High Learning Curve
Novice riders may find the explosive power and sensitive handling overwhelming at first. It takes experience and finesse to safely control the YFZ 450 at its upper speed range.
3. Increased Maintenance
The more highly strung engine and drivetrain under high stress requires stricter maintenance intervals compared to mellower recreational ATVs to ensure reliability.
4. Low Range And Fuel Capacity
With only 2.6 gallons on board, the relatively small fuel tank limits range between fill ups. And off-road mpg drops sharply at sustained high speeds. Carrying extra gas is advised.
5. Not Ideal For Utility Use
Lacking racks, storage and low-end tractor-like grunt, the YFZ is less suited for utility jobs like hauling cargo, pulling heavy loads, or agricultural work. It’s built solely for speed and handling.
So in summary, while mastering this machine reaps huge thrills and unmatched ATV speed potential, there are trade-offs to factor in depending on your riding style and needs.
YFZ 450 Owner Impressions
Current and past YFZ 450 owners generally have very positive things to say about this ATV’s performance capabilities:
1. Thrilling Power
Many owners rave about the exciting acceleration and sheer power of the fuel injected 449cc engine. They say pinning the throttle never gets old.
2. Handles Great at Speed
Owners praise how stable and precise the handling is at high speeds. The suspension does a good job soaking up rough terrain and staying planted.
3. High Quality Construction
Owners report the plastics, metal work, and components exhibit excellent fit and finish. Reliability is top notch if properly maintained.
4. Capable Brakes
The quad’s braking power gives riders confidence to ride at speed. The discs provide strong stopping force.
5. Easy to Mod
The abundance of aftermarket parts makes the YFZ fun to customize. Many owners mod the engine, exhaust, etc. to maximize speed and power.
6. Exhilarating Ride
Overall owners say the YFZ 450 provides an incredibly fun, fast riding experience on par with higher priced race models. It puts a smile on their faces every time they hit the trails or track.
YFZ 450 Competitors
The YFZ 450 competes against other high performance sport ATVs including:
- Honda TRX450R – Uses a 435cc carbureted engine producing 52hp. Top speed around 68 mph. More maintenance than fuel injected YFZ.
- Kawasaki KFX450R – 449cc fuel injected engine makes 55hp. Heavier than YFZ at 428 pounds. Top speed about 70 mph.
- Suzuki QuadRacer R450 – 451cc 2-stroke engine pushing 65hp. Hits 75 mph top speed. 2-stroke requires more maintenance.
- Can-Am DS450 – Rotax 449cc EFI V-twin engine rated at 44hp. CVT automatic transmission. Max speed 72 mph.
The YFZ stands up well against the competition with its potent fuel injected engine, 5 speed transmission, and precise handling. It matches or beats the speed potential of other sport ATV makes and models.
Tips for Riding the YFZ 450 at Top Speed
Interested in joining the high speed club aboard the YFZ 450? Here are some tips for new owners on safely operating this machine at its maximum velocity:
- Start slowly and progressively work your way up in speed as your skills improve. Don’t jump straight to over 70 mph.
- Take time adjust and fine tune the suspension for your weight, riding style, and intended terrain. Proper suspension setup is key to stability at speed.
- Pay close attention to tire pressure and tread condition. Incorrect psi or worn tires can lead to instability at high speeds.
- Use high quality oils and lubricants to minimize mechanical drag inside the engine and transmission. Reduce parasitic losses.
- Stick to open areas and be cautious of blind corners or hill crests where hazards can appear suddenly.
- Get in a tucked aerodynamic position and load the quad’s suspension to settle it down when pinning the throttle over 70 mph.
- Cover the rear brake and avoid sudden deceleration. Smoothly and progressively shed speed.
- Wear safety gear and make others aware of your riding area. Loss of control can be disastrous at 70+ mph velocities.
Following these tips will go a long way towards having fun while staying in control of the YFZ 450 at its heart-pounding top speed!
In the world of high performance sport ATVs, the Yamaha YFZ 450 stands tall as a leader of the pack thanks to its incredible speed capabilities. This potent racing quad is capable of reaching exhilarating top velocities over 70 mph in the hands of experienced riders.
Its fuel injected 449cc engine, 5-speed transmission, advanced suspension and strong brakes give the YFZ 450 the credentials to run with the hottest and fastest ATV models available today. Thrill seekers will find the YFZ 450’s mix of top end power and precise handling a perfect recipe for enjoying extreme speed in a controlled manner.
While it may lack utility or on-road abilities, there is no denying the Yamaha YFZ 450’s prowess as a dedicated speed demon of the dirt ready to satisfy those craving intense velocity and adrenaline. Just be sure to respect its power, spend time dialing in the chassis, and gradually work your skills up in order to safely tap into its astounding speed potential. Once mastered, few stock ATVs can come close to matching the high speed ride experience of the YFZ 450!