Currently leading the way in this year’s Dakar Rally, Yamaha’s 2018 rally bike is a WR450F like no other…

The Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team bikes competing the 2018 Dakar Rally are WR450F like you’ve never seen. 

Based on Yamaha’s four-stroke 450 enduro model the factory rally bikes have undergone a dramatic and purposeful transformation to not just be competitive and the notoriously tough event, but title contenders in this year’s Dakar.

Lining up against purpose designed and built race bikes from KTM and Honda it’s tempting to look at Yamaha as the best of the rest. 

But that underestimates big time the efforts and results of the dedicated Yamaha Rally crew under the directorship of Alexandre Kowalski.


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450F power plant

Using Yamaha’s WR450F reversed cylinder engine a host of development Genuine Yamaha Technology Racing (GYTR) parts bring performance changes almost beyond recognition from the original base bike. 

A series of specially developed EFI fuel maps work with an Akrapovic titanium exhaust, which sweeps under the engine, plus larger volume air intake boost performance. 

Consistent performance during huge altitude changes are crucial for success in Dakar. 

The Yamalube Yamaha Rally team say one of their priorities was achieving a neutral riding position, as close as possible to the stock WR450F enduro bike, but comfortable and controllable for the extensive hour riders spend riding during Dakar stages. 

Despite the 33 litre fuel tanks and additional oil capacity the current WR450F Rally bike weighs just 162kg fully fuelled. 


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Strengthened chassis

The strengthened chassis is based on Yamaha’s WR450F aluminium frame but features a two centimetre longer swingarm for better high-speed stability and a modified offset of 25mm. 

In the suspension department, the new WR450F Rally combines a set of forks developed by BOS Suspension with a KYB Factory rear shock. 

Oversize 300mm Moto Master front disk handles the added loads of braking from higher speeds.


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Yamaha has been slowly rebuilding itself in rally in recent years, with the goal of returning to its glory years of the Stephane Peterhansel era.

Currently leading the way at the Dakar Rally, the Yamaha Rally Team are on target to topple KTM’s 16-year win streak with Frenchman Adrien Van Bevern at the helm of that charge.

Whether Van Beveren will become the first rider to break KTM’s Dakar glory in almost two decades remains to be seen, there’s still a couple of thousand kilometres to go, but it’s certainly game on.



jon.pearson enduro21 april 2017

Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Tester of Things