I’ve probably said this before. The Yamaha WZ290F actually lives. I’ve been struggling with a variety of issues which I am tracing back to my case cleaning method (soda blast) and it appears things have finally been sorted out. The bike still lost a little bit of coolant, but this was traced back to a loose radiator hose. The bike other than that just felt spot on.
The gearing on the bike is a bit off for the MX Track & 290 kit. I was running a 13/48 gearing combo, and while this would be fine with the stock YZ trans & 250cc cylinder, it could be a bit quicker with a 14T front sprocket. The 290 kit can easily pull the extra gearing and the gaps between gears aren’t too big an issue with the WR trans. That being said, I found that on the track I kept the bike in 3rd most of the time, and would click into 4th on faster sections. With the stock YZ trans, I’d be clicking through the gears much quicker, so in that regard, the WR trans makes the bike pretty versatile. Shifting however isn’t as quick and precise, and I found I need to be precise with my shifts. That’s not to say that I couldn’t easily click through the gears.
My pseudo woods valving in the fork is pretty annoying on the MX track as well. On the face of jumps, it soaks up the travel a bit too easily, and the speeds over the choppy stuff is just quicker than I’d be going through the woods. It’s just a harsh ride. The rear end however feels pretty well planted. I found that as I cranked up the compression & rebound on the rear shock, I was far more comfortable in the air off jumps.
Speaking of jumps, I really need to up my game in learning how to scrub speed off of jumps. There is a series of 2 uphill doubles that are after a long downhill run. I end up holding so much speed off the first double that I will land into the face of the second double. While not a huge issue, it would make things difficult on the second double, as I’d end up coming up a bit short on the landing. I just really need to learn how to scrub speed off of jumps. I’m getting there, but I’m going off of a combo of youtube videos, online writeups, and just riding. I think a day with someone who can do it, and I’d have it down.
All in all, I’m pretty happy with the bike. Not thrilled that I over-heated myself, but that’s my fault for improper eating & poor pre-hydration. I seem to do this once a year, usually just as the heat seems to sneak in on us. It is what it is.
1st race of the season down, and I can’t complain one bit. I managed to pull a handy 1st in my class (Open B). Looking at the numbers, I Overalled in the B class (little\big\30+), so I’m happy about that. My finish woulda put me in about 6th place in the A Class, and well….let’s not even go into where I’d be in the AA class. On the upside, it puts me around 20th out of 72 for the afternoon race. Not too bad considering the 10 deep AA class.
I rode pretty well, and managed a decent start. Into the 2nd turn, I was in 3rd place. I slipped into 4th in the middle of the first lap, and then took advantage of the MX portion of the course, and kept the 450 pinned as best I could. After that section, I pulled back into 3rd, and shortly after the 1st & 2nd place guys made some poor line choices over a log (much faster going around it ), and I managed to squeak up to 1st. I held 1st through the rest of the race, and did my best to try to not let anyone pass me (AA guys lapped me )
The course was overall pretty easy. There was nothing super technical, as they had a good bit of rain, and races really suck when there are traffic jams on slick hills and such. This helped a bit, as I was racing my WR450F, as my 250F was still on the fritz. On the 2nd lap, I managed to dump the bike in the creek section. I wouldn’t have minded, but my gloves were then soaked, and my left grip was spinning like mad. Not fun when I still had 10 laps to go.
About an hour in (and coincidentally when my GoPro stopped recording) I caught a tree with my handguard on the left side. This bucked me pretty good (I’m blaming my handguards as they were some homebrew ones I made out of plastic), and I managed to huck-a-buck myself into the dirt pretty good. This took the wind out of me a bit, but I kept on trucking.
Approaching the 90 minute mark (105 minute race), and my body was really feeling things. The 450 power, the multiple crashes, the blisters growing ever larger on my hands….it was all adding up. The braking bumps in some of the turns were wreaking havoc on my lower back. You could just feel things being jarred. I was chuckling to myself thinking about how I used to blame my suspension for getting harsh late in a race. I laughed as I realized that I’m just not in 100% perfect shape. I continued on with this thought in my head.
As I rolled through Timing\Scoring just before my last lap, I realized I made the cutoff for the “extra lap” by just a couple of minutes. I really didn’t want to do this lap at all. I was concerned I’d drop the bike in the creek section again, so I really tip toed it through there (which ironically makes it more difficult). I more or less did my best to just enjoy the last lap. You could hear that there were less riders out there, so there was a sense of calm and I was able to collect my thoughts and push through the burning sensation in my hands.
I slightly fumbled my way over the 2 large Timing\Scoring “speed reducing” logs, and off the course. I putted my way back to the truck, and could feel my body was already wanting to lock up. I did my best to load up the truck, and off we went. Glad I wasn’t the one driving home.
I learned a few things about my riding. I watched as the AA guys passed me. The speed that they carry, is just far better than me. I could see that they were experiencing less obstacles, due to the fact that they were essentially skipping over them. I’ve realized that I really need to smooth out my riding. This would probably get easier with doing a better job of looking ahead at the course, but as fatigue sets in, that grows increasingly difficult. I was on my 450, and I really wish that I had been on my 250F. Not so much the power situation, but the fact that its at least 30# lighter, and heck, I’ll admit it, the Rekluse wouldn’t have hurt me either. I’m perfectly OK not using an autoclutch, but there are times where I think it would help me with keeping a gear higher, and lugging the bike a bit more. Why I wasn’t doing that more on the 450, I’ve no idea. The thing can drop down to 0 RPM and still be running, and will pull it just fine. Keeping the bike in 3rd gear (instead of clicking between 2nd\3rd), I woulda been in much better shape.
Overall though, I had a blast, and am itching to get back riding (though the hands are still healing). I’m going to invest in some of those locking grips in the meantime, and some more proper\sturdy handguards.
Here’s some pics some folks took at the race. I’ll be uploading whatever video I have from the race when I get home this evening.
Heading into the creek section:
Bowl turn before a tabletop (that I always manage to over-jump):
This is a short climb, followed by a quick right hand uphill climb. My goodness that 450 excelled here. 2nd WFO and roost up the hill:
Start Finish speed logs. When just riding there, I normally jump these things. In the races, I find I do a trials style double tap. I figure that’s the safest way to go over, with least risk of messing up (note that these logs have no ramp on the opposite side in pic):
And the coolest one of the bunch, mid-creek section, full attack mode:
My 250F has been a royal pain in my ass. Well, more so, my right foot. I made the epic mistake this past winter of messing with the engine. I’ve been paying for it since, and the currency has been Head Gaskets. I had worries about not being able to actually get to race this year. I made some quick decisions, and long story short, I’ve no longer got a Trials bike, but a Yamaha WR450. I’ve also fired my mechanic (myself). I’m only allowed to change oil, filters, and grips. Beyond that, if that shmuck touches anything else, he’s gonna get slapped around
Not a move I’ve exactly wanted to make, but it’s making more and more sense as time goes on here. I realize it’s not the easiest to use 45hp in the woods, but I’m finding it incredibly easier than I remember. I find that I don’t really want a Rekluse on the thing. It’s nice, but it’ll lug so much better than the YZ, that I’m just not stalling it like the 250F. We’ll see how things pan out.
Here’s some riding from 2 weekends ago:
I’ve got 2 weekends on the WR450F, and will be racing it this weekend. My biggest concern with it is related to starting it. It’s no 2-stroke, that’s for sure. I did about 30 dead engine starts Saturday while riding. If the engine is good n warm, it seems like it’ll fire just fine with the kick start. Suppose I’ll do that with the finger on the e-start button at the same time.
In the meantime, I’ll be on the rower tonight. This 450 works your body a heck of a lot more than the 250F. The riding from Saturday was pure awesomeness. I’ll be putting up video of it. We had a track groomed in a farm field for us. Flat track & kinda like supermoto. Tacky dirt that you could in places just about put the handlebar into the ground while railing a corner. Awesome stuff.