Breaking In The New Yamaha WR450, 3/15~16/03

By Tom Niemela

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I'd been waiting months for this new ride to come in and it finally did on March 8.  A quick trip to Beaverton Honda/Yamaha and it was loaded onto my trailer, but not without first getting the mandatory kid shot of Ariel on it.  I also made sure that the shop had double checked my flywheel nut and that it was torqued to the updated specs.

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Ariel being her usual clown self!
Mar 8 2003
1:49:32 pm

A week later and Stevie Ray and I were heading over to Hood River for the break-in ride with our bud Rick, who also had a new WR450, although his was already broken in.  Once we got to the staging area, I decided to go ahead and get the eventual over with and threw the new bike on its side.  Get it over with now, so it doesn't happen when I'm still attached to it.  Unfortunately, the photo shows Stevie Ray's ugly side.  After the initial warm up, we started off on some of Rick's new trails, which were typically nothing short of awesome.  After awhile we stopped to let the new engine cool down and do some setup on the suspension, when who showed up, but ol' Joe.  Joe and Rick do plenty of trail clearing and maintenance over there, so Stevie Ray and I joined in to do our share.

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Get the new-bike crash over with! (Smile, Stevie!)

Mar 15 2003
10:31:56 am
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Stevie Ray doing trail work.
Mar 15 2003
12:56:28 pm
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Joe doing what he loves best.
Mar 15 2003
12:59:02 pm

Afterwards it was railing time, as Rick wanted to show us some of the cool stuff he'd been working on.  Along the way I couldn't resist stopping to get a pic of Rick's bridge handy work.  Well done, indeed!  Then Rick pointed us towards a snow section, where I promptly made an effort to create an angel, sans new bike, in the snow.  A white lipskid as it were.  A few miles later we stopped to clear out a windfall on a trail and Rick's bike would never start again.  He had to be towed down a ways where we could retrieve him with Stevie's truck.  That was pretty much the end of the ride after 22 glorious miles (poor Rick).  I have to say that after setting the proper rider sag and getting the suspension settings in the ballpark, the new WR swallowed up all the technical trails that Rick could throw at us.  It turns like a scared rabbit, is quiet, has a very linear engine, and oh yeah, has 'the button'.  The only thing I'd done to it was take out the throttle limiter - impressive!

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Check out the awesome bridge that Rick put in!

Mar 15 2003
1:33:36 pm
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Rocket Rick after blazing through a snow section. 
Mar 15 2003
1:49:42 pm
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Rick, 22 miles in and moments before having to tow him out with my bike. 
Mar 15 2003
2:08:13 pm

The next day I took Ellen out riding on some gravel roads out of Estacada.  It rained, snowed and was downright miserable, but we still had a great time.  It was also good for more breaking in of the WR.

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Ellen riding in the snow on a blistery day.

Mar 16 2003
12:30:41 pm

Later that evening Rick called up to say that his flywheel nut had indeed loosened up, therefore shearing his woodruff key.  Let that be a lesson to all your WR450 owners.  Tighten up the nut to 47 foot pounds, loosen it back up, put on some Loctite, and retighten it back up again to 47 foot pounds!