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73 months ago

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King of the Dirt: 2018 Yamaha YZ450F with a first-of-its-kind Power Tuner App

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2018 Yamaha YZ450F

2018 Yamaha YZ450F

Yamaha has revamped their signature motocross bike and released an all-new YZ450F for 2018 that comes paired with the Yamaha Power Tuner App that allows you to fine tune your engine wirelessly! [Cue electric guitar rift]

The 2017 YZ450 was already the top performing dirt bike for the class but Yamaha went to the drawing board anyway and made the 2018 YZ450F a brand-new bike. The 450F brandishes an all-new engine with new cylinder heads, cam shaft, piston, exhaust system, throttle body, and electric start that works with the push of button and does away with the kick-starter.

Yamaha added an integrated Communication Control Unit (CCU) that lets the 450F connect wirelessly to the Power Tuner App which is the first of its kind in a production motorcycle.

Using The 2018 Yamaha YZ450F Power Tuner Smartphone App

What’s new in the 2018 YZ450F?

The 450F is a competition-only bike, you don’t ride this bike on the streets, it’s for the dirt. The chassis is new; it is still a bi-lateral aluminum frame, but it positions the piston forward by 2 degrees now. The bike has more room for the rider and the bike is 19mm thinner at the seat. Continuing the trend of change, Yamaha also created newly designed fairing or shrouds, that make the bike 16mm slimmer around the radiator. If you’ve ever seen any dirt bike riding, you’ll notice that while cornering, riders shoot their inside foot forward when cornering and while I can’t imagine Yamaha stating this, the slimmer fairing up front definitely keeps riders’ boots from snagging on it when performing that maneuver.

2018 Yamaha YZ450F Cornering

2018 Yamaha YZ450F Cornering

What can the Power Tuner App do?

The Power Tuner App can be downloaded to any modern smart phone and lets you create custom engine maps to adjust the motorcycle’s performance on the fly. The app communicates with the motorcycle via the CCU. The app can also monitor engine parameters such as speed, throttle position, coolant temp, air pressure, intake air temperature and battery voltage in real time. There is a race log where you can store details of the track, the bike set up (suspension, tires etc.) and add notes. You can also keep a maintenance log in the app and it will notify you when maintenance is needed.

How it works

Once the YZ450F is running, you can use the Power Tuner App to connect to the bike with WiFi via the wireless CCU located under the tail section of the bike. The CCU is directly connected to the Engine Control Unit (ECU) which controls all the engine variables. If a connection isn’t made in 2 minutes, the bike will shut off, but can easily be started with the push of a button. The first time you pair the motorcycle’s CCU to your app, you must enter a unique serial number shown on the CCU unit. This ensures that your app only communicates with your bike. Once the bike and the Power Tuner App are connected, engine maps can be uploaded to your YZ450F instantly by pushing the upload button. It’s a private wireless connection so the upload is fast. After the initial pairing, switching engine maps really can be done is a minute or two.

Power Tuner App vs. Power Tuner Tool

Power Tuner App vs. Power Tuner Tool

The Power Tuner App system is replaces the Genuine Yamaha Technology Racing (GYTR:registered:) Power Tuner tool, a $300 separate purchase that is a wired unit. The GYTR:registered: Power Tuner connects directly to the ECU of select older Yamaha dirt bikes but isn’t compatible with the 2018 YZ450F and it also lacks the convenience and sharing instant sharing features of the Power Tuner App.

Engine Mapping

The key feature of the tuner is the engine mapping that allows you to adjust your fuel injection and ignition timing to 16 different positions each based on throttle percentage and engine rpms. Fuel injection can be increased by 7 points or decreased by 7 points to run a richer or leaner engine and ignition timing can be advanced by 4 points and slowed by 9 points to change the power delivery.

Loamy Fuel Injection Settings on Yamaha Power Tuner App

Loamy Fuel Injection Settings on Yamaha Power Tuner App

Hard Pack Ignition Settings on Yamaha Power Tuner App

Hard Pack Ignition Settings on Yamaha Power Tuner App

The app comes preloaded with 3 maps that offer different settings that riders can build on. When adjusting engine maps in the Power Tuner App, RPMs are along the horizontal axis and throttle opening is along the vertical axis.

Why does this Matter?

Anyone, rider or not, can imagine the differences between riding a motorcycle on a dirt track a few days after a downpour or, the same track if it hasn’t rained in a week or two. Now consider those factors and include air temperature, track design, suspension settings as well as the skills of the rider and you can understand why controlling how your engine responds can make or break you in a race. A rider can encounter a hard and dry track with limited traction, and use the Power Tuner App, to lower fuel injection values (run leaner) at lower rpms so the bike will respond more smoothly. Or if the track is really grippy, the rider can capitalize on the available traction and create a map for a more responsive engine with higher fuel injection values and advance the ignition timing to maximize horsepower.

No other commercial motorcycle has this capability. The performance potential the Power Tuner App provides is pretty exciting, the app makes the benefits of fine tuning your engine very accessible for amateur racers and having this technology at your fingertips can make good riders even better.

There will be indecisive riders

There will be indecisive riders

It Might Not Really be for Everyone

When you can leave the track, connect the app to your bike and in 30 seconds be back on the track with a newly mapped engine, there are going to be the riders that spend all their time under the tent creating the ‘perfect’ map instead of riding. The technology may not be for the rider that doesn’t really know how engine parameters affect performance. For many, it might just be a gimmick or a bragging point, but in show rooms it will definitely be a big selling point.

The Yamaha Motocross Community

The existing GYTR Power Tuner connects to 6 different Yamaha dirt bike models of different years and is compatible with the 2010 YZ450F, so sharing maps is nothing new. The community is well established. A quick search on motocross forums and you’ll be able to download maps for many locations. Using the Power Tuner App riders can also share their maps with friends wirelessly. Yamaha could be looking to create some unity to their engine map sharing community, although I’d wager that there is no backward compatibility.

I’m bearing on the excessive with the praise I’ve given to the YZ450F but paired with Power Tuner App, it makes the 2018 YZ450F the most advanced consumer motocross machine hands down. Yamaha is trailblazing and we hope that the other manufacturers will follow suit.

Once you fire up the Power Tuner App and agree to the terms of service the app prompts you to “Select Your Machine”, there is only one option now, but once more riders straddle the 450F, I’m hoping consumer pressure and competition cause more machines to be added to the list.

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2018 Yamaha YZ450F

2018 Yamaha YZ450F

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