ATV TEST: Yamaha YFZ450R vs. Suzuki LT-R450 Shootout!

Suzuki’s QuadRacer LT-R450 and Yamaha’s YFZ450R took the top two positions in our 2009 450 shootout. Economically priced at $8100 (LT-R) and $8500 (YFZR), both of these 50-inch-wide 450s were built specifically to tear up the ATV racing scene. There are two others at 50 inches, including KTM’s 450SX and Can-Am’s DS450M. Both are great racing machines as well, but they’re attached to a very hefty 12 grand price tag. In this economy, amateur racers need not apply. For those with a few grand to blow, the Yamaha and Suzuki are right-out-of-the-box contenders for even the Intermediate to Pro ranks.

For this shootout, we installed the top-selling aftermarket upgrades needed to compete as a Novice racer. For the general trail rider, pay attention, as these will be to your benefit as well.

Stay tuned for Part II of this 450 Race Shootout, when we will pit the Suzuki LT-R450 against the Yamaha YFZ450R at a World Off-Road Championship Series event. Davi Haagsma and Zach Harris are at the controls.

Our Reader’s Survey has tires as the number-one aftermarket accessory. Most riders don’t even wait for their stock tread to wear out. Aftermarket tires look better and offer a variety of tread patterns for each application.

Since we are heading to a desert-type race in the upcoming months, we wanted both of our units equipped with taller tires. The YFZ450R comes standard with a 21-inch front and 20-inch rear setup, so we didn’t make a change. To update the Suzuki, we gave ITP a call. Their 22×7-10 front ($79.95 from, and 20×11-9 rear ($86.95 from QuadCross XC tires incorporate a six-ply carcass and a tough tread that offers a higher puncture resistance and overall durability. The typical motocross tread is four-ply, and they are neither tall nor tough enough for fast trail riding or cross-country racing.

We installed Pro Armor’s Revolution nerf bars on both 450s. These nerfs allow you to run either heel guard nets or aluminum heel guard plates.

Since our goal is to race both the LT-R and YFZR in an upcoming desert or WORCS racing event, we turn to the number-two aftermarket seller: handlebars. We equipped both units with Fasst Co.’s Flexx Handlebar System ($349.99). Most of the top pro WORCS racers pull up to the starting line with Flexx bars on their machines. The Suzuki was the 450 in most need of handlebars. The LT-R450 still comes standard with old school steel handlebars, which the majority of owners replace within the first few rides. The Yamaha comes standard with great oversized Pro Taper handlebars, but the Flexx handlebars win out. They offer a controlled, consistent feel that is tunable through four different density elastomers. The result is more control and less fatigue.

The Flexx bars mounted right up to the YFZ450R’s stock perches, while the LT-R450 required the use of rubber-mounted, aluminum replacement perches. We used Rox Risers ($50). We then popped on some Scott Hurricane grips and a couple rounds of safety wire.

The next top-selling aftermarket products are exhausts. It is an affordable way to bump up horsepower and stay competitive without any major modifications. For $525 (YFZR), and $590 (LT-R450), Dubach Racing has a great system. Their stainless steel design features a removable USFS-approved spark arrestor screen, so you can still hit up your local trails. Plus, being race tested and designed with help from ITP QuadCross Champion Dustin Nelson, you know the quality is top-notch. Both exhausts mounted easily. The LT-R450s remain center-mounted to the rear, and the YFZR hung on the side per, usual.

Once you make your way into aggressive racing, a top aftermarket purchase is a steering stabilizer. Most top amateurs and pros will not race without one, and once you try one, you won’t, either. We equipped both machines with a $559 Pro model Precision stabilizer. This setup is one of the few with impact dampening and side-to-side controllability. Precision offers a more affordable version at $395, but these new Pro model updates might be worth the price. It now has a built-in reservoir to allow for thermal expansion, a new sleeker housing, stronger linkage, stem clamp and lever.

Dubach Racing’s stainless steel exhaust were a great addition to both of these high-performance sport quads.

Another major aftermarket accessory is nerf bars. Used for safety, nerf bars are a requirement for almost every racing circuit. We used Pro Armor’s Revolution nerf bars for both units as well. These nerfs are great in that you can choose to run either heel guard nets or aluminum heel guard plates. If either one wears out, a replacement is available for purchase for $64.95 for the nets or $74.95 for the plates. The plates come in brushed aluminum or powder-coated black.

The Pro Armor brand has you piece together both the nerf and heel guard nets, as well as bolt together the sharp pegs. It’s a pain the first time around, but it gets easier with practice. The YFZ450R nerfs mounted right up in minutes, while the LT-R450s required the use of a hammer as well as needing the use of longer mounting bolts (not supplied), that connect the heel guards to the sub frame.

Graphics and seat covers are the last of the aftermarket upgrades we have done so far. Both the LT-R450 and YFZ450R come stock with decent seats, but are nowhere near the quality of Quad Tech’s high-grade design. For $125, the Quad Tech products look great and take abuse.

Graphics keep your 450 looking fresh and are a great way to reach out to sponsors. We worked with One Industries on this shootout to customize awesome matching graphics. Each of the aftermarket brands was incorporated into the design, along with the Dirt Wheels LT-R450 vs. YFZ450R Race Shootout design. We love it. These One ID customized backgrounds start at $59.99. They also offer Race Team Replica graphics starting at $69.95 and now have neck brace decals available for $49.95. For more information, check out

To put a run on the new products, we took a trip out to our local AV Motoplex. We pulled up to the entrance, and the girls at the gate commented on how great the One Industries graphics looked. You can’t get much better results than that. Period.

We started out with both airbox lids on, and the LT-R’s Dubach timing plug (much like Yoshimura’s Cherry Bomb) out. At 99 dB each, the exhausts are much louder than stock, but not annoying. The Yamaha YFZ450R is the faster of the two, even after we removed the airbox lids and installed the timing plug in the Suzuki. The YFZ has arm-jerking power, and at times made it harder to ride. The LT-R450 rides smoothly with the Dubach exhaust, from low- to top-end.

All of our testers enjoyed the feel of the Flexx handlebars. “I came out of the corner too slow on the LT-R and approached one of the double jumps. Landing into the face of the next lip, I thought surely my wrists were in trouble. If the stock bars were mounted, I think they would have, but these Flexx bars really do what they say,” said test rider Zach Harris. After a day of testing, we wound up using the red  (hard) elastomers and still felt the movement in the bars. For the motocross track, the hard setting worked the best, but when we make the transition from MX to desert terrain, we will probably change up to either blue (medium) or yellow (soft). We’ll keep you posted.

The taller tires were not a great setup for the Suzuki on a motocross track. The gearing was affected by the two-inch size difference in rear tires. However, this should be an ideal setup for WORCS, without a gear change. On the Suzuki, the stock tires, or ITP’s QuadCross Lites, are a more appropriate selection for motocross.

Over the deep whoops and rough section of the track, the taller tires on both machines excelled. The QuadCross XC tires hooked around every part of the track. The stock Dunlop treads on the Yamaha did great in all areas as well.

Both models were supplied with a pro model Precision stabilizer, the number-one trusted stabilizer in GNCC and AMA ATV racing.

For part two of this shootout, we will be entering both the Suzuki QuadRacer LT-R450 and Yamaha’s YFZ450R in a couple selected WORCS racing events. This is where we will get a better idea of how these compare in tough racing action. We will relay the specific suspension setups and race results. Stay tuned.

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