The 2017 MFJ All Japan National Motocross Championship Series kicks off this weekend at Kyushu MX Park in Kumamoto, Japan, and you know what that means: time to take a peek at what could very well be the production machines of next year and beyond. This year’s 2018 Japan Spy Photos are brought to you by BTOSports.com
This year at Kyushu, Team Yamaha Japan’s Yu Hirata piloted a very special YZ450FM, which was said to be a very accurate preview of what’s to come in 2018. Hirata’s machine featured and all-new chassis and bodywork. The frame spars are much beefier than they are on the current YZ450F, with much taller cast portions on each side. Obviously, frame geometry has been altered in every aspect, and we can assume that better cornering traits were the goal.
Yamaha maintained its rearward-mounted cylinder, but to the naked eye, the engine looks to be mounted more upright than previous generations. An electric starter was mounted on Hirata’s machine, and the new cases have eliminated the kickstarter mount altogether, which indicate that electric start will be standard and not an option as it was for the Honda CRF450R in 2017. No hydraulic clutch.
Other touches on Hirata’s machine include a new swingarm that appeared to be welded together instead of a single extruded spar. Take a close look at the photo of the swingarm and you can see a fat bead hidden beneath the sticker. Kayaba spring forks graced the front of Hirata’s machine, and the word we got is that a KYB AOSS fork will come on the 2018 machine, not PSF. Stay tuned to the July issue of TransWorld Motocross for even more details about the 2018 models, but for now, enjoy this photo gallery that also includes shots of Yusuke Watanabe’s factory YZ250F, which appears to be a modified production machine.