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Review of the 2002 Yamaha YZ 426 F:
History Reviews the 2002 YZ426F
Author: Superscooter, 2021-06-08|
Justafiably, few groundbreaking motorcycles ultimately become the standard by which all similar bikes are thereafter evaluated. There has been, and will continue to be, much disagreement about which bikes actually meet the criteria to achieve this venerated status, however, one bikes´ credentials remain irrefutable. Frankly, looking back and considering all the dicing back and forth during the history of the evolution of the dirt bike, it´s astounding that, for nearly seven years straight, no other manufacturer would have a four stroke motocross bike on the showroom that could compete...
Justifiably, few groundbreaking motorcycles ultimately become the standard by which all similar bikes are thereafter evaluated. There has been, and will continue to be, much disagreement about which bikes actually meet the criteria to achieve this venerated status, however, one bikes` credentials remain irrefutable. The genesis of this bike is the one that shook the motocross world to its core at the turn of this century and was, unquestionably, a groundbreaking bike itself: Yamaha’s 1998 four stroke motocrosser, the YZ400F.
Like it or not, the whole MX thumper topic was - and still is - heavily embroiled in California`s BS anti-dirt motorsports mandates (no two strokes, no offroad, no noise, no dust and no Super Hunky - not to mention no free enterprise, no balanced budget, no plastic straws, no oxygenated fuel containers that can be operated with only two hands, etc...) which was also coming of age around Y2K. This, along with the belief that this whole California nanny state/totalitarianism drone mentality would somehow creep into every facet of our daily lives, irritated this AZ boy A LOT back then. Admittedly, it still does.
Although California`s unreasonable interference with offroad enthusiasts didn`t foster animosity against four stroke dirt bikes from my perspective; my initial reaction at the time - along with the opinion of the majority of the rest of us that grew up with dirt in our veins - was, in summary, “...thumpers will never replace smokers on the MX track, period.” Obviously, in retrospect, this latter knee jerk reaction could not have been more flawed...
This epiphany came as a direct result of hands-on experience with the first descendants of the MX National Championship winning YZ400F: the original 2000 YZ426F, the much improved and more reliable 2001 and the outstanding pinnacle version, the 2002 YZ426F. These latter models again won international acclaim as the best "250 class" MX bikes in the world, claiming back-to-back Outdoor Motocross Championships, against, well, everyone on anything. In actuality, the writing was on the wall back in 1998, when MXA gave their prestigious Bike of the Year Award to these YZ thumpers - then continued to do so each following year through 2003.
Frankly, looking back and considering all the dicing back and forth during the evolution of the dirt bike, it`s truly astounding that, for nearly seven years straight, no other manufacturer would have a four stroke motocross bike on the showroom that could compete with these YZF`s. As a direct result of Yamaha`s proper execution of innovative forward thinking, instantly, a huge market opened up for competitive four-stroke motocross machines which only hit the stratosphere from there.
Fast forward to 2017, where all the dominant bikes in this class are, and have been - for around two decades - four stroke machines. Considering all the advances in the field over the last 15 years, what tells the 2002 YZ426F story the best is the OEM spec differences between it and the current class leader, the 2017 KTM 450 SX-F:
Engine CC: 449/YFZ: 426
Compression: 12.75:1/YFZ: 12.5:1
Horsepower: 58/YFZ: 47.4
Rev limit: 11,200/YFZ: 11,500
Valves: 4/YFZ: 5
Cam design: DOHC/YFZ: DOHC
Fuel system: FI/YFZ: Carb
Cooling: liquid/YFZ: liquid
Forward gears: 4/YFZ: 5
Dry weight: 221 lbs/YFZ: 231.5 lbs
Seat height: 37.8"/YFZ: 39.3"
Ground clearance: 14.6"/YFZ: 14.8"
Wheel base: 58.5"/YFZ: 58.7"
Front travel: 11.8"/YFZ: 11.8"
Rear travel: 11.8"/YFZ: 12.4"
Front brakes: 10.2"/YFZ: 9.8"
Rear brakes: 8.7"/YFZ: 9.4"
Oil change: 10 hrs/YFZ: 600 mi
Valve adjustment: 30 hrs/YFZ: 600 mi
Top end rebuild: 50 hrs/YFZ: as req`d
Bottom end rebuild: 100 hrs/YFZ: as req`d
Engine implodes: new bike/YZF: tons of serviceable cheap parts
Granted, the stock 2002 YZ426F has a somewhat higher center of gravity and gives up about 10 pounds, 25cc`s and 10 peak horsepower to the new narrower 2017 KTM. However, it doesn`t take much servicing, effort, money, or talent to make up this 15 year gap - and do so reliably...
As history looks back in review of the 2002 Yamaha YZ426F, it has proven to be - with proper service - one of the most practical, capable, dependable and competitive all-around dirt bikes ever made (https://bikez.com/rating/yamaha_yz_426_f_2002.php).
Additionally, as amazing as it may seem, you can still find a very nice, low hour and well maintained example (sans reliability killing radical engine mods...) for about 2 grand - or over $7k less than the KTM (that is also, unfortunately, at least half the price of any comparable nasty, noisy, cancer-causing, planet-killing California-hated, light weight, reliable and incredibly low maintenance two stroke...). For those who care, its 2002 vintage also allows for year-round off road use in, yes, California, as that`s the last year that qualifies for a completely exempt green sticker...
A Benchmark Indeed!
This review of the 2002 Yamaha YZ 426 F was posted by a visitor on Bikez.com and does not necessarily reflect facts, truth or Bikez.com's opinions.
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