News 12 Aug 2011

Race Test: 2011 CDR Rockstar Energy Drink Yamaha YZ450F

MotoOnline.com.au rides Jay Marmont’s current MX Nationals championship winner!

CDR Rockstar Energy Drink Yamaha held a Ride Day for media and team supporters at Barrabool this week. Image: Alex Gobert.

CDR Rockstar Energy Drink Yamaha held a Ride Day for media and team supporters at Barrabool this week. Image: Alex Gobert.

CDR Rockstar Energy Drink Yamaha were the class of the field in the 2011 Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals, with Jay Marmont winning the title in spectacular fashion ahead of teammate Josh Coppins on near-identical YZ450Fs.

As part of MotoOnline.com.au’s Race Test schedule for this year, we were lucky enough to get an invite for the CDR Rockstar Energy Drink Yamaha Ride Day, where a host of media and team supporters were able to complete a full day on the actual race bikes of Marmont and Coppins.

To ensure the test was as accurate as possible and to give you, the readers, a detailed insight into how CDR’s bikes really perform, we called upon the services of Pro level rider Ross Beaton to join us at the test in order to provide first class feedback.

Despite drizzling rain in the morning and throughout the day in Melbourne, Barrabool turned out to be a quality test venue for us to get a feel for the bikes while shooting the ever-important images and film to go with this story.

Unlike most tests here on MotoOnline.com.au and in the industry in general, with this year’s Race Tests we decided to let the men in the know tell the story. Below you’ll see how Beaton compares the factory Yamahas to his personal YZ450F, as well as get an insight from Marmont on what he looks for in a bike.

MotoOnline.com.au also cornered CDR Rockstar Energy Drink Yamaha staff Gary Benn and Shawn Hodgetts to provide information on the engine and chassis preferences of the riders, plus at the bottom of the story we’ve pieced together a list of all the components that CDR uses on their bikes.

For now, here’s our Race Test on the CDR Rockstar Energy Drink Yamaha YZ450Fs, but over the next couple of weeks we’ll also provide tests on Dean Ferris’ Monster Energy Kawasaki KX450F, Todd Waters’ Carlton Dry Honda Thor Racing CRF450R and Cody Cooper’s Rockstar Motul Suzuki RM-Z450.

Top Pro rider Ross Beaton joined MotoOnline at Barrabool for the testing duties. Image: Alex Gobert.

Top Pro rider Ross Beaton joined MotoOnline at Barrabool for the testing duties. Image: Alex Gobert.

Ross Beaton – Guest MotoOnline.com.au Test Rider

Overall it is a very solid bike. The handling of the bike was really good and it tracts quite well. Under braking it never pushed wide and the set-up that Jay runs really helps the bike turn nice and tight without the front losing grip. I think that for myself I would probably go a little softer in the suspension just to compensate for the speed difference between Jay and I, but the harder you ride the bike, the better the handling gets. It’s just a matter of having the fitness to keep that intensity up throughout the whole moto.

In comparison to my own bike, the boys at CDR are definitely onto something with the set-up and they’ve taken a step in the right direction – coming off the standard bike to one of these is a massive difference. While the bike is very close to standard as Craig explained, they’re just set up better and feel like they’re brand new even after a full season of racing. The more and more time that you spend on these bikes, the better you’re going to get. I just think that they allow you to push harder and faster – the limit’s a lot higher than the standard bike.

I found Josh’s forks firmer, which created more pushing into the turns. His front-end didn’t feel quite as stable, kind of like it was stretched out a little bit more. His forks are dropped though the triple clamps more and the rear is squatted more, which was better coming into the turns, but it didn’t turn quite as well as Jay’s did once you’re in the turn. Overall it still handled very well, probably got the power to the ground a little better off the turns, which could be because it’s less aggressive in the motor. In comparison they are both good, the differences aren’t night and day, and both were very, very good to ride.

Beaton said that ergonomically he felt more comfortable on Marmont's bike. Image: Alex Gobert.

Beaton said that ergonomically he felt more comfortable on Marmont's bike. Image: Alex Gobert.

Ergonomically, Jay’s bike is set up very similar to my own. Josh runs his bars a lot more further and runs his levers on a different angle to how I’d run them, where Jays is more centred and his levers are in line with his ’bars, which is a pretty standard sort of set-up. I felt at home on Jay’s bike more than Josh’s, just because of that.

Jay’s engine is very aggressive, no matter where you are in the RPM. It pulls strong whichever gear you’re in and Jay’s bike allows for a little more over-rev – not that I do that very often. Josh’s bike has a lot more of a placid power curve I guess you could say. When you hit the throttle it’s still there, but Jay’s hits harder, drives hard and continues to do so the whole way. You can wring the neck out of Josh’s bike and it still maintains really smooth power while progressively gaining momentum up through the revs.

The engine is definitely a lot stronger in these bikes than my own. For one, it starts easy – pretty much first kick every time and you’re away. Jay’s engine hits really hard compared to mine, which is just standard and user-friendly. On the same note, the Yamaha 450 engine is pretty aggressive straight out of the box. I’d say the race bikes are easier to ride to a certain extent, but when you become tired you’d probably get yourself into a little more trouble than on the standard bike.

Beaton has previous experience with the CDR Rockstar Energy Yamaha team, plus his personal race bike is a YZ450F. Image: Alex Gobert.

Beaton has previous experience with the CDR Rockstar Energy Yamaha team, plus his personal race bike is a YZ450F. Image: Alex Gobert.

Jay Marmont – Four-time MX Nationals Champion

What I was searching for up until Toowoomba was traction and we were able to sort that out straight after that round. I thought I had a good set-up going into the start of the year, using similar to 2010 when I won. I got to Broadford and realised that I couldn’t get the power to the ground – I had bikes with less power going straight past me and it didn’t make a lot of sense. We didn’t change the bike much from there and still went good at the next couple of rounds, but when we reached another mud round it all unfolded again at Toowoomba.

We went back to the drawing board, went to Coolum straight away to test, the day after the Toowoomba round. We figured out a fair bit in the engine, power-wise and also with the suspension. After that we had a direction and knew what way we had to head with the bike. It was one test where we really achieved a lot in getting more traction with the suspension.

I figured out that I had to go to more of a standard length shock, making it a lot softer. We never changed the forks. But we messed around with the power, cam timing, different cams and things like that, so we pretty much nailed it at that test. I went to a few races after that and didn’t have to think about the bike or anything, just realised the bike was good enough to do the job after that. My confidence was really built up a lot from that.

It’s really hard to set up the bike coming off supercross because you set the bike up really stiff and you get used to riding it like that. You have to go and put motocross suspension in the bike and it gets really hard to adapt to a soft setting. It takes you a while to get your head around it. You don’t want it to be blowing through jumps and kicking you, so you like the suspension hard.

Marmont was on hand at Barrabool to ride with the media and guests during the test. Image: Alex Gobert.

Marmont was on hand at Barrabool to ride with the media and guests during the test. Image: Alex Gobert.

This year as my speed developed more and more, I figured out that one way to go faster was to get traction out of the bike and get the tyres to stick to the ground more. The way I achieved that was going softer in areas with the bike and it started working. Once we had it set to the point where it was soft but not blowing through and holding up everywhere, I was able to put out consistent lap times and not get arm pump. It worked really well.

Our engine is working awesome now, I would have to say it’s the best engine I’ve ridden with in my whole life. The thing feels just as smooth as a production engine, but putting out a lot more horsepower. It’s crazy how easy it is to ride, but putting out mega horsepower that is very tractable. The engine package is, I think, the best out there.

Shawn Hodgetts – Team Engine Development

Jay looks for an overall really good, strong motor. He likes more power everywhere, which I guess is just the level of these riders. He likes a good hit off the bottom because he shifts third really quickly and gets into the power. That suits him down to the ground, just the way that he sets it up and gets the traction to the ground. He likes punch in the mid-range so he can get good starts as well.

We did a lot of mapping changes at the start of the year on the dyno and track, then as the year went on we changed about 15 or 20 times, just fine-tuning it. We found this year that we used the ignition to make the bike more rideable, rather than having it tuned spot on, we made it a little bit richer here and there to get the power to the ground a little bit. That was one area we needed to focus on in the mud. Plus, we also developed traction curves that are activated by a switch. Sometimes they don’t use them at all, just running one map all day, but on different tracks at different times they have the option to switch it to a curve with a little bit less power.

Beaton was impressed with the power of Marmont's bike, which features a more aggressive setting than Coppins'. Image: Alex Gobert.

Beaton was impressed with the power of Marmont's bike, which features a more aggressive setting than Coppins'. Image: Alex Gobert.

Compared to what we finished with last year, we actually tested a lot before we went to the MXoN in Colorado. We made some new camshafts and did a lot of development with the ignition straight after the motocross last year. They were good at the des Nations and we started with that setting in testing this year. It’s similar to the 2010 bike, but we did change the head a little bit as well as the ignition and camshafts.

The bikes are pulled down after every race and we run a rotation system. We run one motor during a weekend and then that comes to me, and I have another one waiting for them to get back together. While they’re working on the chassis and stuff, I take care of the motor and get it ready for the following weekend.

Jay and Josh’s bikes are very similar in the head, clutch and all that sort of stuff. The camshafts are the same, just with different timing from Josh to Jay, and the ignitions are also very similar. The ignition curve is the same, just the fuel setting is a little bit different just because Jay likes his a little bit sharper and leaner. Josh runs a GYTR flywheel and Jay runs standard, which Josh runs a 51 tooth rear sprocket compared to Jay’s 52. It just gives Jay the snappy feeling that he’s looking for.

As far as the hydraulic clutch goes, with Jay last year we struggled a little bit with having so many starts in the formats – especially originally this year when they were back-to-back four times. For Jay, who’s quite hard on the clutch even though it has a full GYTR billet basket, we just made the decision that to help keep the clutch good for four motos we would go down the road of the hydraulic clutch. It just takes out the adjustment, kind of like set and forget.

Steering was impressive, even in slick conditions, according to Beaton. Image: Alex Gobert.

Steering was impressive, even in slick conditions, according to Beaton. Image: Alex Gobert.

Gary Benn –Team Technical Director/Suspension Development

I guess if we compare Jay’s riding style to Josh’s, he tends to steer the bike with the back-end. Jay keeps a lot more weight over the back-end of the bike, so he tends to have a little bit harder rear suspension and a softer front compared to Josh. Jay looks balanced on the track, when you watch him it looks perfect. Josh always seems to have the front-end low and back high, because he steers the bike with the front. From my experience, if you want to look at someone and say that’s how a bike should look, you’d say watch Jay.

The sub-frame is a little bit lower than standard, but his forks are a bit softer than Josh’s and the rear is harder. We’re not talking massive amounts though. Jay has Pro Circuit clamps and Josh runs standard, with the same offsets, but the stiffness is different. Jay described it that the feeling between the ground and his arms was a lot more positive, whereas Josh felt they were a bit harsh and didn’t mind the vagueness of the standard clamps. It was just a personal preference between them.

There’s a lot changed compared to last year’s nationals. We always felt that internally, we’d like to get Jay’s suspension softer last year. If you want to compare America to Europe, a typical European guy has softer suspension and soft tyres, where Americans have hard suspension and tyres no matter what. It comes from supercross and I’d put our guys in that American basket because they race a lot of supercross. They’re not used to that feel of the bike moving underneath them, because it supercross it’s rock hard. The lap times re the same, but you end up with two different settings.

Even after a full season of MX Nationals competition, the CDR Rockstar Energy Drink Yamahas are fresh as new. Image: Alex Gobert.

Even after a full season of MX Nationals competition, the CDR Rockstar Energy Drink Yamahas are fresh as new. Image: Alex Gobert.

When Jay first came to us he wanted to front high and really hard, which is how he said he had to set up the KTM to work before he switched to us at Yamaha. That was one of his things he always felt comfortable with, but it is a fine-line between being high and still turning. That comes a little bit from supercross as well, because they run the front high through the whoops. They get used to that and adapt their riding to that kind of setting. Over the years though I think Jay’s got a better balance, not front-end high or low, and he’s happy with the front-end grip at the same time.

From race to race we don’t change the bike too much, just clicks here and there. That’s where Jay’s obviously matured a lot in the time that I’ve known him – he understands what he can do with the bike to make it work for him. Before he’d come in and tell us what it was doing, but have no idea what way to go and we’d have to suggest things. Now, he’ll say just take two clicks off on the compression because it’s doing this, or whatever it may be. We don’t make huge changes at the races, just small things for rider preference more or less during the year.

CDR Rockstar Energy Drink Yamaha YZ450FA Specifications

Engine: 450cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC
Cylinder Head: CDR Performance (Spec 10)
Cylinder: Production Yamaha
Piston: GYTR
Camshafts: CDR Performance MX/GYTR SX
Throttle Body: Keihin
Radiators: Production Yamaha
Spark Plug: NGK CR8EIX
Ignition: Vortex X10 ECU
Exhaust Pipe: Pro Circuit
Muffler: Pro Circuit
Air Filter: Rush by Uni Filter
Sprockets: Tag
Drive Chain: DID 520 MX ER
Tyres: Dunlop Geomax
Front Wheel: 21″ production Yamaha
Rear Wheel: 19″ production Yamaha
Suspension Front Fork: CDR Spec. ENZO Racing KYB 48mm with Pro Circuit launch control
Suspension Rear Shock: CDR Spec. ENZO Racing KYB 50mm
Triple Clamps: Pro Circuit (Marmont)/Production Yamaha (Coppins)
Front Brake: 270mm Braking Bat-fly disc with Goodridge brake hose
Rear Brake: Production YZ with Hammerhead lever
Handlebars: Easton
Controls – Brake: Yamaha
Controls – Clutch: YR/Brembo hydraulic
Grips: Yamaha (Marmont)/Tag (Coppins)
Clutch Components and Cover: GYTR
Graphics: ONE Industries
Seat: Standard foam with ONE Industries gripper cover
Fuel: VP ROO 100
Disc/Hand Protection: Acerbis
Lubrication: Modified to wet sump with Yamalube Y4FS oil, Yamalube coolant, brake fluid and race grease used

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