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Yamaha launches two-wheel-drive WR450F 2-Trac and torquey MT-01


by Michel Deslauriers ,

At the Montreal Motorcycle Show, Yamaha had two new models on display. Both will not be available as 2005 models in North America, but they will be on sale in 2006.

The WR450F 2-Trac is said to host the world's first production two-wheel-drive system for bikes. Using a simple, reliable and versatile hydraulic pump, the setup can automatically send up to 15% of engine power to the front wheel if it detects that the rear is losing traction. The system sends hydraulic fluid through high-pressure hoses and actuates a motor located on the front wheel hub. So, the available power is constantly being shifted from rear to front and back to always apply the best ratio.

Yamaha Motor France's president, Jean-Claude Olivier, states in a press release that "riding the WR450F 2-Trac, you will be amazed by its ability to perform in such difficult conditions like deep soft sand or mud. The bike
keeps going while standard bikes are digging themselves holes and getting stuck!" He also points out: "as well as its greater traction on loose or wet surfaces, the 2-Trac system also ensures higher stability both in a straight line and when cornering on the dirt. You can lean into corners and the bike's rear end follows the same line as the front wheel. Unlike a conventional dirt bike where you have to fight a sliding rear end on corners, the WR450F 2-Trac is easier to control, and this will be a major advantage for beginners as well as experts." Yamaha also mentions that top speed is about 10% higher on a sandy track than its rear-drive counterpart.

The 2-Trac technology is so simple that Yamaha plans to spread it throughout its range in the future, from scooters to R1 and R6 racing bikes.

As for the MT-01, Yamaha had an example on a turntable stand, and it pretty much looks like the replacement for the aging V-Max. The 2006 MT-01 will be powered by an air-cooled 1670cc V-twin engine, featuring twin spark plugs per cylinder and electronic fuel injection. This powerplant was not tuned for maximum horsepower, but for generous low-end torque. Although not a slouch at 90 hp @ 4,750 rpm, the MT-01 twists 111 lb-ft of torque at 3,750 rpm. In comparison, the mighty V-Max offers "only" 87 lb-ft @ 7,500 rpm. With these numbers, the MT-01's acceleration should be breathtaking.

Yamaha calls its new bike a "Torque Sports Roadster", and it features a new 1-piece, pressure-control cast chassis, which makes for a more solid and lighter bike. It will also feature an R1-type adjustable suspension with a horizontal rear shock absorber.

2006 will be a very interesting model year for Yamaha indeed.

As for 2005, Yamaha have announced that their YZF-R1 and YZF-R6 sport bikes will feature a new immobilizerignition system. In order to reduce the number of motorcycle
thefts, the system is basically located on the ignition switch and recognizes a coded key in the ignition. Once it acknowledges the special key, the bike's ECU isactivated, and the bike will start. The immobilizer will also trigger the optional alarm system if the ignition is tampered with. The system uses very little current, so the battery will not drain down, and the system activates itself automatically and seamlessly as soon the ignition is turned off.