Rocket Exhaust - 2015 Yamaha YZ450F
Ever since the 2015 Vital MX 450 Shootout back in January, I've had the 2015 YZ450F in my garage. Out of the box, the overall package makes it very competitive, with the stock powerplant being the biggest standout. Still, I was curious to see what could be done with a simple mod, and decided to try out a system from Rocket Exhaust.
Rocket Exhaust Features:
- Constructed from 6061 aluminum and 304 stainless steel.
- All models come equipped with carbon fiber end caps.
- Optional carbon fiber exhaust cans and FIM 2 Meter Max sound test cans.
- Optional exhaust can lengths available.
- Made in the USA.
- Price as tested: $604.95.
From years of experience and plenty of wasted money, I've come to the conclusion that unless you're a top rider where every ounce counts, or are sponsored (where there is no cost), the exotic titanium and carbon systems are too expensive and just don’t last as long as the aluminum/stainless versions. The fact that Rocket mostly utilizes these materials when building their systems shows in the clean design and build of the exhaust I received. Among Rocket's options, we went with a standard length can, but added their blacked out option, along with optional heat shield brackets for the headpipe. This allowed the use of the Yamaha's stock heat shields.
Installation is be a bit of a process, but that's more due to the unique nature of Yamaha's exhaust layout. While the exhaust can be changed out only by removing the right-hand side panel, removing the shock can be helpful for those that are struggling to tighten the head pipe to the cylinder head and need additional room. Overall, Rocket's system was much easier to install than stock, thanks to its on point bends, and the improved fitment around the front of the cylinder head.
On the Track
The most obvious change is of course the exhaust tone when rolling out onto the track. While Rocket does offer AMA-legal cans, the exhaust I used was the standard model. That means that this system was definitely a bit louder than the standard exhaust. In stock trim, the Yamaha is extremely responsive with a very impressive and "snappy" hit as you roll on the throttle. With the Rocket however, the bike doesn’t leap forward as much with each blip. The overall bottom-end power has been smoothed out and has a more roll on feel compared to the stock snap. The positive was the fact that the bottom-end snap was traded out for a more progressive mid-to-top power, making the overall powerband feel wider.
After riding with the Rocket Exhaust for an extended period of time, I swapped it back out for the stock system to compare. This left me a bit torn, as I definitely enjoyed the response of the stock system as this is the power I typically look for in a 450. But, the added mid-to-top power on the Rocket system can make the bike easier to ride.
I think the quality and craftsmanship of the pipe is very good, as I experienced zero problems during the 20 or so hours I used the system. As long as it's repacked when it breaks down and gets louder, I have no doubts that it would last for years. I also strongly recommend the pipe shield bracket option to re-use the stock heat shields. Without them, you're just asking for melted boots.
The Last Word
Most people decide to invest in a pipe to gain more power, but for most the Yamaha doesn’t really need more. For myself personally, the pipe didn't meet all my needs as I was would have liked to retained a bit more of the initial hit. Overall, Rocket has produced a solid pipe for a good price. This is an ideal pipe for someone who wants to tame the Yamaha a bit off the bottom and wants more top-end, or needs a good value pipe to replace a damaged or broken stock exhaust.