Paris Show: 2003

Yamaha Bares All and Steals the Show

The most spectacular models at the 2003 Paris Show in late September were the body-painted Yamaha girls, but there were some pretty nice motorcycles in view, too.

Between its booth bunnies and the centerpiece WR450F 2-trac - a production-ready version of a bike with hydraulic two-wheel-drive that could be a glimpse into the future - Yamaha stole the show. In conjunction with Ohlins, Yamaha has been developing its hydraulic 2WD system for almost a decade. Now the system is set for production on a special version of its WR450F dirtbike, which will be fitted with Ohlins suspension and a steering damper, and will be built in a limited run of just 250 units.

"There is a very big benefit in sand or mud, which is why we are starting with an off-road bike," says Lars Jansson of Ohlins. "It is also very promising for use on pavement, especially in the wet." The team has unofficially tested a 2-trac YZF-R1. "The system takes a little getting used to, because it changes the feedback," Jansson says. "But we have almost never had a worse lap time with two-wheel-drive. At Karlskoga circuit the [2wd-fitted] R1's lap time in the wet was five seconds faster!" For more details, pictures and in-depth coverage see our Holiday 2003 issue...