What you should know if you read the rest of the story
Beta has an amazingly well-finished
and refined product.
The Honda is capable of winning races
or just circling around the campground,
depending on what you want it to do.
Husqvarna’s TC449 began life as a
BMW off-road bike. It’s been a very
KTM reinvented its off-road 450 for
2012 and ended up with the cleanest-running EFI bike in the dirt world.
TM has a frame that makes the Honda’s
frame look primitive.
Yamaha’s injected 450 has a frame
directly from the YZ250F motocrosser.
We expected the new KTM to win from the outset. KTM
has won every 450 off-road shootout since 2000, and the
new XC-W is the best one ever. Imagine our surprise when
the Beta came out of nowhere and nearly toppled the reigning king. In some situations, the Beta is a better bike. It’s
faster, it handles great, and it has components that are as
good as or better than those of the KTM. The standard Beta
RR is priced identically to the KTM, and the Beta Factory
Edition tested here offers great value for its additional $800.
In the end, though, the KTM nibbles the Beta to death
by doing better in so many small ways. The KTM is lighter.
The KTM holds more fuel and has more range. The KTM
starts more easily. The KTM has stronger brakes, and so
on. Once again, it emerges as the best overall package.
Next on the list is Yamaha’s new WR. It’s $1000 less
expensive than the KTM, and if you spend that money
wisely, you can have an incredible bike. We wouldn’t be
surprised if some motocross riders started showing up
with modified WRs; they probably handle better than the
YZ450Fs. In the end, it’s handicapped by excessive weight
and Yamaha’s high internal standards. Don’t get us wrong;
we like quiet bikes, but we don’t understand why the
Yamaha has to be so much quieter than the others.
The TM is a very special machine. We’re not surprised
that its price is so high. We’re amazed it could be built at
any price. The frame and chassis components are the
work of true artists. But in sheer performance, it offers no
significant advantages over the others. Plus, it’s an outlaw
on public land.
As for the Honda, we’re happy it’s back, but it’s actually
more overpriced than the TM. When the bike was first
introduced in 2005, it was $6999. Shouldn’t it be amortized by now? We all know it has the potential to win at
any level, but potential doesn’t pay the rent.
Next year, all this could change. In fact, we’re almost
certain it will. The 450 off-road class will continue to suffer
through market-driven mood swings. The bikes will
change, and so will the participants. But, we know one
thing: we’ll never go into this comparison expecting any
one bike to win. Those days are gone. ;
OFF-ROAD 450 SHOOTOUT 60 THINGS
HOW THEY FINISHED