Out of our eight test riders, five chose the Kawasaki KX450F as the king of the
450s. Top marks went to the power, the starting, the new fork and overall handling
traits that are very neutral. Several testers were still skeptical of the quick wear of
the driveline, and smaller riders rated it lower because of its size.
Second went to the KTM 450SXF. Every evaluator praised the power, the
button and the clutch. The suspension, however, received little praise. All the
testers wanted action that enhanced rear traction and relieved some of the
transmission back through the riders’ hands.
Third place went to the Honda, though two testers rated it number one due
to the feathery feel and ease of riding. Its detractors complained about the bad
clutch feel, lack of a mid-hit and tendency to flame out at lower speeds. Taller
guys had trouble coming to grips with the squishy seat.
The Suzuki came in fourth—barely. The fork, which was rated poorly for harshness and being overly stiff, may be to blame. However, every test rider rated the
handling number one.
And fifth place goes to the Yamaha YZ450F, again. Yamaha guys love it. It
has great suspension and unique handling traits. The fit, feel and manners
seem to be an acquired taste. ;
This dyno report is flat weird. While it’s true that the KTM makes big power and
feels the strongest, there’s no way its 5 hp above the Kawa. And the KX450F, a very
strong performer and sweating out incredible bottom, mid and top gets killed by
the Honda, the softest through the middle of the machines. What this tells you is
that the dyno isn’t the great equalizer when it comes to noting proper power for a
motocross machine. It’s a tool only, and one when used properly helps the after
market companies develop product that enhances the performance.
The winner, the chaser and the pack