KTM 450XC-F: The slight difference
in low-rpm power delivery between
the Husky and KTM is most evident
on the trail. We suspect that this
is almost entirely the result of the
pipe. The KTM is slightly louder and
a little snappier. Like the Husky,
the KTM has excellent brakes, a
flawless hydraulic clutch and is
freakishly light. All those things are
just as good on the trail as they are
on the track.
YAMAHA YZ450FX: Going into
this, we expected the Yamaha to
win the trail section of this test. We
thought the gearbox was going to
be the deciding factor. As it turned
out, the Yamaha makes so much
bottom-end power that no one
really needs such a low first gear.
The gearbox is still a big asset for
some riders, though, and Yamaha
still gets credit for taking the off-road market seriously. Weight,
again, was the bike’s biggest
HONDA CRF450RX: Honda
approached this bike the right way.
It’s the only bike with a kick-start
lever as a back-up, and it has a
larger tank. Even the bike’s weight
isn’t that big of an issue. What
hurts the Honda most when you
get in slow, tough trails is that it’s
difficult to manage all that power.
The CRF’s power is nervous, and,
even with the mildest map, you
end up using the clutch more than
the throttle to regulate the bike’s
speed. Then the clutch fades.
What’s odd is that although the
Honda’s map switch covers a very
broad range, it needs even more.
Where does that leave us? First
of all, we’re delighted that we have
a much clearer, more decisive
winner than we expected. We
never would have guessed that
one bike could be the favorite in
both categories of this test. For
that matter, second place is clear,
too, but after that, it’s all about
where you ride and what you do.
Just understand what these bikes
are all about—racing first. They
demand the same attitude from
their riders. o
APRIL 2017 / DIRT BIKE 53