WHICH BIKE HANDLES THE BEST?
Most motorcycle tests gloss over handling, because
it is very difficult for a rider to discern the minute
differences between one bike and another without
spending lots of time in the saddle. The MXA wrecking
crew is very meticulous when it comes to handling. We
feel that racing, as opposed to play riding, pushes the
frame geometry and setup to the limit. Once pushed
beyond its comfort zone, the positives and negatives of
a bike surface quickly.
Of the six 2012 450cc motocross bikes in the MXA
shootout, here is how they rank in handling.
KTM 350SXF: You don’t need a degree in
mechanical engineering to figure out that the KTM
350SXF and the KTM 450SXF share the exact same
frame geometry and setup. So, why does the MXA
wrecking crew think that the 350SXF handles better
than the 450SXF? First, the smoother power, reduced
thrust and lower horsepower output allow the 7-pound-
lighter 350 to feel better. It feels more than 7 pounds
lighter. And because it isn’t as powerful, it is easier to
put in the right place at the right time.
KTM 450SXF: Amazingly, five years ago, the KTM
450 was dead last in MXA’s handling category. Now,
thanks to an aggressive American testing program,
specially designed U.S.-based spring rates and steeper
geometry, KTM has risen near the top of the heap.
This is a well-balanced, do-it-all chassis. It corners with
innate accuracy, stays straight at speed and doesn’t
clink in the middle like the old days.
Suzuki RM-Z450: A case could be made that the
Suzuki RM-Z450 is the best-handling bike in the 450
class. And there are MXA test riders who feel that the
Suzuki’s ability to turn inside any bike on the track is
an attribute that cannot be downplayed. For a rider
looking for the best-turning bike made, look no further
than Suzuki. If, however, you want straight-line stability,
minimal head shake and a solid platform in the rough,