WHICH BIKE HAS THE BEST SUSPENSION?
You might think that decoding the suspension
riddle would be hard between these six motocross
bikes, but you would be wrong. Why? Because one
bike is so superior to the others that it is a no-brainer
to choose it as the best-suspended bike in the class.
It is followed by two bikes that are set up identically
and share the same basic dimensions. They don’t
need aftermarket springs or any trickery to help them
work. The bottom two bikes need stiffer springs front
and rear. It’s hard to win a suspension category when
your chosen springs don’t hold the bike up in the
Of the six 2012 450cc motocross bikes in the MXA
shootout, here is how they rank in suspension setup.
Yamaha YZ450F: No contest. In stock trim, the
Yamaha YZ450F has the best all-around suspension of
any production bike. And we aren’t talking about a
little bit better, or slightly better with a caveat, or
better once you change the fork or shock spring.
Nope! The Yamaha YZ450F has the best suspension.
Period. End of story.
KTM 350SXF: We wouldn’t have picked the
350SXF suspension last year. It had an iffy shock
spring that was too light to handle the loads that a
mid-sized Open bike can produce. (For some reason,
KTM sprung it like it was a 250.) With a much stiffer
shock spring for 2012 and the second-lightest overall
weight, KTM’s WP components, Yamaha-clone rising
rate and acceptable damping produce a bike that
absorbs everything but Pro speed bumps and jumps.
KTM 450SXF: KTM’s WP forks are the best we’ve
seen from the Austrians in years. The 0.50 kg/mm
spring rate is right on the money, and the valving is
decent (albeit a little quick through the midstroke).
The only difference between the second-place KTM
350SXF and the third-place 450SXF is the stiffer
0.50 kg/mm fork springs in the heavier 450’s forks
(compared to the 0.48s in the 350SXF’s forks).