FIRST PLACE: KAWASAKI KX450F
Number one. Kawasaki’s win is not all that
surprising if you remember that it won the 2009
MXA 450 shootout just a few short years ago. What
is surprising is that Kawasaki came from fourth place
in 2011 to the top of the heap in 2012. How did they
do it? Their R&D department has changed the KX450F
every year since it was introduced in 2006. They
never quit trying to make it better, and this year they
succeeded. Kawasaki’s modifications didn’t just change
the performance of the bike, but also its personality.
Power: In terms of purity of purpose, there is
nothing like the KX450F engine. It pumps out 55. 50
horsepower in such an effective manner that you can’t
help but be impressed. Kawasaki wasn’t content to just
build the best engine in the class; they wanted to make
it the most tunable engine ever. A 2012 KX450F owner
can choose between three different powerbands: stock,
mellow and aggressive. Plus, Launch Control retards
the ignition enough to tamp down wheelspin on the
starting line. Good ideas, well implemented.
Suspension: The 2012 KX450F’s suspension is
nothing special. MXA test riders switch to stiffer fork
and shock springs to bring the performance around.
Handling: Even Ryan Villopoto recognized that the
2012 chassis was a giant step up from the previous
2011 frame. The bike feels thinner, corners better and
doesn’t have the bulky stance of the typical KX450F.
The word: The 2012 KX450F is the best 450cc
motocross bike. ❏