Honorable mention: Yamaha
YZ450F. The YZ450F is the surprise
of the year. It is a sleeper bike.
While the Internet commandoes
were busy bad-mouthing the YZ450F,
Yamaha’s engineers redesigned,
re-equipped and reconfigured the
bike into a viable option.
THE BEST BUDGET RACER
Yamaha YZ450F: You can’t
break this bike with a sledgeham-
mer. It has proven to be bulletproof.
We have seen YZ450F engines go
200 hours without a valve adjust-
ment, and our full-time bike-breakers
cried uncle when they couldn’t blow
up the crank, tranny or valve train
on this marvel of durability. With its
great suspension and strong engine,
you can race this bike right off the
Honorable mention: KTM
450SXF. The MXA gang used to
complain about KTM reliability, but
that was the old KTM, not the new,
aggressive company. We haven’t had
a major 450SXF failure in years. We
have had issues with the rims, but
none of the OEM rims are stellar.
The only bugaboo for a racer on a
budget who is considering the KTM
450SXF is its high retail price. It’s
cheap to race, but expensive to buy.
THE BEST PRO BIKE
Kawasaki KX450F: If we took
the test reports of just MXA’s Pro test
riders, without counting the Novice,
Intermediate or Vet paperwork, the
KX450F would be the hands-down
choice of our AMA Pros. Not
surprisingly, it was also the winner
when all the test riders are tallied—
just not by such a great margin.
Honorable mention: Honda
CRF450. Pros aren’t the sharpest
tools in the shed. They don’t think
about maintenance costs, hop-up
expenses or reliability issues. So, they
gush about the agile feel and overall
lightness of the CRF450 chassis but
ignore the fact that they have to buy
a $1000 Hinson clutch, $1000 titanium
exhaust, $500 cylinder port job and
$250 high-compression piston.
Yamaha YZ450F: Best bike for a rider on a budget.
KTM 450SXF: Best bike for a Vet.
Honda CRF450: Best bike for a Novice.