Binders. Brakes? Who needs them? Well,
that’s what the white-knuckled speedway
and flat-track racers say. Motocrossers use
their brakes, though, and when they need
them, they had better be packed with pucker power.
The ability to stop is part and parcel of the ability to go
fast. KTM has the best brakes on the market with its
260mm Brembo units.
Shifting. We all have nightmares about
hitting a false neutral on the face of the
biggest jump at our local motocross haven.
Sadly, many of today’s newest models don’t
want to upshift to third without the rider tapping the
clutch or backing off the throttle. If you are looking for
the bike with the absolute best shifting and almost zero
chance of hitting neutral in mid-air, look no further than
the KTM 450SXF.
Clutch. Many modern motocross bikes have
clutches that would slip even if the rear tire
were spinning on a linoleum floor. Suzuki,
Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha need mega
help with their clutches compared to KTM’s hydraulic
units. Even better, the KTM 250SX and KTM 450SXF
come with amazing Belleville washer clutches that can
take more abuse than an IRS agent.
Jumping. Not everyone is a jumper
at heart; some riders’ wheels are destined to stay on the ground. But for
those who like to fly through the air,
and especially those who make their living jumping for
dough, the venerable Yamaha YZ250 two-stroke jumps
like a Harrier fighter jet. The two-stroke power hits hard
enough to get over anything, while the light weight and
lack of rotational inertia allow the rider to do whatever
movements he wants. The proof? Look at how many
freestyle riders are still on the aged steed. ;
Powerband. There are
many bikes on the market
with good powerbands,
but only one is just right
for almost every rider. The 2016 KTM
450SXF powerband is easy to ride,
smooth as a baby’s bottom and as
powerful as anything on the track. It’s
not just fast; it’s manageable.
Suspension. Take a
moment to think about
the characteristics of
perfect suspension. You
want your bike to feel like you’re rid-
ing on clouds through the chop, have
a never-ending stroke for those hard
hits, and never clank at the end of the
stroke. We haven’t reached the age of
hover bikes yet, but the closest thing
to perfection is Kayaba SSS compo-
nents. They come on Yamahas, and
the ultimate expression of suspension
nirvana is the Yamaha YZ125. In stock
trim, it is better than any aftermarket
suspension we have ridden. It soaks
up chop and handles a drop from the
sky like a day in the park.
Starting. The age of convenience is here.
From stairs to escalators. From stoves to
microwaves. From snail mail to e-mail. And
for motocross bikes, from kicking to pushing
a button. What’s so great about pushing a button to
start your bike? Everything. Especially when a bike with
electric start weighs less than one with a kickstarter. The
entire KTM four-stroke fleet has electric starting. It is a
game-changer. Once you spend a day with the button,
you’ll never want to go back.
Cornering. There is no such thing as a
bike with the best cornering and most
stability. You gotta give to get, and the
Suzuki RM-Z gives the most to get the best
turning. Cornering is the RM-Z’s best trait, but—and
there’s always a “but”—it is twitchy at high speed and
busy over rough ground.
Ergonomics. Remember the story of
Goldilocks and the three bears? Goldi tasted
all the bears’ porridge. One was too hot, the
other was too cold and one was just right.
This is how we feel every time we jump back and forth
between brands. Some are too tall, some are too wide,
but one is just right. The Honda CRF250 feels like the
ultimate ergonomic setup. Its combination of weight,
width, bar height, seat-to-footpeg distance and lever
placement feels just right.
Durability. Four-strokes rule the
motorcycle world, but we pay a high price
for this valve-and-cam technology. Four-
strokes are expensive on the showroom
floor and even more so in the repair shop. If you want
a four-stroke that is bulletproof and can last forever,
the Yamaha YZ450F is the motocross version of the
Energizer Bunny. It just keeps going and going.
THAT WOULD MAKE THE PERFECT BIKE