The MXA wrecking crew would love to say that all of the terrible motocross bikes were designed, built and forgotten 30 or 40 years ago, but that
isn’t true. One of the world’s most respected auto manufacturers tried its hand at designing a dirt bike for
American distribution in 2010, and then doubled down by
making Husqvarna, which it owned at the time, take its
failed ideas and use the engine for the next three years.
BMW, for all of its automotive engineering prowess, knew
DO YOU REMEMBER THE BMW G450X?
nothing about dirt bikes—and it showed. BMW’s engi-
neers thought they knew more than everybody else, but
they designed a bike that proved how little they really
knew. The BMW engine was designed in Germany and
built in Taiwan by Kymco. It had a closed-loop, fuel-injec-
tion system (that stalled easily). The countershaft sprocket
was mounted on the swingarm pivot (called a Coaxial
Traction System). The engine was canted forward 30
degrees (the opposite of Yamaha’s reverse engine). The
tiny clutch was mounted on the crankshaft (a la Hodaka).
The engine was hung under a trellis-style hanger frame
(where it was vulnerable), and the crank spun backwards
(a la the Czech ESO). The bike was a disaster. BMW even
hired offroad ace David Knight to race the G450X, only to
be embarrassed when he quit the team mid-season saying,
“The guy who designed the bike wouldn’t admit that it
was no good.”
BMW got out of the dirt bike
market at the end of 2010 but had
Husqvarna use the Taiwanese engine
in the TX449 from 2011 to 2014. For
the 2011, BMW had Husqvarna make
a TC449 motocross version of the
Coaxial Traction System machine.
Only a handful of the motocross
models were brought to the USA
before Husky canned the idea when
the fast-spinning clutch, excessive
squat, heavy overall weight and
weird design convinced them to
stick with enduro bikes. KTM bought
Husqvarna in 2014.