450 FOUR-STROKE SHOOTOUT SNEAK PEEK
Photos by Cory Walters
What is your bike of choice? Six bikes that are all distinctly different. This year the Honda CRF450 is all new. Last year it placed 5th in our 450 Shootout. Will the radically new design put it on top?
The 2017 Kawasaki KX450F has a powerplant that is very linear, unlike the hard hitting 2015 engine. It is a yawn for the younger riders, but great for the vets. Its Showa air forks, although complicated, we really like.
The all-new Honda CRF450 weights the same as last year. They switched from air to spring forks and the engine has a potent midrange hit. The ergonomics are still class leading.
Here is last years shootout winner, the KTM 450SXF. For 2017, KTM’s biggest change was the WP AER air forks. They are head over heals better than the previous WP 4CS forks.
The Yamaha YZ450F offers a potent powerband along with great Kayaba SSS spring forks. What it needs is a strict diet.
The KTM’s twin brother, the Husqvarna FC450 is heavier and slower than its twin, but that all can be changed by drilling holes in the airbox and taking the muffler core out.
We have a love hate relationship with the Suzuki RM-Z450. It turns on a dime and has a great low-to-mid powerband. The downfalls are its weight and old looks. The KTM 450SXF is the lightest bike on the showroom floor. In the air, the KX450F fells as nimble as a 125. This is a jumping mans bike. Honda brought back its test riders to relive the glory days of the 2005-2008 CRF450 to make the 2017 CRF450. One of the most appealing features about the YZ450F is its durability. It just keeps going and going.If Ken Roczen can will the outdoor title on the RM-Z450, shouldn’t that be good enough? Many riders have preferred the ergos on the FC450 as well as the feel of the plastic subframe.