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2012 450MX Off-Road Shootout Conclusion

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Frankie Garcia –

For my own money if I were going to buy a 450 machine strictly for off-road riding and racing I would definitely go with the Kawasaki. The KXF worked phenomenal in all categories. The engine is wicked fast and has major power all the way through the powerband from bottom to top end. The suspension on the Kawasaki was a step above the other bikes and the ergonomics were spot on for my liking. Another big reason why I would buy a Kawasaki for off road riding is because of the number off road parts and accessories that are offered for the bike.

The stiff suspension hurt the KX450F when it came to handling rough trails in the desert.
Jamie Beckett –

I actually had a rough time picking my absolute favorite bike, especially when they were all free for me to ride. Any free bike is a good bike. I felt like there were things on each one I would want to tweak a little to fit me, accommodate my riding style, and to work better in one of the terrains. But, when you ask me to put my hard-earned dollar on the line, the cream rose to the top. I chose the KX as the bike I would buy for my money. First of all, the Kawi looks great. It worked great in the sand at Glamis and the motor was exceptional.

Brian Steeves –

Ahh yes... after all the grains of sand are wiped from our eyes, we again sit down, monkey butt in tow and formulate for the money, our money, which bike would we ask to be our bride from this day forth 'til death do us part. Well for this dude I must say it is no shocker here- The lean mean Green Machine (Ralph Shaheen voice). Handling- CHECK! Powerplant- CHECK! Dependability- I HOPE!

Ken Hutchison –

I would buy the KTM because it has an awesome engine that seems well suited to all types of off-road riding from fast desert to slow technical terrain. I also think it is the best looking bike of the bunch and that always helps seal a deal.
Features like electric start and a hydraulic clutch make long days in the saddle more enjoyable.
Then, add into the mix that this bad-boy is electric start and it makes it an easy choice for the off-road weapon I would select from this group.

Adam Waheed –

After riding the bikes on the motocross track and off-road I never knew that there would be such a big difference between each machine based on theater of operations. At Glamis, hands down the bike to have is the KX450F, as it has the most amount of engine power which is absolutely key there. I also really like the Suzuki as it has strong but slightly softer power. It handles just as good in the sand as it does in the dirt. But for the one do-it-all off-road bike I’d buy the KTM. Sure, it was undersprung for the dunes, but the suspension worked perfect at Ocotillo. Plus I really like the way the bike feels underneath me and the quality of the controls. The electric start is also a total lifesaver and takes some of the embarrassment away from tip overs as the motor fires to life immediately while your buddy is huffing and puffing trying to kick over his bike. Some might think that since it doesn’t have fuel injection that it might be run finicky, but the stock jetting was spot-on everywhere in Southern California.

Justin Dawes –

For me the choice was easy and quick. After the first five minutes on the 2012 Kawasaki KX450F I was hooked. I tried my best to give the others a fair shake as my choice of personal ride, but each time I whacked the throttle open on the KX there was no question what it would be for me. Throw in a nice and roomy cockpit and solid high-speed handling and you’ve got my perfect off-road mount.

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advdr   February 17, 2012 10:48 AM
Perhaps I shouldn't have been so harsh. I do appreciate the content that you all generate. However, in this comparison, all it did was move Honda to the bottom of the list as compared to your 2012 MX review. I am not a Honda rider, so that didn't bother me much. It simply didn't add much to what you guys concluded in the MX review. I can see that people might be using MX bikes offroad. What I wonder is whether people are buying MX bikes for offroading, or whether they are picking up something used after it has a couple of years on the track. That would probably be hard to determine. I wonder if people are buying MX bikes only for offroad, not track use.

I am looking forward to the MX for daily commuting comparo.
Hutchy   February 17, 2012 10:17 AM
advdr: Ahhh the words of the dissenter are always so poignant aren't they? Here's the deal pal, we agree 100% that the specialized off-road machines like the WR, CRF and EXC of the world are better suited for off-road riding. However, here in Oregon, California, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Mexico and the many other states we ride, the fact is that we regularly see way, way, way more MX bikes slinging dirt outside MX tracks, than we see enduros. The majority of MX bikes end up here, at the dunes, in the dirt or on the trails. So, while we appreciate the commentary we have to disagree: This is a cool test and we believe the majority of readers would agree.
advdr   February 16, 2012 05:32 PM
Stupid concept for a comparo. The lowest scoring 3 bikes wouldn't even be considered by me to purchase for off-road riding, as Honda, Yamaha and KTM all have enduro machines to choose from. KTM has several off road models to choose from. The winners for off road riding are two MXers from companies that don't even bother with enduros. You guys need to get yourselves out of California and Oregon from time-to-time.