Racers will be seeing a lot of red in front of them this year. The Honda is solid no matter which angle you look at it.
Honda came through with flying colors at both test locations and for all riders. Even though it's geared towards more advanced riders, that's what having a wicked 450cc motorcycle is all about - sissies need not apply. Still, it wasn't even the mega-motor that ultimately won us over, but the attention to every single aspect of a rider's needs. The CRF450R really does it all with a killer chassis, brakes, tranny, suspension and rider accommodations. This is a pure moto weapon.
Suzuki gave the Honda a good run but it did it by taking the opposite approach. Riding the RM-Z450 is easy. The motor is friendly and strong, frame surprisingly sleek and it brings something to the table that nothing else in the class can with the fuel injection. Techno-geeks look no further.
Nailing down the final two spots was heart wrenching. Neither the Kawasaki or Yamaha deserves to be in the bottom half because of some glaring fault - the others were simply too strong. Kawasaki is the most complete package after the Honda, but the level of refinement and performance is just a bit lower, and it can't make up for the pizzazz of the RM-Z. As for the Yamaha, our 2007 winner simply fell behind the times a bit. Even though there were minimal changes made, taking a year off can be tough in the cutthroat world of big-bore MX shootouts.
So did our rigorous dose of 450 moto testing cure our ailing sickness? Not at all, but it did relieve the stress of waiting for our most anticipated off-road test of the year. The 2008 season marks some serious advances in technology with Honda's HPSD, Yamaha's punch-cone muffler and Suzuki's formidable fuel injection. As if it weren't exciting enough, the implications for what 2009 will bring has us working into a frenzy already. Motocrossers hate waiting for things...
Check out the following links for some extra tidbits about our shootout.
- For My Money
See what each rider would do if they had to drop 7 Grand out of their own pockets.
- Full Score Sheet
Want to see how your favorite bike did in the grand scheme of things? Check out our primary testing categories.
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