The beauty of our sport's current state is that any bike can, and does, win. We wanted to find out which one is likely to do it most often in 2007.
As we rolled out onto the track for the first time and waited for a clear spot to enter, the thunderous roar of 4-strokes pelted us harder than the flying roost. The number of those bikes that were 450cc machines was impossible to tally as the number of riders harnessing the ungodly power of these big-bores is mind-boggling - but for good reason. Whether you're one of the elite, a local pro or weekend-warrior schmuck there's almost no reason to not have a 450F. If you don't then you'll be passed by someone who does, and if that doesn't matter a whole lot to you then at the very least you can ignore all kinds of good habits like corner speed, clutch technique and finesse. Simply bend your right wrist and the possibilities are endless. Don't worry, though, we're guilty too - just like you.
As you'll find in this test, there was no shortage of competition among our four Japanese players - reigning champion Kawasaki KX450F, Honda CRF450R, Suzuki RM-Z450 and last year's no-show, the Yamaha YZ450F.
We sound tested the machines at the end of our testing so that each had a chance for the muffler packing to break in. Two SoCal tracks of varying terrain and layout were used to help break down and analyze the components of each bike. We started in the high desert at Hesperia's Competitive Edge and progressed to the power-hungry layout of Glen Helen's National track to round out the riding impressions.
When we weren't logging motos at Comp Edge or Glen Helen, we spent the rest of our waking hours running the bikes across electronic scales, rear-wheel dyno and past sound-measuring equipment. To accompany the empirical data would require equally telling riding impressions which were collected from a thick spread of experienced testers. (For more info on our testers, follow this link to the Rider Bios.)
With our company dyno in the final stages of installation, we turned to the generous Kerry Bryant over at Area P
to help us once again crank out some dyno curves. After swapping all the stock tires for dyno-applicable street versions, we spooned on four sets of Pirelli's
new Scorpion MX 454 - the new mid/hard tire developed specifically for the American market - so we could begin testing on equal footing.
Our sport has been evolving at an incredible pace in the last decade, and each new model year brings out something different. The changes to the 2007 450F motocrossers are significant, but not so much as to light the world on fire with an all-new development. Granted, we didn't have the e-start KTM. But, with the Japanese foursome ready to rock, we set out to discover what another 365 days of Darwinian Theory has done to the baddest motocross bikes on the planet.