The YZ450F falls to third place in this year's MX 4-stroke shootout, but Yamaha's MX machine is a phenomenal bike with plenty of power and high-speed stability.
When it came time to pick a winner, the finishing order was identical on every scorecard in the woods and on the track. Unfortunately for the company that reinvented the competition-based 4-stroke, the YZ-F comes in third in our 2005 MX shootout. Certainly it is a capable machine and will please some, but our test group couldn't get past the awkward ergonomic riding position, sluggish steering, and bottom-heavy powerband. The addition of a flywheel weight would smooth out the low end but wouldn't do anything to aid its top-end deficiency. Bottom line: it's a good choice, but not the best in this competitive class.
The 2005 Suzuki RM-Z450 finished second right out of the gate. News from the PR dept. reveals a few refinements for '06 that could put it over the top.
Suzuki came out swinging with its first effort in this segment. Many in our test felt that with a little more development time, the RM-Z would have challenged the CRF for the win. With the slickest gearbox in the group, the RM-Z definitely has the potential to be an excellent motocrosser in the future. However, the RM-Z has a few minor shortcomings in its power delivery and handling characteristics. Its gearbox thrilled our group, as is typical of Suzukis, but it wasn't enough to overcome the ridiculous placement of the hot-start lever. Ultimately, the RM-Z is a great first effort and a clear indication that Suzuki is looking to give Honda a run for its money in 2006, when it will undoubtedly be retooled for mass consumption. It can be competitive right now, as Ricky Carmichael is proving, but unless you're RC, we think there is one better choice.
Looking for flaws on the 2005 CRF450R is like finding a needle in a hay stack. There may be some, but as hard as we tried we just couldn't find any.
Ever since the CRF450R burst on the market, it was the bike to own on the motocross track - and for good reason. RC put his stamp of approval on it with a perfect season, but you don't have to be the greatest of all time to win on the CRF. As our testers found out, the CRF works so well and is so refined, it's difficult to imagine it losing a shootout anytime soon. It's got a sizable lead on the competition simply because is does everything with ease and grace.
The CRF450R was judged by our group as the easiest to get on and go fast. It would require little to no work to make the CRF450R the perfect motocross machine. As good as it is, it might still be a little much in the woods, but try telling that to guys like B.C. whose personal CRF450R does double duty on the track and in the trails.
Take a bow, Honda, your crown is safe right now. But with the introduction of the 2006 KX450F and retooled bikes from Yamaha and Suzuki on the horizon, retaining your title will be a difficult task. However, if this year's model is any indication, Honda's probably not losing too much sleep about what everybody else is doing. Why mess with perfection?
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