was judged the easiest to go fast on thanks in large part to unparalleled refinement.
Complicating the power delivery even more was the fact that Yamaha
chose to fit the hard hitting YZ with a four-speed transmission. To get the most out of the Yamaha, the rider has to ring every possible R out of the engine before up-shifting. Riders who tried to short-shift the YZ found it bogging down between gears. Even with the help of a supple clutch, Yamaha's big thumper needed to be revved out to hit the next gear in stride.
Another bike fitted with a four-speed transmission exhibited different characteristics. The power delivery of the RM-Z was more capable of handing the four-speed tranny. Although some of our riders experienced a similar issue with Suzuki's transmission, it wasn't as pronounced. Suzuki's engineers smoothed out the bottom-end hit compared to the YZ450F, which gave our riders more confidence to rev out each gear before shifting.
Of all the bikes, the CRF450R
garnered the most praise for its five-speed transmission and smooth tractable power. It was unanimously chosen as the easiest to mount and ride.
"The CRF is really easy to get used to," said Mason Harrison, former number-1 plate holder in the Oregon Cross Country series and a podium finisher in District 36. "You could jump on it and start riding without too much adjustment, and the power was very linear and predictable all the way through the rev range."
Brian Chamberlain, our resident photo model, agreed with Harrison's assessment and felt the CRF's power and transmission are tops regardless of location.
"I preferred the CRF's 5-speed configuration in the woods, especially when alternating between tight single track and wide open logging roads," said Chamberlain. "Basically it just allows you to put more power to the ground in a wide variety of situations."
The CRF450R is refined enough that it can easily pull double duty on the track and in the trails.
Kevin Rookstool, another lightning-fast local summed up the collective sentiments of our test group when he issued this summary: "Overall the YZ definitely feels like it has the strongest motor of the group. The Honda was probably second and the Suzuki was just slightly behind the Honda. But The CRF has the smoothest delivery and it was definitely the easiest to ride. The RM-Z was probably the second easiest to ride, and then came the Yamaha."
Our senses can only collect so much data, and despite the claims of our testers, it turns out our brains aren't as accurate as the dyno at White Brothers, where our good friends there in the R&D department collect horsepower and torque figures.
The CRF is the peak horsepower winner, pumping out 49.5 hp @ 8300 rpm, while the RM-Z churns out 48.8 hp @ 8000 rpm. Bringing up the rear is the YZ450F, delivering 47.2 hp @ 8700 rpm. The RM-Z pumps out the most torque, reaching 34.8 lb-ft @ 7000 rpm, while the CRF was second with 33.3 lb-ft @ 7500 rpm. Once again the YZ450F was third, grinding out 31.9 lb-ft @ 6700 rpm.