For My Money:
Michael Martin – Age 17 – 6’4” – 185 lbs – AA – Honda
The Honda would be my first choice because I know it’s reliable and it would still be an excellent and competitive race bike. In the Tucson area, parts availability for a Honda is cake. The price is alright, but getting aftermarket parts for this bike is super easy to find and the prices are hard to beat. Plus I always have liked the color red.
Frankie Garcia – Age 20 – 5’8” – 180 lbs – Slow – Honda
This is a hard decision for me. For the test we did, I would definitely buy a Honda for one reason. Riding through the desert 350 miles is a long ride and tough on the bikes. When something breaks, someone is bound to have parts for a Honda because just about everyone has one.
Ken Hutchison – Age 40 – 5’8” – 175 lbs – Amateur – Yamaha
I like all these bikes and I can make a case for each. Beta is Exclusive, trick and comfortable. KTM is good-looking, light feeling and powerful. Honda is familiar, comfortable and does everything ok. But, this new Yamaha impresses me. It’s fast and the engine is impressive despite being corked up. It feels like a race bike and is loaded with cool Yamaha technology. They waited a long time to upgrade the WR450F and it was worth the wait.
JC Hilderbrand – Age 29 – 5’11” – 190 lbs – B – Beta
The Beta was my favorite bike in this particular test. It’s the most comfortable for me to ride and that helps overcome some of the small issues I have with it. I wouldn’t hesitate to own this bike with its quality build. The only bike that can give it a run for my dollar is the XC-W. I have a sneaking suspicion that the KTM would shine a lot brighter at my regular stomping grounds in Oregon. It has the highest pricetag but I’m confident I could get one at a lower price and it has the best dealer support in my area. I’m pumped that the Yamaha is so affordable considering all the changes this year, but it just doesn’t do it for me. I like tight terrain and the Euro bikes are way better for my style than the Japanese.
Justin Dawes – Age 35 – 5’10” – 225 lbs – Washed-Up Racer – Beta
It took some serious consideration which of these bikes I would want to own, but I always came back to the Beta. It looks amazing, it is unique and I just click with it. Sure the high-speed handling is a bit twitchy, but everywhere else it’s the bike to be on. It rails through the trees and tight single-track, it owns the technical climbs and rocks sections and I can throw it around like a 125. It’s not perfect for sure, but it is perfect for what I want and need out of a 450cc enduro machine.