Kawasaki’s KX450F has been a standout motorcycle at MotoUSA for quite some time now, but in 2012 it really hit the mark. We were so impressed by the Kawi in 2012 that it earns the coveted spot as the year’s best motocross bike. The KXF won our 2012 450 Motocross Shootout for the second consecutive year for a reason, and it continues to be a hit in the MotoUSA garage.
In 2012 Kawi introduced an all-new machine; leaner and meaner than the 2011 model. The bike received drastic bodywork updates including a new profiled gas tank and seat. But it’s not the bodywork that makes the green racer the best motocross bike of 2012, it’s the performance.
The KX450F was a popular steed among our test riders due to the sheer, raw power its 449cc powerplant produces. In dyno testing, the Kawi maxed out at an impressive 29.28 lb-ft of torque at 7200 rpm and produced 45.88 horsepower at 9000 rpm, top numbers in the objective performance category of the shootout against six other contenders. In addition to available power, the KX450F also scored big with spot-on, adjustable ergonomics settings. Though it only had an adequate handling package compared to the other players, the Kawi held the line through corners well and was remarkably stable considering the commanding engine.
On top of our own observations, we also watched Monster Energy Kawasaki ace Ryan Villopoto as he dominated the 2012 Supercross Series aboard the green machine. RV took the bike to countless victories and ran away with the championship title, only to destroy his knee a week after claiming the championship. Despite his misfortune, the KX450F had more than proven its capability in one of the most demanding off-road series in the world.
Since the Kawasaki KX450F easily took the win in our comparison test, took RV to another Supercross championship and continues to make our staff salivate just sitting on the stand, it’s clearly cut out to be our choice for 2012 Motocross Motorcycle of the Year.
Motorcycle USA Best of 2012 Awards
Rider of the Year 2012: Max Biaggi
Manufacturer of the Year 2012: KTM
Best Cruiser 2012: Ducati Diavel
Best Sportbike 2012: BMW S1000RR
Best Street Bike 2012: Triumph Speed Triple R
Best Touring Motorcycle 2012: BMW K1600 GTL
Best Adventure Motorcycle 2012: Triumph Tiger Explorer
Best Enduro 2012: Beta 450 RR
Best Dual Sport 2012: Kawasaki KLR650
Best Motocross Motorcycle 2012: Kawasaki KX450F
Best ATV 2012: Can-Am Outlander 1000 XT
Best UTV 2012: Polaris RZR XP4 900
Motorcycle of the Year 2012: Kawasaki ZX-14R