CAN MY OLD 450 MAKE IT ANOTHER
SEASON OR TWO?
THE MONEY YOU SAVE CAN FINANCE YOUR RACING CAREER
ÿÿ “Can it be raced for another season?”
ÿÿ “Could I bring my old iron up to spec for a fraction of the cost of a new 2009 bike?”
ÿÿ “Are the 2009 bikes really better than my old bike?”
ÿÿ Most of these questions require that you keep your ego in check and take a realistic look at what’s already in your garage. There is no doubt that everyone would like to buy a new bike, but in these tough economic times it isn’t always in the cards. And, even in better financial times, does it really make sense to throw away a $7500 product after one year? Do you buy a new TV every spring? A new refrigerator? Of course not. So why does every motocross racer feel like his one-year-old race bike is obsolete?
ÿÿ The MXA wrecking crew decided to make a list of old bikes that still have life left in them. You should use this list as a guide to 450cc motocross bikes. If you have a bike on the list, you might be wise to keep it. If your bike isn’t on this list, you might consider buying one of these bikes on the used bike market.
It is hard to go wrong with a 2007 or 2008 Honda CRF450. They are great race bikes with a wealth of hop-up info.
2007-2008 Honda CRF450:
ÿÿ Every MXA test rider believes that the 2007 and 2008 CRF450s are better all-around bikes than the radically new 2009 Honda CRF450. That is a major compliment. Between the two, the 2008 has a stronger engine (thanks to its separate ignition curves for each gear), while the 2007 has better forks (the ’08 forks were incredibly harsh).
2006-2008 Yamaha YZ450F:
ÿÿ Starting in 2006, the YZ450F benefited from Kayaba’s brilliant SSS suspension, Yamaha R&D’s centralization of mass program, a five-speed tranny (that replaced 2005’s four-speed) and the innovative plug-and-play aluminum frame. Of the three model years, the 2006 and 2007 are more powerful than the 2008 model (which is hampered by Yamaha’s restrictive muffler). Each successive year got lighter by approximately two pounds. Always check the YZ450F head tube gusset for cracks (caused by cold welding at the factory).
2007-2008 KTM 450SXF:
ÿÿ Starting in 2007, KTM changed everything on the 450SXF. The new parts included an electric starter, fresh engine design, finger follower valve train, two-pound-lighter steel frame and the most powerful production brakes sold. For an owner of a 2007 or 2008 KTM, the known down sides are the harsh front forks (which can be fixed by lowering the oil height) and wallowy rear suspension (which benefits from much stiffer shock springs). The KTM 525SXF is an even better keeper.
2006-2008 Yamaha YZ250:
ÿÿ If you own a used Yamaha YZ250 two-stroke, you own a gem of a bike. Starting in 2006, Yamaha spec’ed the YZ250 with Kayaba SSS suspension, which is why the 2005 model (with AOSS components) is not a keeper. The differences between the 2006 YZ250 engine and the latest 2009 engine are nil. These are bulletproof machines that can be raced in either the 250 or 450 class. They are affordable, cheap to maintain and fun to ride.
2007 Suzuki RM-Z450:
ÿÿ Although not blessed with a potent powerband, the 2007 Suzuki RM-Z450 was the most refined of the big-bore RM-Z’s. The 2005 RM-Z450 had teething problems, the 2006 had overheating issues and the 2008 never really came to fruition (after it’s long-delayed development time). Making the most of a four-speed 2007 RM-Z450 requires stiffer springs, lower gearing and short-shifting, but it offers great handling at an affordable price. It also has a carburetor.
2008 Kawasaki KX450F:
ÿÿ In our opinion, it is impossible to recommend the 2006 and 2007 Kawasaki KX450Fs as bikes for a racer to hold on to. The first and second iterations of the KX450F had gearbox issues, wallowy rear suspension, overheating problems and reports of piston breakage. The 2008 is much closer to the 2009 in feel, traits and personality than it is to its older brethren. We recommend gearing the 2008 KX450F down, changing the fork offset and adding a Pro Circuit shock linkage. Not surprisingly, those are the same suggestions that we make for the 2009 KX450F.