The following information is based on MXA’s dyno runs of the six major 450cc motocross bikes. All the 2016 bikes were dyno’ed on the same day, on the same dyno and with the same operator. Everything was done to insure that the six bikes had an equal opportunity to perform. If we had doubts about a series of numbers, we would dyno a second version of that bike to cross-reference the numbers
There is one obviously caveat to looking at dyno numbers as an end-all be-all of motorcycle analysis — and that is that dynos don’t go to the starting line. Humans do. And how the rider interprets, utilizes and manages the power is more important than digits on a chart.
To help make more sense than just one big peak horsepower number, we isolated the horsepower ratings at 6000 rpm (low), 8000 rpm (mid) and 10,000 rpm (top) to get a graphic display of what the overall powerband looks like. Of course, we graphed peak horsepower, peak torque and, most importantly, we measured how wide the rpm range that each bike topped 50 horsepower was (as a measure of the breadth of the bike’s usable powerband).
There are six categories and the blue color indicates the category winner. Although each number stands on its own, the “above 50 horsepower number (50+ hp)” tells you how long each bike could break the 50 horsepower barrier and stay there. This is the most telling of all the dyno numbers, because it tells you how long a given engine can stay in the meat of the powerband—which you feel as pulling power.
WHICH BIKE MAKES THE MOST LOW-END HORSEPOWER?
We were a little surprised that the 2016 KTM 450SXF won this category because on the track the Katoom powerband feel very manageable at low rpm. We hear people say that the KTM 450SXF hits too hard down low, but for our tastes it’s a pussy cat down low. The 38.63 horsepower is proof that you can make max power and still make it usable. We kind of expected the 2016 Honda CRF450 to win this category because this is where the CRF really shined over the last few years. But the Honda’s 35.66 horsepower was the least of any of the bikes at 6000 rpm. Instead of the Honda, the 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 stepped in to fill the gap and made the second-most power at 6000 rpm (37.61)—albeit only by a hair over the Husqvarna FC450 (37.47) and YZ450F (37.27). The Kawasaki KX450F beat the Honda, but was over 2-1/2 horsepower less than the KTM 450SXF at this point on the curve.
WHICH BIKE MAKES THE MOST MIDRANGE HORSEPOWER?
The 2016 KTM 450SXF was the strongest bike at 8000 rpm at 54.59 horsepower. No other bike in this dyno shootout cracked 54 horses at this rpm. The Suzuki RM-Z450 and Husqvarna FC450 tied for second with 53.54 horsepower each. The KX450F was fourth at at 54.03, while the YZ450F was surprisingly weak at 51.95 (over 2-1/2 horsepower less than the KTM 450SXF). We knew from saddle time that the Honda CRF450 was reaching its peak at this rpm (and that its peak was not the least bit impressive), so we weren’t surprised when it came in last with 50.55 horsepower.
WHICH BIKE MAKES THE MOST TOP-END HORSEPOWER?
When we measured horsepower at 10,000 rpm, only one bike failed to crack the 50 horsepower range. The Honda, which is very flat on top and could only manage 49.30 horsepower (because it made its maximum horsepower 400 rpm earlier). The KTM pumped out 56.68 horses, the Husky 56.32 and the Yamaha 55.98. What shocked us was that the Kawasaki KX450F, the previous horsepower maven only made 51.55 horses, for fifth out of six.
WHICH BIKE MAKES THE MOST PEAK HORSEPOWER?
Peak horsepower doesn’t necessarily fall on even rpm numbers, but in the gaps between them. On a 450cc motocross bike, most MXA test riders prefer the peak horsepower to fall at 9000 rpm. Higher than that and you are forced to rev the engine to get there and lower than that and you have to shift earlier.
The Honda CRF450 peaks at 53.03 horsepower at 8600 rpm (that is very low). The Suzuki RM-Z450 peaks at 54.88 horsepower at 9000 rpm. The Kawasaki KX450F peaks at 55.43 horsepower at 9000 rpm. The Yamaha YZ450F peaks at 56.85 horsepower at 9800 rpm (that is very high). The Husqvarna peaks at 57.14 horsepower at 9600 rpm. And the KTM 450SXF peaks at 57.98 horsepower at 9200 rpm.
On peak numbers only, the KTM makes 0.84 horsepower more than the FC450, 1.13 horsepower more than the YZ450F, 2.55 horsepower more than the KX450F, 3.10 horsepower more than the RM-Z450 and 4.95 horsepower more than the CRF450.
WHICH BIKE STAYS ABOVE 50 HORSEPOWER THE LONGEST?
To most MXA test riders, this is the dyno chart that is most applicable on the track. It simply registers the rpm where the bike first cracks the 50 horsepower barrier and the rpm where it drops back below the 50 horse mark. We consider that rpm range to be a mathematical representation of the breadth of the bike’s power.
You don’t need a Harvard degree to see that the KTM 450SXF has the longest 2016 “powerband over 50 horses” at 4300 rpm. The KTM first hits 50 horses at 7200 rpm and stays there until 11,500 rpm. That is a lot of meat to work with. The 2016 Husky FC450 is almost as broad a the KTM with a 4100 rpm range above 50 horses. Yamaha is third (3800 rpm), Suzuki fourth (3600 rpm), Kawasaki fifth (2800 rpm) and Honda last (1900 rpm).
WHICH BIKE MAKES THE MOST PEAK TORQUE?
All six 450cc bikes range from 36.63 foot-pounds at the high-end (KTM) to 33.63 foot-pounds at the low-end (Honda). In order from most torque to least the 2016 motocross bikes rank as KTM, Suzuki, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Honda.
And there you have it. No matter what your favorite color, brand or dealer—this is a KTM slam dunk…as in 6 for 6.