ASK THE MXPERTS: MAGAZINE SHOOTOUTS ARE FOOLISH
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People who buy a motorcycles based on a magazine shootouts are fools. Today’s modern bikes are all capable of winning and most are too fast for the average person to utilize the available horsepower. So what if one bike is marginally slower than another, or is a couple pounds heavier or doesn’t turn as sharp. They are all more than capable of winning races and getting the job done. That’s why I think magazine shootouts are foolish.
Your overall theory is foolish. These are $9000 race machines. Why would someone spend $9000 on a bike that is slower, heavier and ill handling? When you go to Sears to buy a washing machine do you choose the one that makes more noise on the spin cycle, vibrates across the laundry room floor and gets your clothes 90 percent clean, or do you buy a machine that is quieter, smoother and gets your clothes spotless? If performance differences are important on $500 washing machines, wouldn’t they be even more important on a $9000 purchase? Where are you going to find these things out? Your friendly local dealer isn’t going to let you take six brand-new bikes off the showroom floor and ride them — and certainly not for the six months that MXA spent racing most of the 2017 450s. Magazine shootouts give you a head start in figuring out which bikes might be in your ballpark — which will help you avoid making a mistake. Need an example? If everybody had read MXA’s 2009 450 Shootout they would have known that the 2009 CRF450 couldn’t hold a candle to the shootout-winning 2008 Honda CRF450. It didn’t win. It didn’t get second. It didn’t get third. It got fourth (and back then there were only five bikes in Shootouts). MXA Shootouts are done to help people make the best choice by giving themu a leg up on the information curve. MXA picks a winner every year because not to do so would negate the idea of a shootout — but we could care less which bike you choose — as long as you are choosing for a good reason.
If you are one of those fools who think that you can just buy a bike based on the color of its plastic, because you think there is no difference between the six major 450s except their color, you are sadly mistaken. With the exception of the Husky FC250/450 and KTM 250/450SXF, every one of the bikes in a 2017 shootout is completely different. They don’t share handling traits, suspension performance or powerband curves with each other. Each is unique — and understanding their uniqueness (along with your own uniqueness) is what makes the best match. MXA’s shootouts don’t tell you which bike to buy, but they give you the tools to make an educated decision.
As for the concept that the average rider can’t use all the power that modern bikes produce, you obviously have never started in a pack with 39 other riders. If you had, you would be wishing you had an extra horse (or five) on the way to the first turn. And you wouldn’t be wearing that dingy white T-shirt.