MXA has been testing bikes and doing shootouts for five decades. We promise you that MXA does not test bikes with the system used by other media outlets. We don’t do one-day tests, and we don’t let 16-year-olds who have only ever ridden a Yamaha vote for “Bike of the Year.” We test by racing with a full complement of ages and skill levels—from AMA National Pros to Pee-Wee riders.


We have a time-tested system for doing shootouts. It is based on a strict regimen that hopefully guarantees a fair and honest outcome. Here is the protocol we follow:

PURPOSE. MXA isn’t looking at these seven bikes for their play riding, enduro, off-road or professional-practice riding prowess. MXA considers the seven 2024 450 four-strokes to be pure-bred race bikes, and that’s how we tested and rated them. In simple terms, we raced them. Not once, not twice, but every weekend. Not with just our in-house test riders, all of whom are former AMA Pros, like Daryl Ecklund, Josh Mosiman, Brian Medeiros and Dennis Stapleton, but also with Novice, Intermediate, Vet and slower test riders. 

DYNO RUNS. When we weren’t racing them, we did our due diligence. We dyno’ed all seven bikes on the same day on the same dyno. This eliminated any temperature or humidity variables. We used the exact same dyno that we have used on all previous MXA dyno runs, and we had a factory mechanic supervise the testing.

WEIGHT. We weighed all seven bikes on the same calibrated balance-beam scale using the AMA/FIM method, which is with the gas tanks empty but all other fluids. Why don’t we weigh them by the “curb weight” method of full gas tanks? That rewards bikes with small-capacity gas tanks and punishes bikes with larger gas tanks. Gas weighs 6 pounds a gallon, so a 1.5-gallon gas tank will weigh 3 pounds less than a 2-gallon gas tank. Plus, we aren’t too lazy to remove the fuel tanks and drain the fuel out, which is the main reason most shootouts settle for the curb-weight  system.

STOCK IS BEST. We don’t modify test bikes during the test period. We leave the modifications up to the consumer. We will make mods for safety purposes, to replace broken parts or to test optional parts that come with the bike (i.e., optional vented airbox covers, quick-turn throttle cams or push-button maps). In the case of Wi-Fi mapping options, we run through them and make notes of their performance, but always return the test bike back to the stock ECU settings. The same is true of the suspension settings. Each and every test rider starts the test with the owner’s manual fork and shock settings and is free to make as many clicker changes as necessary. We will install stiffer fork and shock springs to match a rider’s weight or speed, but we do this on separate forks and shocks so that we have the stock suspension units available for comparison. We do break things and go through our fair share of chains, tires, sprockets, levers, plastic and bars, but we replace broken parts with the exact same OEM part as stock.

TIRES. We run the tire model and size that the bike left the showroom with for a large portion of the test period, and then we swap all seven bikes over to the exact same brand, model and size of tire. We do this to eliminate any differences in tire performance. For the “2024 MXA 450 Shootout,” we used Pirelli Scorpion Mid-Soft MX32 tires as our control tire in the final month of testing. 

ALL BRANDS. We didn’t finish our 2024 MXA 450 Shootout until we had all seven 2024 450 motocross models from GasGas, Honda, Husqvarna, KTM, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha. And, we took the time to make sure that each bike was ridden long enough, hard enough and by enough test riders to give every bike a fair shake. (In the case of the late-arriving Kawasaki KX450, we made sure to get more man-hours on it to catch up to the engine hours on the other six bikes.)

THE DIRT DYNO. Even though it is fun to fly to some far-away track to test a bike, it isn’t much of a test. MXA prefers to test bikes on the “dirt dyno.” What is the dirt dyno? It is the tracks that we have done a thousand laps on, the tracks where we have ridden every model of bike, the tracks we know like the backs of our hands, and the tracks where we can tell fast from slow with our eyes closed. That isn’t a track with a lovely ocean view on an island off the coast of Africa, one tucked under the foliage of a Swedish forest or a track close to the lobby of some guarded Japanese brand. As much as we might love to spend five days in Timbuktu riding next year’s bikes, we’d much rather spend five days riding this year’s bike at Pala, Cahuilla Creek, Perris or Glen Helen.

BIKE TESTS AREN’T FOR SALE. You may think that motocross shootouts are won by the advertiser that spends the most money in the magazine, but MXA couldn’t pay for the gasoline it uses testing bikes with the money the Big Seven spend buying ads. The MXA test riders don’t sell ads, don’t know what they cost, and don’t have a clue about the advertising schedules of Honda, Suzuki, KTM, Kawasaki, Husqvarna, GasGas or Yamaha. They just ride the bikes.

JUST BUY THE COLOR YOU LIKE. Has anyone ever told you that “all the bikes are the same, so just choose the color you like.” That’s hogwash! We can promise you that not one of the seven bikes in the 2024 MXA 450 Shootout is remotely similar to any other bike in the shootout—and that includes the three that roll down the same assembly line in Austria. Oh, we’ll give you that all seven bikes have handlebars, number plates, forks and wheels, but that’s where the similarities end. Suffice it to say that a 2024 Suzuki RM-Z450 isn’t from the same gene pool as the Yamaha YZ450F. Nor is a KTM 450SXF a blood brother of the Honda CRF450. The seven bikes are so different that it boggles the mind to think that anyone with a modicum of motocross experience couldn’t tell the difference between them. 

RESULTS. Our shootout results aren’t a blanket statement of what you should buy, just a suggestion. And, as you will see as you read further, our shootout bears little resemblance to the shootouts that you have already read. In reality, there is no best bike (and the worst bike could well be the best bike for you). The fastest bike might well be the worst or best bike depending on the track you ride. But, no matter what, buying a bike based on the color of the plastic is a chump reason to buy a brand. 

Of course we pick a winner, but MXA is happy with the bike you bought if you’re happy with it.


Of the seven bikes in the 2024 MXA 450 Shootout, five of them were unchanged from the bikes in the 2023 MXA 450 Shootout. Those five manufacturers chose to “run what they brung” in 2023 as their 2024 offerings. The only two totally renovated, revised and revamped 2024 machines are the GasGas MC450F and the Kawasaki KX450. Since the MXA wrecking crew had just spent a year living with, working on and racing the now-cloned 2024 450s (Husqvarna, Honda, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha), we didn’t have to spend a lot of time evaluating where these five bikes slotted into our 2024 shootout rankings. They had already earned a place in the 450 Shootout pecking order based on where they finished in last year’s 450 Shootout. The challenge facing us was to determine where the two new models—the MC450F and KX450—would slot into the seven-bike rankings. Would they displace the 2023 Shootout winner and push the Yamaha YZ450F down the list? Would they squeeze into second and third place and scramble last year’s hierarchy. Or, goodness gracious, would they linger in no-man’s land at the bottom of the leader board?

HOW THE 2024 450s RANK & WHY 

We are going to reveal our top seven 2024 450cc motocross bikes in reverse order. We will tell you why they could have won this year’s shootout and why they didn’t.


WHY SHOULD THE RM-Z450 WIN THIS SHOOTOUT?  For the average racer, the existing RM-Z450 power is in the perfect place to get the job done. The power profile follows a bell-shaped curve. It starts off clean on the bottom, builds quickly through the middle and falls off quickly at 9,000 rpm. There is no reason to rev the RM-Z450 engine, because it will just go slower after peak power is reached. The 2024 RM-Z450 is up 2 horsepower over last year’s RM-Z450, thanks to the free Pro Circuit T-6 exhaust system that comes stock on bikes bought before the turn of the year. An added bonus of the exhaust system is that it shaves 2 pounds off of the previously 241-pound RM-Z450, bringing it down to 239 pounds, which is the same weight as the 2024 Kawasaki KX450.

The RM-Z450 isn’t about speed, it’s about agility. The handling is focused on tight turns, short straights and Supercross-style jumps; however, it has some limitations, given that it gives up 4.44 horsepower to the 2024 horsepower champ, the 61.18-horsepower Husqvarna FC450. That deficit is noticeable on the track.

WHY SHOULD THE RM-Z450 LOSE THIS SHOOTOUT? You can’t win a shootout with a bike that hasn’t been changed since 2018, especially when it wasn’t winning 450 shootouts when it was brand new. Worse yet, the Suzuki frame is out of balance. The stinkbug layout transfers too much weight to the front wheel, which creates oversteer (in part due to the 2018 aluminum frame being too stiff, too tall and too steep). Unfortunately, the 2024 RM-Z450 can’t do its best work when saddled with mediocre forks and the less-than-stellar Showa BFRC rear shock. Did we mention that the 2024 RM-Z450 does not come with electric start. You have to kick it, which is only a major issue if you stall the engine mid-moto.


WHY SHOULD THE CRF450 WIN THIS SHOOTOUT? The 2023–2024 Honda CRF450 engine is a revelation. Honda willingly gave up peak horsepower to produce the most usable Honda powerband since the awesome 2008 CRF450. The broader and mellower power delivery calms down the overly twitchy CRF450 frame and maximizes Honda’s incredible prowess at turn-in. The MXA test riders believe that the 2024 CRF450 is the best CRF450 produced in years. They gave it a massive thumbs up for the all-new power profile, flawless ergonomics and solid running gear. Yes, the electronic gadgetry is a little mind-numbing, but their heart was in the right place. The engine and ergos were the best things about the 2024 CRF450. Those two areas make the 2024 CRF450 worth the price of admission.

WHY SHOULD THE CRF450 LOSE THIS SHOOTOUT? In spite of its awesome powerband, the CRF450 is a twitchy and unpredictable machine to ride at speed. It head-shakes on rough, fast straights and, even though it turns in great, it oversteers on corner entrance. Finding the proper fore/aft balance on the 2024 CRF450 is a full-time job, because any change to the front end affects the rear end negatively—and vice versa. Additionally, the Showa forks have the same problems they have always had. They do not have a consistently fluid damping profile. There is always a “gremlin in the works,” and that gremlin is a very abrupt harsh spot in the stroke. Of course, you can fix the problem areas yourself, but it would be a lot easier and cheaper if you didn’t have to spend after-purchase money doing Honda’s and Showa’s jobs for them.


WHY SHOULD THE MC450F WIN THIS SHOOTOUT? As one of only two 2024 models to get a complete makeover for 2024, the MC450F gets more scrutiny than usual. It comes with the exact same engine, frame, suspension (albeit valved softer), running gear, clutch internals, Pankl transmission and reputation as its high-priced brothers. Think of it as a sleeper, because hidden under the hood are all of the serious Austrian pluses. It may be touted as an entry-level Austrian bike, but it’s much more than that. Even though the GasGas MC450F doesn’t come with all the KTM/Husky bells and whistles, the 2024 MC450F pumps out 59.35 horsepower (second most in the class) and a class-leading 36.82 pound-feet of torque. 

WHY SHOULD THE MC450F LOSE THIS SHOOTOUT? To be blunt, KTM’s management sabotaged the 2024 GasGas MC450F and, in the process, saw it fall from third place in the 2023 MXA 450 Shootout to fifth place in the 2024 shootout. How did they undermine the 2024 GasGas MC450F’s standings in the 450 hierarchy? (1) Originally marketed as an affordable option compared to the Japanese brands, the bike now costs $10,399. (2) The GasGas went from being the lightest bike in the 450 class at 222 pounds to being  just another 229-pound bike. (3) They dropped the awesome Brembo components for average-at-best BrakTec hydraulics. (4) The only ECU map you can access, without spending money, is the mellow map. That means no aggressive map, Traction Control, Launch Control or Quick Shift. (5) The GasGas triple clamps are forged instead of CNC-machined like on the Husky and KTM.  

There is nothing affordable about a bike that is missing important parts, is outfitted with cut-rate components and is not delivered in its best possible configuration, yet has a $10,399 price tag. The MC450F didn’t lose the 2024 MXA 450 Shootout; KTM lost it as the bike rolled down the Mattighofen assembly line.


WHY SHOULD THE KX450 WIN THIS SHOOTOUT? Kawasaki’s all-new KX450 delivered major improvements at corner entrance. Now, the KX450 can turn in without hesitation; however, there are conditions where it can over-steer and, conversely, exhibit head-shake at speed. The new Brembo front brake system (lever, master cylinder, front caliper and brake pads) results in a massive improvement in stopping power.

The all-new, center-port engine gets smaller intake valves, a 5mm-longer connecting rod, a high-performance piston, tucked-in exhaust pipe and Bluetooth push-button mapping. Peak horsepower is 57.22, but can be increased to 58.27 horses by taking the rubber plug out of the airbox. The engine’s 34.55 pound-feet of torque is the least of the seven bikes in MXA’s 450 Shootout.  

WHY SHOULD THE KX450 LOSE THIS SHOOTOUT? The 2024 KX50 is a first-year model, and common motocross wisdom says you should never buy a first-year model. We think this is good advice for any potential buyer, regardless of the brand. Why should the KX450 lose this shootout? Here’s the list: (1) The KX450 went from 234 pounds to 239 pounds and is now the heaviest bike in the class (tied with the Pro Circuit exhaust-equipped Suzuki RM-Z450). (2) The air filter is little more than a foam Pop Tart held in a plastic tray. The airbox is so small that Kawasaki put a trap door in the bottom of the airbox (under the battery). The trap door is sealed with a rubber plug that can be removed to get more air in to improve throttle response. (3) The suspension is too soft for Intermediate-and-up racers, but in the ballpark for Vets and Novices. (4) At no point on the rpm curve does the 2024 KX450 make the most horsepower, but it does make the least horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 8,000 rpm (and the least torque of any 450). (5) The 2024 KX450 feels slow on the track. (6) The engine refuses to rev to its max potential in fifth gear, because the electronics revert back to the fourth gear map automatically. (7) The MSRP is $10,399. That is a $900 increase over the 2023 KX450.


WHY SHOULD THE FC450 WIN THIS SHOOTOUT? Husqvarna appears to be the only brand to recognize that motocross bikes are too tall and getting taller every year. For 2024, Husqvarna stopped the insanity by lowering the seat height by almost 1 inch. The reward was a true-to-life lower center of gravity that resulted in incredible handling. The power delivery on the 2024 FC450 is a “no drama mama.” Husqvarna’s engineers were able to build an incredibly usable powerband that was so well modulated that the MXA test riders never noticed that it was making the most horsepower of any bike in the class—from 9,000 rpm all the way through sign off. How much power? It makes 61.18 horses, which is 2 horsepower better than either of the two bikes (GasGas and KTM) to crack 59 horsepower. When you combine the amazing clutch, Brembo brakes, Pankl transmission, ProTaper handlebars, optional throttle cams, no-tools airbox, braided-steel hoses and a seat height that lets you touch the ground, you have an unbeatable combination.

WHY SHOULD THE FC450 LOSE THIS SHOOTOUT? One complaint from the peanut gallery is that the lowered Husqvarna FC450 feels more cramped in the rider triangle (bars/seat/footpegs) than the other bikes. This idea is contrary to both good sense and physics. Nothing on the Husqvarna frame has been changed. The relationship between the handlebars, footpegs and seat remains the same. The FC450 is lower to the ground, but the chassis dimensions are unchanged. 

For Vets and older riders, the 2024 Husqvarna is a godsend in the handling department, but first you have to get through the requisite 10-hour frame break-in period. You read that right. The chassis is way too rigid, but thankfully it gets better with time as everything settles into its natural state. Apart from the run-of-the-mill gripes about tightening the spokes, the 2024 Husqvarna FC450 has little to be ashamed of and a lot to crow about—not the least of which is that our feet could touch the ground.


WHY SHOULD THE 450SXF WIN THIS SHOOTOUT? The 2024 KTM 450SXF is the standard by which the other six bikes measure themselves. It is the most technologically advanced motocross bike ever made. Need proof? KTM pioneered the modern trend of broad, linear powerbands. It has the strongest brakes, a robust hydraulic clutch (with a CNC-machined steel basket) and the best shifting. After it is broken in, KTM’s chromoly steel frame delivers a forgiving and agile feel compared to the “Big Four’s” rigid aluminum frames. The air filter requires no tools. It has an optional quick-turn throttle cam, braided-steel clutch/brake hoses, an included vented airbox cover and quick-release fuel lines. It was a contender for the 2024 Bike of the Year, right down to the final tally.

WHY SHOULD THE 450SXF LOSE THIS SHOOTOUT? The WP XACT air forks are controversial. Some riders like their adjustability and 3-pound weight savings, while others prefer 3-pound-heavier coil-spring forks for their plusher feel. The most common complaint is that the new frame is too rigid. The added rigidity was a nod to Pro riders, but exacerbated life for the first 10 hours of break-in time for Vets and Novices. The KTM didn’t have the most horsepower in any of the nine categories, but that is because its Austrian stablemates—GasGas and Husqvarna—won eight of them (Honda won the 6000-rpm category). It is a sad fact that motocross bikes keep getting taller, and that is especially true of the 2024 KTM 450SXF. It is skyscraper tall. If you don’t have long legs, your boots aren’t going to touch the ground; think Husqvarna.


WHY SHOULD THE YZ450F WIN THIS SHOOTOUT? The 2023–2024 Yamaha YZ450Fs are the best YZ450Fs to come down the pike in the last 14 years. The 2023–2024 YZ450Fs are slimmer, sleeker, lighter and quieter than any of the previous bulky, wide, tall, loud and heavy YZ450Fs that preceded them. Best of all, the new YZ450Fs are much improved at corner entrance and when leaned over; however, they are not the most powerful bikes on the track (ranking fourth out of seven on peak horsepower). Still, the YZ450F does an impressive job of putting the power it makes into the ground from low to mid.

We loved the throttle-to-rear-wheel connectivity. It is amazing. The engine’s power curve is surprisingly linear. It puts every ounce of energy into the rear wheel. And, of course, the Kayaba SSS suspension is class-leading.

WHY SHOULD THE YZ450F LOSE THIS SHOOTOUT? The charm of the YZ450F’s amazing connectivity between the throttle and the rear wheel results in a sudden burst of uncontrolled power when rolling the throttle on. It delivers lots of unintentional wheelies, and with its peak power located high in the powerband, it can get scary fast. We tested four different maps, going mellower on each one, finally settling on the mellowest map.

The YZ450F is twitchy at speed and suffers from head-shake in the rough. Its seat is uncomfortable, and it has a nervous chassis, always hunting and pecking for optimum traction. Every MXA test rider claimed that the new KTM-clone clutch needed constant cable adjustment as it got hot; it needs a stiffer Bellevile washer spring. Yet, every MXA test rider chose it as the winner of the 2024 MXA 450 Shootout. 

Blue boxes are the best in that category, light blue boxes are the worst.

MXA listed the seven test bikes in vertical columns across the width of the chart. The horizontal boxes are broken up by rpm. You might notice that the RM-Z450 and KX450 made zero power at 12,000 rpm, that is because the RM-Z doesn’t rev to 12 grand and the KX450’s ECU doesn’t have a unique map for 12,000 rpm. Additionally, we color-coded the boxes to illustrate the bikes with the most horsepower at each rpm, plus peak horsepower and torque numbers. The blue boxes represent the most horsepower in each column, while light blue boxes indicate the least horsepower by rpm.

These are the actual weights of the current crop of 2024 450cc motocross bikes (lightest to heaviest). They have been weighed on the same calibrated balance-beam scale under the official AMA and FIM system of empty gas tanks but all other fluids. The current minimum weight limit for a 450cc motocross bike is 220 pounds.

These are the Manufacturers’ Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) for all seven 2024 450s (least expensive to most expensive). These are the recommended prices that a dealer should put on the bikes on the showroom floor. Of course, the dealer is free to lower the price if he is overstocked and, by the same token, a dealer can raise the price if the bikes on his showroom floor are in limited supply. Thus, the MSRP is little more than a suggestion. 


Peak horsepower is the single-most talked-about number and, paradoxically, one of the least important numbers to pay attention to; however, if you look at peak horsepower and where on the rpm curve it is reached, it does give you a clue as to where the apex of a bike’s powerband lies.


Torque denotes the rotational force produced by an engine, which ultimately powers the vehicle’s motion. Torque is commonly measured in pound-feet (lb.-ft.). There is a point of peak torque beyond which torque declines, even as the rpm continue to increase. Horsepower is calculated by torque multiplied by rpm, divided by a constant (5,252)

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