Recent bikes as reference1) 09 KX4502) 11 350 SXF3) 12 RMZ250 Rider6' 165lb, 40 yrs, VET Intermediate Bike Setup100% Stock (including suspension settings) Ergos(+) bar, footpeg, seat triangle is perfect. Slightly better than my all time favorite, RMZ250 (KTM sits too high for me, CRF bar bend is better than all of them)(+) Grips: very good - comfy, good feel, good length (1st stock grips I will keep on a bike in >10 yrs)(+) Controls all in the right place - no mis shifts (had to increase shifter length on RMZ)(+) Throttle control effort is correct (KTM 350 was too easy)(+) seat foam is best: firm for feedback, yet comfy, stays the same the whole day (KTM too soft)(-) caught leg on shroud tip 2 times during aggressive cornering (the bike lays over so far so easy which is good). Simply need to adjust style. Starting(+) effort and lever position are good for a 450 (similar to best - KX450)(-) Cold: 5-10 kicks. However, my RMZ250 did the same thing until ~5 hrs. Then, 1-3.(+) Hot: 1-2 kicks(+) no hot start procedure to deal with (RMZ) Idle(+) stable with high resistance to flame out during throttle cracking even cold. Low Speed driveability(+) Light throttle control is good in the pits (1st gear). (09CRF450 was unacceptable)(+/-) Hard to stall while putting. However, stalled in 2 corners (high engine RPM to hard braking). Expect to get better with B/I - approaching 350 SXF (excellent). Stability/Handling/Cornering(+) Cornering is better than RMZ250. Turn initiation is effortless like the Suz but the breaking bump approach is much more stable allowing to get into the line better.(+) Bike holds a line precisely and moves around the track easily like the RMZ250 (KTMs in general feel vague).(+) Feels light and flickable. I feel more confident moving the bike sideways in the air than even RMZ250 and much more than KTM.(+) Very small and compact(-) High speed is a bit sketchy when hitting certain kinds of holes or pockets in soft soil - the bars move way to much. Need to tune steering damper. KX is king in this area (but turning is the worse of any bike) Suspension(+) Best I have experienced: plush (like KTM), stays up during hard braking (like RMZ), great bottoming resistance (like RMZ). Very confidence inspiring. This feels like I would expect a factory setup to be. Comfort(+) Rode 1.9 hrs and did not feel beat up at all. RMZ was much more harsh. KTM was comfy but vague and lacked confidence on jumping big.(+) Left arm is no longer sore like RMZ250 (less clutching, no need to ride with a finger on the lever)(-) Right arm is more sore than RMZ250 (throttle control is more sensitive) Motor(+) Solid low-end into a good mid. Very smooth hard pulling with no arm-tiring hit (KX more exciting but tiring and scary). Could ride the entire track in 3rd w/ little clutch. Will not be changing final drive.(+) Sound quality and quantity are great (KX is the worse).(-) Top-end is a little flat for me. I like to rev the bike v. shifting. But, due to the transmission/clutch this is not an issue and will simply adjust technique (and save valves).(+/-) Engine braking is good to slow down because the brakes are average. However, too much can cause bike to unsettle if done quickly. This should improve with break-in (RMZ and KTM 350 were much better but not big bores) Transmission/Clutch(+) Best I have experienced: solid shifting yet smooth (RMZ was too easy and wondered if it was in gear or going to hold the gear) (KTM was good but slightly notchy in comparison)(+) Can find neutral during stop (RMZ was difficult)(+) Clutch is fantastic: lever effort is perfect (like RMZ250) and great feel (did not like KTM hydraulic on big bore). I see no reason for a Rekluse on this bike. Brakes(+) feel is good (KTM is a little better)(+/-) initial bite is good but want more power. Perhaps they need to break-in (KTM is better). An oversized-rotor kit would be nice. Fit/finish/looks(+) Wire management is the best in the business (KTM is the worst... even 2014 is a joke)(+) hardware, platings, castings, plastics all top quality(+) long term durability seems best(+) very modern without looking strange (Yamaha) Maintenance(+) Very intuitive(+) Air box access is best (RMZ too small and hard to confirm seal, KTM is difficult to seat and don't like pull off cover as it seams cheap)(+) don't have to deal with battery (although I appreciate e-start). OverallBest suspended cornering bike I've ridden. The fact that it is a controllable 450 adds excitement without feeling bulky and overwhelming.The bike gives the rider the ability to push harder each lap without getting into too much trouble. It was easy/safe/comfortable to ride faster than any other bike I have tried.If I was really fast I would change a couple of things (mostly engine and straight line stability). Great platform to start with.Honda did an excellent job with this bike and will struggle to improve in the next couple of years. I'll post a follow up after more riding and some pics.