Average joe rank all the new 450's


We invited our friend, Joe Oehlhof, out for a day of testing at Competitive Edge MX Park to get his feedback on the 2007 450s.

Photo by Brendan Lutes

Seeing as it was the bike he raced in the Outdoor Nationals this year, Joes knows the Suzuki RM-Z450 well.

Photo by Brendan Lutes

Joe felt the Kawasaki KX450F was a good all-around bike.

Photo by Brendan Lutes

Joe said the 2007 YZ450F turned great, and he was surprised by how good the stock suspension was.

Photo by Brendan Lutes

"This bike easily had the strongest motor of all the bikes," said Oehlhof about the 2007 CRF450R.

Photo by Brendan Lutes

A strong motor, stable and predictable chasis, and improved suspension are key highlights Joe pointed out on the 2007 KTM450SX-F.

Photo by Brendan Lutes

Joe said all five of the bikes tested are a good choice for any consumer.

Joe Oehlhof's 450 Shootout

Posted: 10.10.2006

By Joe Oehlhof, Intro by Brendan Lutes

Joe Oehlhof is one of the privateer heroes of motocross and Supercross, but unfortunately for privateers, life can be tough, and finding a ride after a season wraps up is never an easy task. With the '06 season slowly beginning to fade away "Average Joe" called us up to find out our opinions about the new crop of '07 450cc four-strokes. As it turned out, though, he was in luck, because we had our annual TransWorld Motocross 450cc Shootout scheduled the next day. So, it pretty much goes without saying that we invited our friend out for a day of testing at Competitive Edge MX Park to get his feedback, but more importantly, so he could figure out what he might be riding next year. What follows are Joe's thought's about the newest additions to the four-stroke market. Look for a full shootout, along with dyno charts, lap times, and more in an up-coming issue of TWMX. Enjoy…


For me, the Suzuki is the bike that I am probably most familiar with since I raced it in the Nationals this year. So, needless to say, I was pretty excited to get the chance to see just what has been improved from the '06 model.

The motor on this bike has always been pretty good, but this year they added a few things, most notably a new header pipe, to make the Suzuki's motor a little more powerful down low. Overall, the power is smooth and linear, with the mid range being relatively strong, but it still seems to flatten out on top. I could use a little more power throughout, but it’s definitely a motor that is easy to ride and won’t wear you out.

As far as handling goes, the Suzuki was one of the best at making tight turns, but at high speeds, it wasn't that stable, as I had a hard time feeling comfortable in fast sweeping corners. On jumps, the bike felt good, it was light and flickable and I felt comfortable instantly. If I had to pick one thing that I disliked about the RM-Z, though, it would probably be that in some instances, the bike felt like it had a hinge in the middle of it. I couldn’t get the rear to follow the front; it just felt as if it wanted to step out or push the front end. While I could tell how the bike handled, the suspension was kind of difficult to test, as the track really wasn’t that rough. The suspension seemed to absorb big landings, and didn’t do anything funny on take-offs. I would have preferred stiffer springs in the forks, though, as it seemed to dive a little and ride low in the stroke when braking hard for corners.

The controls were good, and even though it's a 450, the clutch action was effortless. Front and rear brakes were also strong and progressive. The RM-Z had good quality handlebars, but for me, the bend was not to my liking. As for the bodywork, the new radiator shrouds gave me a better feel when gripping with my knees—they aren’t as flimsy as last year, and the side panels and airbox fit seamlessly together with no hang-ups.


The power of the KXF was strong and smooth, but it seemed a little flat and I could have used a little more punch. I really think that the five-speed gearbox was definitely an improvement. And even though, I didn’t get into fifth much, I thought that having the option was a nice touch. The bike also had a nice strong low-end hit, but I just would have preferred more mid-to-top pull.

Overall, the handling of the KXF was above average and very predictable, but it could have used a little help in a few key areas. For me, it seemed as though the front-end wanted to hunt around and it wouldn’t stick where I wanted. Basically, it just felt like the rear end was bulky and the front end was light. Jumping the bike was never a problem though, as it was stable in the air and never did anything funny. As far as the suspension went, it definitely looked cool with the DLC coating on the fork, and thankfully, it worked just as good as it looked. Going into corners, both the fork and shock were nice and plush, and over nearly everything on the track, they both felt really well balanced.

When I first sat on the bike I was instantly comfortable. I really liked the bend of the bars, and all of the controls were super-comfortable. This combined with the excellent suspension action and handling made for one fun bike to ride.


Just like the other 450s, the motor on the YZF is really good. Overall, it had nice even power throughout, but was a little flat on top. Many times, the bike didn’t feel—or sound—like I was going as fast as I was actually going, since for some reason, the muffler quieted things down quite a bit.

Last year, I remember hearing complaints about how the YZF didn’t turn that great, but this year, I felt like the chassis was excellent. It turned easily in tight corners, and was stable in the fast sweeping ones. It went exactly where I wanted it to go without any effort. And when jumping, it definitely was light in the air. As for the suspension, it was surprisingly really good for stock stuff. It seemed well balanced, plush on landings, and would soak up little chatter effortlessly.

I seemed to fit this bike really well. The seat-to-footpeg height was really comfortable, and the bend of the Pro-Tapers was very comfortable for me also. The clutch action was really easy. And the bike had good strong brakes, but not too touchy. I really felt in control while pounding out laps on this bike. The only problem I had was that I kept catching my boots on the edge of the radiator shrouds in corners.

In the end, the YZF instilled enough confidence in me that I could probably ride it in both Supercross and motocross.


Since the CRF has been the winner of countless shootouts over the years, I couldn’t wait to get to spin some laps aboard the newest evolution of this great motorcycle. As it turned out, I wasn’t disappointed.

For me, this bike easily had the strongest motor of all the bikes. The changes they made—smaller valves and bigger carburetor—had me a little worried that it would be too mellow, but I quickly discovered that that definitely wasn’t the case. The bikes rips off the bottom, has good mid-range pull, and good top end, but it seemed as though it signed off a hair too early.

Like always, the chassis was one of the best of the group, as it had a good solid feel to it, and turned exceptionally well. On jumps, the CRF was confidence inspiring and had very predictable characteristics over any type of terrain on the track. The suspension on this bike worked really well with the chassis, and was really well balanced. If I had to find one thing to complain about, though, it would be that at times the fork and shock felt a little nervous coming into corners.

I really liked the ergos of this bike. The bar bend was really comfortable, the controls worked flawlessly, and it didn’t feel big or bulky when I sat on it. Overall, like always, this bike is definitely a tough one to beat.


Of all the bikes, I was most surprised with the KTM. I did ride a KTM for a few years back in the late '90s, but they have never really matched up to the Japanese bikes. This year, though, they have really come a long way.

The motor on the KTM was much improved over previous years, and for me, was a close second to the Honda motor. The mid-range power and top-end pull was phenomenal. It could maybe use a hair more low end, but I think that can easily be fixed with a little work.

The new chassis was very stable and predictable, which allowed it to rail berms easily, and dive into tight turns effortlessly. As far as high-speed stability goes, I might be going out on a limb in saying this, but it is probably the best out of the five in this department. The tall feeling of last year's chassis is gone and replaced with a more compact chassis that you sit on top of more like a Honda. Matched up to the chassis is some improved suspension, which helps to compliment the overall setup quite nicely. I did have one complaint about it though. When entering turns, the bike was a little harsh over small braking bumps, but it still stayed glued to the ground when exiting corners. Also, the fork was a little soft at times, but overall, both of these complaints could probably be fixed with a little fine-tuning.

At first look, this bike might take a little getting used to, but for me I really liked the new bodywork. The ergos on the bike were also really good, as the hydraulic clutch, and quality Brembo brakes made it begin to rival the Honda. The bike also comes standard with a quality bar, but I would rather run a different bend.


All five of these bikes are a good choice for any consumer. You are definitely getting a quality product no matter which one you pick. All of them are race ready right off the showroom floor, and all five of the manufacturers should be applauded for the work they have done. When I was told I had to rate the bikes, I was bummed, because the difference between first and fifth is actually a very small gap. The lineup could be different for everybody depending on what you like and dislike, but either way, here's how I ranked the bikes…

Fifth Place: Suzuki: I am probably most critical of this bike, because after spending a whole season on one, I now know what I like and dislike. I chose it fifth, because I feel the motor would take the most work out of the five to make it competitive at the pro-level, and some of the handling issues I had on my '06 were still around on the '07. Ricky makes it work somehow, though, so who knows!

Fourth Place: Kawasaki: Fourth place doesn’t do this bike justice, because it is a very good all-around bike. It just didn’t do anything really great to make it stand out, but it also definitely didn’t do anything bad. I just didn’t feel like I fit this bike; I kind of felt like it was too big for me. And I felt like I had to move around a lot to get comfortable in corners. In reality, though, this bike is definitely knocking on the doors of the top three.

Third Place: Honda: I had a really hard time rating these top three. I switched the order a hundred times in my head, and all three were at the top of the list at one time or another. What kept the Honda in third was the harsh—or nervous—feeling I got when entering corners. If I could have solved that, it would have won. Luckily, the motor is so good on it, though, that you could stand to enter corners a little slower and have the power to make that time back up when exiting.

Second Place: KTM: KTM definitely did their homework. They basically started from the ground up, and the changes they made were the right ones. I think the biggest hurdle for KTM is to erase everyone’s thoughts on how KTMs used to be, because this model is nothing like the old ones. What kept it from winning was that I didn’t feel 100 percent comfortable. That feeling might have changed, however, by changing something as small as the bars.

First Place: Yamaha: I had a hard time putting the Yamaha first over the KTM and Honda, simply because those motors were a little bit stronger. With how well the Yamaha did everything else—from handling, cornering, braking, jumping, and the way the suspension worked—I felt comfortable right away. Because of that, I had no choice but to put it in the top spot. I felt like I had been riding it all year.



2. KTM




Great review! And the pros choose Yamaha!. I was quite surprised the KXF wasn't higher up, i think that is because Joe is kind of a short guy as far as i can remember. Oh and the KTM is doing excellent! All i have to say is i don't know which one i would choose, for some reason the only one i know i wouldn't choose is the Suzuki.

Nice review.

Something owners of the 06 YZ450F have known for quite a while now. The supposed turning issues of the 06 had more to do with setting the bike up correctly for yourself and riding conditions than any manufacturing defect.

that average joe beat pastrana heads up the other night :devil:

btw: you should link to the story rather than raping all their work like that

Just imagine what the 07 Yami would be with DLC coated forks....maybe next year!

Just imagine what the 07 Yami would be with DLC coated forks....maybe next year!

you can get that done for about 200 bucks or so

you can get that done for about 200 bucks or so

Cheapest I found was 600....Who will do it for 200????

Now that i think about it, maybe it was 200/fork hmm i cant remember...i had my bike at pro-action, before it was moved to KTM dealership here in austin a while back.

Now that i think about it, maybe it was 200/fork hmm i cant remember...i had my bike at pro-action, before it was moved to KTM dealership here in austin a while back.

Nice back pedal!! I would do mine right now for $200/per. The cheapest I can find is $350/each. Where is it $600 (pair)?

Nice back pedal!! I would do mine right now for $200/per. The cheapest I can find is $350/each. Where is it $600 (pair)?

600 from factory connection

WFO, i could take the time to make a call and tell you but i'm already "backpeddling" right? why should I bother making it worse... good luck with your forks.

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