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i'm looking into getting a bike, and my price range is going to be around $2500. I've always heard better things about the hondas and yamahas so i think thats where i want to go. the bikes i've found are 2002-2006 bikes in my price range. What do you guys think about the difference between the aluminum frame vs. steel on the yamahas? and what are the best years of these bikes to get? i've seen some ktm's and suzukis but i have no experience with them and so i'm wary of those two brands, maybe someone could enlighten me though. btw i'm 19 6'1" and 155 lbs

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Riders like both bikes - steel and aluminum; often for different reason (including looks), and often because of some feature that they feel makes the bike easier to ride. That doesn't mean that the aluminum frame is better than a steel frame. In some cases (like abrasion resistance and not stripping threads when you forget to use a torque wrench), a steel frame is far superior to an aluminum one. However, the newer bikes generally have "improvements" to handling, but not necessarily power. The '06 Yammy was a very good year, and I'd take that bike over pretty much anything else that you listed, with the '03 being a close second.

The other bikes that you mentioned are fine machines as well, and just as competitive. KTMs tend to be a bit more expensive, and some dealers don't have good access to repair parts, so keep that in mind. Suzuki's are about as common as Hondas and Yamahas, so unless you don't have a local dealer, I wouldn't worry about getting a yellow bike over getting a blue bike.

Also, there are a lot of red bikes out there for a reason. Some years, they simply dominated and it took Yamaha a while to catch-up to Honda performance. Keep in mind that Hondas have/had a rep for eating Ti valves, and Yamaha had a recall for '06 valves (that you'd be eligible for for free if it hasn't been done on the bike yet). The '06 Yamaha valve recall is something to ask about because you'd want to know if it was done (look for a punch mark on the VIN that indicates it was done), or you should plan on having it done immediately after buying the bike if it hasn't been done yet.

Fwiw, I'd recommend anyone new to the "race" 4-strokes to consider a 250F instead of a 450F. The 450F has a surprising amount of power and besides making a rider "lazy" can really put a hurtin' on fast if a rider goes beyond their abilities.

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ok thanks, what do you think about the difference between the 4 speed and the 5 speed trannys? i will ride mostly trails and the dunes, but i will hit the track some too

I think the 5 speed would be best for most types of riding especially mx. If you were just riding dunes then the 4 speed would be fine, but for most types of riding the 5 speed would be best IMO.

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