The RMX450Z enduro is back for 2017, rejoining Suzuki‘s lineup for the first time since 2010. The frame, suspension and bodywork are nearly identical to the RM-Z450 motocrosser but Suzuki added electric start, full-function instrumentation, an 18-inch rear wheel and lighting to adapt it for trail riding.
After a complete redesign in 2016, the big KX impressed us with its new, slim chassis, strong mid-range power and much-improved handling, but we felt that there were other issues that kept it from living up to its potential. Kawasaki has addressed those very concerns for 2017, and these refinements pay off in big way, edging the KX closer to the top of the 450cc motocross class.
If you read my piece about getting Behind the Scenes at KTM, you might recall how the Austrian manufacturer has really exploded in recent years. So much so that it’s goal is to capture the on-road market like it has the off-road scene. Well, by 2001, KTM was well established in the off-road world, and Mark Kariya’s piece about the 2001 KTM Roll Out highlights everything from the 125SX at the bottom of the range, up to the 520 SX at the top. As impressive as KTM’s lineup was, it would be another 14 years until Team Orange would capture it’s most elusive prize, the 2015 AMA Supercross championship – the crowning jewel on the company trophy shelf.
It’s fair to say KTM has been on a meteoric rise since Stefan Pierer saved the company from bankruptcy in the early 1990s. Since then, the brand made its name in off-road racing, winning nearly everything under the sun, including 15 consecutive Dakar rallies, and the 2015 AMA Supercross championship with Ryan Dungey.
You would think that a company willing to go to the lengths that Suzuki did to improve its RM-Z250 would at least make some effort to alter its looks and make it visually obvious that the 2016 version is a much different motorcycle than the 2015. After all, Suzuki made more than 80 changes to the new RM-Z’s engine alone.
Whereas the engine discussion in the 450cc motocross class typically revolves around how to manage the mega dose of power that the big thumpers produce, the dialogue in the 250cc class has more to do with how to strain every last pony out of each manufacturer’s engine design. With the high level of chassis refinement exhibited by practically all of the current 250s, any machine that comes up short in the motor department is going to be handicapped in comparison with its rivals.
Listen, if you think it’s easy to arrange borrowing nine Sports-Adventure-Touring motorcycles from seven manufacturers and clearing a week in nine guys’ schedules, you should apply for work as some kind of General at the Pentagon or someplace. We’re keeping our jobs. We’re not complaining, but it’s not all a bed of roses. Ducati made us wait a long time to get our hands on its new 2015 Multistrada S, and our only slight disappointment is that Yamaha couldn’t come through with a Super Ténéré. It’s doubtful the Yamaha would’ve won in this company, but we could’ve come up with some great headlines if we’d had a nice even 10 bikes.
Next week your intrepid MO crew is embarking on an epic Adventure-Touring ride with nine – yes, nine – of the biggest and baddest A-T bikes in the segment. Over the next six days the nine bikes and riders will cover 2000 miles over various terrain. Each bike will be put to the test in what will be one of MO’s largest-ever comparison tests. We won’t give away all the bikes taking part in the test just yet, but you can likely guess some of the obvious choices. One of them being the BMW R1200GS. So for this Church feature, we look back at the 2006 BMW R1200GS Adventure. Lending his words is former MOron, Pete Brissette, who will be joining the MO crew as a special guest tester for next week’s epic ride. Lastly, be sure to check out the photo gallery for even more pics of the 2006 GS Adventure. Take it away, Pete…
Yamaha’s reverse incline-motored YZ450F is kind of like the legendary rock band Kiss. Just like it took hard rock’s masked marauders five years and four albums to become overnight sensations, the YZ450F finally came Alive! in 2015 by hitting upon the right combination of engine performance, chassis rigidity and suspension compliance to make it a winner.
Last year, Honda made excellent strides with its flagship CRF450R by tailoring its power curve to deliver more midrange boost, and Honda appeared to accomplish that mission quite handily. Even so, the 2016 CRF450R is capable of even faster lap times with the same exact engine specifications as the 2015 model.