450 SOHC and DOHC Shootout. And the winner is...
And so inevitably it had to come, the final decision on who makes the best 450 of 2011? So step forward the KTM 450EXC and the Husqvarna TE449 as winners of their respective shootouts. We got them together once again to go head-to head…
I’m not going to draw out the result as we’ve already written extensively about both bikes. Suffice it to say that the clear advantages the Husky enjoys over the Japanese machinery, it can’t quite claim over the KTM. For instance both Euro bikes are well put together, both are extremely well specified (though the Husky is slightly better in this regard than the KTM, offering a choice of pipe, nicer switchgear, electric fan, EFi, key locking etc), and both are fully trail legal.
True the Husky is more interestingly styled, and has quite an innovative motor, and we like its sensible features like the positioning of the raised air-filter, the flat seat and the security of key ignition. But when all’s said and done the KTM is the better off-roader. And that’s the point, isn’t it?
And although the Husky makes the better road bike of the two (truth be told most trail riders spend far more time on the road than they do on the lanes), that’s not really the deciding factor. If I were to expand a little more then I’d say that if you’re coming into the sport from roadbikes where the machinery is much more sophisticated, much smoother, and far better equipped, then you’ll likely feel much more at home on the Husqvarna. It offers an excellent transition between road and dirt without the compromises normally associated with a heavy road-biased trailie. It’s also a competitive enduro bike.
But if it’s a pure dirt bike you’re after then the KTM has to be the pick of the 450s. Look at it this way, it’s the most powerful of the seven we tested, yet has arguably the easiest-to-use power delivery of all the machines. Its chassis is beautifully suspended - supple and plush for slow speed riding, yet firm enough to take the hits when speeds increase. It’s fully equipped for both street and competition use, and KTM’s quality, performance, competitiveness and residual values are well proven in the marketplace.
And most importantly of all, as this SuperTest has proven, It has the drive and rideability of a single-cam engine, with the performance to better even the best twin-cammer. Ladies and gentlemen I give you the worthy winner of TBM’s 2011 SuperTest450s… the KTM 450EXC!
Thanks to the following, without whom this test wouldn’t have happened:
• Boss Hog at Enduroland for the use of the track. Enduroland run enduro practice days at a number venues throughout the country - from Fife to Somerset! Along with these regular ‘trackdays’ they also offer days for ‘kids and dads’ plus novice riders. You’ll find full information on enduroland.co.uk and you can get the lowdown on forthcoming events by calling their info hotline on 07564 255718. www.enduroland.co.uk
• Nick and Larry at PDQ (01753 730043) www.pdq1.com for the dyno time.
• Craig at Azcari for the loan of his box-fresh TE449. The Azcari Adventure Centre is an all-new dealership opening in Dorking, Surry, on 9 April and along with Husqvarna bikes they’ll also be stocking products from Kriega, Klim, Touratech, Satmap, Venhill and more! Visit www.azcari.com or call 01306 646424 to see their
• Luke at Suzuki www.suzuki.co.uk
• Dave at Husqvarna www.huskymoto.co.uk
• Martin and Ross at Kawasaki www.kawasaki.co.uk
• Simon and Karl at Yamaha www.yamaha-motor.eu
• Geraint, Dylan and all at the Yamaha Off-Road Experience www.yamaha-offroad-experience.co.uk
• Rich and Ross at KTM www.ktm.com