USED 450 SHOOTOUT

 
(1/29/2009)

 

      No form of racing is as affordable as motocross. Do you think that a $7000 bike and a $50 entry fee is steep? Take a look at drag racing, road racing or any kind of auto racing. Those guys think in hundreds of thousands. Motocross and off-road racing is motorized competition for the common man.
      But that doesn’t mean it feels good to write a big check. The current credit crunch has hit motorcycles dealers just as hard as the automotive and housing worlds, meaning that unless you have a wad of cash, you’re looking at the used bike market.
      The good news is that 450 motocross bikes haven’t changed much in the last three years. Yamaha released the first YZ400F in 1998, KTM put out the RFS motor in 2000, Honda joined the party in 2002, Suzuki in 2005 and Kawasaki in 2006. That means there are plenty to choose from on the used market. We checked with a few dealers to find which were the hottest used bikes, which more or less correlates with the hottest new bikes. But the real expanse on the used market is repair costs. It’s no secret that fixing a modern four-stroke is way, way more expensive than repairing a two-stroke. If you looked at it strictly by the numbers, no one would ever buy a 450 thumper. But we’re all racers at heart and it’s hard to give away a competitive edge. With that in mind, we compared cost of ownership, starting with parts prices. Rather than use MSRPs we checked the prices at several dealerships, including Yamaha of Troy, Del Amo Motorsports and KTM Cycle Hutt. So here are our picks for the best used 450s on the market.


FIRST PLACE: 2005 - 2008 HONDA CRF450R
      Never mind the fact that Honda won all the Dirt Bike 450 shootouts in this era. The biggest factor making it the best used-bike bike is the cost of ownership. Take a look at the  parts prices. The head, for example, is the least-expensive on the list. At $300, you can practically buy a whole head for the cost of repairing the seats and installing new guides on a damaged one. Then consider the fact that the bike has only one cam. That‘s one less cam to replace in the event of a catastrophic engine failure.
      Another big factor is the separation of the gearbox and engine oil. That means if there’s a piston or valve failure, debris can’t be carried throughout the entire motor. So a late Honda is a hands-down winner both in performance and cost.

SECOND PLACE: 2005 - 2008 SUZUKI RM-Z450
      With the Suzuki, it’s all about initial layout. On the used bike market, the RM-Z is a few hundred dollars cheaper than a Honda, and reliability is good. The 2008 EFI model, in particular, is still available as a new bike at many dealers and it’s being discounted heavily. Forget about all those initial reports about case breakage. Suzuki will replace the cases on any 2008 model. Performance-wise, the 2008 Suzuki is very good. So are the 2005, 2006 and 2007 models. All of them are great handlers, especially in the cornering and suspension departments.

THIRD PLACE: 2006 KTM 450SX
      The last of the RFS single-overhead cam KTM motors was awesome. In fact, we didn’t really understand why the motor was replaced at the time; it seemed like the powerplant had been refined to perfection. Reliability was excellent and maintenance was easy thanks to the single overhead cam and old-fashion rocker arms.
      On the used-bike market, the SX commands a lower price because of its four-speed gearbox. Another drawback is the price of parts, but the KTM motor lasts a very long time without much attention.

FOURTH PLACE: 2006 - 2008 KAWASAKI KX450F
      The Kawasaki 450 is a great bike but the motor has two weak points. The clutch will slip very quickly if abused and the piston has a short lifespan. Both problems can be addressed to prevent DNFs. Stiffer clutch springs and regular oil changes are a must. If you replace the piston every 15 hours you will never have a major problem. You can certainly go much, much farther if you don’t scream it.

FIFTH PLACE: 2006 - 2008 YAMAHA YZ450F
      Yamaha has been playing the high-performance four-stroke game the longest, so there are more used Yamahas on the market than anything else. There are two problems with older Yamahas. First, they have more parts than most other bikes. Aside from a double overhead cam (compared to the single sticks from Honda and KTM), the five-valve motor has an extra valve to worry about. The second problem is that those parts cost more. That makes a Yamaha motor very expensive to rebuild, and frankly the performance was so-so in these years.

SIXTH PLACE: 2007 - 2008 KTM 450SX
      This bike is a big question mark because there aren’t many on the market. That usually works to drive the price down,  so there might be a few bargains to be had. The motor is very fast if the carburetion is right. But pray you don’t need to purchase a new crankshaft.

SEVENTH PLACE: 2002 - 2004 HONDA CRF450R
      The first year Honda 450 (in 2002) had mild handling issues that were easily fixed--usually a stiffer shock spring was all it needed. Performance and reliability was otherwise outstanding. Keep in mind, however, with a four-stroke this old the model  year becomes less important than the hours since the last overhaul. Ask for maintenance records and remember to keep them yourself.

EIGHTH PLACE: 2003 - 2005 KTM 450SX
      Once again, keep in mind that motor time is everything when it comes to used four-strokes. If you find a low-time SX with good records, buy it. The price will be in the $3000 range and it will be competitive with more modern bikes. Jetting was critical to making the SX motor run well, and if you’re lucky, someone  will have already handled that issue.

NINTH PLACE: 2003 - 2005 YAMAHA YZ450F
      Most riders thought that Yamaha went backwards in the first year of the YZ450F, which was 2003. Prior to that, it was a 426 that was much easier to ride. The good news is that both motors were very reliable. The bad news is that you can pay $2000 to rebuild a bike that you just paid $3000 to buy.

TENTH PLACE: ANYTHING BEFORE 2002
      Rebuilding a four-stroke motor can typically  cost about $2000 providing you didn’t destroy the cases. So a seven-year-old retired racing bike isn’t a very good buy unless it just blew up and someone else paid to fix it. You can certainly find inexpensive bikes that will offer many good years of service, but racing them just isn’t a very good idea. Buying a bike that’s already blown up may seem like a good idea but resist unless you have a good friend who is a mechanic and will work for pizza and beer.
 
2008 PART … CRF450R … KX450F … 450SXF … RM-Z450 … YZ450F
Head … ………$305.…… …$598 ….… $599.…..… $564.…… … $492
Valve guide ….$10 ………. ..$19 …….… $9 …….… $11 ………… $21
Crankshaft …. $282 .………. $359 …… $864 ……… $472 ………. $300
Piston ……… $69 …………. $92 …….. $310* …….. $122 ………. $110
Rings ………. $30 …………. $31 …….. $60 ……….. $32 ………… $23
Intake cam …. $150 ………… $129 …… $101 ……… $196 ………. $133
Exhaust cam … NA ………… $166 ……. $180 ……… $246 ………. $140
Intake valve … $46 …………. $70 ……… $93 ………. $73 …………$62
Exhaust valve …$32 ………… $66 ……… $93 ……… $102 ………. $74
Valve shim ea. … $5 ………… $8 … …….$7 ………… $5 ………… $5
Clutch plate (f) … $9  ……….. $10 ……… $21 ………. $12 ……….. $8
Clutch plate (m) .. $9 ………… $8 ………. $8 ………… $6 ………… $6
Rear fender …… $37 ………… $37 ……… $72 ……… $76 ………… $21
Subframe ……… $301 ………. $509 …….. $257 …….  $496 ………. $295
Comments:
Friday, February 27, 2009 5:08:48 PM by look up
This is a much appreciated service. 99percent of those who ride dirtbikes can benefit greatly from this servise. I hope we will see more of this for different classes of off road bikes. Thanks!!
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Albertnbradshaw
Tuesday, July 14, 2009 8:06:09 PM by Kronlund
I dont like to sign up to post something, but I also felt the same about about this great service on used dirtbikes.

I have the 2002 CRF 450 and have been working on my front end problems and one quick word about how the front springs could be the problem.

Any information on a few problems on older bikes and overall how reilable they are, is always a plus.

Thanks
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Remember when dirtbikes were dangerous and sex was safe. :)
Thursday, January 13, 2011 6:45:41 PM by warren85slanger
awesome!now you guys should do the 250f bikes next!
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2 stroke or die

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WARNING: Much of the action depict­ed in this magazine is potentially dan­gerous. Virtually all of the riders seen in our photos are experienced ex­perts or professionals. Do not at­tempt to duplicate any stunts that are be­yond your own capabilities. Always wear the appropriate safety gear.

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