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2021 450 Shootout

2021 450 MX Shootout | In Depth


2021 450 MX Shootout

Presented by Maxxis, Amsoil, 805 Beer, and GoPro

Photos by Creative Vision Digital Media and Zoid Photos


With the launch of the 2021 Honda CRF450R, the SML staff made the decision to move forward with our 2021 450 Shootout as the unchanged 2021 Suzuki RM-Z450 had barely been announced and was nowhere near set to arrive on American shores.

Speaking of the Honda, the CRF450R is the only all-new bike for the 2021 model year, as the Kawasaki, KTM, and Husqvarna opted for well-calculated refinements, and the Yamaha YZ450F received only a graphic update. Would the highly anticipated and all-new Honda CRF450R come in and steal the Bike of the Year crown? We couldn’t wait to see!

We’d logged plenty of time on the green, white, orange, and blue bikes before our final, official day of comparison testing at Cahuilla Creek MX, and had one full day of riding the Honda at the bike’s official intro, held the week before at Glen Helen Raceway.

This year, we had all six of the same test riders who rode in last year’s comparison, and it was nice for consistency’s sake. All manufacturers were invited to attend, so that they could best set up their machine for each test rider. The bikes were all outfitted with the excellent Maxxis ST soft terrain tire, which works amazingly well at Cahuilla Creek, and Backyard Design provided pre-printed backgrounds for the fleet.

So, how did the bikes compare? Much of the finishing order was predictable, but there were a couple of big surprises! Read on to see what our panel of six thought of the 2021 machines.

And remember, this shootout is a collection of opinions of a group of riders, and we do not profess our rankings to be the end-all, be-all. If you’re in the market for a new 2021 450 dirt bike, do your own research, take some test rides, and weigh all the factors such as your locale, your ability, your height and weight, and potential dealer support. There is no bad bike in 2021 and each of them can be fine-tuned to suit your unique tastes and preferences. In this feature, we compared them as-is, in bone-stock condition. With a couple of well-chosen mods, any of them could have come out on top!

CLICK HERE to see the video wrapup.




Donn Maeda

Donn Maeda is a 30-year veteran in moto-journalism, having worked at Cycle News and Dirt Rider before launching MXracer Magazine and TransWorld Motocross Magazine. Maeda is the Editor-In-Chief at Swapmoto Live and you can catch him on a dirt bike or in the saddle of a mountain bike on most days.

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