2022 450 MX Shootout | In-Depth Report
Photos by Michael Antonovich
It’s hard to believe it’s time to compare the 450 machines again, but all of the 2022 bikes are here and available on dealership floors across the nation, save for the Suzuki RM-Z450. While we did reach out to Suzuki to conduct a seven-bike comparison, Suzuki representatives gracefully declined to participate as their machine remains completely unchanged for the new season. Though we have our 2021 test bike and could have freshened it up for our comparison test, we respected Suzuki’s request and moved forward with six machines; that said, we plan to do a more extensive feature with the RM-Z450 when it becomes available.
There were three variables in this year’s lineup compared to last year: the GASGAS MC 450, Honda CRF450R, and Yamaha YZ450F. The GASGAS was not included in our 2021 comparison because it did not land on United States soil in time, so ranking the red machine amongst the five returning bikes would be an interesting task. Yamaha and Honda were the only two machines that received updates beyond new graphics: the CRF450R receiving updated ECU settings and firmer suspension specs front and rear, while the YZ450F boasts a new rear wheel with a triple-cross spoke pattern and firmer suspension settings. That’s right: the Kawasaki KX450F, Husqvarna FC 450, and KTM 450 SX-F all return unchanged for 2022, save for new graphics.
For this year’s comparison, we welcomed two new test riders into the fold, as our mainstay Senior Test Rider Pat Foster is out with a blown-out knee and Mike Sleeter moved to Australia. Four returning testers ensured a good level of consistency from 2021, however, and the feedback we gathered from all six riders was valuable and interesting.
While we’ve spent plenty of time on the 2022 bikes from Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, and Yamaha, we spun our first laps on the new GASGAS at our official comparison day. Fortunately – like its orange and white Austrian counterparts – it returns completely unchanged and is familiar to all our test riders.
Maxxis Tires’ excellent soft terrain ST tires were mounted to all of the machines, and the tread proved to be perfect for Cahuilla Creek MX’s soft decomposed granite track surface. Our partners at Backyard Design supplied number plate backgrounds for all of the machines, while GoPro provided Hero9 and Hero10 cameras to help us capture riding content for the wrap-up video that you can find by clicking HERE.
Please 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 2022 450 dirt bike, do your own research, take some test rides, and weigh all the factors such as your locale, ability, height and weight, and potential dealer support. There is no bad bike in 2022, 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!
**PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS FEATURE HAS MULTIPLE PAGES**