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Big and Tall | Plus-Sized 450 Shootout


Big and Tall | Plus-Sized 450 Shootout

Presented by Fasthouse
Last week, we posted the results of our 2020 450 Shootout comparison, presented by Escondido Cycle Center. When setting up a bike during pre-production testing, manufacturers have a target weight range for potential consumers. ON a 450cc motocross bike, that is 175 to 185 pounds. Riders that lie above or below that weight range, or are exceptionally fast, will usually need more adjustments than a simple click or two on the compression adjusters can provide.
We know that a lot of riders who purchase a 450 MX bike are vets who may tip the scales on the heavier side, so we decided to conduct a mini shootout of sorts to see if the bikes stack up differently for a rider who is on the larger and taller side. To gain the impressions of a rider who is on the heavier side we enlisted the help of our advertising sales manager, Dominic Gaytan, to give us his opinion of the six machines, knowing well that they would all be under sprung for his girth.


Dominic Gaytan

Age: 46

Height/Weight: 6’3″, 260 lbs.

Ability: Vet Novice

  1. KTM 450 SX-F
  2. Kawasaki KX450
  3. Yamaha YZ450F
  4. Honda CRF450R
  5. Husqvarna FC 450
  6. Suzuki RM-Z450

“Let’s get one thing straight about all six of these bikes. For the average weekly fast rider, vet rider, weekend warrior, trail rider, professional or desert rider; all six of these bikes are winners. They all have a great base to set up for your own personal preferences with different handlebars, suspension settings, engine mods and graphics. This is just what worked best for me at Cahuilla in stock condition. So if you are like me and stand 6’3 and come with a seasoned waistline, but like to send it on a weekly basis, this could be a good starting point for you to pick your next 2020 450 machine.”

2020 KTM 450 SX-F

“This bike felt so comfortable for me from the moment I swung a leg over it. The ergonomics are very good for a taller rider, as the cockpit is spread out and the seat-to-peg ratio is roomy. The bike has a very light feel to it and the engine is perfect for me with a big roll on down low that pulls strong through the mid and top. I preferred map two as it is more aggressive, and the traction control feature is nice when the track is watered or super dry. The suspension was good for me and did not bottom out as often as the rest of the bikes did. The air fork offers a lot of adjustabilities and could be pumped up to beef up the spring rate. Overall, the suspension is pretty nice. The shock is under spring for me as expected but the bike still had good balance.

2020 Kawasaki KX450

“The Kawasaki was a very, very close second for me. I also felt very comfortable on this bike form the moment I got on it. The ergonomics for a taller rider are perfect and the Kawasaki has the most adjustability with the two-position footpegs in addition to the bar mounts. The motor is very strong throughout, and it is arguably the best engine in the class as it has no weak points. The thing that makes it less attractive is the fact that to change map settings, you have to physically change map couplers, and there is no on-the-fly capability. The controls feel perfect and I love the hydraulic clutch. The suspension was good. Too soft, but predictable and well balanced. The Kawasaki feels like a large truck entering corners and not as light as the KTM.”

2020 Yamaha YZ450F

“The engine is what stands out to me about the Yamaha as it is awesome with unlimited tuneability. Power is strong everywhere and the powerband feels almost electric. The engine’s weak point for me has nothing to do with its performance…I don’t like the loud sound in your face from the airbox. The ergomonics are good for a tall guy as I think we are less affected by the wide feel between your legs. The seat to peg ratio is nice. The bike Handles great as it is very stable in a straight line, suffers from no headshake and is very predictable. Cornering was good as I was able to get way up on the tank to turn the bike on tight inside corners.”

2020 Honda CRF450R

“For me, the Honda feels a little cramped as it is the smallest-feeling bike in the class. The power delivery is short and very snappy in standard mode, but there are lots of options right there on the handlebars for you to change maps and traction control. Maybe too many options for the average rider! The bike has some headshake at speed and the rear end kicks sometimes if you’re not paying attention. The fork and shock were plush but blew through the stroke for me but that was to be expected. The bike corners amazingly great as it holds a line and feels really planted to the ground.”

2020 Husqvarna FC 450

The Husqvarna is a very comfortable bike. The Pro Taper bars and ODI grips make the controls very likeable. The ergonomics are great for a taller rider as the cockpit is roomy and comfortable. Donn gave me a lot of grief for having the KTM and Husky separated by so many other bikes, but for me, the biggest downfall is the suspension. This year Husky went for comfort and the bike is set up much softer than the KTM. I bottomed both ends regularly and in spite of the air fork being easily tuned, the damping was simply too light for me. The engine also has a much softer, friendlier feel. There was less hit than the KTM and I would choose this bike for going on an off-road trail ride. I do like the mapping and traction control options, though.”

2020 Suzuki RM-Z450

The Suzuki RM-Z450 has been the same basic machine for a long time. The controls are not the best as they lack adjustability, and pulling that kickstarter out is heartbreaking to do in this stacked class. One thing that really shines about the Suzuki is its cornering abilities. You can stick the bike wherever you want it. The suspension was not the best as it tends to deflect off jumps and bumps. Other testers complained about the rear shock riding high but I did not notice that. Maybe that’s a good trait for big guys! The forks dove through the stroke though and bottomed easily. The engine is very mellow and lacks punch down low, and it also signs off on top sooner than the other bikes.”


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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  1. Adrian Ciomo September 12, 2019

    What a great idea. Lots of big boys out there. they need love too

  2. Eric September 15, 2019

    Don this is great! I hope it is something you continually do. It would be great to see this grow to a group of bigger guys with differnt abilities. As a bigger guy myself and also a decently fast intermediate rider i would love to see more bigger guys opinions as they bikes work differently compared to the smaller guys. Great work as always!

  3. Ethan Michael September 16, 2019

    Awesome idea! It’d be cool to see this become a regular thing. Maybe even branch out further. Do some shootouts with women for a different perspective.