2012 OFF-ROAD BUYER’S GUIDE

KTM 500 XCW
Stay calm. KTM did not get rid of the 530. But it was redesigned so completely that they felt the need to give it a new name. The 500 is actually the same displacement as the old 530, with the same bore and stroke. But it’s more compact and is fuel injected. It also gets the new no-linkage frame. Actually, staying calm is almost impossible.
Price: $9399

HUSQVARNA TXC511
The U.S. gets this model while the rest of the world gets left out. The TXC511 has the same BMW-designed motor as the dual-sport version, but in competition dress. The Kayaba suspension is set up for cross-country racing, but the EFI motor is still approved for a California green sticker.
Price: $8299
 

HONDA CRF450X

 

Honda’s venerable 450X is unchanged for 2012 and remains the mainstay of Honda’s Baja effort. Those who never came to terms with the newer EFI CRF450R have a fondness for the X, as it has the original motor.

BETA 498RR/450RR
Beta is an impressive Italian company that continues to grow more important on the world stage. The RR line is designed for hard off-road riding with a motor that Beta makes itself. This year, both the 498 and the 450 get a number of changes, including a new head and a new Sachs fork. Very impressive machines.
Price: $9199/$8999

KTM 450XCF-W
We expect the new KTM off-road four-strokes to pick up right where the old ones left off—at the top of the class. The 450 is the main load-bearing model in the company’s off-road line, and it gets a new fuel-injected motor and a redesigned frame this year. It has a redesigned no-linkage rear suspension with the WP fork.
Price: $9199

TM 450E
You probably have never seen a TM of any kind—they are only imported in exceedingly few numbers. But, the 450cc electric-start, fuel-injected off-road bike is probably the best bike that the company has in its fleet, and it compares very well to mainstream machines like the KTM 450XC-W. 
Price: $9942

YAMAHA WR450F
Yamaha surprised us when the WR450F was casually announced late in the new-model season. It’s an all-new bike. For 2012, it gets a “bilateral” aluminum frame similar to that of the 250F motocross bike. It also gets fuel injection. The motor is likely a blood relative of the YFZ450 ATV. Price: $8090

KTM 350XCF/XCF-W
The bike that Tony Cairoli used to win the MX1 World Championship was always destined to be the platform for a great off-road bike. It’s the perfect engine size. KTM knows it’s good and makes two different versions. The XC isn’t very different from the motocross bike, while the XC-W has a different frame with no-link suspension.
Price: $8999/$8999

HUSQVARNA TXC310/TXC250
The TXC310 is the bike that might well be the crown jewel of the Husky line this year. It was only available as a dual-sport bike last year, but now it has full dirt trim and suspension, and it was developed in the U.S. by Ty Davis. The 250 is back with better EFI and suspension, but neither bike gets the new head used on the TC250 motocross bike.
Price: $7889/$7399

GAS GAS 300/250 RACE
Gas Gas is the unofficial cult bike of the National Enduro Series. For 2012, the four-stroke line has been put on the back burner while the two-strokes are all new, with a redesigned frame, a new top end, a plastic sub-frame and a screw-on air filter. The 250 and 300 Race Editions, as the name implies, come ready to race with competition accessories.
Price: TBA

GAS GAS 300E/250E
The Spanish engineers at Gas Gas aren’t dummies. They saw the need for electric start even on two-strokes. The 250 and 300 E-models have push-button starting and are made to deal with very ugly, hardcore enduro situations. Both bikes have a new frame and redesigned powervalve.
Price: TBA

HUSABERG TE300/TE250
For the 2012 model year, KTM (parent company of Husaberg) will be importing ’Berg two-strokes but no four-strokes. The two Husaberg models will be very similar to the 2011 KTM XC-Ws, with the more traditional PDS suspension, so if you’re a big fan of the way KTM two-strokes have been, you’ll have to go to Husaberg.
Price: $7999/$7899

HUSQVARNA WR300/WR250
Husky’s two-stroke line is alive and well. The WR300 and 250 seemed tragically outdated when the world was full of two-strokes—with their right-side output shafts and slow-revving motors—but now their time has come again. With modern suspension and brakes, the ancient motors actually work quite well, and the prices are great.
Price: $6999/$6799

KTM 300XC/250XC
Who says that two-stroke development isn’t moving? The KTM two-stroke XC models are new and closely related to the 250SX motocrosser, but with electric starting. The suspension and gear ratios of the XC models are more off-road-oriented, and the gas capacity is greater. Both the 250 and the 300 have linkage-style rear suspension.
Price: $8099/$7999

KTM 300XC-W/250XC-W
When the idea of electric start first came to the KTM 300XC-W, it must have come written on a stone tablet from some mountain in Austria. It was true inspiration. Now, the button is featured on even the 250cc off-road two-strokes. The W-line has a new version of KTM’s no-link suspension this year.
Price: $8099/$7999

TM 300E/250E
The TM 300 two-stroke is a monster. It makes as much peak power as a 450 motocross bike. The 250 version is a little more tame, but it’s still a potent motorcycle. TM prides itself not only on horsepower output, but on having craftsman-like detailing and high-quality components.
Price: $8518/$8618

HONDA CRF250X
Honda’s electric-start 250X hasn’t changed in a number of years, but that’s OK; it has proven itself by now. Honda’s take on the 250F off-road bike is a mild machine with good low-end and docile manners. It’s not really a racer, but the X can be made into something competitive by someone who knows a few X tricks.
Price: $7410

TM EN250Fi 4T
TM has an amazingly full line of motorcycles considering it’s such a small company. The off-road version of the 250F motocrosser is much more race-oriented than the Honda CRF250X or Yamaha WR250F. It’s fairly fast, and the suspension is remarkably good. TM motorcycles are available in very limited quantity in the U.S.
Price: $9812

YAMAHA WR250F
Even though the 2012 Yamaha WR450F got a new fuel-injected motor and a YZ-like “bilateral” frame, the WR250F is unchanged. That’s OK; the little WR has its place as a super-quiet, soft and mellow electric-start trail bike. Under it all, there’s still a YZ motor that can be awakened without too much work.
Price: $6890

KTM 250XCF/250XCF-W
This year both KTM 250cc, four-stroke off-road bikes have a fuel-injected motor. The carbureted version of the bike is gone, but the good news is that the EFI motor works brilliantly. The XC is almost identical to the SX motocrosser with linkage suspension, while the W has wider ratios and a new version of the PDS suspension.
Price: $8299/$8299

HONDA CRF230F
This Brazilian-made electric-start play bike is 100 percent Honda. It’s simple, inexpensive and reliable. It has a manual clutch and a five-speed gearbox, so it makes a great transition to full-size dirt bikes, but it has a lower seat height and unintimidating performance.
Price: TBA

YAMAHA TT-R230
The motor in Yamaha’s 230 has been around longer than dirt. That’s a good thing, because it’s reliable, stone-axe simple and the cost of its tooling must have been paid off in Napoleon’s time. The TT-R got an electric starter and a modernized chassis about when indoor plumbing was invented.
Price: $3850

GAS GAS 200 RACE
The Spanish 200 Gas Gas seems odd, as it’s based on the company’s 250cc motor rather than a 125, as is the case with most 200s. But those who ride it swear it feels light and agile. The six-speed two-stroke motor is tucked into a steel frame with top-quality components, a hydraulic clutch and Sachs suspension.
Price: TBA

KTM 200XC-W
Just like the larger XC-W two-strokes, the 200 got a new chassis this year with a new version of KTM’s PDS no-link suspension. The 200 is made for tight, tough trails and doesn’t like wide-open spaces. The retooling and investment that the company put into this model further demonstrates KTM’s commitment to two-strokes.
Price: $7099

KTM 150XC
Riders fall deeply in love with this bike from the first moment their hand touches the throttle. The 150XC isn’t a logical bike for an off-road racer. It doesn’t have any specific class. But, the 150 isn’t about racing. It’s fun, fast and weighs less than a gum wrapper. The bore and stroke were upped from the 125, giving the 150 nearly 40 horsepower.
Price: $6999

HUSQVARNA WR125
Husqvarna had a fairly new 125 motor when Japan stopped making two-strokes. As a result, Husky 125s are competitive with the last of the Japanese small-bores. What makes the Husky more interesting is the price and value. Each 125 sold comes with a parts package that includes a 144cc top end at no extra cost.
Price: $5999

 
 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
 


 

 

 
 

 

 

 
 

 
 

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