The year 2021 has just begun and we’ve already tested most of the new motocross bikes of the year. Last week, we posted the 2021 450 motocross shootout, which had seven motorcycles, including the new GasGas MC 450F. The Suzuki RM-Z450 still had not cleared customs, so we used a 2020 model provided by Simi Valley Cycles. The 2020 and 2021 Suzukis are mechanically identical, but there are some changes in graphics. As the 450 video was being edited by Travis Fant, George at FMF Racing had all seven bikes on the dyno. In case you’ve never been involved with dyno testing, it’s a lot of work. A special wheel has to be installed on each bike before it’s strapped in, and multiple runs are made, then processed and logged. Sometimes it can be done in a single day of testing, mostly not. Here’s the overview with all seven curves superimposed on each other:

It’s kind of a jumble with so many curves on one chart, but here are some of the numbers:

1 KTM 450SX-F: 57.67 @ 9490 rpm
2 Husqvarna FC450: 57.36 @ 9150 rpm
3 Yamaha YZ450F: 57.42 @ 9610 rpm
4 Honda CRF450R: 57.21 @ 9300 rpm
5 GasGas MC450F: 55.73 @ 9300 rpm
6 Kawasaki KX450F: 55.23 @ 9290 rpm
7 Suzuki RM-Z450: 52.77 @ 8830 rpm

1 KTM 450SX-F: 36.39 @ 7480
2 Husqvarna FC450: 36.33 @ 7820
3 GasGas MC 450F: 35.97 @7330 rpm
4 Honda CRF450R: 35.64 @ 6930 rpm
5 Yamaha YZ450F: 34.96 @ 7100 rpm
6 Suzuki RM-Z450: 34.43 @ 6930 rpm
7 Kawasaki KX450: 34.15 @ 6800 rpm

Obviously, with four of the bikes over 57 horsepower (separated by just a few tenths) the final order is almost inconsequential. As a side note, we generally finish the shootout and come to a conclusion before the dyno testing is complete. This is for several reasons. Back in the old days, bikes often broke on the dyno. This hasn’t happened in years, but it would delay the real track testing. More importantly, we didn’t want knowledge of the dyno numbers to influence seat-of-the pants-testing. Even the best test riders can be swayed if they know the numbers ahead of time. This year that was clear when you look at the Honda CRF450R. Virtually all the test riders said they thought it was the most powerful. It wasn’t. The KTM’s smoother power delivery disguised the fact that it made a half horse more on top. Test riders were reacting to a zone between 7500 and 8500 rpm where the Honda gains about 6 horsepower. If you look at a close up of the chart, you see that no other bike gains so fast.


It’s also clear from the close up why the KTM, Husky and GasGas feel so smooth. They are! The power level is good all the way through  without having to play catch up. The Yamaha catches up, but does it in a very linear way. In the meantime, the Kawasaki won over many test riders without making the big number on top. In the end, it’s all about what you can use.


FMF has been using a Dynojet dynomometer for 30 years. Back in 1994, we tested the KTM 550 two-stroke there–it was the horsepower king of the day. We also tested some former dyno kings on the same day. Here’s the result, with the modern KTM 450SX-F added just for fun. The 1994 550 still looks pretty good! Okay, before all the tech nerds lose it, we acknowledge that Dynojet programming has changed since then and the results might not be directly comparable. But the KTM 550 was still an incredible machine–ask anyone who rode one!


After finishing second for the zillionth time, David Kamo will have another shot at the National Hare And Hound series starting in a few weeks. Photo by Mark Kariya.

The Kenda National Hare And Hound series presented by FMF has a 2021 schedule and the first race is right around the corner:

1.  Lucerne Valley, Ca Desert Motorcycle Club 01/24/2021
2.  Post, TX Lubbock Trail Riders 02/07/2021
3.  Murphy, ID Dirt Inc 03/28/2021
4.  Jericho, UT Sugarloafers MC 04/17/2021
5.  Jericho, UT Sage Riders MC 05/01/2021
6.  Panaca, NV Silverstate Trail Blazers 09/11/2021
7.  Lucerne Valley, CA NHHA 09/25/2021
8.  Lovelock, NV 10/09/2021
9.  Lucerne Valley, CA 100’s Motorcycle Club 10/23/2021


Ricky Brabec, Andre Short, and Skyler Howes are in the middle east ready to begin the Dakar Rally tomorrow.

Ricky:  “We’ve finished the scrutineering and we are now looking forward to the prologue tomorrow. The whole team is ready. I’m ready as well. We will try and do our best to defend the number one. It’s not going to be easy. The target on our back is pretty big. But we are here and we can’t really say much right now. The race hasn’t even started. We’ll get back to you guys in a couple of days and let you know how things are going. That’s the goal – to defend the number one.”

Skyler: “First time out on the bike was good! I didn’t really do a very good job filming what it’s like going through scrutineering and checks. But you basically just go from place to place getting a booklet stamped. Nothing too interesting. Otherwise, we are all squared away to start the short prologue tomorrow.”

Andrew: “It’s been a strange year with only one race since the last Dakar, so it’s not been normal that’s for sure. I raced the Andalucia Rally which was only a small race, but it was important as it was the first one for me on the Yamaha. It was good for me to ride the bike in a race environment but also work with the whole team and spend time with the whole crew. I’ve been training a lot in the Nevada desert, continuing to learn the bike and lately I’ve been working on getting back into the racing mindset. The Dakar is a race like no other and for 2021 I’ll be taking it day by day. You learn a lot every year and for me it will be important to know when to push and when not to. I can’t wait to start racing and hopefully by the end of 13 days in the desert we can come away with a solid result.”

You can look here at dirtbikemagazine for results each evening.

See you next time!

–Ron Lawson



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