Ultimate Off Road Round Up: We test a bunch of bikes considered the best of the best in the trails.
Story Damien Ashenhurst | Photography iKapture/ Damien Ashenhurst/ Matt Bernard/ Shane Booth
The KTM 450EXC is the best 450F enduro bike on the market. It has been for a long time, actually. KTM just nailed that mix of enduro racer and trail mate so well and it pays off even more now with the EFI on-board.
Sure the Husky FE540 runs better suspension, but that’s really only an advantage to the bloke that can ride in a way that makes that suspension work. For the average rider the KTM’s plusher set-up is the better choice.
The engine is smooth almost to a fault. Nothing terribly exciting happens but it just lays down rubber more and more as you twist the throttle. It’s not hard to get some excitement back via the Hard Parts catalogue, but so many riders will just soak up that smoothness and ease of use, particularly in snotty tight trails and big hills.
The Kato has competition now from inside the family with the Husqvarna FE450, and from outside with Yamaha’s WR450F, but for our money this is still the most complete package that pleases the most people.
This bike has had the category largely to itself for a long time. It’s just such a good bike at suiting the biggest number of riders, from trail to race. I know the WR450F outsells it, but I came off the WR-F and onto the EXC and I can tell you that the Kato is a better enduro bike to ride stock than the WR-F, which still has that aura of more trail than race. There’s nothing wrong with that mind you, but the Kato does both jobs so well and it’ll be cool to see where everyone goes to top this category in the next few years.– Damien Ashenhurst
Wheeled off the showroom floor this bike is ready to go and that is probably its strength. There are other 450 off-road bikes that could arguably be on par with this orange machine, but you’ll have to spend some additional dollars to get them there. Good brakes, hydraulic clutch and reliable electric start are all nice touches to a well performing suspension and engine package. If you feel you need 450cc in the bush this bike is at the pointy end of the list. – Shane Booth
Three Top Tips
Get the suspension tuned for your ability and weight.
Replace the plastic bashplate with a metal unit.
Try a set of Steg Pegz.
They’re the same bike aren’t they? No. The 4CS fork has a firmer feeling through the front end which aims the Husqvarna more towards the racer. For the majority of riders looking to ride a 450 enduro bike on the trails, we feel, in standard form, the KTM450EXC will be better suited to the majority straight off the showroom floor.
THiS INSURANCE QUOTE
Can also be comprehensively insured THiS Road Bike Insurance as registrable bike.
$12,795 + ORC