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Best & Worst 450 Dirt Bike: A Practical Guide

Looking for a 450 dirt bike to suit your needs? Whether you’re a beginner, an MX racer, or want a good enduro bike, this article will give you the practical info you need to make the best decision

I want you to become a skilled and safer rider, but I also take finances seriously so that you don’t waste your hard-earned money. 

What is a ‘modern’ 450 dirt bike?

A 450 cc dirt bike is simply any type of off-road motorcycle that has an engine displacement of 450cc – there are a few different kinds of 450 dirt bikes to choose from.

Back in “the day” when dirt bikes started getting popular, 450cc was powerful, but it’s nothing like today’s modern 450’s. While they’re getting easier to ride with smoother power, they have ridiculous amounts of power for riding off-road – more than 99% of us riders can take advantage of…
But does that make it a bad dirt bike?

Husqvarna FE 450 & FE 501
Oh look, a couple of white KTM’s…

Is there a 450 2 stroke dirt bike?

There are no new 450cc 2 stroke dirt bikes – You only have the option to buy a 450 4 stroke dirt bike unless you go back to 70s and 80s with odd sizes for engines. The biggest 2 stroke is a 300cc enduro bike.

What type of 450 dirt bike is best for you?

What kind of riding will you be doing most? This will determine what kind of 450 motorcycle you should buy so that you don’t choose the wrong one and get frustrated because you spent thousands of dollars on the wrong bike.

The 3 main types of 450 dirt bikes are:

  • Motocross bike – best for racing on tracks with jumps & whoops
  • Enduro bike – best for off-road and trail riding
  • Dual sport bike – best for riding on-road and off-road

It depends on which model 450 you get, but most are not street-legal from the factory. You would have to look at these 450 enduro/dual sport models if you want to legally ride on the street:

  • Honda CRF450RL
  • KTM 450 EXC-F
  • Husqvarna FE 450s

These 450’s are all based on the 450 MX bike version but are detuned quite a bit, along with other specs and features that are designed for street riding.

Best 450 motocross bike

In this day and age, motocross bikes are fantastic no matter what brand you choose. The only manufacturer that hasn’t quite advanced as much is Suzuki with their RMZ450. It’s still a good bike, but it doesn’t have all the modern updates as the rest of its class.

Every 450 motocross bike has more power than 99.999% of riders will use, so it basically comes down to the power curve, weight, suspension, and handling.

These are the best 450 MX bikes today:

  • Yamaha YZ450F
  • Honda CRF450R
  • KTM 450SXF
  • Kawasaki KX450
  • Husqvarna FC450
2021 Kawasaki KX 450 dirt bike for motocross racing

Best 450 enduro bike

Maybe you just want to ride trails, whether it’s out in the desert or in the mountain woods. A 450 is only necessary if you need the extra torque. This is my belief because they’re a handful the slower you ride, especially if you’re under 180lbs.

With that said, these are the best 450 dirt bikes that are good for enduro/hard enduro trail riding

  • KTM 450XCF
  • Yamaha YZ450FX
  • Honda CRF450RX
  • Kawasaki KX450XC
2022 Honda CRF450RX Best & Worst 450 Dirt Bike: A Practical Guide
2022 Honda CRF450RX

Best 450 trail bike

For a little less snap and softer suspension, there are some milder 450’s that are better for more conservative trail riding. They have a plusher suspension set up, a wide ratio transmission with a lower 1st and higher 5th (or 6th) gear, and usually have a decent headlight if you get trapped out at night.

These are the best 450 dirt bikes for trail riding:

  • Yamaha WR450F
  • Honda CRF450X
  • KTM 450 XCF-W
2022 Yamaha WR450F 4 stroke dirt bike for trail riding and off-road
2022 Yamaha WR450F

Best all-around 450 dirt bike

Not sure what type of riding you like best, or just enjoy them all? A 450 can be a versatile bike because it has enough power for virtually anything, but it’s not too much heavier than a 250.

What’s the cheapest 450 dirt bike?

If you’re looking at a new dirt bike, Suzuki is generally the cheapest because they haven’t raised their prices as much due to lack of technological advancement. This means the RMZ450 has the lowest retail price when buying new ($8,999) – there are pros and cons to this…

The bad? Well, it may not have the latest in features, such as electrical start or wifi-capable EFI tuning, but it’s still an amazing motocross bike that’s plenty capable. In fact, your lap times probably wouldn’t increase much, if at all, if you chose a different brand 450 motocross bike.

2016 Suzuki RMZ450 Best & Worst 450 Dirt Bike: A Practical Guide
2016 RMZ450 – still competitive today

Best used 450 dirt bike that’s reliable?

Are you on a budget and just wanted the cheapest 450 dirt bike you can find? Some of the early model years weren’t as reliable, but it often depends on how well you maintain it to prevent major problems.

Yamaha has always been making quality 450 dirt bikes, and their YZ450F and WR450F have consistently been some of the best-used dirt bikes when it comes to reliability and overall performance.
With that said, pretty much any modern 450 will be reliable if you just take care of it and don’t bounce it off the rev limiter all the time.

What’s the most powerful 450 dirt bike?

Most 450 dirt bikes have around 53-58 horsepower today, which is a lot for an off-road motorcycle. For the most powerful 450 dirt bike, it depends on the year and which dyno is used, but the KTM 450 SX-F is often at the top with 57-57 HP.

Most of the other manufacturers come close, except the Suzuki, which is down several horsepower. But, peak power isn’t what wins races – a broad power curve, good handling, and great suspension will make it easier to ride faster and longer without getting exhausted.

450 dirt bike specs

Whether you’re looking at the weight, the horsepower, top speed, or the price, these are the average specifications of a new 450 dirt bike:

Top Speed75mph
Weight234lbs-248lbs (wet & ready to ride)
Seat Height37.4″ – 38.0″
Price$8999 (RMZ450) – $11299 (KTM 450SXF Factory Edition)

Is a 450 a good starter dirt bike?

My simple answer is “No”, and for a number of reasons. My number one goal, especially when helping or teaching new riders, is safety. For beginners that start out on a powerful 450, whether they bought one or a friend let them ride it, the result is often not good. 

Twist the throttle just a little too quickly and you’ll be on your butt in no time. A 450 is just way more power than the average guy or girl needs to start out with. It’s more than most expert riders need for most off-road riding. 

Therefore, any dirt bike with 450cc is the worst 450 dirt bike for a beginner.

Macho man needs more power

Maybe you’re easily swayed by your buddies telling you to get the “best dirt bike” out there right from the start. “You’ll grow into it” is a common phrase I hear… You won’t have to buy another bike when you need to upgrade.

It sounds great, but it’s misleading because they skip right past the part about needing to learn how to ride a dirt bike with confidence. 

Riding a 450 dirt bike that’s scary to ride does not build your confidence; it does quite the opposite. 

Accidents can happen a lot quicker on a 450…

Why not start out on a slower bike that keeps you safer and allows you to enjoy riding more? Then you can decide how far you want to take your dirt biking passion. 

If 450cc isn’t enough for you, then you might want to stick to drag racing on the street with your mates (no offense). 

How to ride a 450 dirt bike

If you’re really going to try a 450 for the first time, there are some things you need to know. Just starting out, you need to get used to the power and learn to keep it under control. 

Move forward all the way on the seat so that you’re less likely to whiskey throttle and wheelie. 

First gear is going to be very sensitive, so either use very small throttle inputs, or shift into 2nd gear. 450s have a lot of low-end torque, so if you’re just casually riding around, it’s fine to keep it at a low RPM. 

Keeping a finger on the clutch is important to prevent stalling, but also to keep the power in check. To get going from a stop, be very smooth and slow letting the clutch out, or else the bike can quickly get away from you. 

Simply riding a 450 is not that hard, but it’s very easy to get into trouble quickly if you don’t respect the power. 

Best dirt bike for you – 4 simple steps

After reading this, you might realize that a 450 dirt bike is not the best dirt bike for you. In that case, what is the right bike then?

It really depends on you personally. Some questions you need to ask are:

For example, if you’re a beginner that’s short, lightweight, and just wants to trail ride, then you do not want to start on a 250 or 450 MX or enduro bike. Instead, you should look at a trail bike that’s easy to ride to start building your confidence. 

Best first dirt bike

If you truly want to start out on a dirt bike that will help you become a faster rider better, then you need a bike that’s easy to ride. A trail bike with a lower seat height and less power is easier to control and build your confidence. 

Confidence is key, even if you’re a professional racer. Would you feel comfortable on a technical single-track trail in the mountains if you felt like your bike was going to slide out from under you at any given moment? 

Confidence comes before speed if you want to stay safe. Starting on a 450 is not a good choice for that. 

Will a 450 make you a faster rider?

In certain situations, yes, a 450 can make you a faster rider. With that said, if you’re riding technical terrain and endurance is necessary, then there’s something that will help you much more than the “perfect dirt bike”.

It starts with your riding technique and how you use your body to control the bike. Poor technique will limit your control because you’re out of balance.
I want to help you become a better and safer rider. Tap here to get started. 


Tuesday 15th of August 2023

What a stupid video.

Kelley Fager

Wednesday 16th of August 2023

Thanks for sharing your opinion, J.