By Ryan Adams
The first thought that went through my head when our former bro, Brent Jaswinski, was assigned to attend the Honda CRF450L launch was, “Damn, that’s going to be a fun one.” The new Honda dual-sport was a much-anticipated model with promises of real trail bike performance in a plated package. Did it live up to the hype? Well, I couldn’t wait for Brent to write his review. So, I shot him a text, “How was it?” To be honest, I’m pretty sure I texted him while he was still at the launch for the bike. I was curious, as was the rest of the world, about whether this new model would be a thrilling performance-driven machine, or yet another soft polite dual-sport with street bike mentality. I don’t remember exactly, but I’m pretty sure he responded with something along the lines of, “It rips!” It was at that moment I couldn’t wait to start planning a comparison of the Honda CRF450L against the time-tested king of dual-sports the KTM 500 EXC-F.
*Insert record scratching here* “Why couldn’t you have compared it to the 450 EXC-F?” I know it’s coming, particularly from the Honda fanboys. Because KTM didn’t have one available. But don’t worry! All will be considered in the following saga of Ryan and Brent’s Excellent Dual-Sport Adventure.
Would the KTM stay on top during our test? We couldn’t wait to find out.
KTM has long dominated the performance dual-sport market. If you wanted a dual-sport that performed like a dirtbike, KTM’s EXC-F line was the way to go. Other players like Beta and Husqvarna are solid contenders but, until more recently, hadn’t enjoyed the success the KTM has.